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Female construction executives launch professional organization for women in construction operations

Organization will focus on the mentorship of women in construction, architecture and engineering who work in professional and managerial roles.

February 21, 2013 |
Female construction executives launch professional organization for women in con

Sarah Creighton and Holly Cindell of McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. of Newport Beach are among a group of pioneering women from Southern California construction, architecture and engineering companies to begin WiOPS—a new professional organization geared specifically toward women in construction operations. Creighton and Cindell were named co-chairman for the new organization which aims at mentoring women working in the operations side of construction.

“Women make up less than 10% of the construction workforce with an even smaller number in professional and managerial positions,” said Sarah Creighton, vice president operations, education services for McCarthy Building Companies of Newport Beach. “There are other industry organizations out there for women in construction, but none of them are tailored to women in construction operations roles. We started WiOPS to fill that gap.”

This past summer, Creighton and Cindell joined with 13 other women in likeminded careers to set up a board and establish goals and a mission for WiOPS. As a result, the group determined their primary goal will be to facilitate mentorship of up and coming women in the construction, architecture and engineering professions.

They also developed the following mission: “WiOPS is committed to the advancement of women in construction operation positions and mentoring of future women leaders in our industry. Through mentorships, education and networking, we are dedicated to establishing a platform to share our goals and explore solutions to the unique challenges women encounter. WiOPS promotes hard work, commitment, and integrity to maintain a professional network of construction leaders today and tomorrow.”

“We decided to initially focus on mentorship, because men in our business can find male mentors within their own organization,” said McCarthy Project Director Holly Cindell. “In contrast, women sometimes need to look outside of their own companies to find other females in similar roles. WiOPS can aid by supplying the forum to meet other women who will share their experiences and provide guidance, advice and encouragement equipping each of us with the tools we need to excel in a non-traditional field.”

The WiOPS founding board members include: Co-chairmen, Holly Cindell and Sarah Creighton, McCarthy; Vice Chairman, Nancy Goldman, Jezowski & Markel; Secretary, Kasie Bowden, Hensel Phelps Construction Co.; Treasurers, Lia Tatevosian, Swinerton Builders and Lucy Villanueva, McCarthy; Membership, Amanda Corbet, McCarthy and Events Coordinator, Shaabini Alford, Murray Company. Other WiOPS members instrumental to the group’s founding include: Bernadette Reyes, Clark Construction Group; LaDrena Dansby, USC Capital Construction Development; Elle Navarro and Michelle Garcia, Hensel Phelps Construction Co.; Sammi Maya, McCarthy; Jessica Drake, Swinerton Builders and Kathlynn Smith, Hunt Ortman and founder of SmartGirls and SmartGirls’ Guide to Construction Law.

Held on January 24, 2013 at Murray Company’s training facility in Rancho Dominguez, the organization’s launch event was a huge success with over 150 attendees. During the launch, prospective and new members learned more about the goals and mission of the organization and had the opportunity to network with fellow women in operations during cocktail hour and dinner.

Meet-ups are currently being planned for March 7, 2013 at locations in Orange, Los Angeles and San Diego counties with specifics to be announced on the WiOPS website.  The next formal meeting is planned for April 25, 2013 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at McCarthy’s office in Newport Beach. The event will include networking and featured speaker Dr. Michael Brainard along with a distinguished panel of women in leadership positions.  Michael Brainard has designed and implemented dozens of mentoring, coaching and career development programs for many companies across industries. During the meeting, he will define objectives, myths and best practices from “both sides” of the mentor and mentee perspectives.

WiOPS membership is open to women and men in construction, architecture and engineering industries serving in operations, managerial, estimating, engineering and design career paths. For more information about membership or to sign up to attend their next meeting, please visit

About McCarthy

Recognized as one of the nation’s few true builders, McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. is the nation’s eighth largest domestic general contractor (Engineering News-Record, May 2012) and Orange County’s  largest commercial builder (Orange County Business Journal, June 2011).  The company is committed to the construction of high performance green buildings; progressive job site technology; and safer, faster and more cost-effective execution. In addition to Newport Beach, McCarthy has offices in San Diego, Sacramento and San Francisco, Calif.; Phoenix; Las Vegas; St. Louis; Collinsville, Ill.; Dallas; Houston and Atlanta. McCarthy is 100 percent employee owned.  More information about the company is available online at

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