As editor-in-chief, I have the special privilege every year of presenting the ENR Award of Excellence in New York City and helping make a video about the winner. But the real work of writing the cover story and co-producing the video this year was done by Pam McFarland, ENR’s Washington, D.C.-based senior editor for environmental and labor news.

McFarland was already having a very productive 2023 by stepping outside her primary focus on policy and traveling to Turkey to write and shoot video about a dam project. When a major earthquake struck eastern Turkey, she added a tour of that area to her itinerary.

earthquake destruction

Photo by Pam McFarland/ENR

It was during her coverage of the earthquake disaster that McFarland first met this year’s winner of the Award of Excellence, Kit Miyamoto, the engineer who for more than a decade has headed into disaster areas to gather information about damage and prevention. She was impressed enough to nominate Miyamoto for the Award of Excellence, which involves winning a vote by the editors in support of the award. She then in a short time prepared a feature story and video. To do it, McFarland’s team included deputy editor Jeff Rubenstone; Kit Miyamoto’s daughter, Mimi, who joined Pam in parts of California to capture footage; BNP Media Video Production Manager and skilled editor Drew Lockwood; ENR Art Director Scott Hilling, who created the print story layout and shared video advice; and me.

McFarland already had a background in journalism when she first joined ENR in 2007. She had majored in print journalism at American University, and one of her first jobs was serving as an editor for the Associated Builders and Contractors, which provided her first experiences with construction and labor issues. A perpetual student, she got a masters’ degree in creative writing in 2018 and, as a lover of good stories, has written a few herself that have been published in literary journals.

The Award of Excellence story tests every ENR editor and writer in ways that few other ENR assignments do, and Pam has passed them all with flying colors.

Scott Blair