Assistant Project Manager Felicia Silveira is one of the newest members of our company roster and is already proving herself to be an enormously valuable addition to Team Van Pelt. Beyond her professional skills, Felicia possesses a natural curiosity to learn – both on and off the job. Learn more about this rising VPCS star and some of her many talents in this conversation:
Q: Which VPCS projects are you working on these days?
FS: Right now I’m on our projects in Napa, Calistoga and Santa Rosa. As an assistant project manager, it’s my job to do a little bit of everything on any given day. I’m also directly involved with things like documentation flow, getting quotes and coordinating with our vendors.
Q: How have you adapted to the job since you came on board?
FS: It’s been great. Every day brings new tasks and new challenges; no two days are exactly alike and there’s always a lot going on. But it’s such a team-oriented environment that we all feel very well supported. Everyone just steps up to do whatever they can to help.
Q: Your degree is in business. How do you use that expertise in your role as an assistant project manager?
FS: I’ve always been interested in the STEM fields. When I was in high school, I even imagined a career in medicine, but the idea of all those years in school – and the student debt that would come with it – was a bit overwhelming. So by the time I got to college [at Sonoma State], I realized that a business degree would give me the flexibility to pursue a career in almost any industry. And the more I studied business, I found I really loved it. I’m fascinated by how organizations and systems work. Now, through my work at VPCS, I’m able to apply all that knowledge every day. Everything about construction and program management is process-oriented. Plus, I really rely on my accounting skills!
Q: Tell us about your family connection to K-12 facilities management.
FS: My dad is a facilities director; he’s been in facilities leadership roles in a couple of different Bay Area school districts for several years. He also used to work as a general contractor and I would tag along with him to job sites when I was a kid, so I’ve always been around construction. I think my early exposure to it made me naturally interested in it. I also really like the culture of the construction industry. Plus, my mom has always worked in accounting, so I guess you could say I’ve continued in both of their footsteps. Everyone always says, “I’m not going to be like my parents,” but then you grow up and realize … well, here I am!
Q: Did your parents gently push you toward this line of work?
FS: Not at all, but both of them pushed my sister and me toward getting college degrees. As immigrants, they felt strongly that we take advantage of the opportunities that were outside of their reach when they were growing up.
Q: Where were your folks born?
FS: They both immigrated from Portugal. They actually came from the same village on the same island, but they didn’t get to know each other until they were both in the U.S. years later. My dad came to the States with his whole family when he was three years old but my mom didn’t come until she was 19. She just came for a visit, but then met my dad and the rest is history.
Q: Did you speak Portuguese at home growing up?
FS: We did. My grandparents only spoke Portuguese and several of my older relatives still speak it, with only very limited English. So it’s a little awkward for my fiancé when we attend large family gatherings, because everyone will default to Portuguese – telling stories and laughing hysterically and he has no idea what’s going on. We’re getting married next summer, so he still has some time to learn a bit of the language before wedding toasts are made!
Q: Describe the photo of you at the woodworking table.
FS: That’s when I was applying a mix of stain and wood conditioner to a couple of reclaimed beams that my dad and I salvaged to create a fireplace mantel. Woodworking was something I picked up during the pandemic when there wasn’t anything to go out and do. I just love the challenge of it and I can do it right in my backyard. Mostly, I’ve been focusing on refinishing different types of furniture. It’s fun to work with reclaimed pieces, especially given how so much furniture these days is made to be basically disposable. There’s something really beautiful about taking an older piece that just needs love and knowing how to restore it to something that can have a long life again. My next challenge is learning how to use a miter saw. I bought one – now I just need to figure out how to unlock it and start using it! I do call my dad every now and then if I get stuck on a project that he’s not working on with me. And, in a pinch, YouTube is a great alternative.
Q: And you’re paddleboarding in the photo of you on the VPCS website’s team page, correct?
FS: Yes – that was taken on Barton Creek in Austin, Texas. I’m crazy about paddleboarding. In fact, I consider the most important thing on our wedding registry to be the inflatable paddleboard that we hope to get so we can take it in the car and go anywhere! Even our dog loves to paddleboard. I picked up the sport when I first moved to Sonoma County for college. There’s just so much access to nature here that I didn’t have growing up in urban San Jose. So my fiancé and I love taking advantage of everything that’s close by – rivers, beaches, forests, all of it. It all sparks joy.
September 25, 2023