Women's History Month: Christine A. Merdon
As the mother of a 14-year-old, Christine Merdon is, to say the least, busy. Coaching her daughter's Odyssey of the Mind Team, traveling to basketball games, planning birthday parties and more occupy her nights and weekends. During the day, she fulfills a lifelong dream of working at the Architect of the Capitol (AOC).
Merdon serves as an inspiring example to her daughter and many other young women interested in competing – and succeeding – in historically male-dominated fields. The first female Chief Operating Officer for the AOC, Merdon brings more than 30 years of experience as an engineer to the position.
"My mother taught me about vision and perseverance. After marrying my father, who was stationed in Germany, she moved to the United States when she was 21. It was very difficult, not understanding the language, and she encountered many challenges, but she always stayed positive and encouraged me not to let obstacles stand in the way of my dreams." Not long after arriving in the United States, Merdon's mother and father parted ways. Now a single mother of three kids, Merdon's mother supported the family by working as a hair dresser while also attending college. She subsequently earned her Master's degree, and is still working as a consultant.
Christine Merdon as a student.
"My mom continues to serve as an example to me and she encourages me to push boundaries. As a child, I loved to build forts and explore the woods. Not the expected hobbies of a little girl," said Merdon. Over the years, her interests and curiosity led her to the United States Navy where Merdon began her career as a cooperative education engineering student. After earning Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Maryland, Merdon served as a project engineer and project manager on a variety of impressive projects.
She managed major projects including the restoration of the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, and planning and construction of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the National Museum for African American History and Culture, as well as Nationals Ballpark. All of these experiences introduced her to extraordinary women and helped shape her management style.
To Merdon, Women's History Month serves as a reminder to provide encouragement and serve as a role model in much the same manner her mother did. "I want to continue to see the AOC grow into a progressive agency that sets best practices in project management. Women can and will be an integral part of that development. It is an exciting time to be in the engineering field. I hope other women interested in this career – or others in traditionally male-dominated fields – seek out people to serve as sounding boards and embrace each opportunity to reach their goals."