When first starting out in her career, Katie Kominos wasn’t headed in the direction she wanted to be going.
After graduating from the University of Florida with a master's degree in civil engineering, she decided to pursue a career in construction. But the first couple of jobs had her building wastewater treatment plants and water storage tanks.
“I wanted to be a project manager building buildings,” she says.
She would get her break five years into her career when Kominos secured a job with New York City-based New Line Structures. At the time, her boss, Raymond Mark, now her mentor, gave her that opportunity.
“I didn’t necessarily have the right qualifications for the job that I was in, but Raymond really believed in me,” she says. “That job changed the trajectory of my career path. They didn’t have to give me that opportunity based on my past work experience, so I was really thankful for that.”
The first job she was assigned at New Line was a 56-story, $200 million building for 750 apartments in downtown Brooklyn, in New York City.
“I had never even built a building before,” she says.
Kominos moved back to Sarasota before the project had been fully completed, but has since visited to see it. “Last time I was in New York, I still spotted it (on) the skyline while I was driving on one of the highways,” she recalls.
Now, Kominos is a project manager at Lakewood Ranch-based Willis A. Smith Construction Inc. She is working on Marie Selby Botanical Garden’s three-phase project for its downtown Sarasota campus. The $92 million project will feature a plant research center, herbarium, new welcome center and research library within the first phase, expected to wrap up in November, according to the project's website.
Kominos says focusing on these types of community projects have a bigger impact on her since she’s from the area and now is raising her children here.
“It means a lot more to me to work on projects like these that are going to have a long-lasting effect on Sarasota,” she says, adding that when her 8-year-old son attended a sports camp this summer at the Out-of-Door Academy, he spent all summer in the fieldhouse campus, a multi-use gym Kominos built.