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SeamonWhiteside Introduces New Women’s Initiative Steering Committee



Press Release

SeamonWhiteside (SW+), a full-service land design firm throughout the Carolinas, is introducing the six women leading the firm’s new company-wide Women’s Initiative, which was created this year as a step towards helping women succeed in the male-dominated world of Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC). The Steering Committee includes Lia Contursi, Mary Martinich, Jenny Palmer, Frances Yarbrough, Sarah Hamblin and Abigail Richardson.

The Women’s Initiative was founded to foster a diverse community of female mentors, role models and mentees, and provide support, education and advocacy opportunities. Their objectives include developing female leadership skills through mentorship, advocating for equity, influencing policy change and encouraging female employee retention. As a part of the Initiative, SW+ plans to include four annual workshops on a variety of topics with strategically chosen guest speakers to help educate and build up women in the company and the AEC industry as a whole.  

“Though we are still in the beginning stages of mapping out our goals and how we will achieve them, we are incredibly proud of this giant step forward made at SeamonWhiteside to create an outlet that advocates for and supports women in the company,” said Lia Contursi, Marketing Manager at SeamonWhiteside. “We are excited for the future of the Women’s Initiative and the positive impact it will have in our workplace.”

Lia Contursi is a graduate of Michigan State University, where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Landscape Architecture. She has been a part of the SeamonWhiteside team since 2013 and currently serves as the Marketing Manager. She recently joined the board of the local nonprofit Junior Achievement of Greater South Carolina, where she teaches courses in financial capability, work and career readiness, and business ownership.

Mary Martinich, PLA, is a graduate of Louisiana State University, where she received a Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture. Over the past 11 years, she has gained extensive experience with public planning and private development throughout South Carolina, Texas and Colorado. She joined SeamonWhiteside in 2019 as Landscape Architecture Team Leader. Mary also serves on the Charleston Moves Board of Directors.

Jenny Palmer, PE, is a graduate of the University of South Carolina, where she received a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering. She has been with SeamonWhiteside for the past 22 years and currently serves as Office Leader of their Summerville office. She recently joined the Thrive Steering Committee through the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce. Jenny is also a graduate of the Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Dorchester class of 2020.  

Frances Yarbrough, PE, is a graduate of Clemson University, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. She has been with SeamonWhiteside for the past eight years and currently serves as Civil Engineering Team Leader and Office Leader of the SW+ Charlotte office. Frances is a 2018 Leadership Charleston graduate and was involved with the Charitable Society of Charleston, Charleston Young Professionals, and the Clemson Young Alumni Council during her time in Charleston. In Charlotte, she has been involved with the Carolinas Brain Tumor Race and is now involved with ULI and REBIC. She recently spoke at the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce Thrive Luncheon about retaining women in the workforce.

Sarah Hamblin, PE, is a graduate of the University of Georgia, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering. She then received her Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering at the University of South Carolina. She has spent the past six years at SeamonWhiteside and currently serves as a Civil Engineering Team Leader. Sarah is also a member of the Leadership Charleston class of 2022 and recently joined the Trident Technical College Civil Engineering Technology Advisory Board.

Abigail Richardson, is a graduate of Clemson University, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. She joined the SeamonWhiteside team in 2014 and serves as a Senior Project Manager. She is actively involved in the Charleston chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW), an organization that focuses on advancing women in the Commercial Real Estate industry. She is also a graduate of the Charleston Chamber Leadership Charleston Class of 2017. 

“Each woman that is a part of this Steering Committee has an impressive background of their own and is extremely passionate about lifting their fellow female co-workers,” says Frances Yarbrough, Civil Engineering Team Leader at SeamonWhiteside. “It’s the responsibility of women in the AEC industry to identify potential young female talent and teach them the skills they need for a role in the industry. This Women’s Initiative is helping us achieve that through mentorships and open conversations.”

SeamonWhiteside continues to be a leader in closing the gap in the AEC industry and is hoping to set an example so that other firms can begin to provide the resources needed to find and retain female talent. Most recently, they hosted a company-wide workshop with Kenya Dunn, founder of The Power Filled Woman.

To learn more about SeamonWhiteside, visit
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