Three Industry Veteran Leaders at Joeris | Women in Construction 2021

In recognition of Women in Construction Week, we profile the fearless female leaders working at Joeris. From project managers, estimators, accountants, to field staff, these women are stand-outs in their field.

Our employee spotlights profile women at all levels of leadership at Joeris modeling our values of safety, integrity, leadership and excellence. Industry veteran leaders Karen Alba, Sysun Howell, and Norah Wilkinson each have their own unique path in the industry and honed their skills over a combined 50+ years of experience!

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Karen Alba, PE, Senior Project Manager

Karen was featured as one of Construction Dive’s 2021 Construction Champion Leaders.

Work History

Karen Alba, PE, is a Senior Project Manager with Joeris General Contractors in San Antonio, TX. She is currently leading a team on the Women and Children’s Tower Project for University Health Systems, a 14-story Tower adjacent to UHS’s existing campus, consisting of Labor and Delivery, C-Section, NICU, and Pediatric Critical Care and Intensive Care Units, as well as Imaging and Procedure Rooms.

Karen has a technical background in large-scale healthcare projects and years of joint venture experience throughout the country, providing her with a unique perspective on leading teams to deliver world-class facilities to healthcare owners. She has over 14 years of industry experience and is a professional engineer.

She currently leads the Small, Women, & Minority Owned Business Networking Program for the UHS Project, and she continues to recruit and interview top talent on behalf of Joeris.

Why Karen’s an Industry Veteran Leader at Joeris

Karen mentors women on the job site, facilitating network events for her staff with women-owned trade partners, hosting book clubs and TED Talk viewing parties, and providing junior staff development opportunities. She also actively participates in outreach events in the local school community to educate girls about pursuing academics and careers in STEM fields.

Karen is a believer in values-based leadership, an approach to business that prioritizes relationships that positively impact the community, client, and trade partners. As a single mother, she is also an advocate for working parents, especially in the construction industry. She continues to work with industry leaders to move the field of construction to a competitive, healthy, and modern culture where family and the workplace can achieve a better balance for all partners navigating the challenges of parenthood and career advancement.

In addition to her work in operations, Karen is involved in local AGC, TEXO, and NAWIC chapters. She was also a founding member of Partnership for Women, an organization developed to enhance diversity and inclusion by promoting women’s recruitment and retention in the construction industry.

During her time at McCarthy, she facilitated leadership panel events on a division level of local women trade partners, business owners, and clients in various discussion topics to provide the women with a variety of advice and experience from strategic partners in the construction field.

Sysun Howell, Senior Project Manager

Work History

Sysun entered the construction industry in 1996 as a field inspector in Indiana. She now has over 25 years of experience in construction management, including 13 years with Joeris General Contractors where she works as a Senior Project Manager. Sysun has completed over $280 million of educational projects, including $66 million in higher education facilities.

She is a proven team builder with a recognized ability to drive projects to on-time and within budget completions. She is highly proficient with a variety of project management and scheduling software and has received extensive professional training through Project Management and Leadership Institutes.

Why Sysun’s an Industry Veteran Leader at Joeris

Sysun’s first experience on a construction site was in the summer of 1989 in her hometown in Bloomfield, Indiana when she joined her father as a volunteer working on a religious facility project. This was just the tipping point of Sysun’s career in the construction industry.

She graduated from Indiana State University in 1998 with a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management and a minor in Occupational Health and Safety. Sysun was the only female Construction Management student at that time. As an early participant in the construction industry, Sysun pushed the boundaries, paving the way for other women to follow. She used her enthusiasm and passion to encourage other young women to join the Construction Management program at Indiana State University. Sysun wanted to show others that women have both the right and the opportunity to engage in the construction industry as leaders and business owners.

Sysun went on to receive her Master of Science in Construction Management from Louisiana State University in 2020. This program opened the door for her to pursue a leadership role where she can more effectively embolden the younger generation of women seeking a career in construction. Sysun finds joy in seeing the transformation of others and strives to open doors and initiate change to ensure a brighter future for those who come after her.

Norah Wilkinson, LEED AP, Project Executive

Work History

Norah started working for Joeris in 2005 as a project engineer and has worked her way up to her current position of project executive. Prior to working for Joeris, she worked as an assistant project manager at a concrete subcontractor. Norah has a wide variety of project experience with over $237 million worth of work in Retail and large K-12.

Why Norah’s an Industry Veteran Leader at Joeris

Norah started with Joeris in 2005 as a Project Engineer and is now the only female Project Executive at Joeris. She has a wide variety of project experience, including many award-winning projects. Norah works hard and it shows through her project successes. Two of her projects have won Project of the Year, two others have been awarded the Golden Trowel Award, and many others have received accolades as well. As for her personal successes, she recently received her Real Estate Council Leadership Program LEED AP designation. Her outstanding leadership extends beyond the workday – she is also a leader in her community. Norah is the VP of Marketing for the La Vernia Education Board, she serves as a 4-H project leader and is involved in Wounded Warrior projects alongside HEB.

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