March 9, 2022
Defying the Odds: Women in Construction – Lisa Middlebrooks
According to the data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2021, women make up only 10.9% of the construction industry in the United States. This means that men take over roughly 89%.
March 6th marks the beginning of 2022’s Women in Construction Week. This week stands to recognize women as a valuable component of the construction industry. We would like to recognize a woman who defies the odds of the statistics, Lisa Middlebrooks.
Lisa Middlebrooks is an Assistant Project Manager for Armada Hoffler Construction. Before being promoted to her current role, Lisa began in 2019 as a Project Engineer.
Lisa grew up being immersed in an environment where design and construction were always prevalent. Her father is an architect, so she often participated in family activities focused around AIA conventions, Frank Lloyd Wright houses, and touring newly constructed neighborhoods.
Educationally, she began her Bachelor of Science degree as a Building Construction major at Virginia Tech. She later completed her degree in Building Code Administration at Central Michigan University.
Lisa has had the fortunate opportunity to work on both the private and public spectrums of the construction industry. She worked on the private side for a roofing contractor and with residential owners on contracts and financing assistance and on the public side of construction facilitating projects for local municipalities in zoning, development, permitting, and engineering. With her wide range of experience, she has worked with teams that have constructed major road projects including five miles of widening, four bridges, and a 95’ fixed span bridge.
On a day-to-day basis, Lisa finds herself completing tasks that involve coordinating communications between all parties involved in certain projects. This could involve contracts, material procurement, submittal and RFI reviews, progress billing and payments, or disseminating any design changes.
In order to succeed in a construction career, Lisa believes an individual must have full commitment and ownership.
“I give everything possible to something that I love, and I love construction. I will pour myself into my work with 100% buy-in from day one. If my name gets associated with something, I want it to be done right. I also strive to hold myself accountable for any mistakes I do make.”– Lisa Middlebrooks
She believes her job at Armada Hoffler Construction stands out because the people feel like family. She considers AHCC [Armada Hoffler Construction Company] home and finds that friendships she sees between colleagues outside of business as usual have proven to be more prominent and rewarding in comparison to other work environments she has been a part of.
The biggest obstacle Lisa has been faced working in a male-dominated industry is feeling the need to validate her position within the industry. She hopes that in the future, being a female in construction is no longer rare. She wants women to become an element of the industry standard so there is no longer a need to prove why a woman is qualified to speak on certain topics or justify being included in important conversations.
“There are two things I would like to see shift in the construction industry. First, I want more interest from the younger generation. Male and female alike, knowledgeable trade workers are a dying breed. I would also like to see more re-development than new development. Eventually, we are going to run out of green space, so we need to be as efficient as possible with what is already being used.”
Lisa’s advice to any young woman looking into a construction career is to dive in as soon as the interest peaks. She recommends applying for summer jobs in high school and college with full force. In her experience, the longer you wait, the more daunting it feels to take on a male-dominated role. For those that have taken the leap, she urges these young professionals to speak up, take up space, and to understand that their presence is valued.
When asked about a colleague at Armada Hoffler that she admires, Lisa answered Jake Leatherbury. He is the first project manager that she served under at the Company and has always been a mentor for her. She explains that she has never felt the need to justify being in construction to him. Lisa admires Jake’s loyalty and ambition for being with AHCC for 15 years, starting as a Project Engineer and working his way up to now a Senior Project Manager.
We admire Lisa for going beyond expectations and making a name for herself, and women alike, in a male-dominated industry. She is an inspiration to us and an inspiration to young women interested in a construction career.To keep up with our employees and all things commercial real estate, follow us on Instagram, @armadahoffler, and Facebook, Armada Hoffler Properties.