4 Influential Women in AEC

7 March 2022Architecture and Engineering, Construction, UncategorizedAEC, Architecture, Engineering


4 Influential Women in AEC

The first week of March is traditionally noted as Women in Construction Week. In January 2022, the LA Business Journal (LABJ) published its choices for its annual Women Of Influence: Construction, Architecture and Engineering (AEC) distinction. Following are highlights of four of the noteworthy industry influencers chosen by LABJ.

Mary Jreisat – Shawmut Design and Construction, Project Manager

Early construction experiences of Mary Jreisat included a project to convert the ten-story, 90,000-square-foot Hoxton building into a 174-bedroom boutique hotel, described as beachy California meets old school Hollywood glamour. The project was part of the decade-long Bringing Back Broadway economic development plan. In order to revitalize the historic Broadway corridor in downtown Los Angeles (LA), buildings were regenerated into destinations to attract locals and tourists.

Jreisat worked on some of LA’s highest profile projects. One is the new location for gluten-free bakery Breadblok in Silver Lake. She also participated in projects for the Cutwater Coronado Club and Lexus Premium Suites at Petco Park. As of January 2022, she is overseeing a demolition/development in Hollywood.

According to the Shawmut website, Jreisat provides guidance and a support system for her assistant project managers. She works to inspire future generations of construction talent, paving the way so women have the know-how to confidently approach their roles in the industry.

Jan Karl – Morley Builders, VP of Project Development

The career of Jan Karl was built on a foundation in construction, plus a background in real estate.

Karl has thrived in the industry and mentors as many women as possible to help them reach their goals and achieve success. She has served on the boards of LA Headquarters Association, LA Business Council and Habitat for Humanity.

As an officer in employee-owned Morley Builders and leader on the executive team, Karl has been involved in the company’s strategic development and planning, resulting in the use of virtual design and construction, preconstruction and sustainable practices, among others.

Morley Builders has a full range of project experience, from major civic structures and hospitality to healthcare, education and sustainable construction.

Jenna Knudsen – CO Architects, Managing Principal

Jenna Knudsen, AIA, LEED AP, is the first female leader of CO Architects and the youngest in its 35-year history. She is a frequent speaker and presenter on integrated project delivery using Building Information Modeling (BIM) to improve efficiency and sustainability. 

For nearly two decades, Knudsen was inhouse champion of the company’s technology-in-practice efforts to design healthcare, scientific and institutional buildings for maximum efficiency, including constructability, energy performance and operability. These efforts have been recognized with multiple AIA Technology in Architectural Practice BIM Excellence Awards.

Knudsen champions technological innovation such as the CO Architects Virtual Operating Room (OR) Experience. Virtual and augmented reality are used to create a virtual operating room where physicians can provide feedback to optimize real-world OR designs.

Dianne Lee – Kitchell, Executive Director

Dianne Lee is an advocate in the AEC space with over fifteen years of experience. She is a transformational leader who represents all facets of the construction industry. She has been a champion of women in construction and focuses on their contributions and elevation of their roles.

According to ENR, Lee grew up in predominantly Muslim Malaysia and immigrated to America, where she has built a successful career amidst challenging stereotypical perceptions in a traditionally male-dominated industry.

In her 2021 book “Leveraging Stereotypes to Your Advantage,” Lee gives her insights on how negative stereotypes, biases and situations can be transformed into positive personal and professional growth. She shares her life experiences of overcoming adversity to achieve positive outcomes. 

Lee will be speaking during the May 2022 ENR-sponsored Groundbreaking Women in Construction conference on the topic of her book, leveraging stereotypes to your advantage.

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