Wendy Cohen was recently named President and CEO of Kitchell Corporation, assuming leadership of one of the largest employee-owned building companies in the Southwest. Wendy is only the fifth CEO in the company’s 73-year history and the first female in the role.
Cohen moves into the role vacated by Jim Swanson, who retires from Kitchell after 15 years in the President & CEO role. During his tenure, Swanson was focused on establishing a succession strategy at each of Kitchell’s operating companies. Cohen was tapped as a potential successor based on her successful leadership of Sacramento-based Kitchell CEM, Kitchell’s construction management company, where she has served as President since 2020.
“Wendy is passionate about building leaders and the construction industry,” said Swanson. “She has played a pivotal role in growing our presence in California, is committed to innovation and leads by example. She is exactly the type of leader needed to carry Kitchell into the next chapter of its storied legacy.”
“I am humbled and honored to lead a company that has such an amazing history,” Cohen said. “Going back to our founding in 1950, Kitchell has made a tremendous impact through our projects, our people and our communities and I look forward to continuing this alongside our dedicated employee-owners and charting a course for the future.”
Kitchell’s operating companies are Kitchell Contractors Inc., Kitchell Development Company, Kitchell CEM and American Refrigeration Supplies. With primary offices in Arizona, California and Texas, Kitchell’s footprint spans 14 states and is comprised of more than 1,000 employee-owners. The company is consistently ranked among the top companies in Engineering News-Record’s national rankings for commercial contractors, CM for fee and PM firms.
Under Swanson’s leadership, Kitchell received many accolades for its innovation in business and its community involvement, including the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce Impact Award, the ASU Spirit of Enterprise Award for Entrepreneurship and the Most Admired Company Award for Executive Leadership from Arizona Business Magazine.
Cohen joined Kitchell in 2013, helping to grow the company’s footprint in Southern California. During her nearly 30 years in the building industry, Cohen has worked as general contractor, construction manager, consultant and an owner. Her experience leading high-performance teams helped grow Kitchell’s presence throughout the Southwest, including large building programs on behalf of UC San Diego, MiraCosta Community College District and the Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Works. She played an instrumental role in securing Kitchell’s work with the single-largest state building project in the history of Sacramento: the Richards Boulevard Office Complex.
Cohen serves on the board of the Greater Sacramento Economic Council and is the cofounder of the Hard Hat Scholars program in partnership with Square Root Academy. The program provides high school students with a 16-week experience introducing them to the architecture, engineering and construction industry. She is a trusted advisor in the construction field, moderating numerous industry panels on innovation, collaborative delivery models, leadership and the future of the industry.
Prior to joining Kitchell, Cohen was Director of Facilities Planning and Construction with Palomar Health leading a $1billion acute care hospital program in San Diego. She attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo studying civil engineering and completed the Stanford University Graduate School of Business LEAD program.
Learn more about Kitchell at www.kitchell.com.