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Moving to a new town and settling in can be rough sometimes, but for Anne Laurent moving to Los Alamos from Michigan and settling in was a piece of cake.
Laurent came to the Atomic City nearly two months ago when she was hired as the new capital projects and facilities director for the county. Since then, she’s been working on new ways to streamline the capital projects process and find ways to cut down on costs without compromising quality, she said.
A native of Arizona, Laurent got her degree in architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design. During her last year of college, she went to Italy to finish her program.
“My parents said travel while you can,” she said. After her trip to Italy, Laurent returned to Arizona, where she met her husband, Steve.
Laurent got her career start with the Arizona State Parks, where she worked as a facilities manager.
“I focused on project management. I flocked to task where voids needed to be filled,” she said. “That’s how my career evolved.”
She enjoys working with teams of people, rather than alone. “I was never one of those architects who wanted to work in their basement,” she said with a chuckle.
The Laurents later moved to Michigan after Steve applied and got accepted into law school, with a full scholarship. At that point, Laurent went to work for the Grand Rapids Transit Authority.
While in Michigan, she also worked for a full-service architecture and engineering firm, where she was promoted to project manager.
“I was working on the new transit hub,” she said.
The Laurents love for the Southwest is what brought them to New Mexico in what Laurent describes as a “happy accident.”
“We toyed with the idea of returning to the Southwest,” she said. Laurent said that one day she was surfing the Web site for the American Institute of Architects and saw the job posting for the Capital Projects and Facilities Director in Los Alamos County. “I e-mailed it to my husband and he supported me going for it,” she said.
The rest happened very quickly. “I applied because I was looking to return to work in the public sector,” she said.
Once in Los Alamos, Laurent settled into her new position rather quickly because of her background in architecture and design. She says that she has partnered with project managers and supported them, but finds the most challenging aspect of her job has to do with the workload she has and the ability to prioritize it all.
“I have found a lot of resources in the county,” she said. “It’s a matter of supporting what’s going on. I always say it’s not a matter of whether projects will have an issue, it’s a matter of how you deal with projects that will make or break the issue.”
Laurent said her enthusiasm for her job never seems to wane.
“I get to do what I’m passionate about, which is working on building projects and facilities,” she said. “I’m just as passionate about new construction as I am about the right flush valve on a toilet.”
Where her career is concerned, Laurent feels like she’s taken a bit from her mom, who is an artist, and a bit from her dad, who is an engineer, and combined, those two aspects has made her into the architect she is today.
“It’s a nice blend of aesthetics and function,” she said. She has a background in managing contracts and large-scale projects and a lot of experience in working with the community and stakeholders. Laurent also said that she believes in the inclusive process.
Living in Los Alamos is ideal for the Laurent family.
“I feel like I live in a postcard,” Laurent said. “The community has been very supportive. I just stepped right in (to the job).”
When she is not working on capital projects or managing facilities, Laurent spends time with her children, Frances, 5, and Max, 4, swimming and on hikes.
“We’ve been out exploring,” Laurent said.
She said that her children have settled into their new home nicely and haven’t had any problems adjusting. Frances attends Barranca Elementary School, while Max attends Little Forest Preschool.
“I’m very proud, Frances has already earned the principal’s award,” Laurent said. “I’m extremely happy to be in a beautiful part of the world doing what I love.”