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Love Seeing Projects Come to Fruition? Consider Construction!

Kahua is highlighting some of our customers, partners and employees for Women in Construction Week 2022. Today, we talk to Rosiella Defensor, who is a Project Manager with the Santa Clara Unified School District in California.

Please share your education and work history.
I am the Santa Clara Unified School District Project Manager assigned to the mega-project known as the Agnews K12 Campus, a $500 million dollar portfolio of projects to widen Zanker Road and construct three brand new schools in North San Jose. I have a civil engineering degree from San Jose State University, and I am a LEED Accredited Professional and a graduate of California’s Coalition for Adequate School Housing (C.A.S.H.) Leadership Academy. I have over 25 years of project management experience focusing on the successful execution of K-14 school construction throughout the Bay Area.

What was the thing that sparked your interest in construction?
I love seeing projects come into fruition. Early in my career, I explored private sector projects, but my true passion is in building schools! From the early stages of planning and all the way to finally seeing the students and staff enjoy the space is truly rewarding.

Are you seeing more women entering this field?  How has that changed since you started in it?   
I’m definitely seeing more women entering this field! Actually, the Agnews Project has many women in leadership roles … more than any other project I’ve worked with before! The construction manager project executive, the Middle School project manager, the Elementary School lead superintendent, the principal architect and the architect’s lead liaisons for each site, our interior designer, our SWPPP engineer, lead traffic consultant, industrial hygienist, the structural steel, landscaping, artificial turf, casework trade Leads and our very own bond program manager (Valerie) are all women!

With the lack of tradespeople, how can we encourage women to consider positions in the construction industry?
I believe that informing the youth about the different opportunities early on helps guide them in their career paths. Once they are in the industry, encourage them to grow, help them succeed and pursue leadership roles so that they feel empowered to inspire other women to join the industry.

How did it feel when you moved into a leadership position for the first time?
Exhilarating! Especially when you start seeing the difference you can make!

How are you helping/mentoring others advance?
I participate in the ACE Mentoring program here in the south bay, leading a group of high school students to explore the opportunities and possible careers in architecture, construction and engineering.