Meet Deryl McKissack

Deryl McKissack is Chairwoman and CEO of McKissack & McKissack, an architectural, engineering, program and construction firm managing over $10 billion in projects nationwide. During the past 27 years under her leadership, McKissack has managed such landmark projects as: the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture, MGM National Harbor, Obama Presidential Center, and the Navy Pier Centennial Projects in Chicago. The firm is also known for leading the construction and serving as the architectural firm of record for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC.

As a licensed professional engineer and registered project management professional, Deryl McKissack is part of the fifth generation of her family to work in the design and construction field. McKissack & McKissack is the outgrowth of the nation’s oldest African-American architectural firm and traces its beginnings to Moses McKissack, a master builder who was also a slave.

By the age of six, Deryl was drafting architectural drawings under her father’s tutelage. After graduating from Howard University with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering, she worked at Turner Construction and Dames & Moore; while at these firms, she honed her experience in field work, business development, and construction management.

In 1990, with a shoestring budget of $1,000 and a business plan crafted with help from a mentor at her alma mater, Deryl started McKissack & McKissack. Of that formative time, she remembers, “What got me through was a whole lot of passion.”

Through Deryl’s guidance and vision, McKissack & McKissack has grown to 170 employees, with offices in Baltimore; Chicago; Dallas; Los Angeles; Miami; and Washington, D.C. McKissack & McKissack is ranked by Engineering News Record as a national Top 50 Construction Management For-Fee and Top 100 Project Management firm. In 2017, the firm received the DC’s Business of the Year Award by the DC Chamber of Commerce. She was named the 2013 Engineer of the Year by the District of Columbia Society of Professional Engineers.

Deryl past and present professional organization memberships include:

• Executives’ Club of Chicago
• Construction Industry Round Table
• Construction Management Association of America
• DC Chamber of Commerce,
• U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations,
• District of Columbia Building Industry Association, Board of Directors
• Design-Build Institute of America
• Industry Advisory Group
• DC Career Academy, Chair, Engineering Industry Advisory Council
• Living Classrooms Foundation—Baltimore, MD, Board of Directors
• Pérez Art Museum Miami, Board of Trustees
• Economic Club of Washington, DC, Former Board of Directors
• Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce

Deryl also supports many philanthropic, civic, and cultural groups, including: the International Women’s Forum, Career Academy Engineering Industry Advisory Council, Commonwealth Institute, and the National Building Museum.

Awards and Publications

• 2016—Washington Life, Profiles in Philanthropy: “Living Classrooms—Working to Disrupt the Cycle of Poverty and Help Young People Reach Their True Potential” 2014—Bisnow, Washington, DC Commercial Real Estate Power Women Honoree 2014—Trumpet Awards Foundation, Trumpet Awards Honoree
• 2013—District of Columbia Society of Professional Engineers, Engineer of the Year
• 2013—Conference of Minority Transportation Officials, Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation, Private Sector Honoree
• 2012—Howard University, Society of Women Engineers, “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day—Outstanding Role Model for Women in Engineering”
• 2012—Washington DC Hall of Fame Society, Inc., Washington DC Hall of Fame Inductee, and Legacy Award Recipient in the Area of Business
• 2012—Howard University College of Engineering, Architecture and Computer Sciences, Centennial Professional Excellence Award
• 2012—African American Real Estate Professionals, President’s Award
• 2012—DC Chapter of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators, Barry K. Campbell Hall of Fame Award
• 2012—, “Turning a ‘One-Legged Table’ into a National Business” 2012—Fox News, “Beyond the Dream: Deryl McKissack, Lisa Anders”
• 2011—International Women’s Forum Newsletter, “Martin Luther King Memorial Private Tour with Deryl McKissack”
• 2011—Washington Business Journal, Women Who Mean Business
• 2011—Professional Women in Construction, DC Chapter, Salute to Women – Woman of the Year
• 2011—, “Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial: Deryl McKissack Discusses the Monument”
• 2011—, “Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial: Deryl McKissack from Slave Builders to Leading Architectural Firm”
• 2011—Washington SmartCEO, “Monumental Entrepreneurship”
• 2011—The Foxxhole Channel, SiriusXM, “Voice of Reason with Zo Williams” 2011—, “Deryl McKissack and Lisa Anders Building ‘The Dream,’ MLK Memorial on National Mall”
• 2011—WUSA 9, “From Civil Rights to Silver Rights”
• 2011—PowerPlay Magazine, “In a Legacy of Her Own”