When asked to describe herself in five words, Allison McKenzie, director of sustainability, said: “Reliable, driven, supportive, opinionated and perhaps a bit bossy. I’m actually proud of all of these, including the bossiness. I have thoughts, and you’re going to hear them.” 

This is the reason we are so grateful to have Allison on our team. She has the heart, the determination and the will to get things done. She is one of the biggest motivators we have in the organization; and in 2021, she celebrates her 15th anniversary with our firm.

“In the 15 years that Allison has been with us, she has shown time and time again that she is a natural born leader who knows how to galvanize those around her to accomplish a goal,” said SHP president Lauren Della Bella. “But she does not lead with an iron fist. She is very clearly one of the kindest and most supportive people we have at SHP.”

After graduating from the University of Cincinnati in 2006, Allison quickly found a home with SHP, and has now worked her way to the top of her department. In her current role, she balances her responsibilities as an architect and project manager while also working to establish SHP as a leader in sustainable design.

“Every day is a completely different challenge, which is what I love,” she said. “Every project needs to meet the unique needs of the client, which is difficult, but seeing our projects complete and the impact they have on their users always makes the hard work worth it.“

Allison is always looking for ways to keep herself motivated, even when she isn’t at work. She enjoys expressing herself artistically to escape the daily grind, but these hobbies also double as a tool to prepare her for future work projects.

“I tend to cultivate my creativity through hobbies outside of architecture, like quilting, painting, dress-making and travel,” said Allison. “While these are seemingly unrelated, I believe they each provide inspiration in my daily work in different ways.”

When she looks back on her career in 20 years or so — maybe longer if we have anything to do with it! — Allison wants to be able to see the impact she made on specific projects that affected the people in her community in a meaningful way. Designing a building that someone remembers for a lifetime because it made their life better is her ultimate goal.
But at the end of the day, Allison could not be as remarkable as she is without her biggest fan, her Airedale Terrier, pictured here. (Cue the collective, “Awwwww!”)

“Anyone who knows me knows I love Airedales. I am fortunate that our current Airedale, Cooper, seems to love me back.”