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In honor of Women’s History Month, we spoke with the leads of the Women of SWCA ERG, Claire Parra and Theresa Knoblock. Claire and Theresa share a bit about themselves and their career paths, the priorities of the Women of SWCA ERG, and how they became the group leads.


Q: Can you talk about your career path and how you got started at SWCA?

Claire Parra, Associate Project Manager

Claire: I started at SWCA’s Austin office in the spring of 2023. I am a project manager and biologist by trade, but my focus is on transportation projects. I have been in the consulting industry for the past 9 years, starting as a staff ecologist at another firm and working my way up to a project manager level with more complex projects. I have really enjoyed my time with SWCA thus far and I enjoy the ecologically interesting projects we get to work on.

Theresa: I’ve been with SWCA for the past three years and a consultant for the last 30. I am a NEPA planner with a background in biology, and I specialize in renewable energy and transportation projects.


Q: How and why did you become the Women of SWCA group lead? 

Theresa Knoblock, Senior Environmental Planner 

Claire: When it was announced there was an opening for the co-lead position, I was excited by the idea of helping to lead a group for women and make a difference for women in this company. I have always been passionate about women’s equality and the unique obstacles we face in the workplace. My mother’s career led her to a senior position in a very male-dominated industry and I have always drawn inspiration from her and her outlook on asserting herself. She inspires me in everything I do. 

Theresa: Last year I attended the Women of SWCA ERG open house, and I was energized hearing about the types of topics and the passion of the members. It was such a great resource that I didn’t know about. When an ERG co-lead position opened soon after, I thought it would be a great opportunity to grow my leadership skills while connecting with other women across the company. I applied and jumped in with both feet!


Q:  How have you benefitted from being in the group?

Claire: I get to connect and engage with so many women I wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to. It is interesting and inspiring to see what others are doing in different jobs across the company, to hear about their ideas at our meetings, and to better understand their perspectives.  And I really enjoy feeling like I have the chance to make an impact on other women’s experiences here at SWCA.

Theresa: There are so many opportunities for learning and networking. It is rewarding being able to both help and learn from women across the company at all levels. Plus, it immediately gives me a working relationship with female leaders across the company, which has expanded my comfort level working at SWCA.


Q: What are the accomplishments, priorities, and goals for the group in 2024? 

Claire Parra, Associate Project Manager

Claire: I would love to see us continue fostering the allyship between women in the company. Our first ally meeting late last year was an excellent start to what we hope can be a semi-regular occurrence. We have also been working towards improvements to the SWCA safety guidance based on feedback from our members about safety issues and aspects that are especially important to women. 

As far as ongoing priorities, we offer a lot of learning opportunities and practical resources for women at our meetings, as well as a safe space to connect and lift each other up. 

Theresa: As Claire mentioned, updating our safety guidance is a huge priority of the group right now. That is a work in progress, but making changes there has been an accomplishment for us.  Some of our other accomplishments include having our first ally meeting last year and inviting some great guest speakers.

A passion and focus area of mine this year is empowering women to grow in their field through increasing learning and training opportunities, especially for women who are new professionals.


Q: What are some of your interests, hobbies, or passions outside of work? 

Claire: I love to travel, especially to national parks, and hiking and camping with my husband and children. I also love fashion and trying out new restaurants around Austin with my girlfriends. 

Theresa: My main hobby is art. I am a mixed-media artist and I spend much of my free time on that. I also love to get outdoors when I can. Balancing the physical effects of a serious chronic illness (cancer, in my case) can make it difficult, but I want people to know that you can still have a full, happy life and maintain your interests and hobbies. 

Theresa Knoblock, Senior Environmental Planner, at a Gives Back Volunteering event