BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Partner, Fox Swibel Levin & Carroll LLP
Kate Van Zeyl
Vice President, General Manager, Turner Construction
Senior Owner's Representative, IFF
Controller, Focus Development, Inc. and Focus Construction, Inc.
Rana Lee, CCIM, EDAC, LEED AP BD+C
Principal, Director of Business Development, SmithGroup
Principal, Aparna Bapu Consulting, LLC
President, Cullen Construction Management
Senior Vice President, Marketing and Administration, Focus
Vice President, AECOM Hunt
Vice President of Construction, Related Midwest
Senior Director of Project Management, CBRE
Ta Juana Tang
President, Tandem Ventures, LLC
Jean Wine is a construction attorney whose legal practice is exclusively devoted to the construction industry. She is a partner at the Chicago-based law firm Fox Swibel Levin & Carroll LLP. Her Construction Law Group is Chambers-ranked, and Jean is one of a small group of lawyers who has gained the distinction of being individually ranked by Chambers USA as one of the leading construction attorneys in Illinois.
Jean represents owners, developers, general contractors, designers and specialty subcontractors in all aspects of their projects, from contract drafting and negotiation through project completion and subsequent dispute resolution. Jean has broad experience counseling her clients with respect to risk mitigation in contract drafting, including strategic use of first and third party insurance to protect the client during and after construction. She regularly counsels clients during construction to resolve claims before they mature into active disputes. When disputes do arise, Jean has experience in litigation and arbitration around the country, where she has handled complex claims arising out of construction and design defects, project delay and acceleration, loss of productivity and efficiency, breach of contract, excessive changes and cumulative impact, differing site conditions, failure to pay and withholding of payments, mechanics liens, code violations, fraud, negligence and breach of express and implied warranties.
Kate Van Zeyl is Vice President, General Manager for Turner Construction Company in Chicago. She is responsible for the leadership and management of the Chicago office, which has 200 employees and completes $600 Million of revenue annually. She collaborates to set the long-term vision of the office while also focuses on the successful delivery of projects.
Kate has been instrumental to many of Turner Chicago’s largest pursuits providing leadership,business strategy, and operations management. She has aided the business unit with pursuits like the Willis Tower Repositioning, O’Hare 21, Obama Presidential Center, and many other projects.
Kate earned a Master of Architecture from Tulane University in 1999. She joined Turner as a Project Manager in the Special Projects Division in 2008, after practicing architecture in New Orleans, Ft. Lauderdale and Chicago. At Turner, Kate has advanced through a number of operational roles providing project management and leadership during the design, preconstruction and construction phases on a wide variety of projects. In 2016, she accepted an assignment as the Business Development Manager, her most recent role, focused the growth of the Chicago Business Unit.
Kate is active in various commercial real estate industry organizations. She is a member of the American Institute of Architects and an associate member of the Urban Land Institute where she serves on a Chicago Product Council. Kate is active in the community and has been an active member of the board for ACE Mentor Chicago for the past seven years. Kate is also co-chair for the grants making committee for the Turner Construction Company Foundation, which is in its 21st year and has raised over $10M for local Chicagoland charitable organizations.
Sara Urizar is a seasoned program management professional with more than 20 years of experience providing oversight for all phases of complex, multi-million dollar construction programs on behalf of museums, higher education institutions, private sector and non-profit clients. She is currently a Senior Owner’s Representative on the Real Estate Solutions team at IFF, a mission-driven lender, real estate and community developer, helping nonprofits to plan, finance, and build the facilities that are critical to their success and community impact. IFF provides flexible and responsive consulting services for development of facilities for nonprofits in low-income communities or serving disadvantaged populations.
In prior roles with Cotter Consulting and Ascent, Sara has represented a wide variety of clients as Owner’s Representative for their construction and expansion programs, including the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois Institute of Technology, and Chicago Department of Aviation. After a successful completion of the $400M Modern Wing expansion at The Art Institute of Chicago (AIC), Sara transitioned to the AIC’s staff where she remained for 14 years. As their Executive Director of Design & Construction, she led the team responsible for execution of all capital construction and exhibition projects throughout the museum campus.
Sara began her career as Project Engineer for an environmental engineering company in Detroit, Michigan, and holds a B.S. Civil & Environmental Engineering degree from the University of Michigan.
Aisha, with over 20 years of accounting experience in the AEC industry is a leader in her field. She joined Focus, in 2017 as an Accounting Manager but has since taken on the role of Controller where she directs the accounting operations for the firm and manages a team of accountants and financial professionals.
Before coming to Focus, Aisha began her career at Higgins Development Partners, LLC in Chicago as a Project Development Accountant where she eventually became the Controller as well, managing the entire real estate Accounting Department and its staff. After leaving Higgins, Aisha joined Ujamaa Construction as the Controller where she directed all financial activities of the organization for six years, including the transition of the company from a PEO System to a full ownership model. During her time with Ringold, Aisha diversified her financial experience through a variety of assigned audits, reviews and compilation procedures across various industries.
Aisha earned her Bachelor’s degree in accounting from Eastern Illinois University and is a Licensed and Certified Public Accountant and Notary Public.
Rana Lee is a growth strategist, connector and leader whose strength lies in her innate ability to see possibility and opportunity. This insight allows her to take a 10,000-foot view, quickly synthesizing information, and distilling it down to 100 feet. She is champion for her clients and colleagues, allowing them to imagine bigger futures and greater outcomes. Whether designing human-centered experiences for clients, mentoring future leaders or empowering women, Rana is committed to designing a better world.
Rana is Principal and Director of Business Development with SmithGroup, an interdisciplinary design strategy firm. She is responsible for business strategy and market share growth across commercial, higher education, science technology and healthcare sectors. Additionally, Rana is a member of SmithGroup Chicago’s Executive and Justice Equity Diversity and Inclusion committees.
Prior to SmithGroup, Rana spent 15 years in commercial real estate with global financial services and private equity firms. She has held positions in real estate dispositions and acquisitions, brokerage, capital raises, investor relations and business unit leadership. Throughout her career, Rana has been recognized for her ability to create high performance teams and partnership that result in breakthrough thinking.
Rana is an active member in numerous civic and professional organizations such as the Chicago Central Area Committee, The Forest Preserve Foundation Conservation Cup, Ellevate and 1871. Her leadership and philanthropic contributions have been recognized by the Colon Cancer Coalition, NAWBO, Business Ledger and Commercial Forum. When Rana’s not thinking about clients, you will find her on the golf course imaging the perfect shot, while at the same time mentoring a young female caddy.
Aparna possesses over 25 years of experience on complex, large-scale, high-profile projects, now as Principal of her own project management consulting practice. She comes from an architectural background and has experience as a structural engineer, a construction manager and as an owner’s representative. Her current responsibilities as a project manager are to manage budget and schedule, oversight in design and construction, project close-out and owner activities.
Prior to starting her own practice, Aparna has worked as a structural engineer on iconic projects including the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago’s Millennium Park. Transitioning into construction management, she has served as an assistant project manager for the O’Hare Airport Façade and Circulation Enhancements (FACE) for Terminals 2, 3. She has significant experience on high profile cultural projects as a project manager and owner’s representative including the roof enclosure at the Kogod Courtyard at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the renovation and expansion of the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Harvard Art Museums and the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College. She was also a senior project manager responsible for design management on the Obama Presidential Center.
As Principal of her consulting practice, Aparna provided project management services to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s Transformation Project. This included the selection of the design team and oversight of the multi-phased design and construction of the expanded and renovated museum.
Additionally, before her career in project management, Aparna taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1998-2000 as a visiting Assistant Professor in the School of Architecture’s study abroad program at Versailles.
Aparna has her Master of Architecture degree in Structures Option and Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Shaylyn Cullen is the Founder and President of Cullen Construction Management. Over her 20-year career as a General Contractor and Owners Representative, Shaylyn Cullen has led projects ranging from Apartments, Interior Build outs, Airport renovations, LEED certified Outdoor Classrooms to Luxury High Rise residences as well as Cargo / Logistics Facilities. These experiences have focused on all aspects of building from conceptual cost planning through final turnover. Her sharp focus on cost control provides clients a full service of design and change management which ensures that quality and costs are maintained.
Shaylyn graduated from Marquette University in 1997 with a B.S. in Civil & Environmental Engineering, and DePaul University in 2007 with a Masters in Business Administration. She spent 10 years at Lend Lease, where she developed her preconstruction skills while spending time in the field. She is LEED A.P., OSHA 10-hour safety certified, started a Future Engineers program for elementary aged girls, is a board member and mentor for Steel Bronco Robotics, a Goldie Initiative Mentor and serves on the Marquette University Civil, Construction & Environmental Engineering Advisory Board. Shay has an interest reading, paddle boarding, traveling and running. She is actively working towards completing a half marathon in all 50 states.
Kendall graduated from Wheaton College in 2005 and started her career with Focus in 2006. Kendall was initially hired as a Marketing Assistant and eventually moved into an Executive Assistant role working directly under Focus’ CEO. She later went on to become the HR Director where she led the department for four years before moving into her current position.
As Senior Vice President, Marketing and Administration, Kendall oversees the company’s marketing strategy and brand identity, which includes oversight of our social media, graphic design, and public relations. As a veteran Focus employee, Kendall possesses an expert knowledge of the Chicago market. She is well-versed in today’s real estate and interior trends, ensuring Focus’ residential product will exceed expectations.
In addition to her marketing responsibilities, Kendall also oversees human resources, directing the company culture and recruitment efforts as well as manages Focus’ offices, computers, software and technology. Kendall utilizes her understanding of the industry to ensure Focus can maximize efficiencies and incorporate cutting edge technology into our processes to the benefit of our partners and clients.
Kendall is a current Board Member of RISE International which works to build schools in the under-developed African country of Angola.
A 20+ year veteran of the industry, Kasie Mathena is a Chicago-based Vice President of Construction Operations at AECOM Hunt Construction overseeing projects in the Chicago area and beyond. She has grown through the construction ranks developing a strong skillset to ensure the successful outcome of a wide range of product types and sizes including healthcare, high / mid-rise, higher education, multifamily, hospitality, federal / local government, sports, and science labs. Kasie is adept in P3, Design-Build, Design-Bid-Build, CM at Risk, and Owner Representative deliveries as well as the nuances of ground-up, renovation, horizontal / vertical expansion construction. Priding herself on being well-rounded, listening is a big part of Kasie’s success; with this skill she is able to bring solutions to some of the most complex challenges. Some of her favorite projects include Trienens Performance Center at Northwestern University, Fermi IARC, McCormick Place (ACF) Alternate Care Facility, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan, Joint Public Safety Training Campus with the City of Chicago, and Mudd Hall Library and Physics Lab at Northwestern University. Kasie is a degreed engineer and holds an MBA.
With over 20 years at Related Midwest, Amy Mayer handles preconstruction and cost management across their portfolio of mixed-use, mixed-income, affordable and luxury developments. She is also the general manager of Quality First, the company’s union carpentry division. A notable recent project is One Bennett Park, Chicago’s first Robert A.M. Stern Architects-designed high-rise. Other key projects include Landmark West Loop, 500 Lake Shore Drive, the Residences on Lake Shore Park, Park Tower, the Town of Fort Sheridan and the Mayfair.
Amy is a graduate of the architecture program at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Heidi McClenahan, trusted advisor, mentor, role model. Heidi is a senior director at CBRE, the largest commercial real estate company in the world. Over 20 years of project delivery from architect to real estate professional leading clients through their decision-making process. Strong relationship building skills and able to engage teams to deliver exceptional results, Heidi oversees the Chicago and Wisconsin project managers to deliver construction projects on time and under budget. She is an expert in risk mitigation and providing strategic solutions for her clients.
Heidi’s involvement in the construction/architecture industry also includes affiliations with the Greater Chicago Food Depository; the Goldie Initiative; CBRE’s Women’s Network; Working Parents Coalition; US Green Building Council; LEED Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. She has sat on numerous speaking panels and was recognized as CBRE’s Project Manager of the Year. She won an AIA Interior Architecture Award for Design Excellence and recently a NAIOP excellence award for office redevelopment of the year. Founding member of a non-profit organization focused on cancer wellness.
Heidi holds a Masters in Architecture from North Carolina State University, and a BSAS in Architecture from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign along with experience studying at L’Ecole d’Architecture, Versailles France. She earned her PJM1 certification from the University of Texas at Dallas.
Ms. Tang believes that compliance, community outreach and engagement, workforce development and diversity inclusion, is about strengthening the communities in which her clients invest; creating economic opportunities for the residents within the community and economic sustainability for the businesses that anchor the community. In November 2008, Ms. Tang established Tandem Ventures based upon that belief.
As Principal of the firm, Ms. Tang is responsible for the day-to-day management of the firm and oversees all business development and community outreach initiatives. Her progressive leadership, people management skills and focus on relationships, has been key to the growth of the organization and has played an integral role in the development of the firms’ long-term relationship culture, which places a great focus on communication and loyalty. Prior to establishing Tandem Ventures, Ms. Tang served as the Director of Compliance and Community Relations for Skender Construction, overseeing an approximate $55M per year project portfolio.
Ms. Tang has spent her entire career implementing and enforcing EEO and Affirmative Action plans and programs throughout the Chicagoland area. With over 21-years of industry specific experience, Ms. Tang has developed solid relationships with industry leaders in the construction and real estate communities, and has become a trusted and respected source among developers, alderman, contractors, intergovernmental agencies, and a host of community groups and partners. She has been a vocal advocate in Chicago for the expansion of contracting and employment opportunities that stimulate growth and empowerment for community residents and minority and women-owned businesses.
With a verifiable record of developing solutions and achieving results, Ms. Tang has been responsible for the enforcement and management of compliance on multiple CHA, HUD, City of Chicago (TIF, HOME and CDBG) and IHDA funded projects. Her project resume includes Taylor Street Library and Apartments, the CHA Redevelopment of the Ida B. Wells Housing Development, now Arches of Oakwood Shores; the NAVTEQ Data Center, in addition to a list of other housing, mixed-use and commercial projects. Since inception, Tandem Ventures has managed an impressive $972M portfolio of projects, including interior buildouts, education, retail, housing, healthcare and community.
Ms. Tang places a great focus on philanthropic initiatives as an additional portal of enfranchising communities and their residents by way of in-kind support, volunteering and mentoring. Ms. Tang makes it a point to engage herself in community events and other civic interests in the various communities in which her clients invest. When Ms. Tang isn’t spearheading events and volunteering, she’s working to affirm the dignity and self-reliance of undeserved individuals and their families through meaningful employment at One On One, where she serves as a board member. Ms. Tang is also the former board president for KLEO Community Family Life Center, a contributing member of Women in Planning and Development, and a former advisory board member and youth mentor for SOS Children’s Villages Illinois–Lockport.