Creating a Culture of Courage | DC Women in Green

DC Women Making a Difference in Sustainable Building

Spring in the USGBC-NCR community always brings the annual Women in Green Power Breakfast, a popular event featuring influential, multi-generational panelists making an impact in the green community. On Thursday, June 6, 2019, the National Capital Region of USGBC hosted this event at the Decatur House in Washington, DC. Featured panelists included Katharine Hammack, Executive Director at Ernst & Young, Leigh Stringer, Managing Principal at EYP, Julia Craighill, Founder of Ensight Consulting, and Nafisa Nalwala, Building Performance Specialist at Sustainable Building Partners. Rachel Gutter, President, WELL Being Institute served as the event’s engaging moderator.

The event’s discussion focused on speaking up, authenticity, diversity, solidarity, building leadership, and creating a culture of courage in the workplace. Culture is the byproduct of consistent behavior and the only way to break that behavior is by being brave and forging through. Leigh Stringer finds that having a platform and a purpose helps with confidence. Nafisa Nalwala voiced that it’s better to be brave and courageous with the risk of messing up than to be reserved and timid.

Nafisa Nalwala, the youngest of the four panelists offered an important view point from the outlook of an emerging professional, noting that a fresh new perspective can help superiors adapt to a dynamic and changing environment. The other panelists agreed, striking on an encouraging point: mentoring is a two-way street and through reverse mentoring, mentees can help their mentors learn and grow as well.

Each of the panelists had an encouraging takeaway for the attendees:

“Join a professional organization and volunteer as a leader.” – Katharine Hammack

“There is no ‘path to leadership’. Listen to that voice.” – Leigh Stringer

“[Remember that] my voice is important”. Diversity and inclusion [are imperative in the workplace].” – Julia Craighill

“Don’t question yourself. Just do it.” –  Nafisa Nalwala

GHT proudly sponsored the event, hosting a table which brought together GHT employees and their industry colleagues. During the event, attendees networked and discussed various hot topics including pathways to growth for women in the workplace and the importance of mentor/mentee relationships. GHT employee, Bailey Estes, served as a Women in Green planning committee member, contributing to the success of this event.


Bailey Estes, EIT is a mechanical engineer in GHT’s Interiors studio. She focuses her time on both commercial and government projects providing an attention to detail to meet the client’s needs. Bailey is an active member in both USGBC-NCR and ASHRAE NCC.