Kirksey Architecture promoted the firm's Chief Financial Officer, Crystal McDonald, to Executive Vice President. Her fiscal leadership and dedication to process improvement has been critical to Kirksey’s strategic growth efforts.

During the firm’s summer promotion announcement, alongside its 52nd-anniversary celebration, Kirksey Architecture announced Crystal McDonald’s promotion to Executive Vice President.

Crystal grew up in a family full of CPAs and notes that she was determined not to follow in their footsteps. However, her grandmother, the first female legislative auditor in Louisiana, convinced her to try an accounting class in college, and the rest was history. She quickly decided her passion was not in public accounting but in process improvement, where she could use her skill with numbers to create efficiency. After an early job as a project accountant in the A/E/C industry, her path was set. Crystal found that she enjoyed working with architects, where her analytical mind for metrics could offer structure and important metrics to balance their creativity.

After running into the Kirksey team on the softball fields and around the industry for a few years, Crystal eventually made the jump and joined the firm in 2018. She felt drawn to Kirksey’s reputation as a firm that put its people first, a trait Crystal credits to the company’s success. She believes Kirksey’s philosophy of putting the company’s people and culture over the bottom line works in tandem with Kirksey’s client-service commitment to foster the firm’s enduring success. And when you ask her about her personal success, she credits a lot of it to her ability to adapt to change and tackle challenges. “It was something that happened early in my career when we were going through a major software change,” Crystal remarks. “I decided I would embrace the technology and become the expert, which was a springboard for getting a seat at the table and the opportunity to improve the process.”

Crystal also used that seat at the table to establish the other foundational principle of her career that she cites as a crucial skill. “I always seek out people I think are smarter or more experienced than me and learned from one of my mentors to always ask questions, never stop learning, and seek advice,” she notes, “I have learned so much from every step of my career, and I am so happy to be able to bring all of that experience to the table here at Kirksey!”

Kirksey’s recent growth has been a particularly exciting milestone for Crystal, who notes the expansion of the firm’s expertise and footprint as “one of the biggest joys” of her career. “Kirksey has been very intentional with our goals and growth as a firm, which I admire,” says Crystal. “We’ve seen growth in new market sectors and areas of expertise, which gives our talented staff more opportunities to work on exciting projects and with wonderful clients.” Rather than only seeking growth in revenue or headcount, Crystal believes the firm’s desire for more leadership opportunities for its staff, more work on projects that have positive impacts on the community, and working with clients that align with Kikrsey’s mission has created a culture of success that will endure.

But leadership and positive change are not just ideas she implements at work; Crystal found an endeavor to apply those concepts to in her home life. As the mother of a young son, Crystal joined the Mothers of Pre-Schoolers (MOPS) group at her church and found a community she could give back to. “I joined MOPS, and it has been a lifesaver for me, so when given the opportunity to work in a leadership capacity, I jumped at it,” says Crystal. “I wanted to reach more working moms (especially of littles) who needed a tribe of ladies to get through life with and find support.”

As a leader at work and in her community, Crystal finds support and fulfillment at home with her husband, son, and their new mini Goldendoodle. She aims to travel as much as she can and finds great joy in learning about new places and people. “I’m so grateful for the work-life balance that working at Kirksey affords me, so I don’t have to miss out on time with my family,” Crystal observes, “And having the support of my husband is crucial, especially since we’re trying to survive the puppy stage! But luckily, she is as cute as she is bad.”