Karen McKenzie has always loved designing and making things from nothing.
It’s that passion that led her to pursue a career in the construction industry.
“I really enjoy the partnerships that are formed as we come together as one team, to design and build projects that enhance our community,” said McKenzie, director of planning, design and construction at Aurora Health Care.
McKenzie got into the industry 35 years ago – a time when there were few women in leadership roles.
“I was almost always the only woman sitting at the table,” she said. “It’s very exciting to see how the industry is evolving and creating spaces for everyone to contribute.”
She has helped oversee several large projects over the years, including the Aurora Sinai Medical Center, Aurora Medical Center Grafton, Aurora Medical Center Kenosha, Aurora Medical Center Burlington and many more.
“I love working with Karen,” said Kristi Monroe, Advocate Aurora interiors coordinator of planning, design and construction. “She is a good communicator and sets a clear goal for the project team and motivates everyone to do their best. She’s calm and balanced, which helps her thrive under pressure. Karen is a great manager and leader at Advocate Aurora Health.”
Part of what makes McKenzie a strong leader is that she recognizes the gifts of the people around her and empowers them to do their best work, said Mark Bultman, vice president of HGA Architects and Engineers.
“She is a positive influence for so many people who are inspired by her to excel and grow through each experience.”
McKenzie said she has been fortunate to work under some great leaders in the industry, who “allowed me to experience new challenges, different roles, and helped me see that leaders come in many forms.
“They have given me the support and confidence that allowed me to advance in my career.”