. . . and check back often as new members will be featured!
Lauren Sustek, President of Bartkowski Life Safety, Corp. shares with us a little bit about what it's like to be a women business owner in the construction industry. But first, a little business upfront. Bartkowski is a specialty contractor that focuses on life safety in both new and existing facilities. Their specialties include firestops, smoke sealants, perimeter containment, code corrective remediation and annual surveys/ inspections. Lauren emphasizes that they always take a proactive and collaborative approach with their clients - it ensures that they are always compliant with life safety as both buildings and the codes they have to adhere to change. In addition to this, another milestone is in the horizon as Bartkowski will be celebrating their 10th year in business in 2020! How. Cool. Is. That.
Bartkowski is a proud Women Owned Small Business that has worked in 24 states to date (and counting!).
President since day 1, Lauren says "I am the chief cook and bottle-washer. I am responsible for making sure that our jobs get done on time, on budget and that our clients are satisfied. I make sure that the right people are assigned to the right roles. It is my name on everything and ultimately everything is my responsibility."
Switching hats, she continues with "My husband, Kris, and I have 3 children; Gloria (5), Audra (3) and Zayne (1). We will be celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary this coming year. We love spending time together at our cottage in Door County, WI. I like reading, concerts, cooking/ baking/ canning, exercise, classic cars, the 80's and being with friends and family."
As she closes with her advice to the young women considering a career in construction, Lauren forwarns that there is no sugar coating. "You will need a thick skin. And if you have the drive and are willing to put in the hard yards, the sky is the limit. This industry is empowering and provides so much satisfaction. I have been in the construction industry for 19 years and I still get excited walking down the street in downtown Chicago and seeing all the projects that we have been on."
Gives a whole other meaning to "the beat on the street" huh?
Meet NAWIC member, Rowena Dziubla, owner of WODeration LLC for the past 2 years.
As an advocate for women's health in the construction/ AEC industry, WODeration is Rowena's medium for delivering nutrition and fitness content, support and one-on-one coaching. She chooses to focus her efforts on helping the women of our industry because she feels that it is a topic that is not addressed enough. She agrees that without question, honing our communication and leadership skills is vital, but, believes that maintaining good health is equally important and a key component to achieving success both personally and professionally.
As owner of WODeration, Rowena manages all aspects of her business - and says that goes beyond merely running the business. It's important for Rowena to live by example and continue to educate, as her goal is to undo all the garbage the fitness industry has created. This girl works hard and plays hard! She doesn't have a 6 pack, loves tequila, and boasts that she can crush a man's skull with her bare thighs LOL
When asked what advice she would offer a young women entering the construction industry, Rowena says "A career in construction is what you make of it. You don't have to be thick skinned or loud to make it in this industry. You just need to have a good head on your shoulders and some common sense. I used to say "I didn't pick construction, construction picked me". And not until I went to the Spring Forum this year did I really understand just how true that statement is. Being in a room with 100+ women from our industry was both invigorating and intimidating! But, it felt so awesome to share that energy with them. A career in construction, especially when you are part of a community like NAWIC, is certain success. There will always be challenges and opportunities for you to grow in this industry. You learn to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. This not only makes you resilient and adaptable but also prepares you for leadership. A woman in a leadership position in construction is strength and grace all wrapped into one. Who wouldn't want to be that?"
Meet Rachel Bohac.
Rachel is a Project Developer for ARCO Murray National Construction, where for the last 3 years, she has managed the front-end of projects for their repeat, multi-site clients. This means that Rachel is typically managing projects from conception up to groundbreak!
Rachel studied civil engineering at Notre Dame and enjoys reading, running, and spending time with friends. International development is a peak interest of Rachel's, as she will be spending a week in India this June for a heathcare project!
When asked what she would tell young women interested in the contruction industry, Rachel encourages girls to be bold and go after what interests you! Do not be discouraged by those who try to reinforce your fears of a male dominated industry. Go after it!
Marjory Bredrup has been with True North Consultants since 2011. She oversees the Soil Management Department of the company, which performs environmental due diligence and soil testing for commercial, municipal, ISTHA and IDOT projects throughout Chicagoland. Her expertise as a consultant stems from her prior position as the CCDD Compliance Manager at a Clean Construction and Demolition Debris facility. In addition to her role as a Project Manager, Marjory is responsible for business development, estimating and department scheduling.
Along with membership in several professional organizations, Marjory is a member of her School Board’s Citizen Action Committee, as the representative of parents whose young children are future students of School District 91. Marjory and her husband Charley have 2 daughters, ages 2.5 and 8 months. They all enjoy going out to see live music, especially Charley’s band, Fletcher Rockwell.
Meet NAWIC member, Michaelann!!
I am Michaelann Agoranos, Principal and Co-founder of Constructing Opportunity, LLC. We are a talent development and leadership training company specializing in the A/E/C industry; with a strong passion for advocating for women and getting more women into leadership positions in the A/E/C industry.
Never one to fear changing careers, I made the leap from a successful retail career and returned to school for architecture. After graduating I realized that drawing at a computer for most of the day was really not for me, so I switched over to the construction side of the business and loved it. I have worked as a project manager, and Regional Construction Manager, building projects and developing high-performing teams. I eventually worked my way into training real estate and construction professionals, which set the course for Constructing Opportunity, LLC.
I live in Glen Ellyn with 2 awesome (but sometimes challenging) boys, two crazy rescue dogs, and an very supportive husband! In my free time I love to spend time with my family, read, be active, play guitar, and sew.
I have been a NAWIC member for about 4 years, on the board for three years, and the Block Kids chair for three years. I have also participated in the Mentor Program, as a mentor, it is a great way to get to know other chapter members and from each other.
Jody Polka, Senior Project Coordinator for almost 4 years at Ryan Companies US, Inc. lets us in on what it's like to work at and represent a place that believes in the value of the buildings they design, develop, manage and construct - not just for their dollar value, but the value they bring to the people who use them and the communities that surround them.
With nearly 80 years in business, Ryan offers comprehensive commercial real estate solutions that create the spaces where people thrive. With 16 offices nationwide and projects completed in nearly every state, we bring localized expertise with service offerings spanning development, architecture + engineering, construction, real estate management and capital markets. Strategic sectors include healthcare, industrial, retail and senior living, with project types including distribution, education, hospitality, mixed-use, multifamily, office, alternative energy and data centers. Ryan: We build stories.
So, Senior Project Coordinator/Great Lakes Inclusion Coordinator by day and Construction Project Management Student by night - Jody burns that candle . . ."I support Development, PM’s and Supt. as well as the subcontractors on our projects. I prepare all of the Contracts, Change Orders, Pay Applications and O&M materials and set up and maintain monthly payment draws. I collect all the waivers and any other documentation from subcontractors as well as help them with any other needs. I process all AR and AP on projects and assist with bidding, submittals, and financial closeout of projects."
But wait, there's more!
"As the Great Lakes Inclusion Coordinator, I take an active role in outreach to any M/W/D/BE contractors to help get them registered and working as a Ryan subcontractor. A few of the projects I have worked on include: Whole Foods Distribution Center, 833 N. Clark ( The Aurélien), and Amazon DET fulfillment Center.
Tell Us A Little Bit About Yourself:I am the Mom of 2 current College Athletes and married to my husband for 23 years. I have been in the Construction Industry my entire life first working for my Dad’s excavation company, where I started out answering phones and worked up to estimating and PM’ing projects. After his death, we closed the company and I found my way to Ryan."
And all this hard work Jody has been putting in is in pursuit of a PE position next year - I don't know about you, but sounds like a slam dunk to me!
When asked what her message was to young women about a career in construction, Jody says, "Run, don’t walk. The opportunities are endless and there are more and more women entering everyday so you’re never too far from a mentor. Join NAWIC, where women empower other women to succeed."
This is NAWIC member, and Chair of Safety Committee, Brittany Long!
Brittany has been the Safety Director for commercial general contractor, Blinderman Construction, for 15 years and oversees all aspects of health, safety, and risk management for the company. This involves policy establishment, training and orientation, employee oversight, site inspections, incident investigation, and much more. Brittany is "The Safety Lady"!
Brittany is originally from Colorado and definitely misses the mountains, but says Chicago is her now her home. She is an ordained minister and has officiated 5 wedding ceremonies so far!
Brittany's word of advise for ladies entering the construction industry is this, "It can be intimidating to try your hand at something you've never been exposed to before, or someting that you have been told may not be for 'girls'. But you CAN work in construction. What's more, you can SUCCEED in construction...the industry needs and thrives on the contributions of women."
Jennifer Caceres has been working for the largest family-owned, 4th generation Ready Mix company, OZINGA, for just shy of 4 years. She is a Talent Acquisition & Development Manager
Lead and oversees the team that recruits talent and helps develop Ozinga's workforce.
This means she facilitates corporate learning; ensures that the hiring and onboarding experience are positive, memorable and consistent!
In addition, Jennifer acts as the cultural liaison for Ozinga's 5 regions, using her bilingual skills in Spanish in the Miami market.
She is a single working mom with 16 y/o son (aspiring blacksmith) and 13 y/o daughter (aspiring artist). Jen enjoys traveling, running and Jeeping when not at work!
My name is Amanda Behrens and I work for Skender. I have been with Skender for almost three years and have been part of some pretty neat projects. I began at Skender as a Project Engineer II on track to become a Project Manager and spent the first two years working on interiors projects, the most notable are Morton Salt HQ, Cars.com HQ, work in 1871 at the Mart, and Pivotal Labs HQ. I have since moved into a Field Engineer role, which has put me on the track to become a Superintendent. When I approached our VP of People and Culture Lisa Latronico and our VP of Operations about transitioning into the FE role they were very supportive and helpful. I completed my first job as an FE on Hinshaw & Culberston HQ and have now moved into ground up work. Skender has a wonderful mentor program and I was paired with a colleague to help guide me for the first year at Skender and beyond. This was immensely helpful as they are there to bounce questions off to help with growth and understanding in your role. We also have Team Leaders who you report directly to who are an additional support for growth in your direct position. Skender is a company that truly cares about it employees. There was no question of my ability to be a female in a generally male role, they have given me the opportunities that I have asked for and are committed to my growth in the position of my choice. They are focused on healthy growth from within and take care in ensuring that people feel comfortable and confident in their position. I truly feel a part of a family and enjoy working with each team member.
On the personal side, I have been married to my amazing wife Courtney for two years. We are avid outdoor types, we love hiking and camping with our puppy Ryder, we love to go biking on any trails we can find, we love to kayak, and generally work on our projects at our home. We also travel when we can and have a goal to try to see and camp in as many of our amazing National Parks as we can! We have also recently began the process of adoption through DCFS, after losing our son in February of 2018 due to a syndrome call HELLP (a more serious version of Pre-Eclampsia). We decided that what we still want more than anything is to have a family and that being able to adopt would be a great way to honor our son. We are grateful every day for the life we have and hope that we can continue to make it even better with every passing year.
I recently joined the NAWIC to try to grow my network of strong women! I am looking forward to starting to get involved and meet some of the rest of you ladies!