Winners of the 2021 ENR Mountain States Top Young Professionals competition are presidents, architects, engineers, constructors, virtual design experts and project managers, but also people deeply committed to improving the industry and their communities.
Some began their careers at their own firms; others have been promoted as promising leaders. All have demonstrated a mastery of new technologies and worked hard to teach their colleagues and other young professionals about better design and smart construction practices.
As in past years, the competition was rigorous. Companies or individuals were allowed to nominate more than one person, and individuals could nominate themselves. Nominees must be working full time in some aspect of the commercial design and construction industry in the Mountain States region, which includes Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Montana and North and South Dakota.
Key selection criteria included achievement of or progress toward industry certifications, significant success in creating more efficient systems, designing and implementing new processes or managing landmark projects, and consistent volunteer work across the industry and within the community.
This year’s judges were also a diverse group, and ENR thanks them for their hard work in evaluating the nominees and selecting the winners. The judges were: Ben Kaan, vice president, Thornton Tomasetti; Marc Mellmer, vice president, JE Dunn Construction; John Spight, operations manager, Swinerton; Tyler Van Eeckhaut, project manager, Mortenson; and Katie Warner, stakeholder interface manager, Jacobs.
The following pages contain profiles of the young leaders, describing their achievements and goals in a tribute to excellence, success, quality, family and community. Congratulations to the winners
37, Associate Principal
Beck joined VBFA after graduating from Utah State University with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. After 12 years working on the firm’s award-winning projects in health care, education and public projects, such as the net-zero-energy Salt Lake City Fire Stations No. 3 and No. 14, he was promoted to associate principal. In this role, Beck leads design teams and focuses on training and development of junior engineers who are learning the intricacies of HVAC design. A LEED Green Associate, Beck’s dedication to sustainability includes developing expertise in geothermal heating and cooling systems, which were installed on both fire station projects, enabling the firehouses to produce enough electricity to offset 100% of their annual power consumption. He is also active in the local chapters of the U.S. Green Building Council and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, where he was honored with the Young Engineer in ASHRAE award.
35, Strategic Communications Manager
Bettale has 13 years of experience in engineering communications, having launched her career at the Regional Transportation District’s Denver Union Station Redevelopment project. She led public engagement for construction and opening of the new Union Station, which led to a job as RTD’s public information manager for the $2.3-billion Eagle P3 commuter rail infrastructure project, one of the first public-private partnerships in U.S. transit. She has brought that experience to HDR, where she leads a team of seven people in the firm’s strategic communications group, supporting transportation and water resources engineering projects through digital outreach and stakeholder workshops for the Mobility Choice Blueprint, a collaborative strategy for transportation mobility options in the Denver area. She also is in charge of developing a public communication strategy for people affected by construction of an interceptor rehabilitation and replacement project in Westminster. Bettale graduated from the American Public Transportation Association Emerging Leaders Program and is an active member of WTS International.
36, Vice President
Salt Lake City
Celestino has led design projects at Method Studio for more than five years. She plays a key role in business development for the firm, working with some of Utah’s most prominent companies. Her portfolio includes corporate office projects for The Boyer Co., award-winning designs for the Energy Solutions and Vista Outdoor corporate headquarters, and the Utah Jazz business and arena offices. She has taken on several leadership roles in the Intermountain chapter of the International Interior Design Association—including helping to establish the new chapter, which evolved from IIDA Rocky Mountain—and subsequently served as its president. As part of her work at IIDA, Celestino advocated for interior design licensing legislation by talking with legislators and lobbying for the industry. She also mentors interior design students through speaking engagements and volunteering to help with portfolio reviews. Her other contributions include organizing events such as IIDA’s Fashion Remix, where interior design materials are transformed into wearable fashions.
38, Chief Operating Officer
Elder Construction Inc.
A third-generation builder, Dodder followed his father and grandfather into a career in construction. After earning a bachelor’s degree in construction management from Colorado State University in 2004, he went to work for a large regional general contractor, gaining experience on projects ranging from $20 million to $180 million. After transitioning to Elder Construction in 2011, he helped open the firm’s northern Colorado office. At the time, Elder Construction employed only 11 people and had annual revenue of $5.5 million. Today, the company has grown to 72 employees and aims for $50 million of work put in place. As the company has grown, so has Dodder’s role. His efforts in forming Elder’s first leadership team and helping the company adopt a virtual design and construction program led to him being promoted in 2020 from vice president of construction operations to chief operating officer, responsible for managing all operations. Dodder is active in his church and is currently involved in a national peer group that helps other companies by sharing opportunities and solutions to common issues.
36, Construction Executive
GE Johnson Construction
After graduating from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in construction science and environmental design, Fasciano quickly built his résumé with challenging projects in hospitality, education and health care. His management of the $29.7-million Moxy Hotel in Denver’s Cherry Creek neighborhood and a $15-million renovation for Boulder Valley School District allowed him the opportunity to relocate to GE Johnson’s Jackson, Wyo., office.
In Wyoming, he has managed more than $50 million in new construction and serves as the construction executive for several of the company’s current projects. He leads all project pursuits for the Jackson office as well as managing preconstruction, community engagement, local staff and trade partner relationships.
Fasciano maintains connections in the industry by being active in AIA Wyoming, the Wyoming Society of Healthcare Engineers and AGC’s Future Leaders Forum. He recently earned certification with the Design-Build Institute of America’s comprehensive education and certification testing program. He also serves on the construction advisory board for Habitat for Humanity.
30, Visualization Department Manager
Ferguson started his career in 3D drafting while he was still a sophomore in high school. He worked at XR3D Studios, where he learned the intricacies of design, architecture and construction. He was promoted to project lead of architecture and design by the time he was a senior. He went on to work on award-winning custom homes with some of the nation’s leading architects and contractors.
After a chance encounter with the head of the BIM department at Layton Construction, Ferguson joined the firm as BIM coordinator, learning commercial construction as the lead coordinator for a freestanding emergency department project. Eight years later, he leads Layton’s corporate visualization and virtual design and construction team, has started an internal drone program that includes more than 30 licensed pilots and continues to play a key role in the firm’s business development. He is credited with helping Layton win projects such as the St. Luke’s Medical Center expansion in Boise and the University of Utah Rice-Eccles Stadium expansion in Salt Lake City.
34, Projects Manager, Transmission and Distribution Group
Burns & McDonnell
Ferrera joined Burns & McDonnell in 2009 after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering power systems from the Colorado School of Mines. He earned a master’s degree from Mines in 2013 while designing high-voltage substations for Burns & McDonnell’s utility clients.
Today, Ferrera serves as the manager of project delivery for the firm’s transmission and distribution team in Denver and Vancouver, leading a team of six project managers. At the start of Ferrera’s career, the team included just a handful of employees. It now totals nearly 100 employee-owners in Denver and the Pacific Northwest.
His project management experience includes design and engineering procurement construction (EPC) delivery of greenfield and brownfield substations across the Western U.S., ranging from 345-kV to 4.16-kV facilities, including phase-shifting transformers and gas-insulated, high-voltage switchgear. Ferrera’s work with Xcel Energy includes an award-winning gas-insulated substation in downtown Denver as well as serving as project manager for the interconnect switching station on the recently completed 600-MW Rush Creek wind farm.
35, Vice President
JE Dunn Construction
Gilstrap began his career as a project engineer at JE Dunn after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in construction management from Colorado State University. He continued to work for the company while he pursued his MBA from the University of Colorado Denver, earning his degree in 2012.
He has worked on many award-winning projects, including Spire Denver and the Sugar Cube and is currently leading the team delivering three buildings on the Spur campus at the National Western Center (NWC), projects valued at more than $150 million.
Colleagues note his transparency and strong communication skills in managing complex projects. His leadership of an $8-million confidential semiconductor project is credited with turning the one-time job into a $200-million, multiyear, multiproject relationship with the client.
Gilstrap continues his mentoring work with CSU’s construction management program, where as a student he served as president of the CSU AGC chapter. He shares real-world industry experience with CSU students by providing tours and presentations to classes and driving engagement with CSU-NWC’s WorkNow and BigGreen initiatives.
38, Senior Project Manager
Construction runs in Graff’s family—his grandfather owned an asphalt company. Early exposure to the industry and Graff’s pursuit of summer construction jobs during high school led him to pursue a bachelor’s degree in construction management from Colorado State University.
He joined Haselden Construction in 2011, after five years in the industry. He’s currently the senior project manager on one of the largest projects in Haselden’s history, the $250-million UCHealth Tower III at the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colo. Graff has worked on more than $633 million in health care projects for Haselden. Other project highlights in his career include the $264-million UCHealth Anschutz Inpatient Pavilion expansion and the $68-million UCHealth Steadman Hawkins Clinic project in Englewood, Colo.
Graff completed the Arbinger Institute’s Outward Mindset workshop to help him better mentor the firm’s junior staff. He was nominated by the company CEO to participate in AGC of Colorado’s executive leadership academy, graduating from the program in 2019.
31, Senior Project Manager, Engineering Department
City of Aspen
A native of the Roaring Fork Valley, Guglielmo started her career at the city of Aspen working with the community, developers and designers to update and create standards as part of the development review process for the city.
Her expertise developed as she worked on the design and implementation of capital projects that were designed by in-house staff and not outsourced to consultants. She has provided designs for a range of projects, from large-scale work such as the historic Wheeler Opera House to highway intersections and smaller projects such as ADA ramps.
She now leads the engineering team for the city, providing project management and development review. Guglielmo has been involved with every major development in Aspen during the past five years.
She is a leader in stormwater management and dedicated to maintaining the health of the Roaring Fork River, helping to implement water-quality systems and create stormwater quality standards as part of the city’s development process.
34, Water/Wastewater Engineer
Hodgson has built his career working on water and wastewater utility projects. After starting as a research associate at Colorado State University, he joined AECOM in 2012, working on the Pandora Water Treatment Plant in Telluride, Colo.
He continued his studies in civil engineering at CSU while working at AECOM, completing his doctorate in 2019. His post-grad work focused on the evaluation of systems-level nutrient removal to quantify the effectiveness of nutrient-removal strategies at the watershed scale.
Hodgson has authored or co-authored numerous journal publications on water conservation and wastewater treatment and has presented his research at multiple water conferences.
As a team leader, he manages eight water and wastewater engineers. He leads the team’s work on development of the wastewater master plan for the city of Aurora, Colo.; design for the Salt Lake City Drinking Water Mitigation Facility Chemical System; and design of the Greeley Water and Transmission Pipeline in Greeley, Colo.
ROC Equipment LLC
Lucido started in the family drilling business in 2006 as a project assistant and quickly progressed to project manager, working on notable projects that included Moab State Route 101 Bridge, the Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and the Seattle Viaduct Widening. Today, she is the owner and CEO of ROC Equipment LLC, a company that leases foundation-drilling equipment to contractors.
She assumed the role of CEO in 2012 at the age of 26. The company has grown from an initial $37,000 in sales to annual rental revenue in the millions, and equipment volume has increased from one rental unit to an entire fleet that serves North America.
Lucido continued to run the firm while pursuing an executive MBA from the University of Utah, which she completed in 2016. She was featured on “The Curse of Oak Island” program on the History Channel, where she and her team lent ROC’s equipment and expertise to help drill a Nova Scotia borehole in search of a legendary treasure.
39, Senior Preconstruction Manager
Marsh started his career with Haselden nearly 20 years ago, joining the firm full time after an internship and a degree in construction management from Colorado State University. He started in Haselden’s estimating department and quickly discovered the value of bringing design, construction and owner teams together to deliver a project collaboratively. His award-winning projects include the LEED Platinum, net-zero-energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory Research Support Facilities in Golden, Colo., and the $60-million Colorado State University biology building in Fort Collins.
Marsh led planning of the firm’s annual charity golf tournament for six years and now uses that experience to mentor staff, helping them develop organizational and public-speaking skills through community involvement. He has completed industry leadership programs, including Haselden’s Level III program, as well as the AGC Future Leaders Forum. Peers at Haselden describe him as a “selfless leader,” crediting him with helping to secure more than $770 million in work for the firm.
37, Vice President
After getting his start in the industry on a variety of highway and interstate projects across numerous states, Mercer relocated to his hometown of Lebanon, Va., for an opportunity in the coal mining industry. He later joined RS&H to work on the Coalfields Expressway, a project that leveraged coal-mining techniques to build roadways while enabling marketable coal reserves to be recovered during roadbed preparation. Mercer contributed to RS&H’s expansion, and he assumed the lead role for its Virginia operations. His design-build expertise helped the firm expand into the West by playing a key role in landing the Colorado Dept. of Transportation’s $2.2-billion Central 70 project.
He is active in many industry groups, including Design Build Institute of America and the Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance. He was awarded the ACEC Virginia chapter’s Rising Star award in 2020, given to an employee who has made a significant contribution to his company’s success in the engineering sector.
31, Utah Municipal Water Manager
Salt Lake City
Peterson joined AECOM’s Hunt Valley, Md., office as a transportation and surface water engineer after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from Bucknell University in 2011. He built his résumé working on highway widening and stream restoration projects. In 2016, AECOM leadership asked him to relocate to the firm’s Salt Lake City office to help boost its municipal water and wastewater business in the region. Today, Peterson oversees a team of 10 people while also serving as the deputy project manager for a $50-million design and construction oversight contract with the Salt Lake City Dept. of Public Utilities on its 48-MGD water reclamation facility.
Peterson’s leadership has been key in transforming AECOM’s local municipal water and wastewater business into a sustainable $10-million-per-year market. His industry involvement includes helping to establish an international Green-Gray Infrastructure Community of Practice. The group includes nonprofits, academics, engineers and construction entities that are working to expand the global implementation of green-gray infrastructure.
Lauren Amber Prestenbach
39, Principal/Director of Interiors
Powers Brown Architecture
Prestenbach was named a principal at Powers Brown Architecture just one year after joining the firm. With undergraduate degrees in biology, psychology and interior design, her diverse training sets her apart on interior design projects, including tenant-finish work at Block 162 and the Market Center historic adaptive reuse in Denver.
Prestenbach’s background was a perfect fit to help spearhead the firm’s “Safe Work Return Roadmap”—turnkey design and research to help clients navigate the challenges of COVID-19 in the workplace.
Her involvement in the industry has helped interior designers across the state. As vice president of advocacy for the Rocky Mountain chapter of the International Interior Design Association, Prestenbach worked with a team to help pass legislation legally recognizing and licensing interior design professionals in Colorado.
Her team’s pro bono design of a local day shelter renovation became a case study for the effort to boost bipartisan support for a bill that clarifies language for permitting and exemptions about life-safety systems. Colorado HB20-1165 was signed into law on April 1.
39, Vice President, Project Architect
Salt Lake City
Wallace works on projects of all scopes and scales, but his experience is particularly sought for the design of higher education and sports and recreation facilities as well as federal visitor centers across the country. His recent projects include the Utah State University (USU) Maverik Stadium Premium Seating and Stadium Expansion and the Mesa Verde National Park Visitor and Research Center. Other notable work includes the Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center in Taylorsville, Utah; the Davis Technical College Allied Health Building in Kaysville, Utah; and USU’s Aggie Recreation and Wellness Center in Logan, Utah, among many others.
In addition to his 17 years of experience, Wallace has master’s degrees in both architecture and business administration from USU, which adds to his expertise in feasibility studies, planning and programming. He also mentors staff and leads monthly in-house discussions to improve processes at the firm.
He currently serves as the licensed architect on the Utah Child Care Center Licensing Committee and has contributed dozens of hours toward design and construction of the Youth Impact gymnasium project.
38, Associate Engineer
Wong joined VBFA in 2015 after eight years in the industry. He became key to growing the firm’s electrical division, expanding the firm’s capabilities and leading the lighting design team. He is the recipient of numerous lighting design awards for a wide variety of projects, including education, office and retail facilities. He tries to attain the highest level of sustainability for electrical, lighting and low-voltage systems, working on many LEED-certified projects during his career.
Wong shares his knowledge through his work on various committees within the firm, including the project management, technology and Revit committees, where he contributes to standards and modeling processes. He is an active participant in Utah’s Illuminating Engineering Society and the ACE Mentor program and helps promote the value of STEM education to high school students. Wong also is a long-standing member of the all-volunteer West Valley Symphony, where he plays piano and oboe, performing at various community events to promote the benefits of music education.
35, Senior Project Director
A licensed architect, Worden began to focus on facade design after working on projects early in his career that ranged from urban planning to product design.
His 13 years of experience in digital modeling and fabrication includes parametric modeling, geometric optimization, facade design and fabrication techniques. As co-director of Thornton Tomasetti’s facade engineering group, he is the lead facade consultant for a laboratory in Cambridge, Mass.; assists in geometry optimization and fabrication for an arts pavilion in Aalborg, Denmark; and is providing facade engineering for exterior scrim at the new Colorado State University Spur campus.
Worden works with a variety of materials, from steel and mesh to textiles, which are created with such techniques as crocheting, knitting and weaving.
He shares his knowledge with the industry through technical papers and presentations and served as a senior studio professor for CU Boulder’s environmental design program in 2017. He is a member of the research and education nonprofit Facade Tectonics and advises students interested in architecture and textiles.
37, Business Development and Marketing Manager
Mark Young Construction LLC
Wybenga started her career in 2009 as a proposal coordinator at a government contractor, then moved to the marketing department of a large national engineering firm before returning to work for a contractor. She joined Mark Young Construction (MYC) four years ago.
As business development and marketing manager for the firm, her responsibilities include developing marketing materials and campaigns as well as leading business development and community involvement. She also develops winning proposals to keep the field employees busy and creates marketing materials, including MYC’s award-winning 30th anniversary campaign. She created MYC’s website, which has increased traffic for the company. Her relationships helped introduce firm leadership to a new client that has led to more than $71 million in work for MYC over the last three years.
Wybenga also has helped improve the firm’s success rate on proposal interviews, with MYC teams winning 50% of their interviews in 2020, compared with a previous rate of 10%. She is a certified professional services marketer (CPSM), active in the Colorado chapter of Society for Marketing Professional Services. She received the chapter’s Unicorn Marketer Award for April 2020 and has served on the Colorado board as well as the awards and membership committees.