We Are QE's 54%, Part III
by 
Samantha Malott Brown
March 27, 2020

We’ve got another batch of Quinn Evans’ 54% for you to meet!

Our firm employs 23% more women than the architecture industry average – and their expertise comprises a broad range of roles. Of course we have architects + designers, but we also have history scholars, biz dev pros, administrative gurus, and operations whizzes. And throughout the month of March, we’re showing them off!

They responded to a few questions to offer insight on what inspires and fulfills them. Take a moment here and get to know more about the women that power QE.

Be sure to visit our channels throughout the month for more employee spotlights.

Rita LaChance \\ Chief Financial Officer

What is your favorite part of your role with QE? Working with everyone! QE has great employees that really care about what they are do-ing. Watching them grow and see how much they can do is wonderful!

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Just because you have always done it one way doesn’t mean it is right. Always look to see if something can be done better. On those same lines, don’t think you have to know everything. Reach out to an expert to help you through a situation.

How do you enjoy spending your time outside of work? Walking, hiking, biking, traveling, and gardening. And visiting my kids. :)

Kemba Braynon, AIA, NOMA \\ Architect

What is your favorite part of your role with QE? My favorite parts of my role at QE are the clients we serve and the team I work alongside. Most of my projects are with repeat clients, and I've enjoyed the journey and excitement of mobilizing the same multi-disciplinary team of experts to help our clients restore their existing buildings and return abandoned buildings to active use.  

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? To not be afraid to admit what I don't know. Architecture requires such a broad knowledge base, admitting what you don't know provides an opportunity to learn something new, and a reminder that we're far from perfect.

How do you enjoy spending your time outside of work? In semi-solitary and restorative pursuits, such as yoga and gardening.

Abby Tourtellotte, AIA, LEED AP BD+C \\ Architect

What inspired you to work at Quinn Evans? A desire to work with existing building fabric brought me to Quinn Evans.

What is your favorite QE project you've worked on, and why? I love the Molina Family Latino Gallery project. They're an incredible group of people that are completely dedicated to creating a space that is fully inclusive and accessible to all visitors.

What is your favorite part of your role with QE? The people! I’m so lucky to work with an incredible group of people I learn from every day. And we have great clients that care about resilience, longevity, and projects that make a positive impact on the world.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Be at work while you’re at work, and be at home while you’re at home.

How do you enjoy spending your time outside of work? Spending time with my family – gardening, baking.

Shannon Wray, CID, IIDA, LEED AP \\ Project Manager

What is your favorite QE project you've worked on, and why? My favorite part of being an interior designer with QE is the ability to create and shape spaces and buildings that are transformative to the fabric and wellbeing of the communities in which they exist.  I love feeling like what I do makes a difference.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Listen, empathize, and have compassion.  

How do you enjoy spending your time outside of work? I’m quite a homebody, so my favorite way to spend time outside of work is to be with my family, my dog, and to renovate my 1960s house.

Kelsey Reynolds \\ Architectural Designer

What is your favorite part of your role with QE? My favorite part of my role at QE is the diversity of projects and clients I am exposed to; from large institutional public + private clients, to small religious institutions that need a floor in their worship space rebuilt or a local neighborhood organization that wants to know the feasibility of reviving an abandoned building within its boundaries. Every day dealing with existing buildings can be totally different, and the myriad of challenges make the job so much more satisfying once you solve them.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Take (and pass!) your exams; then you’re free to do all the other stuff you want to try. (This was in response to me saying I wanted to go work in a furniture fabrication shop with my relatively expensive architecture degree). I’m still working on this one, but at least I’ve got the ball rolling in 2020.

How do you enjoy spending your time outside of work? I like to get out and spend time on my bike on the weekends when the weather is nice. Detroit is flat as a pancake, and there is a lot to see and do by bicycle! I enjoy getting to take advantage of what’s in my own backyard.

Mara Berkland \\ Graphic Designer

What is your favorite part of your role with QE? My favorite part of my role with Quinn Evans is that I get to explore so many different aspects of graphic design. Being the only graphic designer at an architecture firm can be challenging, but I get to work on all sorts of different things. Examples include print media and systems de-sign for the marketing team, digital media and motion graphics for corporate-wide presenta-tions, and things like signage and data visualization for the architects on their projects.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Have fun.

How do you enjoy spending your time outside of work? Playing outside with my adorable dog, Saga (her name is a long story :D).

Laura Miller, CID \\ Interior Designer

What is your favorite QE project you've worked on, and why? With my current project located in Detroit, I have the opportunity to work with and learn from colleagues in our Detroit and Ann Arbor offices, as well as work in a practice area I have less experience in (Historic Preservation).

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? No idea is a bad idea.

How do you enjoy spending your time outside of work? You can find me outside in nature hiking, biking, or meandering, cuddling with my two cats, or in my home pottery studio, getting my hands dirty.

Sarah Eikrem \\ Architectural Designer

What inspired you to become an architectural designer? I love the idea of making something out of something else. The more pieces that have to fit together and the more constraints and rules there are, the more exciting and innovative the solution has the potential to be.

What is your favorite QE project you've worked on, and why? 400 Park, because of how big the scope is. The existing buildings onsite have a personality and history that need to be subtly tied together with a whole new structure. The whole process has been a really amazing deign opportunity.

What is your favorite part of your role with QE? Being able to work alongside people at all levels of the firm. There’s a large number of young professionals, and it’s amazing as a developing designer to have that support system, as well as guidance and mentorship from more seasoned employees.

What is your ultimate career goal? To not ever feel like I’ve run out of information to learn. There should always be something new or exciting to understand in every project as I continue working.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Always ask; worrying is suffering twice.

How do you enjoy spending your time outside of work? I love to hit the boxing gym after work; it helps me get rid of all the pent up energy I have at the end of the day. I’m from the south originally, so when the weather is nice I’m outside exploring as much as possible, whether it's hiking, going on long city walks, or going to historic sites.

Erin Richardson, CID, IIDA \\ Senior Interior Designer

What is your favorite QE project you've worked on, and why? Henley Middle School’s Fit for Life Center; it was so transformative for the community, our clients were really forward-thinking and involved, and we worked closely with the students!

What is your favorite part of your role with QE? Getting to work with clients, see how they work, live, and learn every day – and help them do all of that better! It’s also fun to be a part of the huge changes that are transforming education in this time period.

What is your ultimate career goal? Leadership in the office and business development – more client time!

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? When I was little, my mom told me not to let anyone call me bossy (which happened frequently from teachers) and make me sit down; she taught me instead to route those tendencies into leadership skills!

How do you enjoy spending your time outside of work? I like to horseback ride, take my dog on walks and hikes, and love to visit wineries and be outside.

There are plenty more experts you should get to know.
Go here to meet the team members featured in
We Are QE's 54%, Part I \\ Part II \\ Part IV.

Questions or ideas? Let's get in touch.