Distinguished Alumna of the Year Award

McJiltonMartha Vignovic McJilton, Eng ’87
Cumming, Ga.

Martha Vignovic McJilton is not afraid of a challenge. Over her career, she has conquered not one, but three difficult and traditionally male-dominated industries: finance, engineering and construction. In her current role as CFO for the Better Communities Collaborative (BCC), one of the fastest-growing site development collectives, she enjoys interfacing with all of the groups in the organization to integrate project management with accounting, financial planning and resource allocation.

Martha has served as the chief financial officer of several successful Atlanta businesses, including Contessa Construction, Ellinwood + Machado, and Baker Paint & Contracting Co. In these roles, she honed her financial analysis and project management expertise, and she was recognized for her work in improving both short- and long-term financial performance and enhancing internal controls.

Prior to her work in the finance industry, Martha was a practicing civil engineer, licensed in three states across the Midwest. She worked in site development until earning her MBA from the University of Chicago.

Martha thrives on being a mentor and strongly believes we can all gain from each other’s experiences. She hopes to continue mentoring staff for professional development and continued organizational success all around.

Martha has participated in the Marquette Mentors program for five years, and she finds it very rewarding. Female engineering students visit and job-shadow Martha, where they see firsthand the types of projects she’s working on and the kinds of daily professional decisions she makes. For Martha, being a mentor to students provides a high level of personal satisfaction, knowing that she is contributing to the preparation for their successful careers.

Fun Facts:

Name someone (past or present) with whom you’d like to have dinner.
This may sound like a strange dinner but Herbert Hoover. He was a civil engineer who was able to convert his vision of the Hoover Dam from a plan to paper and then execute the plan to construct such an impressive structure. The massive project was a catalyst for economic growth, environmental advances and recreation/tourism expansions. Construction brought jobs to the economy during the Great Depression. The dam provides a reliable water supply, controls flooding and provides habitats for fish and wildlife. I’m not sure if Hoover knew all the peripheral benefits the dam would bring to the U.S., but it is truly an amazing work of art and would be an incredible dinner conversation.

Name a Marquette faculty or staff member who had an impact on you, and how?
Dr. Keith Faherty. Dr. Faherty’s passion, not just for engineering academics but for the entire engineering industry, was infectious. His knowledge and willingness (with extreme patience) to share his experience with students (who really didn’t know half as much as we thought we did before getting to know Dr. Faherty). Dr. Faherty rose to be department chair while I was in school, but he remained involved with all of us – in fact he even helped me land my first full-time civil engineering job right after graduation. I even remember Dr. and Mrs. Faherty hosting a group of MU Chi Epsilon members at their house for dinner. Mrs. Faherty told us about how every one of their U.S. travels were based around what types of bridges were in their destination city. Dr. Faherty was truly an iconic engineering mentor for so many.

Leave a congratulatory message for Martha!