Concrete might as well be part of Elizabeth Hausler Strand’s blood.

Alongside her father, a masonry company owner, she spent her high school and college summer breaks in Chicago learning how to build houses. Then, in 2004, she founded Build Change, a nonprofit that retrofits and builds permanent housing in the wake of natural disasters. She was inspired to start the organization while finishing up a civil engineering masters program at the University of California Berkeley — after seeing the devastation that followed a 7.7 magnitude earthquake in Gujarat, India, which killed more than 20,000 people.

“I look at housing as a basic human right — everyone has the right to a safe house that can protect them from natural disasters [including] earthquakes, typhoons, and wind storms,” she says. “I felt that is an engineering challenge that I could help to solve.”