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WSB hires Jerel Rackley as Director of Transportation Design

Rackley will focus on strengthening business development and project management in the Austin metro and throughout the state of Texas.

July 25, 2023

Austin, Texas, – Design and consulting firm WSB announced today that Jerel Rackley has joined the organization as director of transportation design. Rackley will be based in the firm’s Round Rock office. Here, Rackley will support the firm while focusing on business development and leading project management for projects throughout the state of Texas.

The strategic hiring of Rackley shows the firm’s continued investment in the state of Texas and will help WSB foster current and future client relationships. The addition of Rackley to WSB’s leadership will grow an even stronger presence in the state— allowing the firm to support communities with their infrastructure needs. Rackley is an asset to the firm because of his background in both rural and urban roadway design and his strong bonds with Texas clients.

“Texas transportation has so many markets, and we are looking forward to Jerel’s knowledge and connections to bring WSB into a new space— both geographically as well as different types of projects,” said Rob Bailey, president of transportation in Texas. “We look for talented engineers and strong communicators, but it can be difficult to find both qualities in one person. Jerel is the rare combination of being exceptional at both, and I know he will bring a positive impact to our business.”

Rackley has over 21 years of experience as a roadway design engineer in Texas, specifically in the Austin metro. Some of his recent and most notable projects include the $650 million Oak Hill Parkway project, as well as the I-35 Capital Express South project. Additionally, he has close ties with the Austin District of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).

“I was drawn to WSB because of the people and their philosophy,” said Rackley. “WSB focuses on innovation and advanced project delivery to best serve clients. We look beyond the horizon and prepare for the future. I admire this about WSB and look forward to supporting the firm and our clients.”

WSB first established an office in Texas in 2017. The firm has since expanded to five offices throughout the state. The Round Rock office is the most recent office expansion, opening in June of 2023.

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WSB hires Ryan Earp to lead the firm’s public engagement efforts

October 18, 2022

As director, Earp will work across divisions and regions to support client public engagement needs

Ryan Earp

Engineering and consulting firm WSB announced today that Ryan Earp has joined the organization as their director of public engagement. Earp will oversee WSB’s public engagement team and will help advance the firm’s service offering and overall approach to public engagement.

Earp’s tenure providing stakeholder engagement in the energy market has shaped his understanding of the need for a wholistic approach to communications. He will work across service areas to provide a comprehensive public engagement foundation that ensures clients are effectively managing stakeholders, risk and communications.  

“The demand for intentional and strategic public engagement is growing, especially in the architecture, engineering and construction industry,” said Ben Maurer, vice president of marketing and communications at WSB. “Increasing transparency and listening to the community are important aspects of any major infrastructure projects across the U.S. As a trained communicator, Ryan will bring a lot of value to our clients.”

Earp was most recently with Environmental Resources Management (ERM), a multinational consultancy firm that provides environmental, health, safety, risk and social consulting services. In his role as a Principal Consultant, Ryan managed long-term public engagement strategic communications campaigns for clients in a variety of markets including energy, infrastructure and asset management.

“At WSB, we have the unique opportunity to engage with the public on projects that shape our communities and our way of life,” said Earp. “I look forward to developing a shared model of public engagement that positions our clients and their projects for success.”

WSB’s public engagement services support the government, energy and commercial markets and offer comprehensive, intentional and strategic communications and engagement planning through both traditional and digital tactics.

WSB Branded Background

WSB hires Andy Kaiyala to oversee the firm’s construction technology and project control efforts

As vice president, Kaiyala will work across divisions and regions to support the firm’s growing project controls team and digital delivery efforts.

Andy Kaiyala

Engineering and consulting firm WSB announced today that Andy Kaiyala has joined the organization as their vice president of construction technology and controls. Kaiyala will oversee WSB’s project controls team and will support the firm’s advancement of digital delivery in the contractor market across regions and divisions.

The role was developed in response to the growing availability of project delivery methods, including Construction Manager/General Contractor (CMGC) and progressive design build.

“The entire AEC Industry is recognizing the value of a more transparent process that is being driven by digital delivery,” said Jon Chiglo, chief operating officer at WSB. “With Andy’s expertise, WSB will guide our clients through a process that mitigates risk and reduces conflict for all stakeholders throughout the project.”

Kaiyala was most recently with The Lane Construction Corporation, a construction engineering company specializing in large, complex civil infrastructure, where he served as the vice president of bid development. In this role, he oversaw bid development from coast to coast. Throughout his 20+ year career, Kaiyala has gained insight from working for contractors, managed field operations, oversaw contract negotiations and led client engagement.

“WSB is uniquely committed to advancing innovation while understanding that a highly skilled, qualified individual is still needed to properly employ technology,” said Kaiyala. “The beauty of digital delivery is that it’s inherently transparent. The momentum in our industry will continue to advance and will result in many benefits for contractors, owners and engineers.

Kaiyala will support WSB’s construction division that offers many services including design-build, alternative project delivery, contractor modeling, pavement management and surveying.

Green forest

WSB announces expansion of forestry management services, hires Emily Ball as forestry program manager

Emily Ball

Today WSB, a leading engineering and consulting firm, announced the expansion of their Forestry Management services along with the hiring of Emily Ball as forestry program manager.

The expanded service area of Forestry Management will support clients to maximize their forestry efforts by leveraging all available resources from technology and grants to industry standard best-management practices. Clients will benefit from proactive, long-term planning related to available forestry resources including forest and urban forest management planning, emerald ash borer prevention and planning, and wildfire and community forest storm mitigation. 

“There is so much potential that comes with the expansion of this service area for our firm, and most importantly, for our clients,” said Ball. “The future of our industry is about sustainability, community well-being, and being proactive in management and planning of our green infrastructure. WSB is leading the way within the industry, and I look forward to creating a significant, positive impact in my new role for clients and communities.” 

As Manager, Ball will help lead the expansion efforts. Ball has nearly 20 years of experience working as a city forester, and previously worked for the city of Lakeville to spearhead the creation of a forestry division for the city. In this role, she will support WSB clients to provide a more sustainable forestry resource plan and help them achieve their long-term goals. 

“Emily is a perfect fit for this position,” said Andi Moffatt, vice president of environmental services at WSB. “She is passionate about helping to make a difference for communities. She has great experience working within and managing various forestry projects. Beyond that, Emily has the heart and the drive to create a huge difference within the industry, and we are thrilled to have her on our team here at WSB.”

WSB supports clients in the government, commercial and energy markets with their infrastructure needs. Ball joins the firm’s environmental division. The division provides environmental compliance, natural resources, water resources, investigation and remediation, water reuse and sustainability services throughout the country.

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WSB hires Behnaz Beladi to direct the firm’s renewable energy team

As director, Beladi will lead, manage and grow WSB’s renewable energy market and team

Engineering and consulting firm WSB announced today that Behnaz Beladi has joined the organization as their director of renewable energy. Beladi joins the firm’s Minneapolis office where she will lead WSB’s renewable energy efforts and solutions.

As director of renewable energy, Beladi will manage the multi-disciplinary renewable energy team in project and program operations. Beladi will also guide market strategy and oversight to ensure compliance and preparedness in growth regions. The addition of this new role will strengthen the firm’s renewable energy services and cultivate a team that is proactive with client management, client retention and opportunity development. Beladi brings vast industry knowledge and technical expertise to the fast-growing firm.  

“As companies and communities around the world strive toward reducing cost and risk, meeting evolving customer and other stakeholder demand, advancing NetZero goals, renewable energy and the infrastructure that supports it will become vital in preparing for the future,” said Amy Fredregill, senior director of sustainability at WSB. “The expertise that Behnaz brings to WSB will only enhance our growth in the renewable energy market. Her comprehensive experience with solar and wind energy and knowledge of local, state and federal environmental policies and the market overall will be an asset for both our staff and clients.”

Beladi was most recently the vice president of engineering at Apadana, a Minneapolis-based a full-service solar engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) firm for commercial, residential, agricultural, non-profit, and utility-scale solar energy customers. Beladi is an accomplished academic, with a PhD of Mechanical Engineering from the Technical University of Vienna, and an associate of the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). Previously, she served on the board of the Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association, advocating for policy and regulatory initiative’s that strengthen the industry.

“WSB’s commitment to cutting-edge technology, combined with their deep understanding of our community’s infrastructure needs has allowed them to deliver many large-scale solar and wind projects in recent years,” said Beladi. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to lead this important work and to shape the future of energy with such a talented team and next-generation tools.”

As director for the firm’s renewable energy team, Beladi joins a dynamic team with collective expertise delivering innovative energy solutions for the firm’s clients.

Shannon McGrath joins WSB as director of asset management planning

McGrath will focus on development and implementation of asset management programs.

Design and consulting firm WSB announced today that Shannon McGrath joined the organization as director of asset management planning. McGrath joins the firms Minneapolis office where she will lead WSB’s development and implementation of infrastructure asset management for government and commercial clients.

McGrath has over 11 years of experience in the transportation industry. In her new role, she will develop and recommend asset management planning and strategy to minimize total cost of ownership, manage risk, increase reliability and resiliency, and meet performance standards throughout WSB divisions. McGrath’s expertise will allow her to communicate the asset management framework to key team members, field personnel and WSB clients.

“Shannon’s expertise, relationships and experience delivering strategic and innovative solutions will be key for both our staff and clients,” said WSB vice president of technology John Mackiewicz. “She will lead initiatives and deliver solutions that drive real results. We identified adding asset management planning as a key need moving forward at WSB and Shannon is the perfect person to lead this service.”

Prior to joining WSB, McGrath was the asset management planning director for the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT). In this role, she directed MnDOT’s agency-wide asset management planning including projects, research, policy, innovation, strategic planning and implementation in collaboration with internal and external stakeholders at the agency. She has also served various roles to aid in advancing asset management statewide and nationally.

“WSB is a leader in the infrastructure engineering industry and the way they deliver for their clients,” said McGrath. “I’m thrilled at the opportunity to partner with an innovative and collaborative team to advance asset management goals and objectives for clients of this fast-growing firm.”

McGrath joins the firm’s technology division but will work across the firm’s broad services areas across the United States.

WSB hires Travis Wieber to oversee the firm’s Midwest transportation efforts

As vice president, Wieber will lead WSB’s globally recognized transportation division

Engineering and consulting firm WSB announced today that Travis Wieber has joined the organization as their vice president of transportation. Wieber joins the firm’s Fargo office where he will lead WSB’s transportation efforts throughout the Midwest.

As vice president of transportation, Wieber will support WSB’s transportation efforts and will oversee the firm’s growing portfolio of public and private transportation clients. This role will strengthen and expand the firm’s transportation services and solutions throughout the Midwest. For years, WSB has been delivering engineering services in and around the North Dakota region, but the addition of Wieber forms a stronger presence of boots on the ground, local expertise in the area.   

“In 2021, we gained a lot of momentum across the United States through the way we’re delivering infrastructure projects for both owners and contractors,” said Jon Chiglo, chief operating officer at WSB. “The expertise that Travis brings to our team will only enhance our steady focus. He is known throughout our industry for his ability to lead and manage strong teams and I’m thrilled that he has chosen to join our firm at this exciting time.”

Wieber was most recently the delivery director of surface transportation and office leader at KLJ, a Bismarck-headquartered civil engineering firm. In this role, Wieber was responsible for the financial performance of the market segment. Throughout his career, he’s led several notable infrastructure projects throughout the Midwest including TH 53 Complete Streets in International Falls, Minn., US 85 & ND 23 Bypasses in Watford City, N.D., Sheyenne Street Reconstruction & I-94 Interchange in West Fargo, N.D., and the Emergency Highway Grade Raises and Dam in Devils Lake, N.D.

“WSB is changing the way our industry approaches digital delivery through 100% models and a commitment to innovation,” said Wieber. “This is an exciting time to be an engineer, and an even more exciting time to join a team of talented individuals, committed to cutting-edge tools, collaboration and partnerships that all lead to better projects.”

As division lead for the firm’s transportation team, Wieber will oversee WSB’s bridges and structures, roadway design, traffic engineering, transportation planning, right of way, transit planning and intelligent transportation systems services.

James Lowe Joins WSB as Director of Municipal Services – Texas

Lowe will focus on identifying key clients and pursuits with Texas municipal clients.

Design and consulting firm WSB announced today that James Lowe joined the organization as its new director of municipal services. Lowe joins the firm’s Austin office where he will lead WSB’s expansion of municipal services across Texas.

Lowe has over 20 years of experience with environmental and municipal services. In his new role, he will develop strategies to elevate and grow clients, pursue key municipal projects, and hire talent in regions and municipalities across Texas with significant growth opportunities. He will also serve as a technical resource for Transportation Planning and NEPA/Environmental pursuits and projects.

“James’ experience will be vital to our growth in Texas,” said WSB vice president of Texas operations Jay Kennedy. “He is well-known for his municipal experience throughout the central Texas region, and we are eager for him to lead and help grow WSB’s footprint across the state and country.”

Prior to joining WSB, Lowe was the division manager and Texas NEPA group manager/Austin office manager for Atkins North America. Throughout his career, he has held multiple environmental roles in the state of Texas, providing oversight, conducting environmental studies, and servings as project director on a variety of projects. He also led business development activities and proposal development.

“I’m excited to join WSB at this time in their growth story,” said Lowe. “There are a lot of opportunities for us to proactively support our clients, and I am ready to jump in to help meet their infrastructure needs.”

WSB expanded operations into Texas in 2017. Over the last four years, the firm has worked closely with clients to provide engineering, planning, environmental, and construction services throughout the state to both the public and private sectors. Lowe’s strategic hire adds to WSB’s momentum in the state and will help to grow client and partner relationships to support their infrastructure needs.

WSB Hires Julie Thiel to Lead the Firm’s Human Resource Efforts

Julie will focus on driving best in class human resources practices, and creating a culture of inclusion, leadership and collaboration at WSB.

Engineering and consulting firm WSB announced today that Julie Thiel has joined the organization as their vice president of human resources. Thiel joins the firm’s Golden Valley office where she will lead WSB’s human resources efforts and also joins the firm’s executive committee.

Thiel has more than 25 years of experience leading talent programs across multiple industries and is known for helping organizations amplify their current talent, build an attractive work culture and develop the next generation of authentic leaders. She will focus on driving implementation, developing actionable solutions, and creating a culture of inclusion and collaboration at WSB.

“As we attempted to understand and navigate this tight talent market, Julie was an obvious choice, her experience with attracting, retaining and engaging staff is unmatched,” said Bret Weiss, WSB’s president and CEO. “Our company is rapidly growing, and Julie came in at just the right time. The effects she will have on her team and this company will be felt immediately.”

Most recently, Thiel was vice president of talent management and the human resources lead for post-merger culture integration at Schwan’s Company in Bloomington, Minn. Throughout her career, she has held multiple leadership roles focusing on recruiting, learning, talent development, organizational development and diversity. She was recognized as one of the 2020 Top Women in Business by Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal. 

“I am thrilled to join WSB at such an exciting time and to lead, mentor and impact all teams across the company,” said Thiel. “We are growing at such a rapid pace; I am ready to solidify and develop our human resources efforts to best support this growing team.”

Recruitment and retention are major goals for WSB as they continue to expand throughout the United States. As part of WSB’s human resources team, Thiel will focus on fostering the company culture, maintaining an inclusive workplace, developing strong leaders and managing recruitment strategy.

WSB adds to Texas leadership with transportation industry professionals Rob Bailey, Bryan Hodges and Steve Lindsey

Bailey, Hodges and Lindsey join the firm from Atkins North America

Engineering and consulting firm WSB announced today that Rob Bailey, Bryan Hodges and Steve Lindsey have joined their firm. Most recently with Atkins North America, an international design, engineering and project management consultant, the trio brings a wealth of experience to WSB and helps solidify the firm’s transportation presence in the Texas market.

“Rob, Bryan and Steve joining WSB is very exciting for the future of our transportation team,” said Jay Kennedy, WSB’s vice president of Texas operations. “Since 2017, we’ve been very intentional about our growth, specifically by hiring the industry’s top talent. Rob, Bryan and Steve are well-known throughout Texas and their experience will be invaluable to our staff and clients.”

Bailey will oversee WSB’s transportation growth in the Texas market and will support strategic pursuits as vice president of transportation. He has over three decades of engineering experience in design, construction and maintenance of transportation facilities. Most recently he was the transportation GEC/program division manager at Atkins North America.

Hodges and Lindsey, both directors of transportation, will support the firm’s work with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and will lead business development efforts. Hodges is known for his planning, design and project management experience. He was mostly recently a project director at Atkins North America and previously served as TxDOT’s district design engineer. Lindsey’s experience extends through all phases of project development from feasibility studies to maintenance. He was most recently a project director with Atkins North America focusing on planning studies as well as schematic and environmental projects.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the incredible team at WSB and to help shape how we position ourselves in the Texas transportation industry,” said Bailey. “I’ve worked alongside Bryan and Steve for many years and am honored that they’ve chosen to pursue this new adventure with me. WSB’s approach to project delivery is industry-leading and I’m looking forward to supporting our clients’ infrastructure needs with new tools, resources and a commitment to collaboration.”

WSB entered the Texas market in 2017. The firm has made two key acquisitions in the Texas marketplace over the past three years, first acquiring Austin-based Rogers Design Services (RDS) in 2018, followed by Houston-based Nathelyne A. Kennedy & Associates, In (NAK) in 2019. WSB has established brick-and-mortar office locations in Austin, Dallas and Houston, but provides engineering, planning, environmental and construction services throughout the state to the public and private sector. Recently, WSB delivered the final design for Williamson County’s Ronald Reagan Intersections Improvement Project near Sun City, the Multimodal Transportation Improvement Project at Texas Southern University and the Sam Rayburn Tollway Sign Replacement Project for the North Texas Tollway Authority.