#ICYMI: DC Women Are Going Green

Laura Morder Shares Her Experiences 

There’s never been a better time to be Women in Green than during spring in Washington, DC! As we dug out from the grips of another long DC winter, we were treated to some of the nation’s finest programming supporting women’s roles in sustainability. Below are just some of the highlights from these remarkable events:

Women in Green Kick-Off at the Montgomery County Energy Summit

On April 4, USGBC-NCR and the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection gathered more than 500 attendees at Silver Spring’s Civic Center for a day of programming organized to highlight the Slight Edge: Taking Incremental Steps to Sustainability. Following a day of enlightening and engaging programming from local green experts, USGBC-NCR hosted the inaugural Women in Green Reception and Panel for the Summit. Over drinks and light refreshments, nearly 75 attendees (both men and women!) came together to discuss the evolving role of women in fields of sustainability, as well as work-life balance and mentorship.

The panel was moderated by Larissa Johnson, Residential Energy Program Manager from Montgomery County DEP – her boundless energy and enthusiasm literally brought the crowd to their feet as the program kicked off with a session of Power Posing. Based on the now infamous Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy, Larissa led the exercise to illustrate how power posing can infuse energy and confidence into your body language to prepare you for tough situations, like pitching a client, asking for a raise, or hosting a meeting with colleagues. The panel disscussion covered negotiating raises, finding mentors and sponsors, and knowing when to leave a job. This event was the first Women in Green Panel to be hosted at the Montgomery County Energy Summit and energized participants to get ready for our May 15th Women in Green Power Breakfast.

Women in Green Power Breakfast with USGBC-NCR

On Tuesday, May 15, 2016, the National Capital Region of USGBC hosted its third annual Women in Green Power Breakfast at the Hamilton restaurant in Washington, DC. This event brought together women from across the building industry to discuss important topics like mentorship, self-promotion, workplace relationships, vulnerability and leadership. The panel featured Carolyn Rickard-Brideau, President of Little Architects, Greta Perry, Vice President at MGAC, Katie Mesia, Director at Gensler DC, and Maisie Hughes, Owner of Rhetorical Virtue, LLC.

GHT proudly sponsored the event and we hosted a table full of industry colleagues and GHT employees to build meaningful relationships during the event. For the second consecutive year, one of our own employees, this year, Susan Dawson, served as a Women in Green planning committee member, contributing to the success of this event.

Women in ASHRAE Panel Discussion 

The National Capital Chapter of ASHRAE hosted a dynamic panel discussion and networking event for Women in ASHRAE on Tuesday, May 22nd at GHT Limited’s office in Arlington, VA. I was fortunate enough to be featured on the panel alongside Katherine Hammack, Executive Director at EY and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Army, and Jessica Baker, Business Team Preconstruction Lead with Southland Industries. Our discussion focused on cultivating leadership and engaging women in the engineering and construction workforce, while addressing tough questions about what it’s like to be a woman in a male-dominated field. The event invited all women and men associated with the building industry in the Northern Virginia, Maryland, and DC areas.

One of my greatest accomplishments was founding the Women in ASHRAE (WiA) committee in 2015 to create a network of local women supporting other women in the building industry. Since then, female membership in ASHRAE’s National Capital Chapter has grown by more than 30%. As a result, the ASHRAE Society recently announced WiA as a required committee for all chapters nationwide. The initiative continues expanding as ASHRAE members promote WiA internationally.


Laura Morder, PE, LEED Green Associate is a Mechanical Designer and Associate at GHT Limited. She specializes in leading complex, interior tenant renovation projects for Fortune 500 clients, associations and non-profits. She can be reached at lmorder@ghtltd.com.