SMMA Announces Four Senior Leadership Appointments

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Cambridge, MA – Architecture, engineering, interior design, and planning firm SMMA announced the promotions of four current principals—Lorraine Finnegan, Jen Howe, Michael Pardek, and Ryan Farias—into new leadership positions to support the company’s growth and client initiatives.

“Starting with our founders in 1955, the firm has advanced generations of leadership to consistently create a resilient practice that values our people, clients, and never-ending commitment to design excellence,” said Ara Krafian, Chairman, President, and CEO of SMMA.  “I am thrilled to announce that SMMA’s tradition of promoting home-grown talent continues with these well-deserved appointments.”

Lorraine Finnegan, Board of Directors

A current Principal and Vice President, Lorraine directs SMMA’s K-12 market and is a creative, hands-on leader for many of the firm’s most prominent educational design projects.

“Lorraine takes on the inherent challenges of large public sector projects by applying a collaborative, goal-oriented approach, one based on building trust and client relationships,” said Alex Pitkin, Principal and Senior Vice President.

Inside the firm, Lorraine champions employee engagement and cross-discipline teamwork. She is also a devoted mentor to young staff members and an empathetic supporter to women colleagues inside and outside SMMA who, like Lorraine, balance the demands of parenting, work, and family life. She participates on the Boston Society of Architecture’s Educational Facilities Committee and Women in Design Committee and is a past president of the New England Chapter of the Association for Learning Environments.

Jennifer Howe, Board of Directors

A current Principal and Vice president, Jen is the founder and leader of SMMA’s Federal Government market and a key leader in the firm’s Providence, RI office. She brings to bear exceptional leadership skills, tenacity, and ability to build lasting relationships with federal, state, and local clients.

“Jen’s passion, expertise, and her love for her team is an inspiration to everyone at the firm,” said Brian Lawlor, Principal and Senior Vice President. “That she has built up the Federal Government group from virtually ground-zero into what it is today is extraordinary.”

Internally, she is a passionate advocate for mentorship and professional growth, playing a key role in the firm’s Mentor/Protégé Program. Away from the firm, Jen recently served as President of ACEC Massachusetts and Chair of the ACEC MA Education Corporation, and is the current Secretary of the Board of The Pinecroft School in Rehoboth, MA.

Michael Pardek, Board of Directors, Vice President, and Director of Design

A Principal at SMMA, Michael’s experiences as an architect and design leader include built work in urban and suburban settings as well as early project visioning for a wide range of clients. For him, each project is an opportunity to guide clients and colleagues through a rich, creative, and engaging process leading to a meaningful contribution to the built environment.

“Michael is an exceptional designer whose creativity and collaborative instincts help SMMA clients and staff along the iterative steps of design journey from conceptualization to occupancy,” said Mark Spaulding, Principal and Senior Vice President.

As Director of Design, Michael will foster an integrated design culture to advance SMMA’s mission of creating places that are responsible, well-crafted, venturesome, and beautiful. Outside of the firm, Michael serves as a board member of the Lyceum Fellowship, a nonprofit established in 1985 by SMMA founder Jon McKee that seeks to advance the profession of architecture by engaging students in design and travel.

Ryan Farias, Vice President

As Director of Marketing and Principal at SMMA, Ryan provides objective, strategic leadership across the firm’s disciplines and client markets. As an advocate of change, he encourages colleagues at SMMA to think creatively and consider what is most important to clients. “Ryan is a high-impact leader at SMMA, often challenging us to think differently and let go of conventional approaches,” said Marie Fitzgerald, Principal and Senior Vice President. “He is a team player who knows how to bring focus, ideas, and simplicity to complex situations.”

His achievements include establishing SMMA’s knowledge management system; advocating to launch an Employee Engagement group while facilitating the creation of the firm’s Competency Model, a professional development initiative; guiding SMMA’s marketing technology approach including business intelligence research initiatives; and directing the overall brand strategy sharing the firm’s best stories with the intent to inform people and connect with new clients.

Announcing the four promotions, Krafian said: “The contributions that Lorraine, Jen, Michael, and Ryan have made to SMMA are exceptional, and I cannot wait to see where they lead us next.” The three board appointments represent the first additions to the firm’s Board of Directors in 12 years, expanding the group from six to nine directors.

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