TCA is celebrating International Women’s Day today and all month long, by recognizing all women across the entire construction industry!

Below are profiles of women who have been nominated for a feature.

We thank you all for being leaders in our industry and celebrate your great achievements.

We also want to wish all women a very happy International Women's Day.
Catherine E. Willson, Goldman Sloan Nash & Haber LLP
Catherine E. Willson is counsel in the law firm, Goldman Sloan Nash & Haber LLP, a full-service law firm in Toronto, Ontario.

Catherine Willson was the founding partner of Willson Lewis LLP before joining GSNH LLP in 2014. She has established a successful practice in construction law, employment law, collections, and civil litigation. Catherine is recognized as a leading construction practitioner in Ontario, working with owners, developers, project managers, general contractors, subcontractors, and architects in both large and small projects.

Catherine is passionate about sustainable development and helping our industry build with the environment as a priority. She is also helping the construction industry transition to the new prompt payment and adjudication regimes under the Construction Act. She is a Director of the Toronto Construction Association and Chair of the Environmental Committee. She has contributed to the TCA for over 20 years, including participating in various committees and founding the lunchtime sizzler seminar series.

She is also a member of the Ontario Bar Association and Chair of the Risk Management Committee, and an Honourary Governor of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. Catherine was the legal expert for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (Member Services) and is a regular speaker at legal and business conferences, a guest instructor at the University of Guelph, and writes on legal issues for several national publications. Catherine also appeared on Canada AM as a civil litigation expert.
Sophia Sestito, McIntosh Perry
Sophia Sestito has had an exciting and well-rounded career, having worked on the contracting, consulting, and project management side of the business as an Environmental Professional. Her passion for construction, soils, and environmental due diligence has directed her path and lead her to being an advocate by giving back and elevating the industry. 

As the Environmental Lead at McIntosh Perry, a national multi-disciplinary consulting engineering firm, Sophia has been an active member of the Toronto Construction Associations Green Committee and Young Construction Leaders. Through her industry involvement, Sophia has had the opportunity to help organize, moderate, and participate in a variety of discussions on excess soil and waste management. Sophia has a passion for community engagement and youth mentorship, focussing on inclusivity and developing future leaders. As a result, Sophia has been a panelist for York University's Green Career Panel Discussions and fostering advocacy groups within the industry in support of inclusivity.

Sophia counts herself lucky to work for an open-minded, forward-thinking organization such as McIntosh Perry. As a new addition to the Ontario General Construction Association Associate Partners Program (APP) and board member on the Ontario Construction User's Council; Sophia feels that the sky is the limit when thinking about the future. Her hope for the industry is that we continue to foster collaboration, learn from each other, and proactively plan responsible infrastructure in this ever-changing and exciting environment.
Adriana Mema, Adriatica Safety Consulting Inc.
Adriana Mema started her own business as a woman in construction when she moved to Canada from Albania 21 years ago. Back then, there were not many immigrant women or women working in general in the field. Today, Adriana runs two corporations. Adriatica Safety Consulting Inc. founded by her, and Adriatica Construction Ltd., founded by her late husband (which she took over in 2017 as a single mom (widow) and is proudly continuing her husband's legacy with the support of industry partners). Adriana is also a Humber College professor for the Faculty of Applied and Science Technology, where she teaches Construction Management.

Adriana's industry experience developed from working with Rafat General Contracting Inc. and Bondfield Construction, where she managed to build strong professional relationships and learn from industry mentors. She has used her growing experience to prove that she can get the job done and is making a difference with her companies. Despite the challenges that occurred, with additional support, Adriana was able to drive both businesses into continuously being successful. Women are a powerhouse in the engineering world and can succeed on their own. 

Click here, to read Adriana's full story published in the GTA Construction Report in (2017) on page 6.
Adriana Torres, Toronto Zenith Contracting Limited
Adriana Torres has been with Toronto Zenith Contracting Limited for over 10+ years. She is currently the Construction Manager of Health and Safety. Adriana saw a void in Toronto Zenith's health and safety program and took leadership to develop it to where it is today. 

Adriana focuses on safety training to ensure workers in all aspects of the business are working safely. She works in conjunction with the WSIB to reduce the number of claims made and help injured workers return to work as expeditiously as possible within their health parameters. 

Adriana brought in new technology such as concrete sensors and site docs to help Toronto Zenith be more effective and efficient on projects. She persuaded management to use an environmental consultant on all projects. She has also spearheaded Toronto Zenith into getting COR certified and has been working endlessly to ensure recertification over the years. She's worked hard to get her PMP designation, and she's shown leadership in so many ways that it's inspiring. She's risen to every challenge and provides a great balance to an often male-dominated industry.
Lisa Kurina, PCL Constructors Canada Inc.
Throughout her 27 years of experience, Lisa Kurina has been a construction leader and a trusted mentor, both within and external to PCL. She exemplifies balanced work-life integration, having raised a family and juggled a demanding career all with great success. Lisa is committed to supporting the professional development of men and women in the industry and pushes others to see the best in themselves and achieve success.

Having experienced the challenges of being a woman in an industry that contains a high percentage of men, Lisa is an expert mentor for young women entering the industry. She is a well-respected role model to many women because of her work ethic, leadership skills, technical experience, in addition to her ability to handle herself in various situations and willingness to share practical and tangible advice. A champion for diversity and inclusion, Lisa was integral to inspiring the creation of PCL Toronto’s first Diversity and Inclusion Team.

In her role as operations manager, Lisa provides strategic leadership and technical experience to ensure PCL project teams feel supported and have access to the resources necessary to execute projects to operational excellence. Her extensive skillset coupled with her innate ability to foster professional relationships has landed her work on more than 80 projects with a combined value of more than $2 billion. She stands out among the crowd and always keeps a level head, making her an inspiration to not only her colleagues, but PCL’s partners and clients.
Julie Zabizewski, Vestacon Ltd.
Julie Zabizewski is a Project Manager and Health & Safety Manager at Toronto, Ont-based Vestacon Ltd. With over a decade of experience in the construction industry, Julie has played a critical role in managing construction projects, while enhancing the workplace environment by ensuring employees follow safe work procedures. Most recently, she has lead the firm in its adaptation and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Julie held an executive role on the board for the Canadian Association of Women in Construction (CAWIC) and also volunteers for Habitat for Humanity Women Build and the Toronto Construction Association. She has been recognized in On-Site and Site Partners' Top 40 Under 40 in 2020. Julie is currently undertaking the arduous feat of obtaining COR certification for Vestacon and is confident in her ability to successfully do so, as she has with ComplyWorks and ContractorCheck certifications.

Click here to read Julie's recently published article "A Woman's Perspective on Life in the Construction Field." The story highlights her career achievements and the adversities women have historically (and continue to) face in the industry.
Annette Matthews, PCL Constructors Canada Inc.
Annette Matthews has more than 16 years of construction industry experience. In that time, she has evolved and matured into someone other women can look up to. She has shown women within and outside of PCL that it is possible to move up in the industry. She is always willing to share her experiences and talk about how she handled the atmosphere early in her career and how she has gotten to where she is, while being a mom of two.

And it is not just the women whom she mentors. She teaches those who are accustomed to the industry being a certain way, that women are just as capable as men. Empathetic and methodical in her thought processes, she listens intently before sharing her decisions and coming up with solutions that work for all stakeholders. She expertly walks the fine line of toughness and force to get her point across without being overbearing, earning the respect of the trades, her peers, direct reports and senior management. As a committee leader on PCL Toronto’s Diversity and Inclusion Team, Annette is working to have a positive impact on PCL Toronto and the entire company. The industry is dramatically changing, and it is because of people like her.

Her leadership abilities have been her key to success in her current role as project manager on the revitalization of TD Centre in downtown Toronto. She inspires those around her to do their best, sets goals for her teams, celebrates their successes and sets an example of hard work while sustaining personal responsibilities.
Kayleigh Bradshaw, Fortitude Construction Management Inc.
Kayleigh Bradshaw, Director of Operations and Business Development, Fortitude Construction Management Inc.

Kayleigh graduated from George Brown College with a Diploma in Architectural Technology and a Bachelor's of Technology in Construction Management. She has gracefully worked her way through the ranks of PMA, PC, PM and now, Director. All during which time she gave birth to her two children.
 
Kayleigh has been a huge part of Fortitude Construction since our inception and much of our success is in part because of her perseverance and work ethic. 3 years ago when Fortitude first launched, she worked tirelessly to help grow our network, prospect new clientele and help source projects. Kayleigh led our estimating team, maintained the bookkeeping, while managing our projects. Even while wearing all those hats, she introduced and developed the internal operational system we now use today.

In her career, Kayleigh like many women in construction has had to navigate through a male dominated industry. However, Kayleigh's mindset has never seen that part as a barrier or an obstacle. Basically, she has never cared that this is a male dominated industry. Kayleigh's mindset has only ever compared experience, knowledge and expertise between herself and those around her as a benchmark for reaching her goals. Her main focus is to perform any task in the most efficient way possible, delivering the best results as well as taking our company to the next level.

Click here, to read Kayleigh's, full profile.
Jenn Sutherland, PCL Constructors Canada Inc.
Only eight years into her career, Superintendent Jenn Sutherland is blazing a trail for all individuals in the industry. She is a strong leader who goes against the grain and excels at a non-typical role for a female. Motivated, energetic and filled with ambition, Jenn never shies away from a challenge – she approaches them head on.

She has worked in both PCL’s Special Projects and Major Projects divisions, gaining exposure to a wide range of projects, including mission critical, commercial and health care facilities, all with diverse scopes of work Jenn is self-driven and takes responsibility for the development of her career, as exemplified by her latest experience: a temporary relocation from Toronto, ON, to Corner Brook, N.L., to work on the Corner Brook Acute Care Hospital project. Here, she has demonstrated the ability to take on new avenues of scope with both eagerness and confidence.

From the beginning of her career, Jenn has shown characteristics of being a natural leader. Several projects under her leadership have been successful, due in part to her strong relationships with her team. She ensures her team knows where they stand with her and what her expectations are. She guides her direct reports through obstacles and motivates them to stay outside their comfort zones to evolve their skills. On top of her project responsibilities, Jenn has taken on a mentorship role with field coordinators and co-op students. She positions herself is passionate about showing them the PCL way and sharing valuable information about construction that they may not know.
Vanessa Leclerc, Norseman Construction & Development Ltd.
At the young age of 8 years old, Vanessa had already acquired a ton of knowledge when it comes to construction. Being raised by a father who ran his own company, she was privileged to grow up in this industry. Having always loved the field, she knew she was going to follow in her father's footsteps. And never having been afraid to be in a man's world, Vanessa took the leap of faith at the age of 18 to start her own company. It was then that she was hired full-time with Phoenix AMD international. Even though she had a full-time job as a flight attendant, and was undergoing studies for a bachelor of entrepreneurship, Vanessa decided to start a partnership with another company in asphalte in her hometown of Montreal.

With all that she's accomplished, she's most proud of her perseverance and still dedicates the majority of her days working hard at building her empire! Currently, Vanessa is a valuable proud team member at Norseman Construction, where she is a dedicated, hardworking construction specialist. 

Based in Toronto, Norseman Construction & Development Ltd. has been a leader in residential renovations and custom home construction since 2005. From concept to completion, we take a client's vision and make it a reality through a comprehensive process to ensure the finished product exceeds expectations.

We specialize in the design and/or building of renovations, additions, and custom homes.
Cheyanne Hammell, PCL Constructors Canada Inc.
In an industry that never stops, Cheyanne has proven her leadership skills, shown immense achievement in the pride she takes in her projects and passed down the same mentoring values that were shared with. She initially envisioned her life as an architect, but says the thrill of construction brought a different kind of inspiration and drive through seeing the outcomes and impact of hard work. Now she’s 15 years into her construction career.

Cheyanne is committed to the development of not only her direct reports but those around her. She goes out of her way to mentor women and celebrate seeing them advance in their careers. As a member of PCL’s Diversity and Inclusion committee in Toronto, Cheyanne has been a great asset to PCL’s community involvement initiatives. She is dedicated to engaging younger girls about the careers opportunities available to them in industries like construction and engineering, while acting as a role model. 

Cheyanne has worked on a wide variety of community-building projects across the Greater Toronto Area, serving the healthcare, public institutional, retail, sports and entertainment, transportation and civil sectors, while balancing her busy family life with a young daughter. With her determined leadership style, the project manager has earned places on some of PCL’s largest and most complicated projects. Cheyanne has been resilient as PCL continues to work throughout the pandemic to advance essential projects. She is currently the project manager responsible for design oversight of a new long-term care home at Lakeridge Health’s Ajax Pickering Hospital site, which is part of Infrastructure Ontario’s Accelerated Build Pilot Program.
Lilianne Dobbs, PCL Constructors Canada Inc.
Leading the way for women in construction, Lilianne Dobbs is a trusted superintendent and trailblazer with 33 years of experience. Never satisfied with mediocre, she consistently pushes her work and the work of others to achieve superior results and quality. If someone says, “it can’t be done,” it is in Lilianne’s determined nature to respond, “no, let’s think about what we can do to get it done” – an attitude that motivates everyone on project sites.

Lilianne is as committed to developing the junior members of her team as she is to her own career development. She makes herself available to her team members to discuss questions and concerns or to offer guidance. Outside of the work environment, Lilianne has a passion for encouraging youth, especially women, to explore construction careers. She strives to change misconceptions about the industry and leads that change by showing the younger generation what is available to them.

She joined PCL in 1987 as a laborer and quickly decided to take on an apprenticeship to become a carpenter, rejoining the company as a superintendent in 1998. In her 27 years with PCL, she has developed a deep knowledge and superior expertise with respect to all field aspects of various project deliveries including experience with large-scale, complex and fast-track social infrastructure projects such as Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital, Humber River Hospital and Niagara Health’s St. Catharines Site and Walker Family Cancer Centre. An inspiration to all, Lilianne has raised her family during her career, finding ways to juggle both passions.


We celebrate you today and every day!
Happy International Women's Day to all women.