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2017-2018 Features

Staff Spotlight: Women in Construction - Leslie Imes, Project Manager

When Leslie Imes was in high school, girls weren't allowed to take drafting classes, they could only take home economics. If she had been able to take drafting, Leslie believes her career path would have been much different.

Leslie is a project manager in the Beaverton School District's Facilities Department. You might have seen her work. Her latest project is on full display on the corner of Southwest Scholls Ferry Road and Southwest 175th – Mountainside High School. It's the largest project Leslie has completed with the District. "Seeing it in concrete and visible terms, knowing that it will be there for a hundred years or more and I was a part of that, is very rewarding," she says.

Leslie wanted to be a teacher when she graduated from high school. "Construction management wasn't even a thought." She attended college for fine arts and education. "I got all the way to the end of my junior year, when I had to do student teaching, and realized I hated it," says Leslie. She quit college, took a nursing course and worked in nursing homes until a change in her personal life forced her to realize she had to make more money. "It wasn't until I got divorced and had two children to support that I went back to school," she says.

This time, Leslie took an aptitude test, scoring high in both art and math. Her guidance counselor asked if she had considered architecture or engineering. Leslie hadn't, but found she loved the courses. "I like taking someone's concept, figuring out all the pieces to the puzzle and making it come together," says Leslie. She finished her degree in Architecture at the University of Colorado in Boulder and worked in design for five years until the economic downturn in the 1980s. Then she took a job as a project manager/architect in Jefferson County, Colorado.

After her kids graduated from high school, Leslie moved to Oregon and has been with the Beaverton School District for the past 17 years. Her advice to young women thinking about construction management? There are a lot of opportunities. "When I started out in Colorado, there weren't and it was pretty tough. I am treated equally now, and when I started, women weren't treated the same as men," says Leslie.

Although she will be working on a repipe of Bethany Elementary School this summer, Leslie is really looking forward to another upcoming project – the rebuild of the Arts & Communications Magnet Academy (ACMA). While there will be challenges due to the size and location of the property, it holds a special place in Leslie's heart. "Because I have an affinity for the arts, I am really excited to work on this project," says Leslie. "It brings me back to when I was in high school and what I liked. I am excited for these kids. They are a unique group of kids and I can relate to them."