In celebration of Women’s History Month, we are proud to share our spotlight in last month’s edition of the New England Real Estate Journal. For this feature NEREJ partnered with The Construction Institute to highlight their 4th Annual Women Who Build Summit, an award-winning program that brings together women and men who represent the diversity and transformation of the A/E/C industry.

Antinozzi team members featured in this year’s spotlight include Senior Associate and Registered Interior Designer, Patti McKeon, NCIDQ; Senior Registered Interior Designer, Brittney Dishian, NCIDQ; and Senior Project Architect, Lisa Yates, AIA + LEED-AP. Keep reading below to see their responses from the article.

Patti McKeon, NCIDQ, has over 30 years of experience in the Interior Design field, including more than twenty years with Antinozzi Associates. She has been the primary institutional facility Interior Designer since joining our team in 1998. Her educational background and extensive interior design experience enable her to excel in translating each school client’s requirements into innovative plans using functionality and aesthetic knowledge within the established program. Patti is also Revit-proficient and has extensive experience in construction documents and detailing. Her leadership ability, knowledge, and design proficiency make her a key asset in successfully executing interior education spaces, and these qualities earned her the title of Senior Associate at our firm in 2012. Patti had this to say when asked her biggest fear when starting out: “When I entered the commercial market back in the 1980’s, I feared the perception of a female interior designer. As being one of the most commonly misunderstood professions (Designers vs. Decorators), it was and still is a constant challenge to validate the role of the professional interior designer. My fear was not being able to analyze, design, document, and manage an interior project from beginning to end while complying to applicable building, fire, life safety, and energy codes. It was an uphill climb, but worth the hike.”

Brittney Dishian, NCIDQ, has been in the Interior Design field for seven years, having joined our firm in 2011 immediately after graduation. Since then, she has been assigned to many diverse projects spanning educational, commercial, and residential design. Recently she has been focused on a large number of educational and institutional projects. Despite her talent and capability, embarking on this career path was nevertheless daunting. “My biggest fear was pursing my passion for interior design as a millennial, entering a workforce that was only just starting to shift directions. I sought to be taken seriously in my career, not only as a hard worker willing to gain more knowledge about their dream profession, but as a young woman.” Brittney offered some advice to those who may be starting out: “If you put in the time and surround yourself with those willing to teach you what they’ve learned, the possibilities are endless. I will always continue to tell myself, ‘You are your biggest advocate, fight for what you believe you deserve!’” Fortunately our firm is diverse enough that our greener staff members can, as Brittney says, surround themselves with those willing to teach what they’ve already learned, but also here at Antinozzi our staff that have been in the field for many years can benefit from the fresh perspective of younger staff who have been raised in a new era.

Lisa Yates, AIA + LEED-AP, has been a practicing architect for 25 years, as well being a CT-Certified Historical Architect who has been with our firm for four years. Lisa describes the project that was a game-changer in her career – Stratford High School, an Antinozzi Associates project whose first phase was recently completed: “After working on small, complex renovation projects almost exclusively for 5-6 years, I took on the role of Project Manager for Stratford High School, a 245,000 SF facility consisting mostly of new construction. In construction it became much easier to demand that proper attention be paid to things like detail coordination. On the design side, managing our in-house team really strengthened my teaching and communication skills.” She then describes her experience working her first job: “I worked for a San Francisco architect during the summers I was a graduate student. I learned that I was more competent than I realized, and that good jokes go a long way with the trades when you are administering construction.” When starting out she says “I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to find a job in my chosen city, since I had no real experience. Then I was afraid we’d screw something up when the workload was too heavy. Now I know more about how to plan for missteps, which are inevitable.” Lisa offered great examples when asked which three women, living or dead, she would like to have drinks with: “Emily Roebling – upon the illness of her husband, John Roebling, she “assisted” with completing the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, basically taking it over. Georgia O’Keeffe – because she was so independent and such an original. Marion Mahoney Griffin – when you see a beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright rendering from the early 1900s, there’s a strong chance she created the drawing. She was one of the first female licensed architects and FLW’s first employee. All of the women listed here were associated with a man – even Georgia O’Keeffe first became known through her relationship with a much older Alfred Stieglitz. I’m curious about how things would be different for them today since they were all strong, independent, and hugely talented.”

We are immensely proud not only of Patti McKeon, Brittney Dishian, and Lisa Yates – but of all the diversely talented women on staff here at Antinozzi Associates: Stephanie Barbagiovanni, Brittney Mayo, Alicia Connery, Shannon Hovan, Lauren Williams, SaiSindhuja Chopparapu, and Catherine Halstead. We would like to congratulate them for their hard work and perseverance, and with more young women being encouraged to succeed in STEM fields than ever before, we look forward to the future of the A/E/C industry.

Read the NEREJ profile here: Women Who Build