March 8, 2017
It’s the everyday effort that matters. Each morning we come to work, we decide how we will take care of clients, business partners, team members, and coworkers as we create projects together. Small details and many, frequent interactions add up to create a big impression. Our work centers on relationships, and those take time to develop.
March 7, one of TSP’s own was honored for her work to build connections in the A/E/C industry and help foster new talent. The Greater Sioux Falls Chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) named Principal Michelle Klobassa its 2017 Influential Woman in Construction. The group’s purpose is to enhance the success of women in the construction industry. Membership includes working professionals as well as students who are preparing for careers in building-related fields.
TSP nominated Klobassa on the basis of her collaboration with constructors and construction manager, her mentorship of younger staff, and her leadership in Architecture Forum and other AIA initiatives that engage cross-disciplinary A/E/C professionals.
“I’ve realized that every day, we really have that opportunity make a positive impact on the people that we work with and the people we work for,” said Klobassa, a senior architect who joined TSP in January 2004. She is the first woman to serve as on the Board of Directors in the firm’s 86-year history.
More than a dozen TSP team and family members turned out to see Klobassa accept the honor — a response that floored organizers of the Women in Construction Week event. While the Greater Sioux Falls chapter will celebrate 40 years this June, this is the first time it’s given the award.
Klobassa thanked her colleagues and had a special word for her husband, Ryan. “I’m also thankful for my husband, who’s my greatest support. …. We know that our industry can be a challenging and time-consuming job.”
Growing up in Fargo, N.D., Klobassa drew colorful floor plans as a child. Her passion for design started at an early age, and so did her work toward her goals. She took drafting classes in high school, where being the only girl in the room did not deter her from pursuing her interests. Klobassa earned her Master of Architecture degree from Montana State University and is a LEED accredited professional who holds the advanced Building Design + Construction credential.
Klobassa often serves as Project Architect on design teams for complex projects. These typically require close coordination with TSP engineers and construction partners to ensure realistic phasing options for bid packages and on-site work. “Michelle’s attention to detail in regard to communicating what she wants us to build is exemplary,” said Craig Holmen, a project manager with Journey Group. The parent company’s divisions include Sioux Falls Construction and Ainsworth-Benning Construction. “When there are questions, she is a true team player to make sure the solution works for the entire project team.”
Klobassa is an active member of AIA South Dakota, the professional organization for registered architects. A member of the state Board of Directors, she currently chairs both the Scholarship Committee and the Design Awards Committee.
Within TSP itself, Klobassa has initiated one-to-one meetings with multiple members of TSP’s junior staff. These informal mentoring arrangements give architectural graduates and engineers-in-training a sounding board for ideas, concerns, and career goals – as well as an opportunity to hear what worked (and what didn’t) for another woman who’s been whey they are now. NAWIC reports that approximately 8.9 percent of construction-industry workers are women.