C+S March 2023 Vol. 9 Issue 3 (web)

by urging the crowd to open themselves up to vulnerability and authen- ticity as not only a way to build relationships, but also to inspire others. The day’s final keynote speaker was Mallory Lindgren, who is the Senior VP of Market Development for Westwood. Lindgren took the stage late in the afternoon. Following the excitement of the other keynote speakers, interactive panels, collaborative workshopping, lunch, and snacks, Lindgren’s passionate speech immediately provided the room with a renewed purpose and energy. Lindgren spoke to the importance of the work done by the AEC industry, and to its attrac - tion to trailblazers in reference to those gathered in the ballroom. She urged the crowd to look around amongst themselves and recognize just how special the members of the ElevateHER program are. With this acknowledgement, the call was extended to begin thinking about leveraging this community of trailblazers to its fullest potential. Lindgren posed a simple question: “what would it look like if we went all in on this connection to one another?” Sharing the story of her success, Lindgren frames some of the most pivotal moments in her career as those when she experienced solidarity from someone in her community. These experiences shaped Lindgren and she now looks for every opportunity to provide the same for others experiencing the same thing. The day’s final keynote address ended with a simple call to ac - tion: write a letter to yourself. In this letter, Lindgren asked the crowd to write whatever they felt was important to them, whether it was what they wanted to remember, who they wanted to inspire, what quotes do you remember from today, or anything else they deemed worthy. The crowd wrote their letters, with many staying well over the conclusion of the day’s events, before depositing them with Zweig Group’s staff to be mailed back to them following the conclusion of the year’s program. Despite the first day’s many moving parts and passionate discussions, Lindgren’s speech and call to action provided the perfect bridge into activities for the final two days. The start of day two kicked off the ElevateHER Symposium portion of the event. Over the course of the day, new ElevateHER cohort members engaged in group collaboration sessions, which were book- ended by talks from speakers Marci Thompson, Lauren Aguilar, and Laura Nick. Through this format, the new cohort members actively work amongst themselves to identify common issues and brainstorm solutions. The ultimate goal through these various engagements is to not simply identify shared problems, but to find others who are passionate about solving the same problems. As the day progressed, cohort members gravitated towards those with shared passions. By the early afternoon, the entire cohort had found these individuals with shared passions and had solidified into teams. While plans and ideas are always subject to change over time, these groups formed around solving problems in areas such as legislation, pay differences, literacy, education, and others. The final workshop on day two was centered around these groups working together to form a thesis statement. In their thesis statement, groups were tasked with identifying the topic or challenge they aim to address, communicate the challenges associated with solving that chal- lenge, and outline a plan for enacting change in that field. The groups worked together to find anecdotes, language, and statistics to support

these statements, and, by the end of the hour-long session, the groups proudly presented their thesis statements to one another. And, just as was the case on day one, the cohort members left the event brimming with excitement to begin working on a presentation the following day. Many cohort members worked late into the evening, preparing for the following day’s presentation before the panel of judges: Colleen Mar - tindale, Laura Nick, and Marvin Jackson. The excitement was palpable on day three as the newly-formed groups began pitching their new project ideas. Again this was a collaborative endeavor, as judges and audience members alike provided feedback about the proposed ideas. With this feedback, groups immediately set out to begin working on their projects. As the final day concluded, the groups huddled together, making plans to meet virtually and in-person to continue working on their projects, which will be presented at the next ElevateHER Symposium. Solving recruitment and retention problems for women in the AEC industry is and will continue to be a topic at the forefront of our discus- sions. While the 2023 ElevateHER cohort continues to work on and improve their plans through to execution, there is an acknowledge - ment that these problems will not be solved overnight. Rather, these passions that shine through the cohort members and their projects are exemplary of the momentum of change. Some of the new projects will be new concepts, while others will seek to build further on projects from previous years. As these projects grow and are executed, their reach extends to others who will benefit from progress, building new relationships and affecting more people.

LUKE CAROTHERS is the Editor for Civil + Structural Engineer Media. If you want us to cover your project or want to feature your own article, he can be reached at lcarothers@zweiggroup.com.



March 2023

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