Columbia Women and Manhattanville Campus Honored by Women Builders Council

May 02, 2018

Columbia’s Manhattanville Campus won 2018 Project of the Year and five women who work for the University’s Facilities and Operations team were honored at the Women Builders Council (WBC) Champion Awards dinner in New York City in May 2018.

The Council presented the Project of the Year award for Phase 1A of the Manhattanville Campus construction to David M. Greenberg, Executive Vice President of Facilities and Operations and the award was accepted by Marcelo Velez, Vice President for Manhattanville Development.

In addition, La-Verna Fountain, former Vice President, Strategic Communications and Construction Business Initiatives, received the WBC’s Icon Award for her work to increase diversity and the role of women throughout the construction industry.  Fountain retired in 2018 after 11 years at Columbia,

Four women from Facilities and Operations, each nominated by a supervisor, also were honored with Next Generation of Women Builders awards: Associate Project Manager Arbresha Djonbalic, Director Rebecca Lonergan, Project Manager Olivia Freeland, and Assistant Director of Compliance Christine Salto. The Next Generation Women Builders are women under 35 who show significant promise in their area of the construction industry.

“The Project of the Year award is a testament to Columbia’s commitment to engaging minority-, women-, and locally-owned firms in every aspect of Manhattanville construction,” Greenberg said. “Facilities and Operations is proud to be honored for our successful partnerships with the community as we build the University’s new campus. We are equally proud to foster the professional growth and development for our Next Generation of Women Builders recipients, who represent rising stars in our industry.”

In accepting the award, Fountain encouraged mutual support for diversity. “That’s how we build what we need to build: it is by taking one person at a time, and making sure regardless of gender, regardless of race, regardless of ethnicity, that you’re invited to the table along with everybody else. When we’re all at the table, we all do a much better job.”

La-Verna Fountain, former Vice President at Columbia University Facilities and Operations, receiving the WBC’s Icon Award from Marcelo Velez, Vice President for Manhattanville Development.

Phase 1A of Manhattanville Campus construction included three important projects: Jerome L. Greene Science Center, Lenfest Center for the Arts, and the Central Energy Plant for the new campus. The project achieved outstanding Minority, Women, and Local-Owned Business Enterprise (MWLBE) performance at 31 percent, with women-owned businesses represented at 12 percent across the project.* Representation of women-owned participants on most comparable construction projects in the state of New York averages about 4.36 percent (source: State of New York 2016 MWBE Disparity Study: 2017 Final Report).

Columbia University partners with the WBC, a leading association representing women in the construction industry, across a number of construction-related initiatives. Columbia’s Assistant Vice President for Diversity and Program Integration Tanya Pope sits on the Council’s board of directors.

* Not including construction manager fees.