Narrowing down the number of candidates for inclusion in ENR MidAtlantic’s class of 2023 Top Young Professionals to just 20 winners was a difficult assignment for our industry judges given that this year there were more than 60 nominees. To determine the winners, the judges considered each candidate’s contribution to the industry and their contributions to their colleagues and community.
We strongly encourage anyone who applied but did not win to resubmit next year if the candidate is still eligible. Be sure to save a copy of your entry and add in the applicant’s most recent accomplishments.
ENR thanks the industry judges who undertook the selection challenge, diligently reviewing entries to choose the 20 winners for this year. The judges were: Elizabeth Brownell, senior associate at Thornton Tomasetti, and a member of ENR’s 2021 national Top 20 Under 40 group, and Chris Fletcher, project director at McCarthy Building Cos., and a member of ENR’s 2022 national class.
Congratulations to the three regional winners who were chosen this year to be part of the national Top 20 Under 40 cohort: Tauhira Ali, executive director of industry innovation at the National Electrical Contractors Association; Margaret Hopkins, vice president at AKRF Inc.; and Stephen Parker, behavioral health planner at Stantec.
ENR will recognize the national-level awardees at the Top Young Professionals Conference set for March 8-10 in New Orleans. The event is a great opportunity for all industry professionals to learn more about construction sector challenges and gain insights on career development. It will include expert presenters, panel discussions and focused workshops on critical industry topics, plus many opportunities for networking with peers, management, clients and specialists. To learn more about the conference, visit https://www.enr.com/top-young-professionals-conference.
Read on to learn more about the achievements of this year’s ENR MidAtlantic 2023 Top Young Professionals.
36, Executive Director of Industry Innovation
Inspiring current and future industry leaders
National Electrical Contractors Association
As executive director of industry innovation for the Washington, D.C.-based National Electrical Contractors Association, Tauhira Ali inspires the construction community to rethink innovation as more than just technologies or product-based solutions. She leads by example, with more than 17 years of research and development experience in a variety of industries.
Ali holds more than 30 patents in construction solutions, and her product development work ranges from robots and mobile apps to personal protective equipment and hand tools.
In addition, Ali is deeply committed to expanding and empowering all voices within technical industries. She is an accomplished speaker and has spearheaded workshops, seminars and keynote addresses for regional, national, international, union and nonunion organizations. Along with the nationally recognized NECA Student Chapters program, Ali shares the benefits of the construction industry through recruitment efforts involving the Girl Scouts, STEM programs and outreach at the middle school, high school and collegiate level.
Seeking to encourage retention as much as recruitment, she also serves as a mentor and coach in several regional and national programs that support rising leaders in construction.
37, Project Manager
Enhancing transportation to create a stronger city
Burns Engineering Inc.
Erica Antoine has managed significant transit projects that provide public benefits and that will have a lasting impact for generations to come. High-profile projects such as the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s $20-million Independence Hall Station Renovation and the $28-million Franklin Square Station renovation for the Delaware River Port Authority have reinvigorated aged transportation facilities with new building systems, enhancing their critical roles in the community. Antoine, who is committed to help advance her industry, moderated a Global Mass Transit virtual conference panel that provided insights into the deployment of cutting-edge electric buses. She has also published articles on zero-emission mobility.
Antoine’s leadership skills and determination to elevate the engineering community as whole have contributed to her efforts to create a more diverse, inclusive and equitable industry. As part of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce’s Pay It Forward program, she advises rising business leaders on how to prepare themselves for leadership roles. Antoine also participates in WTS’s education and mentorship programs aimed at helping young women consider engineering careers in the transportation industry.
32, Vice President, Operations Manager
Dedicated to providing others with opportunities for success
The arrival of the coronavirus pandemic just weeks after opening ATCS’s Prince George’s County office hardly fazed Victoria Ballestero. Despite economic uncertainty, crippling supply chain issues and a rapidly evolving workforce, she has quickly expanded the office to a team of 11 professionals and more than $2 million in annual revenue. Ballestero is also a corporate champion for continuing education and professional development, helping to advance leadership opportunities for women and supporting diversity and inclusion programs. She is also a valued mentor to junior staff members across the organization, with efforts that include a site/civil continuing education program.
Ballestero has held leadership roles for numerous professional organizations and charitable foundations. She is the scholarship chair for the Foundation for Applied Construction Technologies, an organization that promotes trade schools and apprenticeships.
Ballestero is particularly passionate about her work with Homestretch, a nonprofit focused on empowering people to enrich their lives by ending homelessness, providing mental health resources, housing, education, training and job placement assistance.
38, Project Executive
Geotechnical specialist travels the world to build expertise
Mark Careyva has applied his diverse geotechnical skills to several high-profile, multidisciplinary projects in the Northeast. Beginning with foundation work for the World Trade Center, he has expanded his expertise with projects such as the East Branch Dam Cutoff Wall, DC United’s soccer stadium, Interstate-395 Capitol Crossing, Avens Bridge over South Holston Lake and the Pawtucket Tunnel. For the South Hartford Tunnel, Careyva traveled to Germany and Hong Kong to learn how pile-top drill rigs could be used to install drop and vent shafts more than 200 ft deep in bedrock to intersect tunnel connection chambers.
Careyava takes every opportunity to mentor interns and young engineers, and he shares his experiences with others in the industry. Away from work, he volunteers at his local church, assisting with community events, such as preparing items for the local food bank, putting together holiday gift packages for those in need and cleaning trash along roads and in parks.
Maura Fox Crisanti
32, Project Manager
Turning experience into inspiration for new engineers
Blue Bell, Pa.
Maura Fox Crisanti has been involved with numerous landmark renovation projects in the greater Philadelphia region, including the 19-story Park Towne Place and Swarthmore College’s Singer Hall.
She has also been part of multiple life science projects, including the laboratory fit-out for installation of new bioreactors and the construction of a new vivarium.
Applying leadership skills gained through these efforts enables Crisanti to take steps to make her team better together. One of her initiatives, the Blue Bell office’s Young Builders Group, provides a platform for engineers with fewer than five years of experience to deepen their understanding of all aspects of engineering and construction. Crisanti is also involved in Skanska’s higher education advisory council, focusing on lessons learned, ongoing projects and upcoming trends on a regional and national scale.
Crisanti is a member of the General Building Contractors Association of Philadelphia, helping advance the commercial, industrial and institutional construction industry. She takes personal pride in supporting her family and friends through activities that benefit breast cancer research, suicide prevention and many other charitable causes.
37, Senior Superintendent
Using positive energy to build high-performing teams
Clark Construction Group
Whether in a combat zone or on a construction site, leadership is critical for completing a mission as efficiently and safely as possible. Small wonder then that Conner Gentil’s nearly decade-long stint as a U.S. Marine Corps infantry officer has been instrumental in his ability to guide complex projects. Beginning with the transformation of a circa-1922 building near the National Mall into the Museum of the Bible, Gentil has since tackled challenges such as the 11.5-mile extension of the D.C.-area Metrorail Silver Line to Dulles Airport and Project Speedway, Amazon’s 2.7-million-sq-ft fulfillment center in Richmond.
Gentil’s military experiences provide him with a perspective that helps his team treat an occasional project setback as a problem that can be solved rather than a desperate crisis. Gentil also strives to balance his fast-paced career with the demands of a growing family and a strong desire to give back to his local community. An Eagle Scout during his youth, Gentil is passionate about conservation efforts and regularly seeks out service projects that support wildlife and the ecosystem.
37, Project Manager
Continuing a family tradition of innovation and problem-solving
Having grown up in a family of inventors, engineers and entrepreneurs, Phil Gonski values curiosity, creativity, engineering knowledge and technical excellence. He now is a sought-after resource for advanced power projects that create resilience and sustainability with microgrids and smart infrastructure. His work includes a $1-billion, 3,200-MW power plant; microgrids in New York City relied upon by millions of people and mission-critical organizations; the first commercial combustion turbine power plant run entirely on biofuel; and the first microgrid for powering an urban train system.
Gonski is a regular speaker at national industry associations and events sponsored by IEEE, the International District Energy Association and Microgrid Knowledge. He also is a guest lecturer on power subjects at Drexel, Villanova and Penn State. As a mentor and judge in STEM programs, such as the Delaware Valley Science Fair and Engineers’ Week Future Cities competitions, Gonski engages with young people to stimulate their understanding about how engineering principles solve complex challenges.
38, Transportation Engineer
An innovator in improving regional mobility
Getting around the congested metropolitan Washington area has become easier thanks to Vivek Hariharan, who has been involved with many major transportation projects across the region. Currently, Hariharan is working on the I-495/I-270 Managed Lanes in Maryland’s Montgomery and Prince George’s counties; the I-95 Express Lanes in Fredericksburg, Va.; and the Route 28 widening project in Fairfax County, Va. He has also shared insights from his past experience with Maryland’s Purple Line light rail system within his firm and at conferences across the country, providing valuable lessons learned for others who may be involved with similar complex, high-profile projects. Hariharan also helped develop a methodology to evaluate and streamline alternatives for improving a specific location.
A native of Hyderabad, India, Hariharan is an active supporter of Sarvodaya Vidyalaya, a school established by his grandfather in the early 2000s to serve the city’s poor and the less-fortunate members of society. He regularly volunteers at the school during visits to Hyderabad and assists with online outreach efforts.
34, Vice President
Adapting infrastructure to withstand a changing climate
A specialist in climate change adaptation and resiliency planning and design, Margaret Hopkins is readying the Eastern Seaboard for the uncertainties of the future. She currently is project manager for the East Side Coastal Resiliency project, a $1.45-billion integrated coastal protection system along Manhattan’s East River shoreline. Hopkins also led the stormwater discipline for a peer technical review of primary flood mitigation measures proposed for the city of Alexandria’s stormwater management plan, which aims to eliminate recurrent flooding in the city’s historic waterfront area.
Hopkins has a passion for sharing knowledge and advancing the state of practice. She has served as an associate adjunct professor of architecture, planning and preservation at Columbia University; lectured on urban flood risk and coastal resiliency for the urban anthropology project at Brooklyn College; and moderated panel discussions for professional groups. Hopkins also volunteers her time as a member of Richmond’s Green City Commission, which is committed to supporting and advancing citywide sustainability efforts.
37, Vice President of Finance
A go-to leader for new initiatives
American Contracting & Environmental Services Inc.
During his 14-year career, Jeff Litwin has willingly taken on new tasks or responsibilities that have enhanced ACE’s ability to set up projects for success. In addition to starting the company’s preconstruction department and overseeing information technology functions, Litwin was instrumental in developing and implementing a conceptual estimating process that helps clients identify and select the most desirable option for their needs. The most notable example of the success of the process was a $24-million wastewater treatment plant upgrade for the Maryland Environmental Service that was completed ahead of schedule and within the original budget. The project has since been featured at multiple industry conferences.
Litwin is active in industry organizations such as the Chesapeake Water Environment Association, Water Environment Federation and Construction Financial Management Association. On the community side, he has actively participated in Rebuilding Together Howard County, an organization that repairs houses for needy residents, and Pets on Wheels, which provides therapy animals to brighten the days of hospital patients and nursing home residents.
39, Chief Technical Officer
A recognized expert in new aggregate approaches
Aero Aggregates of North America
As applications of foamed glass aggregates have expanded rapidly over the past several years, so too has Theresa Loux’s industry expertise in maximizing the materials’ capabilities.
Loux has written and presented technical papers at numerous U.S. conferences and will have a paper presented at EuroGeo in Poland this fall. Loux also has demonstrated her technical skill in projects involving the design of mechanically stabilized earth structures and erosion control systems, subsurface investigation programs, geotechnical instrumentation and monitoring as well as environmental site remediation.
Loux has taught geotechnical and civil engineering at the following universities: Rowan, Drexel, Temple and Bucknell. She is also the current vice chair of the Delaware Valley Geo-Institute. Loux’s community outreach activities are focused on introducing middle school and high school students to STEM careers.
Each year, she participates in the Girls Exploring Tomorrow’s Technologies program, and she hosts facility tours for students and professionals.
39, Associate Vice President
Focused on improving her profession and her community
Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson Inc.
As JMT’s deputy practice lead for water resources, Shiny Mathew is tasked with managing projects, nurturing a team of high performers, winning new projects and expanding service offerings. She has worked on several award-winning projects in Pennsylvania and lent her expertise to managing out-of-state assignments such as providing more than 600 acre-ft of flood storage for Harris County, Texas. Always alert for ways to do things better, Mathew recently created a sophisticated, yet easy-to-use tool for resource allocation and workload projection that is now widely used throughout the firm. She also engages her team in continuous improvement, conducting project milestone debriefings to see what went well and what needs to be improved.
In addition to her being active in several professional societies, Mathew has taken a leading role in her church’s community outreach efforts. She led a Thanksgiving Day effort that prepared full-meal gift baskets for more than 50 families in North Philadelphia and a coat and clothing drive that supported victims of domestic abuse in Bucks County, Pa.
30, Project Manager
An expert in higher education infrastructure needs
Glen Allen, Va.
It’s taken Maria Minnick only a few years to demonstrate her ability to lead complex civil infrastructure projects in the higher education market and secure the trust and confidence of clients. Her experience includes award-winning projects for addressing stormwater management, updating and expanding central utility infrastructure, improving building sites and assisting clients with sustainable development and land stewardship. Minnick’s work can be found at colleges and universities across Virginia as well as in the energy market and numerous municipal and private development projects.
Working with her alma mater, Virginia Tech, Minnick has served as a mentor for the senior design class as part of the land development design initiative. The collaborative program between the university’s civil and environmental department and industry partners is focused on improving land development design education, advancing research and creating greater connections between students and industry practitioners. In the Richmond area, Minnick participated in a regional career exploration event for eighth graders called Mission Tomorrow: Next Generation and participated in STEM Career Day at a local middle school.
33, Behavioral Health Planner
Driving successful mental health treatment through innovative design
Stephen Parker began training for a career in architecture as a teenager via an apprenticeship in his hometown that provided experience in a variety of buildings across South Carolina. Now as co-leader of Stantec’s behavioral health practice in North America, Parker is a recognized expert in using design to drive patient outcomes and advance treatment strategies. His projects include the mental health inpatient and outpatient programs for Mississauga Hospital’s 2.8-million-sq-ft replacement facility in Ontario and new behavioral health and therapy environments in the $1-billion Neurological Institute for Cleveland Clinic.
Parker has served in local, national and international pro-bono programs ranging from Rebuilding Together Alexandria to the DC Building Industry Association’s annual community improvement day. He has also worked with eMi, an international nonprofit design agency that provides design, construction, engineering and technical services and training for nongovernmental organizations in the developing world. Recent projects include master planning for a new 150-bed hospital in central India and the 160-bed expansion of Tenwik Hospital in western Kenya.
30, Senior Project Manager
Reshaping Pittsburgh from the ground up
Langan Engineering & Environmental Services Inc.
In less than five years, Nicole Rice spearheaded the rapid growth of Langan’s regional environmental team, building a project portfolio along the way that includes many large remediation sites for health care and residential developments in Pittsburgh. Her projects include Glasshouse, a five-story, residential mixed-use building on a previously environmentally sensitive site. Other landmark projects include the Station Square Development, Forbes Avenue & McKee Place Redevelopment and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s 900,000-sq-ft Presbyterian Heart & Transplant Tower.
Rice plays an active role in Women@Langan, an internal employee resource group where employees can comfortably network, learn from one another and achieve professional and personal success.
She is also involved with the Master Builders’ Association’s Green Builders Committee and the Commercial Real Estate Women and participates in community service activities. In addition to volunteering for UPMC Children’s Hospital and 412 Food Rescue, she adapted her efforts throughout the pandemic to host winter coat and professional clothing drives for Dress for Success.
37, Project Manager
Making a difference in a key engineering specialty
Heather Riebeling was only two years out of college when she was asked to join AECOM’s three-member overhead contact systems (OCS) team, formed to fill Amtrak’s need for minor regrading of catenary in the vicinity of bridges and other tasks in the field of OCS design.
Always looking to expand her knowledge base, Riebeling jumped at the chance to become involved in a specialty field that consisted of fewer than 100 engineers in the U.S. Quickly excelling in the niche practice of transit rail systems and focused on client support, she helped transform the OCS group into a 17-person multidisciplinary team that works on projects across North America.
Riebeling has put her communication and leadership skills to work to benefit professional organizations and the communities they serve. In addition to serving on the IEEE Vehicular Technology Society’s OCS committee, she blends her advocacy and musicianship as a trumpet player and board member with the Philadelphia Freedom Band, a 501(c)3 organization that is part of the Pride Bands Alliance.
34, Senior Mechanical Engineer
An expert in designing out-of-this-world facilities
Over his 10-year career, Jonathan Rumbaugh has emerged as a leading expert in designing mission-critical, life science and health care facilities around the world. He was the lead mechanical engineer for the 175,000-sq-ft NASA Measurement Systems Laboratory, a world-class facility for research and development of concepts, technologies and systems that helps agency scientists better understand the earth’s atmosphere, land spacecraft on other worlds and improve air travel. He continues to support NASA, recently beginning a study for the future Mars Sample Return Facility, a one-of-a-kind laboratory for examining extraterrestrial samples returned directly from Mars.
Rumbaugh’s leadership extends to professional engineering societies, including the National Capital chapter of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. He has enjoyed providing resources to the young engineers committee, which provides enhanced member benefits for those 35 years old and younger. Rumbaugh also leads the community outreach committee for AECOM’s Arlington office and organizes several university relations events throughout the year.
Ryan C. Samuels
A global expert in solving groundwater remediation challenges
Ryan Samuels is the founder of PRISM, AECOM’s internationally recognized hydrogeologic conceptual site model, and a pioneer in the application of sequence stratigraphy for groundwater remediation projects. He has implemented these innovative tools at more than 100 complex remedial sites globally to more accurately define preferential contaminant migration pathways and facilitate the design of more efficient and effective remedies.
Published in some of the world’s most prestigious academic journals, Samuels is actively co-authoring a book series that will inform industry professionals on using sequence stratigraphy to guide remedial decision-making at sites located within complex geologic settings.
Samuels led an outdoor adventure and hiking club to help colleagues gain an appreciation for nature and facilitate networking and collaboration across business lines and offices within metropolitan Washington. He is an active participant in ASCENT, an AECOM initiative that promotes employee professional development and community involvement.
37, Founder and President
Teenage trade worker grows into successful entrepreneur
Introduced to the mechanical business by his grandfather, Glenn VandeGrift developed a lifelong love of mechanical, process, plumbing and HVAC systems.
After several years working in the mechanical trades, VandeGrift applied his leadership skills to launch two thriving businesses—CleanSpace Modular LLC and Allied Construction Management Services. Thanks to his hands-on experience, VandeGrift has learned to view a project holistically, from the way a panel should be installed to the complete overhaul of a mechanical or process system. He has developed many design and construction methodologies with a level of craftsmanship widely recognized as a benchmark for quality.
VandeGrift is a quiet and often anonymous benefactor of children’s programs aimed at scholarships and athletics. He also offers support for local and national charities as well as his alma mater, Delaware Valley University, which he considers the educational foundation of his success. He has also channeled his interest in high-performance motor sports into educational programs, including Community Boat Building, a Boston program that uses boat building and coastal experiences to stimulate excitement for learning among low-income students.
Architect is a natural teacher, mentor and project leader
Bethany Yoder is playing a key role in the ongoing transformation of Pittsburgh’s downtown area, having served as project architect for the conversion of an industrial warehouse in the historic Strip District into the research and development headquarters for Smith+Nephew.
Her technical expertise and communication skills were critical to the process of integrating considerations such as sustainability, resilience and connections with the community, all while creating state-of-the-art workspaces to support the development of cutting-edge technology.
Yoder’s project résumé also includes award-winning efforts such as the lobby renovation at 525 William Penn Place and the relocation of Perkins Eastman Pittsburgh Studio.
Yoders’ natural ability as a teacher and mentor are evidenced in many ways. In addition to serving as committee chair for Perkins Eastman’s Pittsburgh professional development group, she was selected for this year’s AIA Pittsburgh Leadership Institute. Yoder’s longtime involvement in the ACE Mentor Program was recognized last year with her selection as a 2022 ACE-ENR Outstanding Mentor. She also has held several leadership positions in ACE’s Pittsburgh chapter, including a recent appointment to the board of directors.