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The women behind the construction project

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Left to right: Library Director Deborah Barrow, Turner Construction Safety Manager Kristine Wunder, San Diego Project Officer II Cynthia Meinhardt, Project Executive with Turner Construction Carmen Vann.

The new 497,652-square-foot nine-story Central Library is one of the largest municipal projects in the city’s history. To successfully construct it within three years took an immense amount of coordination, teamwork and leadership.

While the construction field is still primarily led by men -- and there were many men who played prominent and vital roles on this project -- several women in key positions were instrumental in moving the Central Library project to completion.

Carmen Vann, project executive with Turner Construction, provided the oversight of intricate workflows and detailed schedules to keep the project moving as quickly and efficiently as possible. As the person in charge of the construction project, she had to coordinate among the various trade professions onsite, including carpenters, ironworkers, concrete workers, electricians and infrastructure experts. Vann grew up in Washington, D.C., and has always had a fascination with buildings. “I do what I do out of passion for people, and it is way beyond bricks and mortar,” she said.

Kristine Wunder was Turner Construction’s safety manager on this project. She instilled in the entire team the importance of maintaining a clean and safe worksite throughout construction. Her commitment to safety was key to Turner’s impressive safety record on this project of more than 1,000 days without any injuries. A former Army aviation officer and UH60 Blackhawk helicopter pilot, Wunder has a long history of commitment to leadership and passing on her expertise to others. She is a mentor with the ACE Mentor Program, which mentors professionals from leading design and construction firms.

Cynthia Meinhardt is the city of San Diego’s project officer with public works, engineering and capital projects, and helped oversee this $185 million Capital Improvement project. Through her oversight, she assured that the architectural and engineering services -- including technical and operational support, design and construction -- were performed with the highest degree of quality, while remaining on schedule and within budget. Throughout her career, Meinhardt has been committed to making sure that building projects are designed to enhance our overall quality of life and communities.

Deborah Barrow, library director for the San Diego Public Library, worked closely with all of these exceptional women. She also worked with the architects, other Turner Construction professionals, other city departments, outside consulting organizations and partnering organizations to assure that what was built actually met the needs of the community and goals of the library.

A native San Diegan with more than 20 years of experience in public library management, Barrow is no stranger to library building projects. She has managed the design and construction of several new libraries, including the South Chula Vista Library.

All of these extraordinary women came together in their careers at just the right time and place to help make this new library a reality. Through this remarkable accomplishment, they will serve as role models for young women who will be inspired to achieve their own great success.

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