Jean Christy: a Role Model and Mentor
How she helps young engineers build their STEM careers
By Regina Sibilia
Senior Engineer Jean Christy, PE is not one to put herself in the spotlight but when you meet her you can’t help but see her witty personality and deep passion for engineering shining through. To recognize the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we spoke with Jean about her successful career in engineering and the importance of being a role model for women and girls in STEM fields.
She has made her mark on the firm’s Land Use and Transportation Business Line over the last decade. Her colleagues note that Jean has a rare combination of technical expertise and interpersonal skills that make her a client favorite. She is an asset to any project team, either in the role of a project manager or technical lead.
“Jean has been my right-hand and go-to engineer for the past 10 years. Her technical knowledge, calm demeanor, and problem-solving skills are a huge part of what makes us a successful team at Tighe & Bond. The fact that she is able to work at this professional level and also find balance with her personal life and three very active children is inspiring and truly sets her apart as a role model to both her peers and junior staff,” says Brian Huntley, Senior Project Manager.
While Jean has developed a breadth of civil engineering expertise over her 20-year career; for her technical depth, she has chosen to focus on stormwater. Her expertise includes traditional hydrology, hydraulics, water quality, and treatment; but also state-of-the-art green infrastructure approaches. Jean also serves as a Project Manager, leading the design and permitting of multifaceted, complex land development projects that provide housing, transit, and recreational space; while preserving the environmental integrity of the site. She is looking forward to working with her colleagues in Tighe & Bond’s Water Business Line on their goals for the MS4 2023 Permit Year. They will design stormwater treatment facilities in local communities and serve as experts providing community education on the importance of stormwater management.
Whether she’s developing a relationship with a client as a trusted advisor or explaining to young kids how stormwater impacts their community, the educational aspect of her role is where Jean thrives.
“It’s so fun when I get the opportunity to explain to very young children that my job means that I get to play in the rain, and design places for stormwater to go. In speaking with teens and young women, I dive a little deeper into the importance of water quality improvements and protection of our natural resources from an increase in runoff. No matter the age, once we have these conversations you see an increased awareness of what happens when it rains. Even my own kids make note when runoff pools in the middle of our driveway,” Jean laughed.
At Tighe & Bond, her management skills help foster employee engagement and growth. Jean strives to create an environment where her team knows they have a safe space to share ideas because “diversity of thought leads to the most innovative project solutions.” She also wants young engineers to know that the best way to learn is by making mistakes. Jean believes that accepting failure, learning from that decision, and then moving forward will help you become a better engineer.
“Working with Jean has been one of the highlights of my time with Tighe & Bond thus far. She was one of the first people I got to know within the company, and she was one of the reasons my integration into the Land Use group was so easy and enjoyable. Jean’s guidance and mentoring have been extremely valuable to me. She is a role model to both me and many other women in engineering,” says Taylor Labbe, Staff Engineer.
Jean had her own role model in her life who sparked her love for ingenuity. Her father was a professional in the medical field, but as she explains “he is a problem solver at heart, and definitely a scientist with engineering tendencies.” Working on building greenhouses, chicken coops, and a variety of other projects at home, Jean’s father showed her how to be a problem solver which has served her well throughout her career as she found her place in the industry.
“As a young engineer trying to absorb as much information as possible and learn everything I possibly could, there was always an interest in stormwater. It was the part of my early tasks that I took to easily, it was always interesting, and always had a challenge I needed to solve. And that is my passion – solving problems. The more experience I have in it, the more challenging problems I want to face,” says Jean.
She hopes that through mentorship and talking about her own career, she can inspire someone else to have their “light bulb moment” where the STEM career they love clicks into place.
“There are so many opportunities in STEM fields that you can find a niche that works for everyone. Technology is changing rapidly so get out there and be the person who starts something new.”
Jean Christy has been recognized as a 2019 BusinessWest 40 Under 40 Leader for her industry and civic leadership. In 2016, she founded her nonprofit Three’s Company t1d Support after her three children were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Jean’s mission is to raise awareness about type 1 diabetes and provide support for families living with the disease. She hopes to expand the operation to include a medical technology scholarship to support young women who want to improve t1d treatment methods through technology. You can also learn more about her projects with Tighe & Bond such as the mixed-use development Village at Grafton Woods.