When Kimley-Horn set its sights on the Pacific Northwest five years ago, the person to lead the effort was obvious. Jody Walker Belsick had made a name for herself in Las Vegas before joining the firm to launch offices there and in California. Scott Colvin, executive vice president for Kimley-Horn, looked at Belsick’s track record for winning work, creating a brand, recruiting key partners, integrating a workforce and running a great business and tapped her for Seattle in 2020.

“Not many will accept that kind of challenge,” Colvin says. “She said she’d do it.”

It has been a busy few years. Belsick is now a senior vice president, and Kimley-Horn boasts four offices in the Pacific Northwest employing more than 125 people.

Moving to a new area has been “extremely rewarding” for Belsick. Creating an entirely new team allowed growth opportunities for many, and it also meant those she left behind in Vegas could step into larger roles. “Growth is really good for all of us,” she says. “I am a firm believer that magic happens when we get out of our comfort zone.”

Belsick started her career in Las Vegas in 1997. She then opened Walker Engineering, her own company, in 2003, running that for 13 years before joining Kimley-Horn in 2016. Along the way, Belsick says there’s a benefit in jumping into opportunities. Trusting her gut has led her in the right direction. “I have worked hard to be so lucky,” she says. “Every experience over my career has led me to what my role is at Kimley-Horn. It is still rewarding every day. It is all perspective, and I hope young engineers out there know it keeps getting better and better.”

Belsick’s accomplishments and dedication to promoting women in the construction industry have led ENR Northwest to name her its 2024 Legacy Award recipient.

the Allegiant Stadium

Belsick led the Kimley-Horn team on the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas for the NFL Raiders.
Photo courtesy Kimley-Horn

This Sporting Life

Belsick first came to Kimley-Horn’s notice when the firm began looking at growing its footprint into the Las Vegas area. Her expertise in the region, portfolio of successful projects and stellar reputation in the industry made her the obvious choice for the job because of the entrepreneurial mindset of the firm. But the many resources at her disposal at a large firm allowed her to take on projects she couldn’t have if working on her own. A case in point is that along with her work in the Northwest, Belsick leads Kimley-Horn’s national sports task force. She started in sports with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights expansion in 2015 and then led the Allegiant Stadium effort for the NFL’s Raiders, her signature project.

Marc Badain, former president of the Las Vegas Raiders and now with Oakview Group, worked closely with Belsick on Allegiant Stadium and the Raiders headquarters. Belsick led the Kimley-Horn team that managed the civil engineering and the myriad subcontractors that came with it. Badain worked most with Belsick in solving transportation issues. “I look at it now three to four years later, it is probably one of the best stadiums in terms of ingress and egress in the country,” he says. “Some of that is the location, but that was all done on purpose and with Jody’s assistance.”

“You ask her to do something, and it gets done, there isn’t any drama, any headache, any need for follow up. She is a solution finder.”
—Marc Badain, former president of the Las Vegas Raiders

Colvin says Belsick isn’t timid to lead, but also isn’t scared to be vulnerable. “I was in early Raiders conversations, and I watched her throw herself out there, get challenged like crazy, read the room and then come together with a better solution,” he says. “That is Jedi mind trick stuff. It is just this cool way she has been able to do with multiple teams, multiple times.” He credits her with having an innate ability to zoom out and see a big picture and zoom in to drive the little things.

When it came time for Badain to start work on another sports project along the Strip, he says Belsick was the first person he called. “Beyond just the work ethic and work product, when you’re doing projects like these it requires a pretty good bedside manner and understanding of personalities, both volatile and non-volatile,” he says. “Jody has a good way of interacting with everyone on our staff and vendors and subs. She is always very easy to work with, very personable, very efficient. You ask her to do something, and it gets done, there isn’t any drama, any headache, any need for follow up. She is a solution finder.”

Belsick says she wasn’t looking to add sports to her résumé, but once she got involved in the world, she became hooked. The challenge of the intense timelines and camaraderie all attracted her. “It is now funny, I can’t imagine my career without sports,” she says. “It is a fun and rewarding part of my career.”

City National Arena project

Belsick helmed the City National Arena project—the practice facility for the Vegas Golden Knights hockey team—in Summerlin, Nev.
Photo courtesy Kimley-Horn

Empowering Women

Another key part of her career is ensuring the next generation of women engineers will be able to build off of her achievements. Belsick is a mentor in Kimley-Horn’s women’s leadership and women in sports design groups, and she has helped develop a women’s leadership speaker series. Having speakers come in helps others see the path and challenges faced. “It is important for women to all dream big,” she says. “Women can do anything they put their mind to, that was something my mother taught me, and that includes being an engineer.”

Helping others see things in themselves drives her. “Of all the things she does well, I think she is most passionate about seeing others be successful and grow up in this industry,” Colvin says, “particularly women. She loves mentoring. She takes that extra time to get to know the individual personally and understand their goals and passions and then navigate a plan and path to make it happen.”

But it isn’t a one-time conversation. Belsick spends time face to face with those she mentors and is there with them along the way, often smiling in the background with pride when they succeed.

That focus on the individual has bled into Belsick’s ability to grow teams. “She leads by example with her team and her work ethic,” Colvin says. “She cares about her team. She has this ability to listen and work with a team to come to a better solution. I think that is rare.”

Belsick was selected to lead the transportation planning for the Super Bowl in February at Allegiant Stadium and was a key reason Kimley-Horn won the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix project.

Belsick credits the Allegiant Stadium success with the work of a true team, willing to sink or swim together. “I love the phrase ‘teamwork makes the dream work,’” she says. “I know it is corny, but I truly believe it. That project really taught me the value in that.”

“Growth is really good for all of us. I am a firm believer that magic happens when we get out of our comfort zone.”
—Jody Walker Belsick, Senior Vice President, Kimley-Horn

Solving challenges is what continues to drive her. By surrounding herself with people “better than me,” to make herself better and hold the bar high, she wants to continue to learn. “The day I know everything is not a good thing,” she says. “It motivates me to learn new things every day.”

Going through the recession with her own company in 2008 was challenging. It taught her to adapt and be nimble. It forced her to learn about the value of relationships. “That taught me to be well-rounded, going through the recession,” she says, adding she also went back to school to earn her MBA. “I always want to understand all aspects of a project and pivot when the economy pivots.”

Jody is a “problem-solver,” says Jackie Frank, a now retired former vice president of real estate for Costco. “Once I was able to define a problem or a need, Jody would pool her resources to address the need.” Belsick was so thorough and efficient in helping Costco embark on a major acquisition of a logistics company with hundreds of properties that all needed analyzing, that Franks says, “The effort was so positive that Kimley-Horn became involved in many of our major distribution facilities throughout the U.S.”

Frank says Belsick was able to help Costco with questions about planning and land use while preparing for public hearings and zoning questions, all in addition to the civil engineering scope she brought that included developing a higher level of sustainable design within landscape architecture.

Belsick looks forward to the unknown. She credits so much good coming from hard work and being open to new opportunities. She says she never could have predicted she’d own her own company, work at Kimley-Horn or be a key player in the sports world. “There is more coming, and I can tackle anything that comes my way,” she says. “I look forward to the things I don’t know that are coming at me.”