Donna Gaines returns to Gaines International

Gaines International announced that founder Donna Gaines has returned as managing partner to lead the Chicago-based global search firm. Gaines International is an executive search and recruiting firm serving the architecture, interior design, engineering, construction and real estate development industries. The firm was acquired by Houston-based Allen Austin in 2014, which maintains regional offices across the country.

“Donna is affectionately known as ‘the godmother’ in the AEC industry for her ability to acquire the highest-caliber talent, as well as strategically place individuals in positions best suiting their goals and expertise. Her success is truly unparalleled,” said Rob Andrews, chairman and CEO of Allen Austin. “We are excited to welcome her back to a leadership role, and know that as the AEC market is booming, she will once again play a significant role in talent acquisition, career advancement and bottom line success.”

Gaines founded her namesake firm, Gaines International, in Atlanta in 1981 to assist clients in finding professionals with leadership talent to meet the challenges of modern business. With a passion for creative arts and design, she found a niche in the architecture, design, engineering and construction industries and subsequently relocated the firm to Chicago. Gaines International fast became one of the leading and most trusted names in the industry, successfully executing more than 3,000 search engagements from project managers to C-suite executives. After three decades leading the firm, Gaines negotiated the sale of the organization to Allen Austin, where she then provided integral expertise in accounting, research, organizational structure and database management to help further expand the firm prior to her transition.

She has rejoined the organization as founder and managing partner after two years successfully offering transition coaching services to the design profession. During this time, Gaines assisted design firms in setting up ESOP’s, advisory boards, value acceleration programs, valuations and more. Gaines will now once again take the lead at Gaines International as the company begins a new phase of strategic growth in the AEC and related industries. She will split her time between the Chicago, Houston and the East and West Coast offices while serving clients domestically and internationally.

“The growth in the AEC sector in the last several years has opened the door for new and exciting possibilities,” said Gaines. “I am thrilled to return home to Gaines International and Allen Austin, and to begin focusing on new initiatives and strategic growth for the company. The opportunities available today for both organizations and individuals are unique and dynamic, and I look forward to furthering the success of the talented people in this creative sphere who ultimately shape culture and society.”

Gaines is active in several industry organizations including AIA, IIDA and Women in Planning and Development. She also completed an intensive entrepreneur program at the University of Illinois-Chicago School of Business and is a Certified Professional Coactive Coach. Gaines frequently writes and gives presentations focused on strategic hiring and management practices within the fields of executive search and design.

“We are thrilled to have Donna back. In addition to being one of the sector’s favorite consultants, she has more passion for the creative arts, design, engineering and construction than anyone else we know,” said Andrews.