You spent over a decade in the engineering design and construction industry before starting Aeparmia Engineering. Why did you decide to start your own firm?
I have had the vision from a very young age to create an organization that provides the quality service that my industry deserves while creating a positive environment for team members to flourish. My vision and ideas were not being heard in previous organizations, which led me to start my own firm.
When did your interest in engineering first begin?
While I come from a family of engineers, it was my 9th-grade physics teacher who introduced me to civil engineering. I was very interested in ancient cities like Petra (The Rose City) and finding solutions to complex problems, like ensuring that—as the human population grows—service providers can still meet the high demands in areas such as transportation, shelters, portable water and access to the internet.
How does running a minority, LGBTQ and women-owned company impact your perspective as a business owner?
It reminds me that everything is possible. The communities around me are extremely supportive—I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what I have without every single mentor and organization that supported me throughout my career and journey.
Women make up only 11% of practicing engineers. What do you think needs to be done to get more women involved in STEM?
In my opinion, the STEM programs for girls have been very successful. In 2004 I was one of only 5 women in a class of 40. However, from my speaking experiences at universities today, I have seen the number of women in these classes increase tremendously. I believe that it’s not the number of college graduates, but rather the environment and leadership of our industry, that needs to change in order to attract more women to pursue and continue practicing in STEM industries—especially in construction!
What is your advice for fellow women entrepreneurs entering a male-dominated industry?
Focus on producing high-quality work to build a respected reputation, have integrity and practice simple kindness.
At the Foundation we believe that empowered women empower women. How have you made an effort to do this?
I have always believed in the importance of empowering women. In 2013 I founded Queer Women in Leadership, a 501c3 non-profit organization whose purpose is to support a minority group that has been extremely marginalized throughout history. On top of raising funds for a scholarship, the organization recognizes queer women leaders in Texas at an annual awards event in Austin. In addition to my non-profit work, I continue to speak at events and on panels, in order to serve as a voice for minority STEM women as well as become a role model for all young women in general.
What has been the most inspiring moment for you since launching Aeparmia?
Seeing my team work hard and grow together over the past few months has been truly inspiring.
What do you envision for the future of your company?
To grow as a full-service engineering company, continue to serve our communities and advance the infrastructure of our cities for future generations.
How has the Tory Burch Foundation Capital Program helped your business?
The funds allowed us to purchase IT services for our website, equipment and furniture for the new office, which was much needed due to fast growth.
What does #EmbraceAmbition mean to you?
I believe in myself and I am confident in my ability to achieve my vision and dreams. I am ambitious.
The Tory Burch Foundation Capital Program powered by Bank of America provides affordable loans to women entrepreneurs. Learn more.