Black-and female-owned architecture engineering and programme and construction management firm McKissack & McKissack has appointed Alana Elston as Chief People Officer.
In her new role, Elston will oversee all aspects of the US firm’s human resources, including its mission to attract, retain and develop a diverse and innovative team as the company expands nationally.
Elston brings with her experience in talent acquisition, team management, employee development and building strong and inclusive cultures, making her a fitting candidate for the Chief People Officer role.
Her new position brings Elston back to the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry, where she started her career. She held a previous position as senior human resources director at FOX Architects in Washington D.C. There, she oversaw all aspects of human resources including employee relations, retention, training and diversity.
Elston is a founding member of the Washington D.C. chapter of Chief, a nonprofit, private network to drive women into positions of power and keep them there. She has an undergraduate degree and earned her MBA in Business Administration from Frostburg State University in Maryland.
Earlier this year, McKissack & McKissack made history by becoming the first Black woman-owned business to be selected as the top firm for capital projects in Dallas-Fort Worth, a city in Texas. President and CEO Deryl McKissack hopes its diversity and inclusion efforts will positively impact her clients and the AEC industry at large, which suffers from a lack of diversity and an unequal working environment, as well as labour shortages.
McKissack commented on Elston’s appointment: “Alana’s career has always been about being energetic and focused on recruiting and developing highly skilled and diverse team players. Instead of sitting back and waiting for talent to come to her, she uses creative acquisition strategies to find candidates that are not only capable and accomplished but are also the right fit for an organisation, regardless of race or gender.
“She has the ability to bring in excellent technical expertise to meet our clients’ needs and a unique mindset really works for our culture, which focuses our team members on being humble, hungry and smart. She epitomises that philosophy herself and will help strengthen it in our employee development programmes.”
Elston said: “McKissack is practising what it preaches. By hiring me and thinking creatively and intentionally about recruiting efforts, McKissack is building an accomplished and inclusive team at the leadership level and beyond. It’s ensuring that every day we are living and breathing what we are saying about increasing opportunity and diversity. We are walking the walk.”