048: Rethinking Our Approach to Housing in America + How Women Can Navigate Leadership Positions with Ileana Schinder and Jenn Donahue

In this episode of Saving With Steve, host Steve Sexton is joined by Washington DC-based architect, Ileana Schinder, and U.S. Navy Captain, civil engineer, mentor, and speaker, Jenn Donahue.

Did the lockdown of 2020 uncover the key to solving another crisis? Quarantine forced us to rethink our use of space. Spare bedrooms became offices, basements became apartments, garages became classrooms. Spaces that once housed “stuff” now house people, a concept that has fueled the innovative housing solutions created by my first guest, architect Ileana Schinder. In Ileana's book, Housing for Humans: A Book to Imagine, Create, and Design a New Housing Model in America, she provides an eye-opening exploration into America’s housing crisis and offers a clear path toward a creative, sustainable solution.

Ileana joins me today to share how today's affordable housing crisis can be solved through innovative residential and urban design. She explains that family models have evolved, society has reframed the role of cities, and ongoing urban realities demand opportunities to create housing for all, from first-time homeowners to retirees. Ileana discusses how the design and implementation of additional dwelling units (ADUs) can be a way to address the needs of the aging population, boomerang kids, and others.

Feelings of self-doubt are nothing new for women in the workplace. In fact, 75% of female executives experience imposter syndrome. But, with personal and professional lives colliding, it has become more difficult than ever to “fake it ‘til you make it.” Whether you are a female in the workplace or not, you can learn some valuable lessons from my second guest, Jenn Donahue, who is U.S. Navy Captain, engineer, mentor, and speaker that helps leaders and managers tap into their most powerful source of strength.

She joins us today to share how we can take our camouflage off and stop trying to blend in, build the women leaders of tomorrow, find our leadership style, and command respect and loyalty from our team by building a solid foundation of trust.

Ileana Schinder is an architect in Washington, DC. She graduated with a Bachelor’s in Architecture from Universidad Nacional de Cordoba (Argentina, 2000) and a M.A. in Communications from the American University (Washington DC, 2006).

Inspired to become an architect at the age of four by playing with Legos on the floor, she remains motivated to design houses of all sizes 40 years later.

Since opening her architecture studio in 2014, with creativity and innovation, Ileana has designed additional dwelling units that create new spaces for clients and their families to thrive.

Ileana's designs bring spaces to life, and she adds exceptional value to projects through a creative design process, construction ideas, and conscious planning.

As a house whisperer of sorts, she has worked on a wide range of building types, from tiny galley kitchens to whole house renovations. Ileana tailors her services to meet the unique needs of every client to fit their budget and timeline.

She is licensed to practice architecture in Washington D.C., Virginia, and Maryland, and is a LEED accredited professional and a Passive House Design Consultant.

As part of Ileana's efforts to educate the public on housing issues, she has also written in blogs and held sessions to inspire and promote innovative models of home.

Ileana was born and raised in Argentina. She lives in Washington, DC with her family and her dog, Cecilia.

Civil engineer. Operations consultant. PHD recipient. Teacher. Mentor. Military Officer. Throughout each of these roles, most of them simultaneous, Jenn Donahue has demonstrated the kind of leadership that goes beyond authority to something deeper— trust.

That’s because Jenn doesn’t focus on her position of leadership. She focuses on the people, relationships, and potential that surround her in each of her distinct roles.

That’s how she helped command an 800-personnel Battalion in Afghanistan, drill and blast roads in the coldest reaches of Alaska, develop earthquake defense plans at five different nuclear power plants, and then establish her own engineering firm with clients that include PG&E and National Chevron Phillips.

But, these are just credentials. What Jenn would most like to list are the names of the thousands of people she’s led and developed to reach their greatest potential. It’s what drives everything she does, and the reason she’s now taking her message to the keynote stage.

She believes that building trust between leaders and team members helps both reach their fullest capability— now and for the rest of their lives.