Jennifer brings both agency and client experience to VAA. She has led her own marketing consulting business where she worked within an array of industries even touching some global markets. Her focus as VAA’s Marketing Director is to develop marketing strategies that propel VAA forward. She enjoys the challenge of strategic branding and determining the best way to engage the target market.
Making connections is at the center of everything Jennifer does. Whether working alongside clients or colleagues or mentoring a team member, she’s not only driven to do her best but to inspire others too. She believes leaders have an opportunity to make a real difference with their team, impacting their professional development and work experience.
Jennifer loves traveling, spending time with family and friends, and being active outdoors. She’s peddled 110 miles (with a 10,000-foot elevation gain) in the Rocky Mountains, and she’s also biked west to east across the entire state of Iowa. She’s a proud mom of four children, one of which is an active-duty military member.
Gary hails from far north in International Falls, Minnesota. The oft-chilliest city is huddled along the Rainy River and the Canadian border. He grew up the youngest in a trio of three boys who would all go on to become chemical engineers. Gary obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of North Dakota and then an MBA from Mankato State University. He spent the next 30 years specializing in industrial process engineering and facility management.
As the Process Department Manager at VAA, Gary brings his portfolio of experience to large-scale and complex projects in oilseed crush and refining, protein-based food production, and biofuels industries. His expertise in industrial process engineering and his strength as a leader and mentor enhances the process engineering team’s practical knowledge and capabilities and also helps the department work seamlessly with VAA’s mechanical department.
Gary really enjoys collaborating with other technical areas and learning more about processes outside the oilseed and grain markets. He values every opportunity to put his engineering and operations background to work helping VAA’s North American clients achieve peak performance of their facility’s design and operations. In his free time, you may find Gary playing golf, fishing, or traveling with his wife and two kids.
Kevin Full, PE, LEED AP, recently joined the Partner group at VAA. The multidiscipline engineering firm of over 200 employees is now privately held by 13 Partners.
A Senior Structural Engineer with expertise in large marine infrastructure projects, Full manages work within VAA's agribusiness and industrial sectors across North America, including the design of marine terminals. His extensive experience in specialty structural designs - from seismic design to vibration analysis for many construction types - makes Full a unique technical resource to the company and a sought-after expert to his clients.
"We're so proud of Kevin and his work over the years," said CEO Jeff Schrock, PE. "His technical abilities, dedication to his clients, and specific knowledge in marine facilities have helped propel VAA torwards our 2030 Vision. I'm happy to welcome Kevin into the Partnership group!"
Paula Phillippe is the first external, independent Director to join VAA's Board of Directors. Phillippe has been an executive leader in professional service organizations for more than 20 years. She has served on a variety of business and nonprofit boards and led several growth initiatives over the course of her career. A respected enterprise thought leader, Phillippe is routinely looked at by business executives and board members for her insightful perspectives and sound governance counsel.
"As an outside board member, my role is to bring fresh and objective perspectives to VAA's strategic planning efforts. I'm excited to help VAA identify and implement strategies that will help the company continue to grow."
Phillippe's expertise includes strategy development, leadership development, risk oversight, human resources, and communications. She is also well-versed in social responsibility, diversity, and culture.
CEO Jeff Schrock, PE, stated, "VAA is excited to welcome Paula as our first outside board member. Her impact has already been felt, and I look forward to her contributions in support of our 2030 Vision. We're glad you're here, Paula!"
It is with great sadness that we announce the recent passing of Dave Johnson, an Associate and Senior Structural Engineer with VAA. Dave was with VAA for 25 years and prided himself on providing quality service for his clients. He made every project a priority and began project efforts within hours of the initial request from his clients. Nearly every project that he brought in was based on a recommendation from a previous client or contractor that he had worked with. Dave mentored many engineers and improved the detailing ability of several technicians. He was a willing resource for all, especially on complicated renovations with little existing information available. His impact on VAA can be heard throughout the office, both on a personal and professional level. His faith and his family (with a dash of iron range stubbornness) got him through all of life's curve balls. We are truly blessed to have had Dave in our lives here at VAA. He will be greatly missed.
Raising money for local charitable organizations has long been important to VAA. Over the years our employees have had many ways to get involved and give back to their community, whether by participating in home building, packaging meals, donating blood, or volunteering time to students. The largest financial impact, however, is always made during VAA’s annual two-week Community Caring Campaign (CCC), and this year’s hybrid campaign was no exception.
Each year VAA’s Designing a Difference Team selects two or three Twin Cities charities on which to focus its fundraising support during the campaign. This year VAA’s participants raised money for three local nonprofit organizations: Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners, Second Harvest Heartland, and the Sabathani Community Center. All three organizations work in our local communities to support families and neighborhoods, providing food or other important resources to people in need.
During the 2021 CCC, which was held the first two weeks of August, a calendar of fun events, activities, and competitions was planned to get staff engaged and excited about donating. “Working during a pandemic is a challenge, and with many employees teleworking or coming into the office part-time, it’s not always easy for people to know where or how to give back,” said Project Manager Paul Antila, PMP, who led this year’s fundraising campaign. “Integrating VAA’s CCC events into normal working hours and then making sure they’re a lot of fun helps motivate our staff to participate.”
Aside from making a financial pledge, some of the ways employees could get involved this year included playing virtual Bingo (always a big hit with our staff!), participating in a silent auction, taking a paint class, purchasing sweets from a treat trolley, or attending VAA’s outdoor barbeque and taking their turn at dunking our CEO and company partners.
This year’s CCC exceeded VAA’s goal of $45,000 and then some! A total of $59,726 was raised by VAA’s generous staff, partners, and clients. These funds will go a long way towards helping the 1 in 10 people (and 1 in 7 kids) currently experiencing hunger in our state. For example, the portion of donations raised for Second Harvest alone can provide up to 94,419 meals.
CCC 2021 by the numbers:
$22,051 raised for IOCP
$32,643 raised for Second Harvest
$5,032 raised for Sabathani Community Center
Learn more about VAA's CCC in an article published in ACEC's Engineering Inc.