Shannon Baird
Shannon Baird

Age 38 | vice president of operations, J.E. Dunn Construction Group Inc.

In January 2011, Shannon and Dean Baird and twins Karson and Kennedy moved to Greater Des Moines. A move in the middle of winter wasn’t a big deal. Shannon grew up on a farm in Kansas; she was used to the cold.

“I’ve been told it’s the craziest time to pick up and move your family to Des Moines,” she told the Business Record at the time.

She was coming to Des Moines to lead J.E. Dunn Construction Group Inc.’s Iowa operations, the first woman in the company and one of few in the nation to hold such a position.

In a year’s time, Baird has generated some buzz in Greater Des Moines.

“She has immersed herself into our community,” Kristi Knous, president and chief operating officer of the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, said in a nominating letter. “Shannon is a perfect example of the kind of young female leader we are seeking to grow and recognize in Greater Des Moines.”

Baird came to the construction trade easily enough. Her father wanted one his daughters to be the other hand around the farm. The two worked on cars together. He was an electrical engineer. It didn’t take a lot of encouragement to get Baird to consider engineering.

“I found construction engineering and fell in love with it,” she said.

Baird is determined to prove that a mom can be a professional and prevail at both.

“I know I will have accomplished my goal when I see the evidence that my children truly believe that they can do anything they set their minds to,” she said.

Five reasons she’s a 40:

• First woman to become an operations officer at J.E. Dunn Construction Group Inc.

• First woman to become a board member and serve as an executive with the Des Moines Construction. Council.

• Balancing work and family.

• Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute.

• Motivated staff to become involved in a range of community projects.

Fun fact:

Baird enjoys experiencing life with her twin boys Karson and Kennedy, 5.