One Iowa

LGBTQ Leadership Institute 2020: McKena Richardson

Mikekena “McKena” Richardson (She/Her/Él) is originally from Quartz Hill, California. She graduated as valedictorian in high school then next attended, Loyola Marymount University (LMU), where she majored in Engineering, played Womxn’s Basketball, and assisted the team in achieving a West Coast Conference Division I Championship. McKena later transferred to Florida Institute of Technology (FIT), a Tier 1 Best National University (U.S. News & World Report), to major in Civil Engineering and continue her basketball career with the Womxn Panthers. At FIT, McKena led the team to a regional Sunshine State Conference Championship and earned the highest g.p.a in both the Men and Womxn athletic departments, with athletic accolades, earning her the Scholar-Athlete of the year title.

During her time at FIT and LMU, McKena was a member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), holding the position of Senator and Vice President, where she would represent her school in regional and national conventions, acquiring both individual and team national championship titles for her innovation in engineering design and risk management. Additionally, McKena represented FIT, as a member of The American Society of Civil Engineers, during the Southeast Regional Concrete Canoe Competition, where her team earned first place. McKena earned a first-place award in the Northrop Grumman Civil Engineering Senior Design Showcase. She has been involved in a number of research projects and publications and has co-authored several articles, including two for the National Science Foundation (NSF), Research for Engineering Undergraduates at LMU, focused on Mechanical Engineering, Material Science and Sustainability. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science,Civil Engineering, from FIT.

McKena began her career with Jacobs Engineering, immediately moving her to New Orleans, LA. There she leveraged her engineering, project, risk, and compliance management skills to lead multi-billion dollar FEMA Disaster Resiliency based programs, post-Hurricane Katrina. She was elected to serve as the Southern regions (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas) President of Diversity and Inclusion for the JACOBS Engineering Young Professional Engineers Association. In this capacity, she ensured the company’s initiatives on diversity recruitment and retention of minority engineers.

In 2013, McKena moved to Denver, CO, and graduated with a Masters of Science, Real Estate & Construction Management Emphasis: Integrated Product Delivery (IPD), at the University of Denver (DU).
While in Colorado McKena worked with JACOBS Engineering, Swinerton Builders, and Parsons developing full project life cycle skills for the built environment across various U.S states.

McKena maintained her passion for helping underserved communities by tutoring high school students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). In 2018, she coached both girls and boys Varsity basketball teams at the alternative behavioral, New America High School – Thornton campus, in Thornton, CO.

Today, McKena works as a Construction Management Representative for The Arcanum Group. In her spare time, she enjoys playing her alto saxophone, traveling, spending time with her mother Elvira, father Michael, sister Lannette and hanging out with her two dogs, Jasper and Buster Jo.