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DTMB celebrates Women in Construction Week
March 10, 2023
March 6 – 9 is the 25th anniversary of Women in Construction Week or WIC Week started by the National Association of Women in Construction in 1998 to celebrate and promote the role of women in the industry. This year’s theme of “many paths, one mission” highlights the different journeys women take to reach their goals, while strengthening and amplifying the success of women in the construction industry.
DTMB is joining the celebration by highlighting the following women from our team that are critical to the success of construction projects in Michigan.
Maria Alvaro, Licensed Architect
Years of State of Michigan Service: 2 years
What was your path to the construction industry? “I joined the State of Michigan in 2021 after a lengthy career in the “outside world” as an architect for a few firms before opening my own. During one economic downturn, I became an owner’s representative for Oakland University before beginning my career with the State of Michigan.”
What do you like most about your career? “I love being an owner’s representative and love the architecture, engineering, and construction industries. The best part is working on a new building from inception to the owner taking occupancy and hearing they are loving their building.”
Sheryl Ananich, Licensed Architect
Years of State of Michigan Service: 1.5 years
What was your path to the construction industry? “I received my degrees and licensure in the early 1990s and have been a practicing architect at various firms for the last 30 years prior to joining the State of Michigan.”
What do you like most about your career? “I love the creative aspect of bringing a vision from imagination into reality. Because the projects are complex and require so many different backgrounds and talents, I believe the construction industry has a place for many diverse types of people. I enjoy being part of a team, meeting new people, and creating new places. My coworkers are fantastic, and I am proud to be a part of this amazing group!”
Indumathy Jayamani, PhD, Licensed Engineer
Years of State of Michigan Service: 6 years
What was your path to the construction industry? “My work in the construction industry has come full circle. I started my career as a civil engineer with residential construction experience in India, then turned into a webpage developer before migrating to this country. My passion towards public and environmental health made me travel to the other side of the world with little support and a lot of hope to pursue graduate studies in that field. After successfully receiving a master’s degree and PhD in environmental engineering from Michigan State University, I did a short stint in environmental consulting on the West Coast. A previous internship with the State of Michigan paved my way to come back to Michigan and work full time in state government. I worked at EGLE in multiple programs, ranging from oversight and management of contaminated sites cleanup to regulatory oversight of surface water intake drinking water systems, and finally coordinating and regulating beneficial reuse of industrial byproducts and contaminated sediment management. A leap of faith and the enticing opportunity to grow in areas that I have not yet explored brought me to DTMB’s Design and Construction Division, where I found a way to marry my passion for both civil and environmental engineering. I have since been serving agencies with environmental projects for cleanup, risk management, and/or compliance and look forward to my career further evolving.”
What do you like most about your career? “Apart from having the opportunity every day to make a difference in the lives of fellow Michiganders in the place that I lovingly call my home, working for the State of Michigan is rewarding in other ways. I value continuous learning, and my career path as an engineer provides ample opportunities. As a state employee, working alongside people who truly value public service, who believe in both the process and the humanity in our work, and who truly root for each other’s success are often the best part of my work.”
Danielle Newman, Licensed Architect
Years of State of Michigan Service: 3.5 years
What was your path to the construction industry? “I grew up on a farm in North Dakota, where we were often fixing equipment or working with machinery. I loved being outside working with the land to grow something from nothing, and I enjoyed helping my dad fix equipment. In high school, I took college prep classes but most enjoyed shop class, where I got to figure things out through drawing and building and realized I really loved drawing! My uncle was a contractor, and my mom did the drafting for his projects. We built a home for my parents when I was in high school. That was a lot of work but fun, and it seemed natural to go to college for architecture.
After many years of an internship, I became a licensed architect and spent time working as a healthcare design architect at facilities like the Mayo Clinic and Essentia Health and architecture firms from Michigan to Alaska (and Minnesota and North Dakota in between). I eventually found my way back to the U.P., where I thought I’d start my own architecture firm. Instead, I sat down and evaluated what I’d enjoyed most in my career, and two things kept coming to the surface - working with people to figure out how to solve problems and being outside. I knew I no longer wanted to sit in an office all day. Rather than jump into running my own architecture firm, I started a small yoga business, which has since transpired into a yoga therapy practice where I get to help people find their own well-being and figure out how to find joy and contentment in life. I used those same skills I’d developed as a yoga instructor to figure out my next step as well, thinking I wanted to work in construction so I could find the same contentment I’d felt in my youth when working outside. When I saw a construction project field representative job posted with DTMB, it seemed like a positive sign, so I applied. Luckily, I got that job, and I now get to work with wonderful people across the western U.P. on construction projects ranging from trails to bridges to gun ranges to environmental remediation to building renovations. The variety of projects, locations, and people I get the opportunity to work with every day while seeing investment in building facilities that help support the local economy and provide years of enjoyment by visitors to state parks and other facilities is very rewarding.
I sometimes think about going back to an office job, but I really enjoy being outside, and I think I found where I am happiest and of best service to others in construction and yoga therapy. It’s an unusual career combination, but it works for me, and some might even say I’ve got that Yooper ingenuity now.”
What do you like most about your career? “The opportunity to get to know so many different people - including other state employees, engineers, architects, and local contractors - and learning what they do is what I enjoy most about my career. Working collaboratively with project teams to brainstorm, discuss, and work through issues during construction to get projects successfully built is really what makes working in construction so rewarding for me. And, getting to visit beautiful project sites from Copper Harbor to the Porkies in the U.P. is a bonus!”
Aimee Ragsdale, DTMB Design and Construction Contract Services
Years of State of Michigan Service: 20 years
What was your path to the construction industry? “I followed my parents’ footsteps into the construction industry. My dad was a master carpenter, and my mother finished her career at the State of Michigan at the Building Operations Division.”
What do you like most about your career? “In a field of doers, I appreciate being able to establish a clean line of communication among the involved parties. The world of construction can be messy, but the paperwork is clean. Contracts are essentially the glue to a project, and I appreciate that I can be of service to others.”
Anne Watros, DTMB Design and Construction Contract Services
Years of State of Michigan Service: 35.5 years
What was your path to the construction industry? “In 2011, I accepted a position with Design and Construction Contract Services area, and the rest is history. Best decision ever!”
What do you like most about your career? “I love being involved in every project that comes through the Design and Construction Contract Services area. No two projects are the same, there is always something new. I am thankful for the relationships I have built with my coworkers, agency partners, and vendors.”
Kristi Zakrzewski, Licensed Engineer
Years of State of Michigan Service: 14 years
What was your path to the construction industry? “I am an environmental engineer with a background in remediation of contaminated sites from industrial and commercial use. I began my career working for a consultant who worked primarily for the State of Michigan on contaminated sites that were owned by the state or have come to it through tax revision. This work involved designing, constructing, and operating remediation systems. I then transitioned to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), now the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), to work on superfund sites. My focus was the review of remediation systems that contain wastes and contamination that are engineered to be left in place permanently. I worked with private parties to design and construct improvements to the remediation systems so that the contamination was no longer a threat to human health or the environment. From DEQ/EGLE, I came to DTMB Design and Construction as a project director for environmental sites managed by EGLE. I was responsible for agency projects and assisted state agencies with development of properties with environmental concerns to public assets like parks and boating access sites. Currently, I lead and oversee the Contracts and Site Services Section in Design and Construction Division of DTMB. This includes all aspects of contracting, survey, soil erosion and sedimentation control, and environmental projects.”
What do you like most about your career? “The aspect I like the most is making a difference for the health of individuals and the environment in Michigan. The work we do assists EGLE in separating contamination from the population and the environment, as well as providing public recreation and infrastructure for the residents of Michigan. The people I work with are dedicated and driven to make every project the best project is can possibly be. We care about our work and each other.”