Despite the global pandemic, the winners of ENR MidAtlantic’s Top Young Professionals competition have adapted and thrived in the industry’s evolving landscape.
For example, Denila “Deni” Deliallisi deployed her technological know-how of the latest project-management tools to help AECOM’s Baltimore office better navigate the turmoil.
This year’s honorees—all of whom were under the age of 40 as of Jan. 1—have made big impressions on the communities where they live and work. But they have also made a mark on a national and international stage.
Harsha Motamarry has worked from Dallas to Mumbai. Based in Page’s Washington, D.C., office, Motamarry has served as project architect for numerous U.S. embassies.
Besides being named to the MidAtlantic Top Young Professional list, Danielle McCray earned a slot in the ENR 2021 national Top 20 Under 40 class. McCray, who works for Kimley-Horn in Reston, Va., has developed access plans for seven urban National Wildlife Refuges.
The 20 winners—chosen from a pool of candidates from Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia—exemplify the traits that define good leaders and citizens.
The nominees themselves or one of their advocates submitted online forms about their experience, education, career and industry leadership. The submissions also outline each candidate’s community service.
A panel of industry judges considered each candidate’s experience, education, leadership and community service.
This year’s judges were: Darius Helton, project executive at Grunley Construction Co.; Jerry Jannetti, senior vice president at WSP; and David Yergin-Doniger, president of WG Construction Co.
Keep reading to learn more about the traits, skills and vision embodied by this year’s ENR MidAtlantic Top Young Professionals.
Tom Amos, 31
Senior Project Manager
Establishing an early track record for leadership
Amos was just a few years out of college when he was tapped to lead his first project.
Since then, he has successfully handled complex project-management assignments typically reserved for professionals with decades of experience. That track record of success has helped elevate Amos’ profile in the industry, as evidenced by his extensive involvement with a local Urban Land Institute podcast that profiles key figures in the area’s real estate market.
As leader of Hoar Construction’s college recruitment efforts, Amos coordinates career fairs and interviews and develops the summer internship curriculum to ensure students have a positive experience.
Amos is equally active in his community, including organizing a fundraising campaign that enabled The Boys & Girls Club of Alexandria to purchase a much-needed new bus.
Ryan Breier, 39
Director of Signals, Communications and Train Control
A well-earned reputation for engaging leadership
Burns Engineering Inc.
In a six-year stint in the U.S. Air Force, Breier experienced many leadership styles as well as best practices for choosing and engaging a team.
He has transferred that knowledge to delivering essential projects that enhance the safety and reliability of rail and transit systems across the region while at the same time inspiring his team to achieve challenging goals. Breier’s experience in electronic control systems was instrumental in helping Amtrak and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority meet a federal mandate to install positive train control (PTC) technology along hundreds of track miles without disrupting service.
But simply having this valuable safety technology in place is not enough. Breier is currently developing a concept for a collaborative signal and PTC maintenance system that will help all Northeast Corridor transportation agencies ensure reliability, resilience and consistency in the coming years.
Denila “Deni” Deliallisi, 34
Civil Engineer and Project Manager
Bringing a collaborative worldview to transportation engineering
Breaking down communication barriers has been Deliallisi’s lifelong passion.
Before enrolling in college, the native of Albania participated in a two-year international baccalaureate program designed to help unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.
Similarly, experience in the public and private sectors of transportation has enabled Deliallisi to build collaborative connections for complex Washington, D.C.-area projects, such as the $480-million Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge replacement and the $227-million Arlington Memorial Bridge rehabilitation.
She is an avid user of new technologies and project management tools that maximize the use of talent in all project teams—a skill that has helped effect a smooth transition to remote work environments without compromising productivity or quality, according to the firm.
As a mentor to junior engineers, Deliallisi consistently searches for ways to promote women in transportation through opportunities to participate in challenging, high-profile projects. She recently served as a mentor in the WTS-Baltimore Chapter Program, advising younger women professionals on the best ways to overcome some of the industry’s challenges.
May ElKhattab, 31
Using personal experiences to build a better world
Burns Engineering Inc.
ElKhattab was a teenager in Lebanon when her brother was seriously injured in a car crash.
Recognizing that the incident was the result of poor transportation planning and execution, she dedicated her life to an engineering career focused on creating infrastructure that enhances safety and the quality of life.
ElKhattab’s commitment is evident in transit systems around the region. She led design of new train control, communication and traction systems for the new Potomac Yard Metrorail Station in Alexandria, Va., and helped craft a hyper-speed fiber-optic voice/data transport network to serve Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.
ElKhattab is active with the Project Management Institute and Deep Foundation Institute. As an Engineers Without Borders member, she managed design, procurement and construction of a maize processing facility in Rwanda and a water and sanitation project in Guatemala.
Jennifer Greenawalt, 27
Actively engaging others to support those in need
Before launching a career working on high-profile projects in the nation’s capital, Greenawalt embraced infrastructure’s importance to the developing world.
As president of the student Bridges to Prosperity chapter at Penn State, she journeyed to an isolated part of Panama to lead construction of a 250-ft pedestrian bridge that now provides residents with better access to the capital, Panama City.
Closer to home, Greenawalt has made a lasting impact in her community through involvement in the ACE Mentor Program. Serving as a member of the D.C. chapter’s board of directors, she has recruited a diverse mentor team and developed new activities to increase student interest and participation.
Greenawalt also helped launch the local office chapter of Women@TT, Thornton Tomasetti’s firm-wide initiative dedicated to helping women professionals advance their careers. In 2018, she organized what has become an annual mastermind retreat, featuring presentations and discussions on timely issues.
Jason R. Hinz, 35
Group Manager | Civil
Veteran’s drive to succeed inspires co-workers and clients
Herbert, Rowland & Grubic Inc.
The former U.S. Air Force civil engineering officer has seamlessly transferred exceptional leadership and mentoring skills to the civilian world by overseeing one of his firm’s largest revenue-generating practice areas.
Herbert, Rowland & Grubic says local governments count on Hinz to assist with their ongoing efforts to devise cost-effective strategies for upgrading drainage systems, roads and other critical infrastructure.
Hinz strives to improve his skills and gain knowledge of the latest engineering design standards and technology. He regularly pursues training opportunities offered by state agencies and industry organizations. That enables him to provide top-notch service to clients and guidance to those he manages and mentors.
Hinz is equally committed to enhancing community quality of life through a variety of volunteer efforts.
Those efforts include participating in a client’s riparian buffer tree-planting program and joining with co-workers in keeping an adopted section of highway free of litter.
Carl Kaczmarek III, 33
Senior Associate and Project Manager
Using experience as a career-advancing teacher
Shortly after beginning his career as a transportation engineer, Kaczmarek was challenged to take on construction inspection efforts on a segment of Maryland’s Intercounty Connector project.
Despite having no prior experience, he quickly stepped in to lead road and bridge inspection efforts, working directly with junior and senior staff to verify compliance with design specifications. Since then, Kaczmarek has managed numerous projects across metropolitan Washington, honing his expertise to deliver quality infrastructure using a variety of project delivery approaches.
Along the way, Kaczmarek has worked with junior- and entry-level staffers so that they too are prepared when a project opportunity arises.
And that includes the professionals of the future. Kaczmarek regularly takes a leading role in coordinating and hosting high school career days that combine presentations with special activities that help convey the many facets of an engineer’s job.
Stephen Kane, 31
Senior Project Engineer
Creating critical connections and local landmarks
Kane’s career as a structural engineer has taken him from Philadelphia’s tallest building—the Comcast Technology Center—to a remote part of Rwanda, where he served as construction lead for a Bridges to Prosperity assignment to build a new span across a dangerous river.
Kane has contributed his structural engineering skills to a range of projects, including the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Roberts Center for Pediatric Research, the Philadelphia Eagles’ Lincoln Financial Field and a full-block office, hotel and garage project in Reston, Va.
Within the firm, Kane sits on committees focused on exploring ways to advance the design and use of concrete slabs as well as helping engineers improve their data recording and communication skills.
He has also worked to strengthen his office’s relationship with the ACE Mentor program, guiding student groups on their way to second-place finishes in two national design competitions.
Heather McClimans, 34
Using technical skills and technology to achieve inspection excellence
McClimans played an integral role in expanding Gannett Fleming’s services for the Maryland Transit Administration—from solely providing design and environmental services to becoming a trusted adviser for construction management and inspection.
She currently oversees construction management and inspection services for eight active construction projects while also managing several major infrastructure rehabilitation and emergency repair efforts. As lead inspector on the Interstate 95 Express Toll Lanes project, McClimans and her team helped restore White Marsh Run by creating wetlands and vernal pools across the 183-acre site.
McClimans has also led the adoption of new project management technology to more easily document and share field conditions. For the $1.9-million BaltimoreLink signage project, she used an ESRI cloud-based mapping platform to monitor installation of more than 4,500 bus stop signs in the Baltimore area.
Jennifer McCracken, 37
Associate Vice President
A passion for mentoring engineering’s next generations
McCracken has been part of many exciting projects during her career, including the I-70 New Stanton Interchange and Pittsburgh’s Bus Rapid Transit program.
But her favorite role is manager of the traffic/ITS department for AECOM’s Greater Pennsylvania region. During the past three years, her department has grown by more than 20% by establishing a national center of excellence for ITS design that supports major design-build projects throughout North America.
McCracken’s extensive involvement with Pittsburgh’s WTS chapter includes heading the scholarship committee and helping organize a hands-on, interactive mentoring program that introduces teenage girls to a wide variety of transportation careers.
McCracken is particularly proud that a 2020 event of the montoring group earned “Think Like an Engineer” merit badges for her daughter’s Girl Scout troop.
Danielle McCray, 36
An advocate for accessible, inclusive environments
Safe and efficient multi-modal mobility has been the focus of McCray’s career, with projects that include crafting a long-range multimodal transportation strategy for the District of Columbia and developing access plans for seven urban National Wildlife Refuges, including efforts to improve connectivity for underserved and under-represented communities.
McCray’s passion for cultivating inclusive environments begins in the office through participation on Kimley-Horn’s diversity and inclusion committee as well as initiatives to recruit, develop and retain female employees. McCray—who was also named to ENR’s 2021 national Top 20 Under 40 class—also donates her time to the Washington, D.C., chapter of WTS and served as technical chair for the Institute of Transportation Engineers’ 2019 Joint Southern and Mid-Colonial District Conference.
McCray also partnered with the non-profit Beauty Within, a youth empowerment and mentoring organization for girls ages 9-13, to make presentations on transportation and lead a field study.
Harsha Motamarry, 29
Senior Associate and Architect
Applying international experience to improve her community
A lifelong curiosity to understand the mechanics behind how things function has taken Motamarry to culturally diverse locales from Dallas to Mumbai and provided her with experiences that have deeply influenced how she views the world.
Along with serving as project architect for numerous U.S. embassies, Motamarry has applied her technology skills to maximize Page’s use of the latest design and project management technology.
Motamarry’s travel led her to pursue volunteer efforts. She joined co-workers to create exercises to help kindergartners develop skills related to architectural design. Motamarry works with the DC Public Library to teach computer classes to help patrons build job skills and participates in events at Courtney’s House, which helps survivors of sex trafficking to heal and rebuild their lives.
Brian Neckermann, 39
Enhancing colleagues’ experience with each new project success
Walsh Construction Co.
Working his way from college intern to project manager, Neckermann has been involved with transportation agency projects worth billions of dollars. He oversees a 3.5-mile service extension and new Middletown Station for the Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, including right-of-way improvements, four bridges, a high-level platform, station building and parking deck.
Neckermann’s diverse technical and project delivery experience includes dealing with 165-ft-long precast bridge beams, 12-ft-dia caissons and the wet tap of an 84-in.-dia water main into an existing 96-in. steel riveted water main.
He regularly shares his experience and insights by teaching internal classes on leadership, cost and risk management as well as the development of worker supervisors. For new employees, he is a valued resource for how to navigate company systems and reports.
Marc Preim, 34
Senior Project Manager/Associate
A trusted resource for clients, colleagues and the community
Throughout his career, Preim has consistently embraced new challenges that allow him to grow as a professional while also advancing those around him, according to the firm.
He has taken on leadership roles overseeing all phases of design for many high-profile regional projects, including the $880-million reconstruction of the Betsy Ross Interchange and on-call assignments with Philadelphia International Airport, the Pennsylvania Dept. of Transportation and other agencies.
Preim has become a valued resource in STV through developing and teaching operational tools for financial and resource management that have boosted project quality and efficiency.
His commitment to community service includes serving on the transportation, building and construction committee for the Philadelphia March of Dimes chapter. The group’s activities include organizing an annual 1,200-person fundraising event to improve the health of mothers and babies.
Molly Raglani, 37
Offering opportunities to build professional skills
Clark Construction Group
Raglani has built residences and cultural landmarks across Washington, D.C., including the Shakespeare Theatre’s Sidney Harman Hall, Rosslyn’s Central Place apartments, the renovation of 800 K Street and the Anthem Theatre at The Wharf.
After leading preconstruction efforts on the condominium portion of the 10-acre CityCenter DC mixed-use development, she was asked by the owner’s representative to stay on and manage the construction phase—an assignment she accepted despite having already committed to pursuing a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Maryland.
Crediting supportive leadership for her own success, Raglani strives to create a similar environment for younger team members, consistently providing them with opportunities to stretch their skills.
Raglani’s community work includes serving on the board of Girls on the Run of Montgomery County, an after-school program for preteen girls to promote healthy choices and inspire physical activity.
Ryan Spotts, 36
An advocate for his staff, clients and community.
Gilbane Building Co.
Whether Spotts is making a batch of sandwiches to feed the homeless or handcrafting apparel and home decor for fundraising events, he is always concerned with the needs of others, Gilbane says. It begins at home, where he and his wife fostered 15 children over five years before starting their own family with twin sons.
A member of Gilbane’s philanthropic and employee engagement committee, Spotts helps organize events to support Philadelphia-area nonprofits, from Habitat for Humanity build days to preparing school supplies for donation to low-income children.
Spotts also plays a key role in implementing new enterprise-wide construction management software and developing strategies to solve client challenges. That includes finding out-of-the-box solutions to obstacles, such as using a drone for a punch-list inspection on a recently completed standing steel roof.
Brett Thompson, 33
Senior Project Manager
Go-to leader is always on the go
Gilbane Building Co.
During his 12-year career, Thompson has amassed thousands of road miles managing projects from the Tidewater Community College Learning Resource Center in Virginia Beach to the University of Virginia’s $175-million cancer center and bed tower in Charlottesville.
For three months, he regularly made the four-hour trek to Blacksburg to help close out a project at his alma mater, Virginia Tech. Thompson now enjoys a much shorter commute while managing construction of the $200-million Virginia General Assembly Building in Richmond.
Thompson also stresses adding a healthy dose of fun to the work environment, from after-hours Ping-Pong in the construction trailer to treating co-workers to an annual feast of homemade Brunswick stew. He also helped create a competition to increase the number and quality of safety inspections at Richmond-area projects.
Michael Trabucco, 37
A career fueled by a fascination with building infrastructure
Shirley Contracting Co.
Trabucco’s first exposure to construction came via his father, a superintendent on several large bridge projects. Awed by the process of creating complex infrastructure, he committed himself to gaining the skills and experience necessary to make his own contributions to the industry. Trabucco didn’t have to wait long.
Within a few years of landing his first engineering job, he was assigned to manage highway and interchange projects of increasing size and complexity. Trabucco says he has successfully managed and delivered highly complicated and intricate interchange and road-widening projects in the Washington, D.C., area.
Along the way, Trabucco has mentored other young engineers as they build their careers. He says it has been rewarding to watch mentees become senior managers and develop the next group of future managers who work for them.
Besides serving on the board of the local Heavy Construction Contractors Association chapter, Trabucco regularly supports career fairs for elementary school children, helping them learn the significant role civil engineering plays in everyday life.
Timothy Ward, 38
Regional Aviation Lead
Engineer flies high in managing airport projects
Ward might have a hard time choosing his favorite runway repaving project—he’s done 13 of them, after all. But there’s little doubt about his standing as a go-to resource for planning and developing airport projects.
Along with runway design and pavement management, Ward’s work includes hydrant fueling and baggage handling systems, restroom restorations and roof replacements.
He played a key role in developing a technical center of excellence for aviation that has helped HDR raise its regional profile in this key market.
As a mentor, Ward provides opportunities for younger staff members to hone skill sets and build professional networks.
He also applies his leadership and enthusiasm to community causes such as Pittsburgh Cares, a nonprofit affiliate of the HandsOn Network dedicated to advancing a culture of volunteerism and widespread civic engagement.
By participating in the Philadelphia International Airport and the City of Philadelphia Division of Aviation 5K, he supported Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia and Eastwick Friends and Neighbors Coalition.
Meredith J. Welle, 38
Water Section Lead
Combining skills to build strong relationships and quality projects
A mix of technical acumen, people skills and entrepreneurial spirit enables Welle to lead large and complex water and wastewater projects across the region.
A current example of her abilities is the $120-million expansion of the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority’s wastewater treatment plant.
Along with seamlessly coordinating the work of a large, technically diverse project team, Welle continually demonstrated the value of BIM technology to the owner. As a result, the agency adopted the project team’s model as the basis for future construction projects.
Similarly, gaining owner approval for utilizing LiDAR technology to map service tunnel equipment produced significant cost savings while producing a high level of detail that aided the design process.
As a member of her local planning commission, Welle uses her engineering background to help the commission with the effect of planned developments on existing municipal infrastructure.
She is deeply involved in her local Society of Women Engineers chapter as well as the Society of Women Environmental Professionals.