Winners of the 2022 ENR Mountain States Top Young Professionals competition are firm presidents, architects, engineers, constructors, virtual design experts and project managers, but all of them are people deeply committed to improving the industry and their communities.
Some of this year’s winners began their careers as interns at the firms they continue to work for; others have moved around the industry and gained a broad range of experience. All have demonstrated a mastery of new technologies and worked hard to mentor colleagues and other young professionals about better design and smart construction practices.
In keeping with past years of the competition, nominees must be working full time in some aspect of the commercial construction and design industry in the Mountain States region, which includes Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Montana and North and South Dakota. Companies or individuals are allowed to nominate more than one person, and individuals can nominate themselves. Some nominees may have changed roles or firms after they were initially selected as winners.
Key selection criteria include achievement of or progress toward industry certifications, significant success in creating more efficient systems, designing new processes or managing landmark projects and performing volunteer work across the industry and within the community.
The following pages contain profiles of the young leaders, describing how they have overcome challenges and taken on new roles and responsibilities as their careers thrive.
As TYP honoree Jason Schaefer of Burns & McDonnell said, “If there’s anything I’ve learned from working through a pandemic, it is that we, as leaders, need to embrace change and adapt to it. Our role is to empower our teams to find creative solutions to challenges and keep an open mind.”
Congratulations to this year’s winners.
Water specialist helps communities solve challenge of fewer resources
30, Water Resources Engineer
Allen’s interest in engineering evolved from studying environmental engineering in college, with a focus on water resources in graduate school. He joined AECOM in 2015 after earning his master’s degree and began his professional career performing hydrologic and hydraulic modeling for a wide variety of projects. Allen brings this modeling expertise to his work identifying and mitigating flood hazards. His planning and analysis are used by the Colorado Water Conservation Board as part of its Colorado Hazard Mapping Program (CHAMP). He also works with local communities to identify and analyze risks specific to their areas, such as post-fire flood hazards, snowmelt-driven flooding hazards or flooding caused by ice jams.
Allen promotes collaboration among various agencies and stakeholders for emergency preparedness. His work on the CHAMP project will be used to update regulatory flood information for numerous communities across Colorado, providing updated risk analysis for areas that in some cases have not seen revisions in more than 30 years.
Health care planner shares his code expertise with colleagues
38, Associate Principal, Sr. Mechanical Engineer
Augustini says he takes the time to get to know his clients, their projects and his colleagues on a personal level so he can provide the best possible service. He brings a detail-oriented approach to projects, yet naturally sees the big picture and the business sense in everything he does. He also prides himself on being a go-to resource in his field, serving on numerous national and local boards, including helping communicate code changes and updates in his role as the local liaison for the American Society of Healthcare Engineers. He shares his specialized expertise in health care and laboratory mechanical systems by serving on ASHRAE’s technical committee for health care.
His service to the community extends beyond the industry. He is a youth coach for multiple sports through Parker Rec, served as a National Ski Patrol volunteer for five years, volunteers for various events at his children’s school and helps with local events such as food drives and family donations at holidays. His most recent community endeavor is working with the Boy Scouts of America, where he serves as a volunteer with his local troop to foster a sense of responsibility, service and adventure.
Environmental compliance expert mentors other transportation pros
36, Senior Lead Consultant
With more than 13 years of experience in environmental compliance, Behrad has become a recognized expert on the National Environmental Policy Act. She ensures that all federal, state and local environmental documents are completed in compliance with regulations and that projects are on schedule and within budget. She also provides oversight for all public involvement activities, with a focus on Title VI and underserved communities.
Behrad continually looks for opportunities to help mentor other professionals, both within WSP and through industry organizations, such as the Women’s Transportation Seminar. She says she chose WTS because transportation is still largely a male-dominated field, and she wants to help bring women transportation professionals together and create a sense of belonging and camaraderie—furthering opportunities to make the industry more inclusive.
She also gives back to the community by hosting food drives, setting up fundraisers in the office, volunteering in soup kitchens and helping with community cleanups.
Experienced builder tackles many complex projects across the region
39, Vice President
JE Dunn Construction
Betts joined JE Dunn Construction as a project engineer after graduating from Colorado State University’s construction management program in 2006. He has since progressed through several roles in the company, leading to his most recent promotion to vice president. He is accountable for project performance and promotes collaboration among design, construction and owner teams. He leads the in-house operations training for project engineers and managers as part of JE Dunn’s national and regional teams.
He enjoys returning to CSU to present unique aspects of his projects to construction management students. His key projects include the nearly 1-million-sq-ft, 41-story Spire Denver, a downtown condominium tower, as well as the complicated renovation of the historic Wyoming Capitol Square.
He says the multiple award-winning, $300-million project was among his most challenging and also the most rewarding due to its broad scope, which included renovating the 130-year-old Capitol while concurrently building a new central utility plant and renovating an adjacent 350,000-sq-ft state office building.
Electric-vehicle infrastructure guru helps push toward zero emissions
39, Team Leader/Project Manager
Growing up in rural northwest Montana provided Everett with a love of nature that inspired him to pursue a career in protecting the environment. He joined HDR’s Missoula office soon after earning a degree in environmental engineering from Montana Technological University and spent time in the firm’s water group before transitioning to its growing power program. In his role as team leader and project manager, he plans and designs electric vehicle-charging infrastructure systems across the U.S., coordinating with local electric utilities to ensure seamless power connections. He leads HDR’s electric vehicle practice and manages its planning staff. His passion for electric vehicles led HDR to establish a newly created position where he can support EV technology and promote HDR as a leader in zero-emissions mobility. He has become a trusted adviser to HDR clients who are considering establishing their own EV bus programs. Everett is an active member of the Smart Electric Power Alliance and a certified document technologist in the Construction Specifications Institute.
Lean construction proponent leads teams in use of alternative delivery
36, Project Manager
Hammerlund was fascinated with construction throughout his childhood, inspired in part by his father’s work for an insulation manufacturer. After graduating with a degree in construction management from Kansas State University in 2010, he began his career at a local casework and door supplier, moving to Colorado to join ICI as a project engineer in 2015. His career at ICI has offered him a chance to grow his skills on several technically complicated projects such as large hospitals and manufacturing facilities.
Hammerlund is a proponent of integrated project delivery (IPD) and believes it results in better teamwork and innovation on many types of projects. He also is an active member of the Lean Construction Institute and strives to implement lean techniques on all of ICI’s projects. Hammerlund has become the go-to employee for guidance on lean construction throughout the company. He helps lead both ICI’s lean construction and IPD training programs.
Preconstruction innovator teaches best practices to clients and peers
39, Preconstruction Director
McCarthy Building Cos.
A 2005 magna cum laude graduate in international business from American Intercontinental University, Herr leads preconstruction and design services for McCarthy’s Colorado operations. He has led the firm’s preconstruction teams on nearly $1.5 billion of projects during his 14-year career, from $250-million-plus health care expansions to $100-million university labs to small, specialized projects valued at less than $100,000.
Regardless of project size, Herr believes the implementation of best practices, including better integration with trade partners, is important to ensuring projects are constructed within schedule and budget. His ability to lead McCarthy’s clients through the details of the preconstruction phase is credited with helping the firm’s Colorado office add six major new projects to its local portfolio, which in turn has helped grow the local team. Herr also helped create the point-of-contact program at McCarthy, an internal mentoring program that pairs staff with a member of the leadership team.
Tech leader shares his modeling and analysis skills with industry
31, Civil Engineer – Bridge
Michael Baker International
Jensen is a national expert in digital delivery within Michael Baker International, where he currently serves as a civil engineer for bridges in the firm’s Salt Lake City office. He worked on some of the Utah Dept. of Transportation’s (UDOT) earliest digital delivery projects, including the I-80 Blackrock structures replacement, which was the agency’s first project to include all disciplines in a model-based design construction delivery initiative. He is leading the effort to build standards and processes for UDOT’s structures digital delivery network. Jensen uses this experience to promote the benefits of digital delivery to other agencies and works directly with software developers to help improve their products. He regularly presents workshops on the topic as part of Michael Baker’s national technical user group, which includes colleagues across the firm’s 100 offices as well as at industry conferences. Jensen’s modeling and analysis skills are vital to the design of a wide variety of concrete and steel structures and substructures in high seismic areas.
Project management specialist ensures colleagues meet goals
39, PMO Director
Krause began her career at KLJ 15 years ago, steadily advancing from an entry-level engineer to client manager to her current role as director and lead of KLJ’s project management office, a team she has grown during her three-year tenure in the role. She works in all market segments and ensures that delivery, sales and production meet or exceed company goals. Krause’s leadership style and work across all levels of the company have led to her newest and additional position, internal director on the board of directors for KLJ.
Krause also is involved in external industry organizations. She served on the executive committee of the North Dakota Association of County Engineers (NDACE) for seven years, from chairing committees to serving as director, president and past president. Part of her responsibilities at NDACE included planning and hosting the statewide conference and representing North Dakota as a delegate at the National Association of County Engineers.
Sophisticated urban planner uses her skills to serve diverse groups
37, Department Manager – Planning
Michael Baker International
Kuechenmeister originally moved to Colorado to start a career teaching Spanish, but her work as a neighborhood stakeholder with a Denver Urban Renewal Authority project introduced her to the field of urban and regional planning. That experience stood out as she considered different career options, leading her to return to school for a master’s degree in regional and urban planning. She joined Michael Baker International soon after.
Today, she specializes in public engagement for land use and active transportation projects. She identifies strategies to engage diverse populations in the decision-making process for projects and helps business development districts apply for grants to secure funding.
Kuechenmeister is an advocate for diversity and inclusion in the planning and engineering professions, establishing and leading the LeadHERship group for Michael Baker International’s Denver office. She is actively involved in many industry organizations, including presenting papers nationally at conferences for Smart Growth and the American Planning Association.
Structural engineer supports local projects in Southern Colorado
38, Structural Engineering Manager
Lopez is a structural engineer focused on analysis of concrete and steel for the design, evaluation and rehabilitation of dams and hydraulic and mining structures. She’s spent much of her 16-year engineering career as a design engineer, task lead and project manager on multidisciplinary teams. Her colleagues at AECOM say her ability to serve as team leader while participating in multiple projects, in addition to leading business development pursuits, is key to her success. Lopez relocated from Denver to Southern Colorado in 2019 with two goals—to spend more time with her family and help build AECOM’s business in Southern Colorado and New Mexico. She supports local projects, including work on Colorado Parks and Wildlife dams in the region.
Lopez presented her first solo paper at the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) Dam Safety conference in September and is the co-author and presenter of two additional ASDSO papers. She also leads workshops for Girls Exploring Science Technology Engineering and Math events.
Communications specialist leads brand refresh for major U.S. firm
37, Director, U.S. Communications
McCay began her career with PCL Construction as an intern and upon graduation was hired as a recruiting and marketing assistant for the company’s U.S. head office in Denver. Throughout her 15-year career with PCL, McCay has held numerous communication roles, including her most recent promotion to director of PCL’s U.S. communications in April 2021. She currently leads a team of five people who implement companywide communications strategies across the firm’s buildings, civil and industrial sectors, in addition to providing guidance and support to PCL’s executive team.
McCay led the refresh of PCL’s companywide brand, a three-year task that debuted in 2021. The initiative encompassed extensive employee and client research as well as an audit of competitors’ brand offerings. She completed the brand update while also managing communications strategies for the company’s COVID-19 response, an effort that was recognized through multiple awards from marketing and communications groups.
Energy manager guides her team through pandemic-driven changes
34, Environmental Scientist
Peterson began her career at HDR in Minneapolis as a project coordinator. Her enthusiasm led to opportunities for more technical roles in the environmental field within HDR. In 2019, she relocated to Rawlins, Wyo., to support the firm’s construction of two major segments of PacifiCorp’s Gateway West energy transmission line. Peterson’s time in Wyoming included serving as the onsite logistics manager—which helped her broaden her safety training skills—in addition to leading the COVID-19 response for the field teams.
Today, Peterson serves on the management team for multiple Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) hydropower licensing projects. She is responsible for project controls and internal tracking systems on multiple large projects with aggressive schedules. Colleagues say she has the ability to facilitate several interfacing work streams concurrently. Peterson has been recognized with multiple internal HDR awards and served as the chair of the Young Professionals Group and the Total Service Organization, two national organizations within HDR.
Experienced project manager offers his expertise to industry
34, Project Manager II
Robertson knew during childhood that construction would be his career after he and his neighborhood friends built a four-story tree house complete with electricity and plumbing. He joined ICI in 2014 as a project manager, a role to which he brought a vast knowledge of fluid applied air barriers and spray foam insulation. Robertson strives to mentor others internally but also offers his expertise to the general contracting community to help others understand how complex systems are installed. He leads ICI’s involvement with the American Subcontractors Association and works with AGC of Colorado.
Those organizations have helped him understand the benefits of lean construction and provided him with legal and contract training that have helped to advance his career. Robertson’s notable Colorado projects include the University of Colorado Dining Center, the Aurora Central Recreation Center, Denver Public School’s Northfield High School, the Mission Ballroom and the Terra and Hydro buildings at the National Western Center in Denver.
Water expert brings innovations to area’s complex treatment plants
38, Department Manager, Water Group
Burns & McDonnell
As a department manager, Schaefer leads a nearly 30-person team designing water treatment facilities and supporting infrastructure to help communities manage their water quality, treatment operations and water demands. His 15 years of experience include greenfield water treatment facilities and complex water treatment facility retrofits and expansions. Working with industry partners from Garney Construction, he led a team that designed and delivered an $87-million water treatment facility for the city of Thornton, Colo., using innovative technologies such as ozone and biological filtration to solve taste and odor challenges.
Schaefer presented those innovations at the 2021 Design-Build Institute of America Water/Wastewater Conference. He also led the design team for the Plum Creek Water Purification Facility’s Advanced Treatment Project in Castle Rock, Colo., which treats both groundwater and surface water sources. Schaefer’s efforts led to a promotion to Burns & McDonnell’s principal group.
Power generation specialist known as reliable problem solver, mentor
35, Principal Electrical Engineer
Thornam is an electrical engineer and subject matter expert in power generation protection and control and protective relay systems. He has earned a reputation for his ability to process complex data and troubleshoot problems. He joined Stanley Consultants as an engineering intern directly after college, and his technical abilities helped him become a principal engineer in just 10 years.
Thornam mentors people in his department with skills further developed during his graduate studies for a master’s degree in engineering management. He says he gets the most joy from hearing the fresh perspectives of new hires as he passes along his knowledge and experience. In turn, Thornam regularly shares time-saving tools he’s created to improve the firm’s processes, including technical design guides, drawing templates and calculation guides. He has published several industry papers on distributed and parallel generation systems, protective relays and microgrid control systems.
Finance leader enhances profits for growing security contracting firm
Sloan Security Group Inc.
Vincent’s involvement with the construction industry started when he was a child, helping out as a laborer at his father’s general contracting company.
He continued to learn the industry throughout middle and high school, where he concurrently achieved an associate of arts degree from a community college at the age of 17. He went on to study construction finance and accounting, graduating from the University of Idaho in 2010.
Vincent spent time working at a consulting firm in San Diego before returning to Idaho and joining Sloan Security Group in 2019. There, in his role as chief financial officer and treasurer, he leads a team of seven people in accounting and human resources.
He also manages all financial planning and analysis for the firm and its projects and oversees support functions such as information technology. In addition, he reviews and negotiates all construction and vendor contracts to help mitigate risk and improve safety. Vincent is a certified public accountant, a certified construction industry financial professional and a construction risk insurance specialist.
Engineer advises teams working on high-security government projects
38, Vice President
Clark Construction Group LLC
Vogel joined Clark Construction Group as an engineer in 2006 after earning a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in architectural engineering from Pennsylvania State University. In addition to working on numerous projects, he found time to earn a master’s degree in business administration from American University in 2014.
Today, he leads the company’s work with Northrop Grumman as part of a team involved with the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program for the U.S. Air Force, which includes replacing its aging intercontinental ballistic missile system.
Based in Colorado, Vogel works with a team of nine experts to advise Northrop Grumman on preconstruction and design-build for delivery of key national security assets.
Other highlights in his career include several projects at the University of Maryland, particularly the IDEA Factory, a $60-million, world-class research facility for the development of engineering technology and prototypes.
Vogel is actively involved with the Wounded Warriors Project, an organization that supports veterans wounded in combat; he has helped raise more than $75,000 for the group to date.
Earl Webster III
Preconstruction expert shares his skills with young estimators
34, Preconstruction Manager
Webster took a chance on changing to a career in construction seven years ago, when he took a job as a warehouse manager for a start-up company named ICI.
After a year of field experience, he moved to the preconstruction department, joining the two existing estimators, one of whom was vice president of the company. He learned quickly as ICI expanded and soon found himself supervising two full-time estimators. He was recently promoted to preconstruction manager and now oversees four full-time estimators and serves on the company’s senior management team.
Webster regularly participates in roundtable discussions with other specialty firms and general contractors to share ideas that improve efficiency.
He is active in many industry organizations, including AGC and its Future Leaders Forum and serves on the Associated Builders & Contractors’ Young Professionals Advisory Board. His notable recent projects include Meow Wolf’s new art and performance venue in Denver and the Pikes Peak Summit House near Colorado Springs.
Client-savvy project manager embraces technology solutions
39, Project Manager
Wilson joined Sundt in 2010 directly out of Northern Arizona University, starting out as a field engineer on a Tempe water treatment plant. That project provided him experience in large-scale industrial construction of mechanical and underground piping, process systems and chemical delivery and storage systems.
The complicated scope of work became invaluable when he later transitioned to preconstruction, where he is credited with helping to grow Sundt’s backlog in manufacturing cleanroom construction and industrial processing.
Wilson returned to the field in 2016, acting as an assistant project manager on several challenging technology projects, which helped him prepare for his next role—project manager for the Salt Lake City Water Reclamation Facility, a $700-million, five-year long project where he works directly with the client, who is new to construction management at risk delivery, to ensure contract requirements and budgets are met.
Wilson embraces using technology to improve projects, providing feedback for pilot technology projects within the company and helping to train his colleagues and other project team members. He is an active member with the Sundt Foundation, raising funds as well as serving on the grant selection committee.
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