2021 – CWA June Virtual Forum: Unconventional Career Paths

June 8, 2021
Illinois, United States

Chicago Women in Architecture’s virtual June forum features a panel discussion partnering with Women in Structural Engineering (WiSE)Women in Restoration & Engineering (WiRE), and the Association for Preservation Technology Northeast surrounding unconventional career paths. The panelists shared their experiences as they maneuvered through careers until finding their niche in the construction industry.


Helena (Lena) Currie is the President of Association of Preservation Technology’s Northeast Chapter (APTNE) and a Senior Project Manager at Simpson Gumpertz & Heger (SGH). As part of SGH’s Building and Preservation Technology Groups, Lena has worked on a wide range of existing building envelope restoration projects, and has presented internationally on the best practices for the restoration of architecturally significant mid-century concrete and for stability assessment of historic plaster ceilings. In 2018, Lena was a recipient of the Preservation Massachusetts “The Next Generation” Tsongas Award. As an alumnae of Smith College’s All Women Engineering Program, Lena is passionate about improving student outreach efforts within the preservation industry and increasing the diversity of the pipeline for STEM/STEAM professions.


Meika Hayles is a Project Consultant at Simpson Gumpertz & Heger (SGH). She is a member of their New Structural Design Group, and has worked on a variety of unique and challenging design projects for institutions throughout New England. Prior to joining SGH in 2017, Meika spent time supporting infrastructure projects in the artic as a project engineer for the Canadian Coast Guard. Her work in remote communities inspired her graduate studies which focused on the design of sustainable concrete using local materials available in these regions. Meika a member of the National Society for Black Engineers, and enjoys working with BIPOC students to help them pursue careers in STEM fields.


Corey Spitzer is the Vice President of the Association for Preservation Technology Northeast Chapter, Secretary of the International Concrete Repair Institute’s Metro New York Chapter, is a Director for Women in Restoration and Engineering, and is a Project Manager at Henson Architecture. She has an MS in Historic Preservation from Columbia University, and has spent time in the field doing hands on construction, conservation, and management of historic preservation projects.  Her preservation experience includes exterior masonry restoration projects, scientific and hands-on investigation of existing structure conditions, and project management.  She has experience working in and on both New York City and National Landmarks and Sites and with cast iron and terra cotta façade restoration, incorporating mechanical systems into historic spaces with minimal impact (HVAC, lighting, fire alarm, fire suppression), roofing replacement, structural sealant replacement, and FISP inspections.


Dr. Pegah Farshadmanesh is currently a Research Scientist in the Socio-Technical Risk Analysis (SoTeRiA) Research Laboratory in the Department of Nuclear, Plasma and Radiological Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Farshadmanesh conducts and leads interdisciplinary research that crosses boundaries between various engineering disciplines, supported by different organizations, including National Science Foundation (NSF) for incorporating data analytic techniques into Probabilistic Risk Assessment, and Department of Energy (DOE) for integrating safety risk and financial risk supporting Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) of complex technological systems. Since 2019, Pegah has served as an Associate Editor of the Practice Periodical on Structural Design and Construction ASCE Journal. Dr. Farshadmanesh’s professional desire is to improve the safety and reliability of complex technological systems to withstand natural and technological hazards and develop technologies to mitigate the impact of hazards on the public and the environment.