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May 20, 2022
Kabri Lehrman-Schmid is a 15-year veteran in the construction industry who is using her diverse skill set and passion as a project superintendent to effect change in an industry that historically struggles with diversity and inclusion.
Lehrman-Schmid is consistently acknowledged by owners, designers and trade partners for her technical skills, but stands out in the relationships that drive her projects’ success. Her career has been characterized by highly phased aviation and higher education campus projects where ongoing operations are essential, while maintaining team safety.
It is her practical application of culture-building tactics that characterizes her management of crews and information to maintain psychological safety. On her projects which included the $488 million Port of Seattle North Satellite Modernization, where over 300 skilled tradespeople were working every day she sets clear expectations for behavior and provides resources to overcome the stigmatized topics of suicide, mental health, and how to speak up against sexism and racism. This project recently won the 2022 Airport Business Project of the Year by Aviation Pro Magazine and was recognized for the innovative management of the critical path scopes in the face of COVID-19; the schedule acceleration of the high-risk phasing was Lehrman-Schmid’s to manage.
Lehrman-Schmid uses her respected voice to build a following around the role psychological safety will play in growing and retaining the future workforce. She presents at multiple national conferences (including the 2021 AGC National Conference in Orlando, Florida) about the voice she has as a superintendent and the responsibility the position holds to create a culture of belonging. In 2021, she authored her second article, “Enhancing Crew Performance with Psychological Safety,” published in Hammertech Magazine, and she participates monthly in forums with local and national organizations, including the National Association of Women in Construction, the Pacific Northwest Clean Water Association, and the Construction Management Association of America.
Lehrman-Schmid is working directly with her craft workforce, management and industry representatives to develop and lead training that educates on the industry’s responsibility to overcome biases. One of the efforts she is most proud of is her participation as a mentor to Arcade Wayfinding’s Foreman Basic Training Program, which seeks to fill the gap that exists in training field management to the responsibilities of leadership and instilling a culture of inclusion.
These “extracurricular” industry efforts are completed in addition to working with her company’s corporate management to develop and pilot company-wide trainings on bias and mental health awareness. In 2021, Lehrman-Schmid was part of a small team that developed and implemented a company-wide training of over 1,200 managers on suicide awareness the first time Hensel Phelps had addressed this industry crisis. She is currently heading a national effort that supports Hensel Phelps’ commitments to community and diversity, with the development of an LGBTQ+ focused informational rollout to overcoming stereotypes and daylighting the effects of discrimination, harassment and isolation in the construction industry.
As a superintendent, Lehrman-Schmid’s goal is to lead the change in jobsite culture that supports a safe, respectful and welcoming environment for all employees.