ARTBA Announces 2014 Women Leaders Awards

Groundbreaking women from FIGG, TxDOT & Industry Firm CH2M HILL honored

 A 35-year bridge building veteran, a 30-year expert on alternative project delivery, a well-known international design firm, and two University of Maryland graduate students were honored today as part of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s Transportation Development Foundation (ARTBA-TDF) “Women Leaders in Transportation Design & Construction Awards” program.  

The awards were presented in three categories during a special luncheon held in conjunction with ARTBA’s 2014 National Convention in Rancho Palos Verdes, California:

  • The Ethel S. Birchland Lifetime Achievement Award: Named after ARTBA’s executive director from the mid-1920s, it is given to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership, long-term service in the industry’s public or private sectors and dedication to the advancement of innovation and other women leaders.
  • The Glass Hammer Award: Honors companies in the transportation construction industry that have innovative programs and activities directed at successfully promoting women leaders within their organization.
  • The Future Industry Spotlight Award: Recognizes students enrolled in undergraduate or graduate studies at a U.S. college or university who have achieved an outstanding academic record and demonstrated extraordinary leadership skills within and outside of the academic environment.


Ethel S. Birchland Lifetime Achievement Award 

Linda Figg, FIGG

As president, chief executive officer and director of bridge art for Figg Engineering Group (FIGG), Linda Figg heads a family-owned company specializing in creating some of the world’s most aesthetically pleasing and state-of-the-art bridges.  Under her management, the firm has designed and constructed $10 billion worth of bridges in 42 states and six countries.  Her innovative leadership extends beyond the company walls.  She is member of many professional organizations including ARTBA, the American Segmental Bridge Institute, the Construction Industry Round Table and the American Society of Civil Engineers, where she was instrumental in creating the “Eugene C. Figg Jr. Civil Engineering Scholarship” that provides internship opportunities for young men and women interested in the field of engineering.  Her commitment to advancing the interests of the industry is evident in the 300 educational workshops she has facilitated throughout her career, an award-winning educational DVD she created to stimulate student interest in bridge design, and her involvement with the National Building Museum to educate children about industry careers.  She also pioneered an innovative outreach process in bridge design by encouraging local citizens to choose designs that best represent their communities.


Katherine Nees, P.E., Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)

Katherine Nees has more than30 years of experience managing, financing, procuring, planning, and designing construction projects totaling more than $25 billion in Texas and across America.  At the TX DOT’s Dallas District, she was the first female construction engineer and the youngest director of administration.  In 1998, she joined the North Texas Tollway Authority as deputy executive director, where she oversaw the delivery of complex multi-agency toll projects including the $1 billion President George Bush Turnpike, Addison Toll Tunnel, DNT Extension and the nation’s first open-road toll facility.  At Jacobs Engineering, Nees served as a division vice president and developed the practice’s National Toll and Public-Private-Partnership group, which managed over $15 billion in innovative projects for 10 state DOTs, the Harris County Toll Authority and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.  As the current deputy director for the Strategic Projects Division at TxDOT, she provides leadership for the $26 billion P3 and Design-Build program. Katherine served on the Texas Transportation Institute Advisory Board, TxDOT Blue-Ribbon Transportation Committee, Dallas Fort Worth Regional Transportation Committee, and will become a board member of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association this fall.


The Glass Hammer Award


CH2M HILL has dedicated significant resources to creating programs that promote the advancement of women within the transportation construction industry. The company’s Women’s Employee Network, Women’s Leadership Initiative and Leadership Excellence through Accelerated Development programs focus on delivering strategic learning opportunities to leverage women employees and help them achieve business success.  All three programs incorporate mentoring; provide networking opportunities; target recruiting for both new graduates and experienced hires; and feature diversity awareness and leadership coaching.  In 2009, CH2M HILL was recognized for its innovative organizational approaches and commitment to promoting women in the workplace with the “Catalyst Award” by a non-profit group dedicated to advancing women in business and was named the top employer in “Woman Engineer” magazine.


Future Industry Leader Spotlight Award 

Eirini Kastrouni, University of Maryland, College Park

Kastrouni is pursuing her doctorate in civil engineering at the University of Maryland, where she is focused on quantifying the economic benefits of multi-modal transportation infrastructure projects and designing an equitable mileage-based user fee scheme to replace or complement traditional fuel taxes.  She maintains a 3.9 grade point average (GPA), while serving as vice president of the university’s Institute of Transportation Engineers Student Chapter.  She is an active member of the Transportation Research Board’s Committee on Transportation and Economic Development.  Kastrouni hopes her research will lead to the design of an innovative user-friendly tool that federal, state and local agencies will use while performing Benefit-Cost Analyses of project alternatives across all transportation modes.

Sadaf Khosravifar, University of Maryland, College Park

Khosravifar is pursuing a doctorate in geotechnical and pavement engineering at the University of Maryland.  She has a 4.0 GPA and is a member of numerous professional associations, including the Society of Women Engineers, Transportation Research Board and the American Society of Civil Engineers.  In 2013, she received fellowship and acceptance to the Clark School of Engineering Future Faculty Program.  She has worked on several projects funded by Federal Highway Administration and Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA).  During her master’s degree studies at Maryland, she performed extensive laboratory and field investigations exploring the behavior of Foamed Asphalt Stabilized Base—a relatively new environmentally friendly recycled material.  Her research was applied to develop specifications and recommended practices for Maryland SHA and was published at several peer-reviewed conferences.