DBIA ED/CEO Lisa Washington Inducted Into National Academy of Construction

By: Kara Brown, DBIA Digital Communications Specialist

The Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) is proud to announce that Executive Director and CEO Lisa Washington, CAE, has been inducted as a member of the National Academy of Construction (NAC). Membership in the academy is by invitation only from other current members. NAC has elected more than 400 professionals who have made significant contributions in the areas of technology, alternative contracting and project delivery procedures, work processes, safety, industry image, workforce development, labor relations, construction tools, communication methods, construction law, higher education, and cost and schedule management effectiveness.

“As the leader of one of the most impactful professional associations in the engineering, design and construction industry for more than 19 years, she has truly transformed the industry,” Keith R. Molenaar, Ph.D., FDBIA, Interim Dean, College of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Colorado at Boulder said about Washington.

Keith Molenaar and Lisa Washington at the National Academy of Construction Annual Meeting, Oct. 12, 2023.

A Transformational Leader

Upon induction, each member is given a tagline describing the reasons for their inclusion. For Washington, that tagline describes her as a “transformational leader in [the] design-build sector with strong collaborative efforts to standardize best practices across the industry and creator of training workshops nationwide.”

“Lisa is an exceptional leader in the construction and engineering industry who has made significant contributions and improvements over the course of her more than 20 years of association management experience,” Thomas Foley, PE, CCM, DBIA, Commissioner at the NYC Department of Design and Construction, said. “She is recognized within the industry as a leader and a champion of design-build, an integral tool for effective and expeditious project delivery.”

A Little Bit Like a Hall of Fame

Washington has seen multiple well-respected leaders and DBIA members inducted into the academy and has heard others reference it as a “Hall of Fame” of construction industry leaders. 

When asked how she felt about her inclusion in the NAC’s ranks, Washington said, “I was shocked. I felt completely honored but undeserving because I don’t have a background in the design and construction industry. So it really was quite an honor to be on that list.”

Lisa Washington at the National Academy of Construction Annual Meeting, Oct. 12, 2023.

Washington credits the work of DBIA and the impact of design-build for this achievement. “I felt like it’s more the members [of DBIA] than it is me who deserved the award, quite frankly,” Washington said.

Though Washington may feel undeserving of the induction, her work advancing design-build speaks for itself. Under her leadership, the legislative authority of design-build grew from 22 to 48 states, the number of DBIA-certified professionals increased from 86 to nearly 7,000 and DBIA developed its highly regarded design-build curriculum, from procurement to post-award execution. Washington has more than 25 years of association management experience. 

Lisa previously served in executive positions with the Independent Electrical Contractors and the National Society of Accountants. In 2012, Engineering News-Record (ENR) named her a Top 25 Newsmaker. She has been frequently interviewed by national and trade publications, including The New York Times, Construction in Focus and ENR, for her perspectives about the engineering, design and construction industry and design-build.

Rebuilding DBIA

Valexia Hall, right, announces Lisa Washington’s National Academy of Construction induction to the staff at DBIA National Headquarters

DBIA’s work immediately resonated with Washington when she saw the posting for Vice President of Educational Conferences, as she’d grown up in a family of contractors. But the DBIA CEO at the time told her he didn’t know if DBIA would be around in two to three years. The association was only making enough money to pay for rent and staff salaries. He said he believed they could rebuild the company, explaining that while he knew about design-build, he needed an expert on the workings of associations. That is where Washington came in. 

“She has assembled an extraordinary staff, grown membership to new heights and increased DBIA’s operating budget more than threefold from $3 million to $10.5 million,” said Molenaar.

When asked what she wanted people to know about Washington, Valexia Hall, Vice President of Certification and Industry Events at DBIA, said, “Her humility, integrity, selflessness and compassion for others.  

“Outside of her professional endeavors, she finds time to engage in volunteer work, dedicating as many hours to giving back as she does to her ‘paying job,’” Hall said. “I am her biggest fan. I admire her, and I’m honored to be a part of her high-performing team for over 20 years. She is so deserving.”