In November of 2021, Dudek announced the additions of Jill Weinberger, PhD and Meg Lassarat to the Board of Directors (Board). Weinberger, from Dudek’s Hydrogeology group, was elected as the new internal director. She leverages an ability and willingness to think critically and challenge ideas, a long-standing tenure with Dudek, an understanding and appreciation of the firm’s culture, and a unique perspective on strategic growth opportunities for the firm in the coming years.
Our search for an independent director focused on an individual with a demonstrated financial background and a forward-looking, strategic vision. Lassarat has more than 20 years of experience as a CFO, 12 of which have been in the AEC industry, including at employee-owned firms like Dudek. She is a proponent of the importance of corporate culture and understands how it contributes to financial success and spurs performance.
We sat down with Jill and Meg to learn more about their backgrounds, their reasons for joining the Board, and their goals for the Board, firm, and industry at large.
Listening and Learning to Guide from the Board
“I view my role on the Board through the lens of the experience I bring as a scientist, communicator, project manager, and principal at Dudek,” said Weinberger. “This experience has taught me that listening and learning are the first steps to offering a guiding hand and that the best guidance is based on robust, honest, and open discussion of the choices and trade-offs inherent in developing business decisions.” Weinberger further explains, “my ultimate goal in joining the Board is a collaborative one; to work together as a Board to ensure that we protect Dudek’s culture of excellence, honesty, integrity, and independence while continuing to develop business strategies that allow more employees to grow within the organization and experience the opportunities and support that I have been so lucky to receive during my career here.”
Lassarat noted, “Dudek is amazing [and has] an undeniable culture that attracts and retains the best in the industry. Serving in the environmental, engineering, and field services part of our industry for decades, I know firsthand the power of a positive and professional culture.
“When I was approached by the Board’s Nominating Committee to be considered for the independent director role, I was both thrilled and humbled,” said Lassarat. “As an experienced finance professional, my goal is to advise management and the Board on sound financial practices, challenge the team on strategy, and serve as an independent mentor and advisor to both individuals as well as Dudek as a whole.”
Offering Women a Vision of their Future Self
“The board brought Jill and I on this year largely because we brought unique talents and experiences that were relevant to Dudek’s continued strategy,” said Lassarat. “Jill’s scientific and organizational placement role combined with my recognized financial expertise bring important content to board discussions. Additionally, adding gender diversity amplifies the desire of the Dudek Board to intentionally identify opportunities to include other voices in important decision making.”
The American Association of University Women has found that women only account for 28 percent of the workforce in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). While historically this figure has been trending upward, it’s still a staggering figure considering women make up more than half of the nation’s population. “Dudek is leaps and bounds ahead of academia in offering realistic opportunities for me as a working parent, but until Meg and I joined the Board this year there was only ever one woman on the Board at a time,” said Weinberger. With the addition of Jill and Meg, three women now serve on the 8-member Board. Biology Practice Leader Sarah Lozano has served on the Board since 2019. “I hope that the Board continues to diversify and continues to embrace new and diverse perspectives so that we can ensure that Dudek thrives in the decades to come,” Weinberger said.
Noting her more than 20 years of involvement with Girl Scouts of America, the largest female leadership development organization in the world, Lassarat knows firsthand the importance of seeing your future self in roles of authority and leadership. “It’s my hope that beyond gender, Jill and I inspire future board members to develop their unique skills to serve humbly and meaningfully,” said Lassarat.
Jill Weinberger, PhD is a principal hydrogeologist at Dudek with 19 years’ experience specializing in water supply, ecohydrology, marine hydrogeology, and global change science. Prior to joining Dudek, Dr. Weinberger worked for the Ocean Drilling Program and the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, investigating the potential for methane release from methane gas hydrate deposits on the seafloor and examining ocean–atmosphere gas exchange. She has also led the development of multiple Groundwater Sustainability Plans for groundwater basins throughout California, some of the first approved under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
Meg Lassarat is a financial leader and independent board member with 25 years of global experience driving growth, identifying strategic alternatives, and delivering positive bottom-line results. She has been praised as “one of the most insightful financial executives with a unique combination of business acumen and industry savvy” and was awarded Houston’s 2009 CFO of the Year award for managing growth and overseeing corporate expansion.