Empowering Communities

Continuing the Dream of an Engineering Trailblazer

June 13, 2017

President’s Award: Environmental Design International inc.

Claire M. Williams chats with colleagues at Environmental Design International inc.

Claire M. Williams chats with colleagues at Environmental Design International inc.

In 1991, the late Deborah M. Sawyer, an African-American woman in a traditionally white male-dominated engineering industry, founded Environmental Design International inc. (EDI) in Chicago with just six employees. Now, more than a quarter century later, the firm has nearly 70 employees including civil and environmental engineers, scientists, industrial hygienists, surveyors, specialists, and designers.

EDI continues to maintain its biggest strength: a diverse workforce.

“EDI works very hard to seek out diverse talent,” says Claire M. Williams, president and chief operating officer of EDI. “If you embrace diversity, as I do and as our company does, it makes us better and more powerful.”

ComEd recently honored EDI with the President’s Award at ComEd’s 2nd Annual Supplier Diversity Awards.

The awards event is an opportunity for ComEd to honor and celebrate successful minority, veteran, and women-owned suppliers that are helping to drive community and economic development across northern Illinois.

EDI offers a variety of environmental consulting, civil engineering, industrial hygiene, land survey, and Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility consulting services to clients within the private and public sector. EDI is a longtime ComEd supplier and serves as the engineering firm of record for Exelon City Solar, the largest urban solar plant in the U.S., located in the West Pullman neighborhood on Chicago’s south side. EDI received the highest engineering honor in the state—the Illinois ACEC Eminent Conceptor Award—for its work on the high-profile project.

In April 2016, Deborah accepted the Community Partnership Award on EDI’s behalf at the inaugural ComEd Supplier Diversity Awards. Sawyer died in August 2016, and ComEd renamed the award in her honor.

“To be recognized by ComEd in this way speaks to the talent, dedication and expertise of the staff devoted to our ComEd and Exelon projects,” says Leslie J. Sawyer, chairman and chief executive officer of EDI and Deborah’s sister.

Watch the video for more information about Environmental Design International Inc.