Toi is a creative spirit who enjoys designing a variety of project types. She’s the first female vice president in our firm’s history, a dynamic team builder, and an advocate for Siouxland.
How did you decide on your career path?
My ‘high school Toi’ answer is, “I loved both art and math; architecture seemed like a good mix of the two”. But, to be honest, the clues were there way before high school. A few examples: thinking my Dad’s architectural scale was the coolest ruler in the house; on a fourth grade field trip to Joslyn Art Museum, all my photographs were of the building, not the art; as a middle-schooler, seeing a cool old building torn down in my hometown – I was devastated, and it was a real struggle to keep myself off the rubble pile to retrieve some cool old stones. There’s more, but you get the idea. It was always just “me.”
What is your favorite part of the design process?
Making friends. My favorite part, hands down, is building a relationship with clients, users and my peers. I love that I get to be a part of someone’s dream. Many of our clients have been thinking about or hoping for their project for a long time, and the fact that I get to play an active role in bringing their vision to life is amazing. Seeing people walk into a new space and hearing them say, ‘This is even better than I dreamed,’ is pretty cool.
How are you creating vibrant communities through design?
When I reflect on my career, the most important work I have done is that which has positively impacted the community and bettered people’s lives. I also enjoy giving back to our community by serving on local boards. My involvement with the Sioux City Historic Preservation Commission, Leadership Siouxland, Telco Triad Community Credit Union, Women Lead Change, and the Sioux City Art Center Association have truly allowed me to feel like I have made an impact.
What makes Siouxland a great place to live?
After moving around the Midwest, Siouxland is where I have lived the longest. It can be hard to describe this area to people who don’t live here, so I would choose the word “belonging.” People take care of each other here and celebrate their families, cultures and each other. Beyond that – you might not realize the food scene is awesome here! You can find pupusas, red tacos, pho, banh mi, gyros, latkes and so many more amazing choices that are outside the mainstream.
Where is your favorite place to visit in the Midwest?
Does the North Shore of Lake Superior count as Midwest? Naniboujou Lodge north of Grand Marais, Minnesota has become a regular destination.
Family: My husband Brad, two daughters, son-in-law, three grandkids.
Pet: Lulu, the kitty.
Drink: Dark Rum & Coke.
College Mascot: Bison.
Vacation: On a peaceful lake.
Book: Anything Tolkien.
Collection: Coffee and tea pots – even though I don’t drink coffee or tea.
Zodiac Sign: Taurus.
16 Personalities: ENFP Campaigner.
Music: Alternative Rock, George Winston, Harry Chapin.
Podcast: The Moth.
Breakfast: Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch.
June 2021: Toi Sullivan, AIA wears a lot of hats (that includes hardhats!). This year FEH Design gave her one more role… Vice President. Toi is the first female vice president in the architecture firm’s 120+ year history. She has proven herself as a leader in the firm and the Siouxland community having served on Sioux City’s Historic Preservation Commission, a past president of Leadership Siouxland, and a Women Lead Change volunteer.
“When I graduated, there were no architecture jobs available. After several years in another career, being an architect was a distant memory. Then I landed an interview with FEH, and they took a leap of faith on me. I connected with a group of women and together, we studied for our architect licensure. Every year during my performance review, management would ask me about my future career plans, and I always said I wanted to be in leadership.” – Toi
April 2021: Growing up in Omaha, Nebraska, Toi Sullivan had a small inkling of an idea that architecture might be something she would like to pursue as a career.
As a fourth grader, she took part in a week-long career-exploring program. She chose to visit the Joslyn Art Museum, where she brought her camera to record some of the works of art. When she was finished, she realized a strange fact.
She had more pictures of the museum building itself than anything else.
“I had pictures of the building but not the actual art,” Sullivan said recently.
It was there a seed was planted that would grow into a genuine interest, then an academic pursuit and finally, a career that has seen her rise to a leadership position at FEH Design, an architecture and engineering firm with offices in Iowa and Wisconsin that traces its roots back to 1898. She was recently named a vice president with the firm, the first female vice president in the more than 120-year history of the company.