Women in Construction Week 2024: Maria Delestre


With a birds eye view, Engineering Division Construction Manager Maria Delestre stands at the top of a parking garage in the heart of the City, surrounded by the sounds of powerful excavators digging in a massive hole overlooking one of the City’s biggest and active construction projects at the moment.  

“We are on the Frances Street garage, looking down at the demolition of the State Street Campus Garage,” Delestre said. “This is one of the many projects the facilities group is working on. This project is one that I’m specifically the construction manager on.”  

Delestre is in charge of connecting all the moving parts of the construction project, which includes working with tradespeople, contractors, developers, interested parties, anyone impacted and the public. She’s in charge of making sure the State Street Garage Redevelopment Mixed Use Project happens smoothly and gets done on time. 

“Day to day I’m either out on site, back at the office, answering questions about issues that come up on our project sites, working on preconstruction for future projects we have going on, and responding to the needs of our projects,” Delestre said. 

State Street Garage isn’t the first project with the City for Delestre, or even as a construction manager, Delestre has worked on the City’s temporary men’s shelter at Zier Road, upcoming Permanent Men’s Homeless Shelter at Bartillon Drive and projects at Olin Park. Delestre didn’t always know she’d thrive in the construction industry, but she’s loved math and science for as long as she can remember.

“I grew up in southern Minnesota,” Delestre said. “I liked math and science in high school, so I decided to go to school for engineering, and I actually went to UW-Madison. I got a degree in civil engineering, with an emphasis in construction management.”

maria delestre

While in college, she said influential teachers helped her realize she didn’t want to sit in an office and do design work with her engineering degree. 

“I loved being outside but it took a few important teachers and structures to see that I excelled in math and science – and put this career path in front of me—so I don’t think little Maria was like ‘I want to be an engineer!’ but she definitely enjoyed being outside and problem solving and working with a variety of people,” Delestre said.

Delestre got her first job out of college in California working for a big general contractor. She then moved back home to Madison to work for a Madison general contractor, and then eventually took a job at the City of Madison Engineering Division.  

“Every day it’s different problems to be solved,” Delestre said. “I really enjoy the people I get to work with, in construction, you get to work with the design team, the tradespeople on site, you get to work with the end users, the community, and that keeps it really interesting.  That’s what I like about the job.

Being the only woman on the job has been something Delestre is used to, but sees improvement, especially since choosing to work for the City of Madison.


“In general, I’m still often one of only a few women in the room, especially when I’m on a construction site. I think the city does a great job of recruiting and hiring women and diverse employees in general, but there is still a lack of representation really in the field,” Delestre said.

Delestre is proud to represent women in the construction space. 


“I have felt really empowered as a female in construction,” Delestre said. “I think to have a successful project, you need a variety of viewpoints, and people who are problem solving and I think women bring another set of outlooks to the table.”

Especially when she’s at the table, running the meeting as the only woman, Delestre said it’s important to understand your audience and appreciate what everyone else brings to the table to make progress on any project. 

“It’s important to know what you’re talking about – do the extra homework – because you’re speaking to people—its’ their expertise,” Delestre said. “So, making sure you know what you’re talking about and asking questions and acknowledging when someone else knows more than you. I think that’s for everybody, but as women you often have to prove yourself a little bit more and go the extra mile.”

Going the extra mile, whether it be fostering relationships on the job site or in life, Delestre said it’s important for women to see the big picture, see the end goal of a complete project and use the space to grow into doing something you love.

“Every time a project opens big and small—and you see the end users come into the space and use it and it feels really rewarding and it’s the reason I do what I do.”

The City of Madison is highlighting the work of five women during National

 Women in Construction Week March 3-9, 2024

Women in Construction Week Banner 2024








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