Mighty Are the Women: UW Softball Performance Center Exceeds WMBE Firm Participation Goals
Community Empowerment Case Study
UW Softball Performance Center Exterior

The new Softball Performance Center constructed in Seattle represents the University of Washington Athletic Department’s commitment to equity. Completed in September 2021, the 6,000-SF facility provides dedicated, year-round practice space for the nationally ranked softball team. It also creates space for summer camps to introduce young girls to the power of the “team” and demonstrates to potential recruits the program’s commitment to the already successful softball team. The new building instills a sense of pride in a team that up until this point was fighting for practice space in other facilities.

The softball program’s mantra “Mighty Are the Women” was central to the attitude of our project team managing the development, design, and construction. The team, including UW, trade partners, design partners, and Mortenson, focused on what was important to the end user by including them in making decisions that were best for their project. It was essential to acknowledge the achievements of the Softball program and the impact that the new facility would have on the coaches and the team. Mortenson’s project team was small but mighty–consisting of Project Executive Jennifer Kim, Superintendent Weldon Bower, Project Manager Mary Anne Nekuda, Project Engineer Steven Thompson, and General Foreperson Mike Saunders. The whole team worked hard to deliver a facility that met the excellence the championship winning team deserved.

Achieving Aspirational Goals with Confidence

WMBE Contract and Workforce Participation achieved on the UW Softball Performance Center

"The intent of our team's commitment and approach to the delivery of UW's new Softball Performance Center is to define and exemplify how Progressive Design-Build delivery can achieve exceptional results while fostering and supporting the involvement and the development of B.E.E. (Business Equity Enterprise) firms." This was the leading statement of the plan our team submitted when we committed to a goal of 40% WMBE participation.

We chose this aspirational goal with confidence as we knew the size of the project provided a perfect opportunity to engage diverse, high-quality partners. The team was also excited to capitalize on this project to improve our local construction industry overall. After award and with the University’s input, we incorporated additional partners and ultimately awarded 41% of our contract amount to WMBE firms.

Achievement of this goal was a complete team effort—not the responsibility of any one individual. The team felt a sense of responsibility for ensuring that all our diverse partners benefited from their involvement in the process and were able to grow from this experience.

The project team worked intentionally and continuously with all firms, not just WMBEs, towards their success: helping to draw shops, track down materials, offer safety ideas, and more. To assist in building the capacity of our WMBE partners, Mortenson offered one-on-one support and guidance. In these sessions we listened; provided a different perspective; assessed their approach, messaging, and capabilities statements; and offered guidelines on resolving issues and follow-up steps. This assistance enabled the WMBE firms and our craftworkers to develop their capabilities and competencies for future growth.

The most important component to ensure the success of the WMBE firms was to work alongside them as partners—providing a safe space for them to voice concerns or make suggestions and bolstering them when they experienced challenges. For many firms, this was their first experience with the design-build delivery method and we aimed to put everyone in a position where they could succeed and build experience for future projects.

It was a pleasure working with so many women leading this project. I’ve been in this industry for a long time and a woman-owned business for a long time, so I have really encouraged women to be working in the construction and design industries. If I could work with this team on every project, I would. At a project like this where the right women are in leadership positions, we see what we can develop to help support a program at the university to encourage young women to be the best at everything they do. We’re really proud of this project.

Learn more about our company-wide community empowerment efforts