Clayco appoints new healthcare VP for California

This article is one in a series of conversations with women leaders in the construction industry. Click here for past discussions.

In her 26 years in the construction industry, Lucy Villanueva has overseen the development of many large-scale healthcare projects throughout California representing billions of dollars and millions of square feet. 

Lucy Villanueva (right) talks with a worker on a Clayco jobsite.

Permission granted by Clayco


Villanueva, a Stockton, California, native who holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering construction management from California State University, Long Beach, began her career at McCarthy Building Cos. as a project engineer. Most recently a project executive for DPR Construction, Villanueva was hired by Chicago-based Clayco in June to fill the newly created role of vice president of healthcare for California.

From development and construction of acute care hospitals to renovations and additions to existing facilities, Villanueva’s experience will serve her well as she begins her new role based in Culver City, California.

“Healthcare facilities are a major part of the fabric and well-being of every community, providing critical care and hundreds or thousands of jobs, so this is a role I take very seriously,” she said in a press release announcing her new position.

Here, Villanueva talks with Construction Dive about her new role and the specialized requirements of healthcare construction.

CONSTRUCTION DIVE: What led you to develop an interest in construction? 

Lucy Villanueva: I grew up helping my brother-in-law during the summers with his construction company. I was fascinated with how projects and structures were built from a set of drawings and it felt amazing to be part of a team that accomplished a great job for the client.

What are a few of the projects you’ve most enjoyed working on and why? 

I really enjoyed working on the Kaiser Permanente Downey Hospital in Downey, California, because it was my first large healthcare project under my leadership. But the one that I consider to be my best work to date is Kaiser Permanente San Marcos near San Diego, where my team and I were able to complete a multimillion-dollar acute care hospital with LEED-Platinum certification in 27 months.

What interested you about healthcare construction as a career choice?  

My personal experience with my special needs niece, who has spent a significant amount of time in hospitals, played a crucial role in shaping my interest in the construction industry, specifically in the healthcare sector. Witnessing firsthand the care and support that healthcare facilities offer to people like my niece made me recognize the profound impact these projects have on individuals’ lives.

What are some of the biggest challenges in healthcare construction?

A few of them are the complexity of the technical knowledge required, building under the regulations of California’s Department of Health Care Access and Information and the number of systems to be coordinated for the purpose of providing a structure that will provide lifesaving services to the community. 

What advice would you give to young women considering construction as a career? 

Be yourself. Be proactive and confident. Take initiative, voice your ideas and contribute to projects.

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