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Three women leaders at Pepper have been recognized among Chicagoland's best

Any day that we can celebrate the achievements of Pepper teammates is a good one. However, when we have a chance to celebrate those achievements publicly, while also promoting how much we value diversity both within our company and our industry – and we can do it three times over – that is a great day.

For the past several years, Crain's Chicago Business has been publishing lists of the top local women leaders in a variety of professions and industries. This year, three of their lists seemed to be custom made for Pepper executives who are helping us advance through thought leadership, continuous improvement, targeted growth and strategic innovation. We are pleased to say that the editors at Crain's obviously recognize talent when they see it. Congratulations to Jacqueline Lavigne, Susan Heinking and Jen Suerth!


Notable Women Executives Over 50

Jacqueline Lavigne, Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Strategy Officer

This list of 50 women represents those at the highest levels of business, medicine, higher education and nonprofits in the Chicago area. In addition to their many accomplishments, members of this esteemed group are also being recognized for their ongoing efforts to support diversity and inclusion, promote more family-friendly policies and mentor younger colleagues. Together they are helping to reshape workplaces in Chicago and across the country.  

Here's what Crain's had to say about Jacqueline:

At Pepper Construction, Jacqueline Lavigne is responsible for marketing and business development as well as content development and communications. As chief strategy officer, Lavigne is involved in targeting, tracking and achieving market position. Lavigne represents Pepper at industry events and works with operations leaders to develop offerings to differentiate the company and drive growth. Before joining Pepper in 2013, Lavigne served as chief marketing officer at Nelson, an interior design and architecture firm. Earlier she was group vice president and director of marketing at HOK, a global architecture firm. Lavigne has promoted diversity in the male-dominated construction field, and women hold 30 percent of salaried positions at Pepper, including in the critical areas of construction technology and sustainability. She often speaks to female college students about careers.

We're proud to have Jacqueline on the Pepper team and to see her recognized so prominently among Chicago's top senior executives.

To view Jacqueline's 2020 peers, click here to go to the Crain's website.


Notable Women in Construction and Design

Susan Heinking, AIA, LEED Fellow, GACP

We entered Susan in the category that is specific to our industry. Not only did she make the list along with 48 other honorees in the design and construction fields, Susan was also selected for the cover story question-and-answer feature. In addition to sharing her background and what led her to Pepper, she discussed how sustainable design and construction have continued to evolve, how she helps clients move past their cost concerns and the implications of COVID-19 on high performance initiatives.

Here is Susan's published profile:

At Pepper Construction, Susan Heinking leads high-performance work that encompasses sustainability and energy efficiency. As a LEED fellow, she is recognized as a top practitioner in green building. Throughout construction, Heinking leads projects to their sustainability goals, assists clients with environmental compliance and puts existing buildings on a path to net zero, meaning they can produce as much energy as they consume in a year. Recent projects include designing and constructing the first net-zero job site trailer and collaborating with the Illinois Green Alliance to increase awareness of carbon drawdown strategies. Before joining Pepper in 2015, Heinking was vice president and director of sustainability at VOA Associates. Earlier, she was sustainable-design manager at HOK. She has spoken on architecture and sustainability at more than 100 conferences.

To qualify for this list, honorees must be employed in a construction, architecture, engineering or commercial design firm, have worked on significant projects during the last 18 months and strive to advance women in the field. We're thrilled that Susan has received this level of recognition and grateful for the work that she and her team are doing to support our clients and differentiate Pepper in the industry.

To see the full list of Notable Women in Construction and Design, click here to go to the Crain's website.


Notable Women in Stem

Jennifer Suerth, Vice President, Technical Services

Jen was selected as one of 32 women who excel in the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and math – and are helping lead their companies in new directions. In addition, these Notable honorees are working to bring more women into traditionally male-dominated STEM fields. To qualify for this list, nominees must work in a science, technology, engineering or math senior-level / management role, support the advancement of their organization or professional field and hold a leadership position outside their organization.  

Crain's provided this description of Jen's background and industry-leading efforts:

Jennifer Suerth leads Pepper’s strategic direction in virtual design and construction as part of the firm’s Integrated Construction Services team. She explores new technology to determine how to integrate the best tools into preconstruction and construction processes. Suerth leads Pepper’s work at Oracle Industries Innovation Lab to advance a range of technology partners in the construction of the firm’s new space. Suerth joined Pepper in 2016 from Mortenson, where she was integrated construction manager. She’s on the executive board of the Architecture Construction Engineering (ACE) Mentor Program. She volunteers her time to help area schools—from elementary to community colleges—develop architecture-related curriculum.

Congratulations to Jen and the team she leads for their efforts to keep Pepper at the forefront of construction technology while also discovering new uses for existing software that can further benefit our industry.

To see Jen's fellow honorees, click here to go to the Crain's website.


As the Crain's editors said, thanks to the efforts of Jacqueline, Susan and Jen – and the Notable Women like them – the term "male-dominated field" will someday become an anachronism. This celebration of diversity and spirit of inclusion is bound to make our industry and Pepper even stronger.