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Badass Women at Any Age

Jan 24, 2023

As a young girl  Maria Lehman chose to leave her Girl Scouts troop and join the Boy Scouts because their projects interested her more.  Organizing and leading a stand-in outside the principal's office when she was in 3rd grade, it is evident that since childhood Maria has owned her badass power, trailblazing and following her own path every step of the way.  A civil engineer, Maria was recently named 2023 President of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the nation's preeminent civil engineering society. It was this organization that created the framework for the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law, which Maria was directly involved in.  She also serves as director of the US infrastructure for G H D, an international professional services firm, and vice chair of the President's National Infrastructure Advisory Council. Maria was elected to the National Academy of Construction just this past year. She attended New York State University at Buffalo where she was one of only six women out of 600 undergraduate engineers. She has served as the lead on more than 700 civil engineering projects, ranging from $10,000 to $3.9 billion in scope.  She has worked as a civil engineer for 41 years.

What You Will Hear in This Episode: 

  • 2:46 Maria’s personal story
  • 10:37 Being a Keynote Speaker at the International Conference on Water Resources
  • 13:07 ASCE’s JEDI Initiative
  • 14:00 Maria’s Inauguration highlights
  • 14:42 Australia’s futuristic workplace mentality
  • 16:21 Working on a Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
  • 21:19 Navigating past gender bias experiences
  • 24:47 Being Disruptor in Chief
  • 30:30 Being a Commissioner for Public Works
  • 32:14 Maria reflecting on discovering herself


“You have to be the change you wanna see.”

“It's really important that in the beginning of whatever career you have, and especially if it's male dominated, that you get the best basis of technical expertise that you can. Because you have to be as good or better, so that when you are attacked, you can speak from authority.”

“I don’t care if you don’t learn calculus, but you need to promise me to live the class motto, which is cogitation and tenacity.”

“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Because when you’re comfortable, standing in place, you’re repeating, you’re not learning, you’re not growing, and you’re not stretching.”

“If you set small goals, you might attain them, but you’re not going to be revolutionary.”

“There are times you really have to hold back, and there are times that you really have to stand your ground.”

“When people know you’re willing to walk a mile in their shoes, they’re very willing to row together, to help the whole group do better.”

“Every experience that is a problem, a mistake, a challenge, you learn something from. What you learn is patience and being much more retrospective about your next steps.”

“You take those uncomfortable moments and you set them off to the side and you power through.”

“Every time you drive by that project or see that project in a picture, you have this warm feeling in your heart. It’s a great profession for feeling like you’re doing something for people and the planet.”


International Conference on Water Resources

Future World Vision

ASCE JEDI Initiative - Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion -

Shirley Clark - Head of Environment, Water, Resources Institute 

Mega-City Anticipating

Connect with Bonnie

Gendered Ageism Survey Results

Forbes article

5 Tips to own the superpower of your age


Purchase my book Not Done Yet on Amazon: 

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