When McKenna Korzeniewski looks around at the team at Level Green Landscaping, she sees women crew members, business developers, account managers, truck drivers, and accountants.
The list goes on. Marcene Pugh is the comptroller. Carmen Huiza Flores is a small engine mechanic. Jenna Visco is a branch manager. Ursula Epps is a recruiter. Dafne Armenta supervises crews.
It’s a good feeling, says Korzeniewski, an account manager at Level Green.
"With International Women’s Day happening this month, women in the workplace have been on my mind,” she says. “My generation is lucky. We’re definitely not totally there, but there are more opportunities for women now. I’m excited to see the green industry shift in this way.”
Mary Ellen Burton noticed it, too.
“When I first came to Level Green I thought, ‘Wow, look at all these women working out on crews,’” says Burton, a Level Green account manager. “It’s not unusual to see women working in sales, but I realized here there are women from laborers to assistant supervisors to a branch manager. You don’t always see that in this field.”
This is a tale of two account managers — one starting her career, the other with decades of experience. They both want to see more women join the field they love.
“When I Look Around, I Feel Empowered”
Korzeniewski joined Level Green in October 2020, after starting her career as a horticulturist at Walt Disney World in Orlando.
She created topiaries, grew plants in huge greenhouses, worked on flower festivals, and led tours.
When she was furloughed due to the pandemic, she remembered loving the DC area when she did a college internship at the National Arboretum.
“I genuinely love green spaces and making them more beautiful, safer, more relaxing places,” Korzeniewski says.
She applied to Level Green and landed an interview with branch manager Jenna Visco.
“Interviewing with Jenna was an important turning point for me,” Korzeniewski says. “I haven’t always been taken seriously, being both young and a woman. I only had one female leader while I was at Disney. I realized that was important to me.
“I knew I’d face challenges, and I can talk to Jenna,” she says. “She has great insight about how to handle things.”
Landscaping is still a male-dominated industry, she says, and there’s more progress to be made.
“But when I look around, I feel empowered,” Korzeniewski says. “It shows me that I can grow here, because I see it happening with other women.”
When she worked at the National Arboretum and asked where the women’s restroom was, they directed her to a distant building.
“I said, ‘There’s not one in this building?’ They said, ‘No, when this building was built, only men worked here.’
“I love being part of the women’s movement in landscaping,” Korzeniewski says. “Generations ago this wasn’t a possibility.”
She Might Recruit You
Mary Ellen Burton has spent her entire career in the landscaping industry, starting at age 15 when she worked at her dad’s landscaping company and garden center.
Later, she took over the 100-employee business, running the place for years until she left for a job at a large landscaping company.
Her vast experience meant she wore a lot of hats during 13 years at the company, but she realized there wasn’t room for growth.
So, she came to Level Green in 2020 as account manager. She’s thriving, she says, using her skills, contributing ideas, connecting with people, and improving properties.
“I like to fix things,” Burton says, “whether it’s a spreadsheet or a contract or a customer’s landscaping challenge.
“I like people,” she says. “I get to interact with so many different kinds of people here. I like to make things work for them.”
Landscaping is a great career for women, she says.
“It’s still a man-dominated field, but at Level Green they promote hiring women, and moving them up,” Burton says. “When we’re sitting around a table talking about hiring and a woman’s name comes up, everybody says, ‘Get her in here!’”
The more women are visible out on job sites with shovels, riding in landscaping trucks, running branches, and visiting customers, the better, Burton says.
“If somebody standing at a bus stop sees a Level Green truck go by with a woman in it and sees a sign on the back that says, ‘We’re Hiring,’ she might think, ‘If she can do it, I can do it.’
“I love it here,” Burton says. “Everybody works together, recognizing peoples’ strengths, utilizing their skills, and everybody still gets to have a life.”
She laughs. “I’m trying to recruit the girl who rents my basement.”
Want to Join the Team?
McKenna and Mary Ellen are just two of the dedicated team members we have here at Level Green Landscaping. And we’re always looking for hard-working, talented people to join our team.
Are you ready to work for a company where women can thrive and advance in their careers?