Eastman Insights: Spotlighting the Extraordinary Women of Eastman Cooke

During Women in Construction Week 2022 (and every day!), Eastman Cooke recognizes the fantastic contributions of the wonderful women who help make every success possible. We’re proud to shine a light on these essential members of our team!

April Intrabartola: Vice President, Eastman Cooke

April has been with Eastman Cooke since we opened our doors in 2009. She joined the firm as an Executive Assistant/Assistant Project Manager, and rose up the ranks to become Vice President. April epitomizes career growth and advancement for women, and everything that’s possible with skills, drive, and determination.

As Vice President, she has led the company’s business development, strategic planning, marketing, and recruitment initiatives. While helping to enhance business operations, April has built strong relationships with clients, vendors, and subcontractors. Internally, she has helped to launch staff training, mentoring, and Human Resources initiatives, while successfully overseeing talent management.

Prior to entering the construction field, April worked as a special education teacher, which has fueled her passion for giving back to others. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Family & Children’s Association (FCA), where she helps to lead many fundraising initiatives. She also serves on the Board of the Hospital Engineering Society of Greater NY (HESGNY), and is a strong supporter of the Kathi Smillie Nursing Foundation, a Long Island-based nonprofit started by April’s family in memory of her late aunt, who succumbed to breast cancer. The Foundation raises critical funds in the fight against breast cancer and provides scholarships to Molloy College nursing students. “Making a difference for others is very important to me,” April says. “Giving back to the community allows me to raise awareness about incredible programs that transform lives every day.”

April is also a member of several professional organizations, including the Women Economic Developers of Long Island (WEDLI)Professional Women in Construction (PWC), and the Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network. She is a firm believer in the power of networking to enable women to “share valuable skills and resources to help them thrive.” Her outstanding industry contributions and insights have been recognized by Schneps Media, the New York Real Estate Journal (NYREJ), and many more.

“It’s important to have the courage to follow your vision. You will have the opportunity to make discoveries and to become a leader who forges new and exciting paths,” April says.

Melissa Checo-Fiore: Controller, Eastman Cooke

For seven years, Melissa Fiore has been part of the company’s “Core4” – longtime staff who are instrumental in shaping the strategic and operational functions at Eastman Cooke. After joining the firm as a project financial manager, Melissa quickly moved up to Controller, providing strategic planning in the areas of accounting and finance. Among her many responsibilities are preparing and managing financial statements and reports, overhead budgets, cash flow projects, and monitoring job costs. She ensures that financial directives are followed and maintained and that internal controls continuously comply with accounting standards and procedures.

“I love being the ‘financial resource’ to our team,” Melissa says.  Her favorite part of the job: building strong relationships with clients, vendors, colleagues, ECA’s accountant, and all stakeholders. That aspect was particularly vital during the pandemic, as Melissa exhibited excellent communication, leadership, and perseverance during a time that was uncertain for many.

For ECA’s project teams, Melissa is a go-to mentor for effective budget management solutions. “I learned early on in my career about the importance of simplifying financial and accounting processes,” Melissa recalls. She is a champion of Eastman Cooke’s Work Smart System, which enables staff to plan and execute projects with maximum efficiency. The innovative process facilitates an array of processes, such as billing, which is particularly useful for budgeting and providing cost-effective solutions for clients.

In her work, Melissa strives to create a seamless accounting process for ECA’s construction and project managers. “I make it a priority to provide financial tools that our teams can easily use and understand to manage their projects,” she explains.  Melissa holds monthly Financial Dashboard meetings with them to review projects and evaluate each financial aspect. “Together, we’re able to pick up variances, cost overruns, and billing issues more quickly. As a result, these meetings have helped our team become better financial managers,” Melissa points out.

For Melissa, having excellent problem-solving skills and outstanding attention to detail is critical in order to succeed in construction, especially as a woman. In addition, she says, “Women should be driven, motivated, and exude confidence.” She also points out that it’s “what you can bring to the table to move a project along” that truly counts in construction.

When she’s not working, Melissa contributes to several nonprofits, helping to support vulnerable populations across New York City.

Imani Milima: Project Management, Eastman Cooke

Imani Milima’s extensive career includes two decades in general business management and project management, as well as two years working as an owner representative. Her tremendous insights, organizational skills, and expert coordination have helped ECA projects stay on target.

“Successful project management goes hand-in-hand with project delivery that is on time, on budget, and on scope,” Imani says. “Manage the details, manage your relationships, and manage your team while exhibiting consistent communication to propel you across the finish line.”

Imani’s passion for construction and design has always been in her blood, helping to pave the way for a career choice that many women might not consider. “I am excited about promoting construction as a career option for young women, and educating them about the various opportunities that are available,” she says.

Imani was encouraged to see a strong turnout by women in a recent training course that she attended. In addition to professional development, she says, women must also be proactive in advocating for themselves on the job.

As for her own success, Imani credits her owner rep experience for helping her to find her roots. “It brought me back to something I loved,” she remembers. Imani always made sure to surround herself with good people so she could learn as many skills as possible. “Never be afraid to ask questions so you can achieve clarity on the end product. This will help bring the client’s vision to life,” she says.

At Eastman Cooke, Imani has played a major role in bringing our Central Assisted Living project to life. “Working on a new build is extremely exciting – from nothing, comes something,” Imani says. “Ongoing collaboration with the design team has fueled the creation of vibrant interiors and state-of-the-art living, dining, and recreational areas. I’m really proud of our team.”

Her dedication to construction is matched by her passion for volunteering. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, she helped to rehabilitate homes, parklands, and businesses. Imani dives headfirst into any project and she also skydives! “It is such an adrenalin rush, just like teaching young people about the many opportunities in construction. You can truly thrive in this field,” she says.

Aschelle Ferdinand: Project Management, Eastman Cooke

From pre-construction and design review to field supervision, project turnover and closeout, Aschelle’s outstanding construction experience has been truly valuable to the ECA team. She brings numerous organizational skills to her role, as well as expertise in safey, quality control, and contract administration. Her amazing “can do” attitude and attention to detail has helped Eastman Cooke maintain excellent relationships with clients and architects. She helps to ensure that clients’ needs are met and surpassed throughout a project.

Aschelle has been vital to the success of many ECA projects, particularly when it comes to the specialty retail sector. Her expert project management skills helped to drive Audi of Queens across the finish line. She’s currently helping to steer our Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) project forward, while helping to oversee the construction of a national used car dealership in East Meadow.

Aschelle has also demonstrated that you can go home again! After leaving ECA for personal reasons, she returned to the company in 2021. “It was a mutual effort to return,” Aschelle explains. “Working at ECA has always provided a sense of structure that inspires me to function at my best.”

She is grateful to Eastman Cooke for providing a sense of belonging and appreciation to staff, which creates “a feeling of contentment all around.” She also acknowledges the company’s supportive and knowledgeable team who encourage employee growth. “Guidance and anecdotes from our Senior Project Manager Robert Hancock has always been a great help in improving and expanding my skills, which elevated me to a Junior PM,” Aschelle points out. “Being back at ECA feels good! The quality of organizational procedures is unmatched and the key to our project success.”

Like April, Melissa, and Imani, Aschelle often spends her time giving back to the community. When Hurricane Maria devastated Dominica and other Caribbean islands in 2017, Aschelle led a large relief drive to raise funds and essential supplies to help hurricane victims. She also donates to local shelters and food pantries.

Inside and outside the office, the incredible dedication of April, Melissa, Imani, and Aschelle truly knows no bounds! Thank you to all for everything you do!