2019 Women of Distinction Finalists
By Marcos Chisholm
The women honored by the Shop! Women’s League this year are transforming the industry with their passion, dedication, and innovative thinking. Rachel Zsembery, VP and principal at Bergmeyer Associates, was named 2019 Shop! Woman of Distinction. (See her profile in this related post.) Established by the Shop! Women’s League in 2017, the annual honor recognizes the leadership capabilities and successes showcased by women across retail environments. Candidates are required to work in the industry for a minimum of five years, and be currently employed by a Shop! member. Also recognized in the program this year are three fierce females.
AIA, CDT, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP | Studio Principal, Little
Nancy Everhart’s highly personable leadership approach in all project stages has helped transform Little’s retail practice into one of the firm’s most successful divisions. After starting at the firm as an entry-level architect, Everhart worked her way to becoming studio principal in 2005 and partner in 2013. Throughout her career, she has established herself as a pioneer in service retail design, becoming one of the fi rst architects in Charlotte, N.C., U.S., to help develop tellerless banks. The success of this project led to her increased involvement in the design of more than 1,200 retail branch banks and offices across the United States.
Everhart serves as a mentor with the CREW Network, a research and network hub for women in commercial real estate, setting an example for rising female talent to effectively overcome adversity in a historically male-dominated career path. She has contributed to CREW’s “Queen City in Pink” campaign to raise breast cancer awareness for over 10 years, which receives participation from more than 200 businesses per year.
In addition to her mentorship efforts, Everhart volunteers her time to Habitat for Humanity. She promoted and coordinated its 25th anniversary Women’s Only Habitat build, helping create life-changing moments for numerous families in need. Everhart also has emerged as a thought leader in the accessible design space, a specialized discipline centered on accommodating people with physical abilities.
AIA, LEED AP | Principal, MG2
Named a finalist for the second year in a row, Myra Vaughn embarked on a meteoric rise when she joined MG2 as a senior associate in 2012. She became an associate principal in 2013, a principal in 2015, and a shareholder in 2018. Renowned for her ability to consistently challenge the status quo, she has significantly influenced firm culture and operations, enabling MG2 to become more innovative with its managerial approach to employees and projects.
Vaughn has tirelessly addressed issues in architecture that leave women at a disadvantage—including the gender pay gap, lack of mentorship, and higher attrition—to promote a more level playing field. Her leadership efforts have also made it standard for MG2 to implement sustainable design strategies into all of its projects.
With organizations such as the Seattle Chapter of Society for Design Administration, the AIA, and the Shop! Future of Retail Task Force, Vaughn furthers her community involvement through the advancement of retail design. She moderated a panel on e-sports and gaming at a Women’s League regional meeting in Irvine, Calif., U.S., and has shared insights on the topic in a Shop! Retail Decoded podcast.
VP and Director of Global Retail Business Development, CallisonRTKL
Widely heralded for her strong brand and client empathy, Cindi Kato has been one of the most important pieces to a puzzle at CallisonRTKL that has amassed clients across five industries since her arrival to the design firm. Throughout Kato’s tenure, her efforts have notably produced award-winning designs for brands such as Roots, Sperry, Cole Haan, ABC-MART, and Nordstrom.
Kato has consistently advocated to improve the well-being of women in the industry. Her support for the creation of CallisonRTKL’s Women’s Forum in Seattle fosters growth for up-and-coming female talent. And she has been instrumental in nominating women at CRTKL for industry recognition, including the PAVE Rising Star and design:retail 40 Under 40 awards.
Kato also speaks about the challenges women face in the design industry Kato is a former member of the Washington State University Interior Design Advisory Board and the Central and Advisory Boards for Interior Design. Currently, Kato is involved with the Retail Design Institute, and serves as the president of PAVE and as a board member for both Shop! and Shop! Women’s League.