ENR Texas & Louisiana’s 2023 class of Top Young Professional features an impressive collection of current and future leaders who are helping their respective firms improve their bottom lines and expand opportunities. Diversity, equity and inclusion is a theme throughout, as this generation of AEC professionals ensures that their firms—and the industry a large—are representative of the communities they serve and support. Many are also engaged in expanding the use of technology and setting standards for quality in the industry.
The annual awards honor 20 individuals in each of ENR’s 10 regions. Firms from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas submitted 64 entries into ENR Texas & Louisiana’s contest. These individuals were then judged by three primary criteria: industry experience and education; career and industry leadership; and community service and involvement.
A team of independent industry judges was split into sections to tackle the numerous entries and did not score any applicants with whom there could have been a conflict of interest. This year’s judging panel included: Kristi Grizzle Gollwitzer, urban development project director, Houston First Corp.; Alex Morales, senior structural steel specialist, American Institute of Steel Construction; Claire Obgartel, vice president, workforce development, ABC New Orleans/Bayou Chapter; Erin Peavey, architect and design researcher, HKS; Hossein Roshani, project manager, Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam Inc.; Todd Wynne, chief innovation officer, Rogers-O’Brien Construction; and Chad Yount, area manager, Sundt Construction.
Congratulations to regional winner Jennifer Sloan Ziegler, engineer and project manager at Cypress Environment & Infrastructure in Ocean Springs, Miss., for being selected as one of ENR’s national 2023 Top 20 Under 40 cohort. ENR will recognize her at the Top Young Professionals Conference on March 8-10 in New Orleans. For more information, visit https://www.enr.com/top-young-professionals-conference. Read on to learn more about this impressive collection of current and future leaders.
Champion for Diversity and Inclusion in the Construction Industry
31, Senior Associate
Peckar & Abramson
As a construction law attorney, Dang focuses her practice on working with general contractors and construction managers to handle pre-suit investigations, hearings, settlement negotiations and trials. A first-generation American whose parents are refugees from the Vietnam War, Dang began practicing in 2015. She serves as the diversity and inclusion events subcommittee chair for the Associated Builders and Contractors of Houston, where she was awarded a champion award for her work on the 89-member committee. She is also a member of Peckar & Abramson’s diversity and inclusion committee. Dang speaks and writes about the topic. She gave a presentation at the 2022 Associated General Contractors of America conference and participated in a panel with industry leaders for Construction Inclusion Week. Dang also looks for opportunities to mentor attorneys in the earlier stages of their careers. She helped teach a mock trial at her alma mater, Houston Baptist University, and coached moot court at South Texas College of Law, where she helped students prepare for tournaments and oral arguments.
“Amy [English] is a go-getter and knows how to build relationships that create business opportunities.”
—Thomas Polucci, Senior Principal and Firmwide Director of Interior Design, HOK
Young Principal Builds Impressive Book of Business
38, Principal, Director of Interiors
The second-youngest professional hired as a principal in HOK’s history, English is responsible for the unit’s business and staff operations, financial accountability, project management, thought leadership and business development. In her role as director of interiors, she manages a team of 12. During her less than five years in that role, she helped the studio achieve 20% profitability. English took initiative to adjust the team’s fee structure and project kickoff approach, helping make the first quarter of 2022 four times more profitable over 2021 for the Houston interiors group. English adopts a leadership approach with the attitude of “follow me because you trust me,” not “listen to me because you have to.” She is active with CoreNet Houston, where she served as president and helped create a board-level role of DEI ambassador. She also volunteers at Meals on Wheels, where she has delivered meals for two years with her husband. Recently, English was asked to serve as corporate development chair for Autism Speaks Houston. She is also involved with Rescued Pets Movement. Landmark projects she has worked on include the JLL Houston Headquarters Relocation and the 600 Travis/JPMorgan Chase Tower Repositioning.
Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina Prompts a Career in Civil Engineering
32, Project Manager
McCarthy Building Cos.
Born and raised in New Orleans, Kelly grew up wanting to be a veterinarian until Hurricane Katrina changed the course of her life. The devastation caused by the storm sparked an interest in civil engineering. After receiving degrees in civil engineering and mathematics at Southern Methodist University, Kelly began a career in construction project management of heavy civil infrastructure. She went on to obtain a master’s degree in civil engineering with a concentration in structures and a master’s degree in business. A licensed professional engineer, Kelly has been involved in a variety of notable infrastructure projects across Texas, including several tollway projects, Dallas-Fort Worth Airport and the Love Field Modernization program. Kelly is known within McCarthy for helping foster connectivity between teams and advancing company culture across business units. Her participation in industry organizations includes being a part of the TEXO Executive Women’s leadership program. She often speaks on industry panels or at STEM events, encouraging students to pursue careers or degrees in construction and engineering fields. She has also been a guest speaker at SMU’s Introduction to Civil and Environmental Engineering class. Kelly authored and self-published an illustrated children’s book based on the impacts of Hurricane Katrina on one child’s future career called “Celeste Saves the City.” It tells the story of a young Black girl from New Orleans who finds a way to keep the city from flooding by becoming a civil engineer after her family is forced to evacuate. Kelly is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Society of Women Engineers and National Society of Black Engineers.
Meets Critical Infrastructure Needs From Netherlands to New Orleans
39, Engineer, Structures
Modjeski and Masters
Koop grew up in a small town in the Netherlands and became interested in engineering after a family trip that included a visit to the Eastern Scheldt Storm Surge Barrier. The barrier is a system of hydraulic dams and barriers constructed after devastating floods in southwest Netherlands in the 1950s. The visitor center left an impression that inspired his interest in civil engineering at a later age. After earning his civil engineering degrees from Delft University of Technology, Koop worked in the Netherlands for more than eight years, including on projects such as the Panama Canal Expansion’s third set of locks project for the Republic of Panama. He spent about a year living in Panama. After moving to New Orleans, he worked on a variety of bridge jobs for Modjeski and Masters, including the Prien Lake Bridge in Lake Charles, La., and the St. Andrew Street Wharf erosion mitigation project. He is a member of the Holland Club of New Orleans, which is a group of Dutch people who live in southeast Louisiana. He is also on the board of directors for the American Concrete Institute—Louisiana and has served in that role since 2019.
Made His Mark at HKS From Tech Innovation to Practice Leadership
39, Studio Practice Leader, Hospitality
39, Studio Practice Leader, Hospitality
An emerging leader within HKS, Lamp first made his mark at the firm after graduating from Texas Tech in 2007. He started with the Revit development committee, followed by the digital innovation group, where he helped expand the firm’s software platforms. In 2009, he was promoted to BIM manager for the sports and entertainment group. The following year, Lamp was selected to the HKS design fellowship, which led to design work for a not-for-profit company called Vision Regeneration in Dallas. He served as design fellowship administrator from 2011 to 2012. Lamp launched the “Xchange” committee in Shanghai, where HKS shares staff among different offices each quarter to create broader firm connections. Promoted to associate in 2014, he was lead designer on such projects as JW Marriott Austin and MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. In 2015, he was selected to the HKS leadership council to help engage younger staff as a mentor. He was promoted to vice president in 2019 and has served on the HKS advisory committee since that time. Lamp leads his studio in the area of cross-sector collaboration, merging environments with knowledge of multiple project types and outcome-driven design. He is also committed to his community and industry, elevating peers through mentoring and public speaking while dedicating hours annually to AIA, the Real Estate Council, ULI, the Fair Park Task Force and various HKS volunteer opportunities.
“As a woman who wasn’t exposed to the field of engineering until late high school, I feel obligated to make the field known to everyone.”
—Kristi Laverty, 39, Civil Engineer, Senior Associate, Parkhill
Encourages Women to Seek Leadership Positions in Engineering
39, Civil Engineer, Senior Associate
Currently a water resources team leader at Parkhill, Laverty joined Parkhill in 2008 and worked on a multitude of solid waste projects, keeping several surrounding landfills in compliance with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. She also worked on site development and park improvement projects. In 2010, Laverty transitioned to the water resources sector, where she has designed and managed multiple municipal utility improvement projects. Her expertise focuses on irrigation and potable well and pump design; sewer and water line design; water tank storage design and rehabilitation; and lift stations. Laverty’s community involvement includes the Volunteer Services Council at Lubbock State School, where she has been a board member since 2013. She coordinates Parkhill’s involvement in volunteering for the school’s largest fundraising event each year, organizing employees to volunteer for shifts at the South Plains Fair Turkey Leg Booth. Laverty exhibits her passion for engineering by speaking to students and promoting engineering as a profession, encouraging women to take leadership positions. “As a woman who wasn’t exposed to the field of engineering until late high school, I feel obligated to make the field known to everyone,” Laverty says. “Solving problems and contributing to people’s well-being is so rewarding, not to mention the relationships that are made in the process.”
A Sought-Out Subject Matter Expert for Internal Technical Audits
34, Project Manager
During her 12 years in the industry, Massey’s work has helped improve water and wastewater infrastructure for millions of people in North Texas. Her expertise includes wastewater treatment facilities; lift station and pump station rehabilitation; and expansions. Massey co-leads a regional company initiative to drive growth in targeted markets. Since beginning this role in 2021, her market has experienced 240% growth. She was nominated internally within AECOM to serve as a lead verifier, reviewing the firm’s technical deliverables to confirm they comply with their contracts and ensuring projects comply with AECOM’s technical standards. She is also the youngest technical auditor within the Americas, serving as a subject matter expert who performs internal technical audits of projects within her area of expertise. Of the firm’s 4,567 lead verifiers, only 105 were selected to be technical auditors. Massey was also one of 520 managers selected out of 5,583 managers and directors worldwide to participate in AECOM’s inaugural global manager development training program, focusing on the fundamentals of being an effective manager and building emotional intelligence to succeed. She has been active in the North Central Texas Chapter of the Texas Section of the American Water Works Association for more than a decade and is a past president. Massey has served as a mentor for eight Southern Methodist University senior design/capstone project teams, spending five to 10 hours each month with the students.
“[Jaime Miller] has a deep understanding of teamwork and a true collaborative way of communicating at multiple levels and across disciplines.”
—Carlos Mederes, Program Director and Associate Vice President, AECOM
Promoting Education and Cross-Training Among Her Peers
38, Program Director
A licensed professional engineer and certified construction manager, Miller leads AECOM’s program management team for the city of Richardson’s 2021 $397-million capital improvement program. The program includes reconstruction of roads; expansion of water distribution systems; and renovations of the public library, city hall, animal shelter and a fire station. She previously led three complex campus modernization projects within the 2017 Austin Independent School District’s $1.05-billion bond program. Projects included the award-winning Ann Richards School for Young Women and the Rosedale School for students with severe special education and medical needs. Miller also led a successful 72-hour emergency dam stabilization effort as both engineer and construction manager. Collaborating with her team, Miller helped develop a centralized design-phase approval process for collecting all technical design, contractor constructibility and stakeholder compliance reviews. The program-wide approach became a model for future programs and has been extended to schedule and cost controls. “With her technical aptitude and passion for promoting education and cross-training among her peers, she is quick to make time to support others in any situation that may benefit from her expertise, regardless of her already full plate,” says Carlos Mederes, AECOM program director and associate vice president. “She has a deep understanding of teamwork and a true collaborative way of communicating at multiple levels and across disciplines. She is a true leader who builds a team by setting the example and holding everyone to the highest standards.”
Makes a Major Impact on Megaprojects
35, Associate, Program Manager
Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson
A professional engineer who joined Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson in 2021, Miller spent seven years working for heavy civil contractors in Florida and Texas on megaprojects, including a year as an engineer on the $2.7-billion LJB Expressway and two years as a senior engineer on the $1.4-billion 35Express design-build projects in Dallas. Following his time as a contractor, Miller joined a civil engineering consulting firm, focusing on procurement, owner’s representation and leading construction quality, independent quality and owner’s verification inspection/testing teams. His consultant experience includes helping lead a team of more than 30 inspectors on the $847-million SH 183 design-build project for TxDOT-Dallas. He also led a team of 20-plus inspectors and testers for owner’s verification and testing services on the 50-mile, $900-million Grand Parkway H&I design-build for TxDOT-Houston and serving as deputy program manager on the $2-billion Southeast Connector project for TxDOT. Currently, he serves as deputy program manager for JMT’s procurement engineering services to TxDOT, assisting TxDOT’s alternative delivery division with statewide initiatives. He was selected by JMT leadership as one of 13 members of the 2022 lead projects class, participating in more than a dozen modules, ranging from project financials to public speaking.
“My passion is working with the team and making Atlas an inclusive and welcoming place.”
—Jamie Myers, 38, Chief Diversity Officer and VP of Marketing, Atlas Technical Consultants
Firm’s First Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Executive
38, Chief Diversity Officer, VP of Marketing
Atlas Technical Consultants
As the firm’s first chief diversity officer, Myers led development and implementation of its first diversity, equity and inclusion program. Her key responsibilities as CDO include the management and leadership of the Atlas DE&I council; employee resource group development and support; policy formulation for DE&I focused recruiting and retention practices; and DE&I program development and initiatives companywide. Myers also serves as vice president of corporate marketing, overseeing the brand integration for companies acquired by Atlas. Leveraging her background in marketing, Myers developed the program from months of personal research, collaboration with the Atlas DE&I council members and other professionals inside/outside the industry. Since formally launching Atlas’ DE&I program, Myers has mentored four additional companies in the industry on planning, strategies, resources, content, training and employee engagement best practices for successful DE&I programs. She is also a member of private equity firm Bernhard Capital Partner’s DE&I council. “My passion is working with the team and making Atlas an inclusive and welcoming place,” she says.
Applies Past Technical Experience to Support Engineers Nationwide
39, Director, Technical Advancement
American Society of Civil Engineers
A professional engineer with a background in civil and environmental engineering consulting services, O’Leary’s most significant achievements are not project-based, nor a result of her broad technical knowledge. In 2016, she joined a small staff team of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Texas section as its first full-time executive director. After five years in that role, O’Leary was named director of technical advancement at ASCE, where she supports the committee on technical advancement and its nine technical divisions. CTA covers a wide breadth of specialty technical topics, including aerospace, computing, cold regions, energy, forensic engineering, climate change adaptation, infrastructure resilience, sustainability and others. CTA is also home to the codes and standards committee, which is responsible for the oversight and administration of ASCE’s 70-plus technical standards produced in collaboration with ASCE’s discipline-specific institutes. O’Leary strives to influence other young professionals in achieving their career goals. She has written numerous leadership articles and participated on several podcasts geared toward supporting and growing young professionals. She also formally and informally mentors young engineers and her peers.
“[Dan Olson] brings to life the water and wastewater infrastructure that support his home state and beyond.”
—Jeff Sober, Director of Water Services, Garver
Expands Services and Grows Business for Garver in Texas
34, Texas Region Water Director
At 34, Olson is making big waves in the water engineering industry. After joining Garver in 2017 as Southeast Texas business team leader, his early success led to his promotion to Texas region director. In the new role, his responsibilities grew from business development and project management to also include mentoring other business team leaders and managing new initiatives for the firm. His project background includes leading the design and pilot testing of a first-of-its-kind water recycling facility that can treat up to 10 million gallons of water per day, providing purified drinking water to more than 100,000 Texans. In his initial role at the firm, Olson expanded Garver’s water services in Southeast Texas to include five additional services, including drinking water treatment and construction management. In his current role as director, his efforts have contributed to regional growth of more than $40 million in professional services revenue. “[Olson] brings to life the water and wastewater infrastructure that support his home state and beyond,” says Jeff Sober, Garver director of water services. Olson has served as president of the Southeast Texas chapter of the American Water Works Association. He also serves as co-chair of the Water Environment Association of Texas’ utility management committee. Olson is heavily involved with his church, leading a local Bible study group, serving on the missions committee and supporting the church’s orphanage in Kenya both financially and as a volunteer.
Leads Fast-Growing Firm’s Merger and Acquisition Efforts
36, Chief Strategy Officer
Atlas Technical Consultants
Parnell is responsible for identifying and executing on key growth opportunities for Atlas. In addition to managing the M&A pipeline, Parnell and his team handle deal execution and post-acquisition integration activities. He is also responsible for day-to-day investor relations. Parnell’s guiding principle is that industry acquisitions center around human capital. He says the success or failure of an acquisition comes down to the organization’s ability to gain and retain the trust of its new partners. Over the last three years, Atlas has become a publicly traded company, completed seven acquisitions, integrated 13 acquisitions and completed several capital structure transactions. “Our firm is incredibly fortunate to have Jonathan take on this critical new role as we continue to develop our business platform strategically. He has been vital in our acquisitive growth, and I look forward to his valuable contributions as we continue to expand,” says Joe Boyer, Atlas CEO. Prior to his current role, Parnell’s professional background included the operations of large projects such as a $1.25-billion capital expansion project for Freeport McMoRan and the Road Home Project in Louisiana, which disbursed billions of dollars in grant funds to citizens severely impacted by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Parnell helped launch a nonprofit organization that hosts fundraisers for underprivileged children. Over the years, these events have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. Eventually, the event transitioned into an organization with full time staff to give it dedicated attention.
Helps Lead Future Growth of World’s Second Busiest Airport
33, Assistant Vice President of Planning
DFW International Airport
In the span of four years in DFW Airport’s planning department, Pettyjohn has advanced in his career from senior airport planner to assistant vice president of planning at the second-busiest airport in the world. Prior to joining DFW Airport, he was director of airfield operations in the U.S. Air Force for five years, where he managed airport operations and airport planning at various Air Force airfields around the globe. In his current role, Pettyjohn leads long-term research and development, including strategic and tactical efforts. His work addresses the airport’s growth needs while meeting the airfield operations’ capacity requirements. He directs a team of employees and consultants that perform airport master planning, technical analysis and project development in support of the $2.5-billion infrastructure capital program. Pettyjohn also leads the urban air mobility initiative for DFW’s planning department and plays an active role in developing various aspects of DFW Airport’s Future Terminal Development Program.
“Through a combination of experience, educational background and natural intellect, Dillon brings a very unique combination of advanced airport operational knowledge, business acumen and sheer leadership ability to consistently deliver results through creative problem-solving and partnership,” says Smitha Radhakrishnan, vice president of planning at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.
“Construction is a core part of the world economy and has been stuck in the past for too long.”
—Sairam Ramisetti, 30, Analyst for Emerging Tech, McCarthy Building Cos.
Pushes to Unlock Construction’s Potential Through Innovation
30, Analyst, Emerging Tech
McCarthy Building Cos.
After joining McCarthy as a project engineer, Ramisetti’s passion for technology led him to become a founding member of a team responsible for driving new technology across the company. He co-developed the company’s first emerging tech strategy, which proved instrumental in establishing several strategic partnerships with venture capital firms, rising startups, accelerators and academia. He co-built and standardized the Tech Tracker, an open database to document construction tech startups. He co-created a due diligence process and evaluation framework for evaluating emerging tech and co-conceptualized the company’s first internal emerging tech competition. Currently, he is spearheading company initiatives in artificial intelligence, machine learning and field robotics with the goal of transforming the future of safety, scheduling, estimation and operations. Ramisetti, who graduated with a master’s from Purdue University, currently serves as a board member and secretary of the Purdue technology alumni board. He was also a United Nations Local Pathways fellow, MIT En-ROADS ambassador, Harvard summit delegate and World Bank youth delegate. He currently sits on the tech and innovation committee of the Construction Industry Institute. “Construction is a core part of the world economy and has been stuck in the past for too long,” Ramisetti says. “I strongly dream and believe that through the ‘adapt and adopt’ of innovation and emerging tech we can solve many problems of the construction industry and unlock its potential.”
Critical Contributor to Firm’s Development Services Group
36, Senior Associate
A 2008 graduate of Texas A&M University, Scott worked at civil engineering firm Pacheco Koch before joining Kimley-Horn in 2012. She started her career working on Dallas Independent School District projects and new libraries. All combined, Scott has completed more than 40 projects in and around Dallas, ranging from civil engineering on aquatic centers to residential towers in Victory Park. Additionally, Scott has been a key player in the land development group, growing the Dallas team from 48 to more than 200 people over the past decade. The development services group’s annual fees have grown from $9 million in 2012 to $53 million in 2021. She also collaborated with other Dallas-Fort Worth mid-level professionals on additional projects last year, generating several million dollars in fees. She has also served on Kimley-Horn’s senior living task force, leading the firm’s growth in that segment in Texas. Partnering with other project managers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Scott currently spearheads multifamily development in Texas for Kimley-Horn. She has worked on more than 40 multifamily developments with an average of 300 units per project. Scott has been a member of the Real Estate Council for 13 years and has served on several committees.
“I saw this career path as a chance to make buildings safer and more secure from the beginning.”
—Ryan Searles, 39, Senior Consultant for Security Assessment and Protective Services, IMEG Corp.
Helping Make Buildings Safe and Secure From the Beginning
39, Senior Consultant, Security Assessment and Protective Services
Searles served in military special operations early in his career, earning two Purple Hearts. After the military, Searles’s experience included corporate consulting for organizations, helping them become safer and more secure workplaces. Searles returned to government work overseas, participating in maritime security and anti-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean and providing counterinsurgency and counterterrorism training. He returned to the U.S. after nearly 12 years abroad. In 2018, he received a bachelor’s degree in terrorism and counterterrorism studies from Henley-Putnam School of Strategic Security and soon joined IMEG Corp. as senior consultant for security assessment and protective services. His expertise brought a new service to IMEG’s security offerings and created new opportunities. “I saw this career path as a chance to make buildings safer and more secure from the beginning,” he says. “I can provide recommendations during the design phase to make sure things are done right the first time.”
Katrina von Kamrath
Helps Recruit, Retain and Develop Women Into Construction Leaders
36, Project Engineer
Zachry Construction Corp.
Grand Prairie, Texas
Early in her career with Zachry Construction, Von Kamrath worked as a field engineer on the first construction package of the California High Speed Rail system. Her success on that project led to her promotion to project engineer in 2019. She moved back to Texas to take a lead role in running a $40-million bonding company project. After two years on that project, she moved to her current role, helping to run a $135-million project along US-380 in Denton County, Texas. With support from Zachry’s executive leadership, Von Kamrath founded Zachry Women Breaking Ground, the company’s first employee resource group. The group has since expanded to women and men who support the group’s mission to inspire an environment that supports the growth and success of women in construction through leadership, advocacy, equality, empowerment, inclusivity and education for all. The group focuses its efforts on helping to recruit qualified women in construction, to retain the group Zachry has and to develop women into leaders within the company. Since its inception in 2019, women in project engineer roles have doubled and women in field engineer roles have tripled. Retention rates for women in operations roles now exceed those for men.
Helps Define, Refine and Control Standards in Transportation
36, Group Quality Manager
Sundt Construction Inc.
Since being promoted to group quality manager for Sundt’s transportation group four years ago, Yount has emerged as an asset in Sundt’s ability to procure and execute work. In addition to her responsibilities within the transportation group, she leads the Sundt quality committee, which consists of leaders from all business groups to ensure alignment across the company for quality-related initiatives. She is currently overseeing more than 12 active construction projects and various projects in the preconstruction phase. She is responsible for ensuring that all projects comply with project agreements, Sundt’s quality policy and standard operating procedures. Yount significantly contributed to developing Sundt’s internal quality control program, redefining internal processes and procedures. Recently, she implemented an internal system to share project lessons learned, best practices, product/process reviews and ideas.
Jennifer Sloan Ziegler
Mentors Future Engineers in Mississippi
34, Engineer and Project Manager
Cypress Environment & Infrastructure
Ocean Springs, Miss.
A member of the ENR’s 2023 national Top 20 Under 40 class, Ziegler is a civil and environmental engineer specializing in water resources project management. In addition to design, her work includes policy development, grant writing and stakeholder engagement. Her experience with environmental quality projects includes environmental assessments, stream mitigation, hydrologic and hydraulic modeling and water/wastewater modeling. She leads business development efforts and is credited with helping Cypress secure multiple contracts since joining the firm in 2019. Ziegler is active with the American Society of Civil Engineers, including serving as ASCE Region 5 governor and Mississippi Section president. She’s active with the Mississippi Engineering Society, the National Society of Professional Engineers and Women’s Transportation Seminar Mississippi. Through these organizations, she guest lectures at several local universities. She also actively serves as a mentor for individuals through ASCE, Mississippi State University and Mississippi School for Math and Science.