Editor’s Note: The National Association of Women in Construction was founded in Fort Worth Texas in 1953 as Women in Construction of Fort Worth, Texas. Women in Construction of Fort Worth was so successful that it gained its national charter in 1955 and officially became the National Association of Women in Construction. NAWIC now has more than 115 U.S. chapters. NAWIC’s core purpose is to “Strengthen and amplify the success of women in the construction industry.” Its Mission Statement is, “The association is committed to championing women to impact the direction of the construction industry. NAWIC provides education, community and advocacy for women.”
The NAWIC Guam Chapter 381 was chartered on March 10, 2012, with more than 80 members. NAWIC Guam enhances women in construction by supporting members in all aspects of their professional careers. It assists with further education, scholarships and partnerships with educational institutions in the U.S. mainland and Guam, supports members through – for example – training and education on a safe working environment and not allowing harassment of any form in the workplace. NAWIC Guam supports several annual programs.
Current officers of NAWIC Guam are Joanne Messier, president; Lucia Wood, project manager, APTIM Construction, president elect; Ann Marie Pelobello, vice president, OSH Solutions Guam, vice president; Crystal Cruz, civil engineer, AmOrient Engineering, treasurer; Margaret “Peggy” J. Denny, program administrator, i*recycle, recording secretary; and Selina Ashland, general manager, Island Equipment Co., immediate past president.
Board members also include Joanna Rupley Sablan, business development/document control specialist, KHLG & Associates Inc.; and Nadia Holm, health and safety manager, ECC; Jaylene Kent, president, ISLA Coatings & Roof Supply, and Doyon A. Morato, operations manager, North Wind Guam, all three directors.
NAWIC Guam’s committees are membership, professional development/education scholarships, finance, marketing/PR, events and fundraisers, sustainability committee and for 2022, the 10 Year Commemoration Committee.
Contact NAWIC at [email protected] or DM on Facebook (Nawic Guam or Instagram @nawicguam.
Q: The Guam Chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction is celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year. What are some of the major achievements of the association in the past decade?
A: Because we are a professional society for enhancing the role of women in construction, much of the activity of NAWIC Guam #381 for the past 10 years has focused on fundraising to support training and career development in women of all ages. Part of our mission includes work force development and encouraging young girls to consider construction as a viable career path. To this end, NAWIC Guam #381 has sponsored more than $50,000 in scholarships for individuals pursuing careers in the construction industry. NAWIC also offers a variety of professional certificate programs for individuals who might be interested in enhancing their skills in construction. These include such programs as the Construction Industry Technician Program, the Construction Document Specialist Program and Construction Bookkeeping.
In addition to raising scholarship funds and offering trainings, we are deeply committed to our community. We routinely donate our technical construction skills for community projects such as renovating the Guma San Jose Family Homeless Shelter, installing an entertainment center in St. Dominic’s Senior Care Home and assisting the Alee Shelter. Several of our members partnered with the Department of Corrections, and a coalition of women-owned small businesses in the construction industry, to create Fu’una Rising, a program offered to female inmates re-entering society. We provided safety and health training, and hands-on forklift and excavator operating skills, with which some of the women were able to secure jobs after serving their sentence. We have also participated in community gardens with Island Girl Power, teaching girls the required skills to help themselves and each other.
Most importantly, we have been able to empower women new to the industry or new to the island in reaping the most benefits out of their careers while working on Guam, all the while enhancing our established professionals. Our annual Leadership training seminars have been open to the public – where we were able to involve college level students and people from other trades in learning how to be better leaders in their industry. Through these leadership conferences we were able to interest women to join the construction industry and use their knowledge and experience in the construction industry. Thereby enhancing other women in construction and improving the labor pool of the construction industry in Guam. Enhance, Envision, Empower. We are NAWIC Strong. We believe in the equity of all peoples from all walks of life. Give everyone a firm base to grow on.
Q: What are the attractions NAWIC concentrates on to raise the profile of construction as a career path for young women?
A: We host or co-host a variety of events for young people to expose them to the industry and build enthusiasm and interest. These include such programs as Block Kids and Pizza Pop and Power Tools, in collaboration with the Guam Contractors Association and the Trades Academy. These programs help to inspire and “normalize” a construction career path, as young people see female role models who excel at what they do and love doing what they do. We are a professional society providing a boost for women and real-world examples of how to advance. If a member needs more training to advance to a position, our NAWIC Education Foundation offers classes for their advancement. We have partnered with many colleges across the country to assist in their pursuit of a degree and/or the training needed for them to advance.
Q: Are there particular specialist trade skills that suit women in construction?
A: The sky is the limit. Our members have consisted of project managers, safety officers, operations managers, architects, engineers, crane operators, construction managers, and general managers. Women in construction-affiliated fields and positions such as project management, recycling, marketing, administration, finance, law and more, are also members and always encouraged to join. Many of our members own their own businesses or have gone on to start their own companies.
Q: Prior to the pandemic, NAWIC Guam was known for its outreach on careers, training and development, fundraising for scholarships, an annual conference and community service projects.
How much of that was the association able to continue during the two years of COVID-19?
A: Gratefully, we were able to continue with our community services, trainings, GCA partnerships, and member enhancement.
Q: Moving forward, what are NAWIC Guam’s aims now?
A: We are focusing on resuming our annual fundraiser, “Bells, Bubbles, and Baskets,” our annual leadership training conference, and celebrating our 10th anniversary. As part of this effort, we are engaged in a membership drive and our big, bold audacious goal is to have our entire board of directors and officers attend our National Annual Conference, where we can meet, share and learn from our national chapter sisters as well as attend valuable training workshops.
Q: Does NAWIC interact with the Guam Contractors Association and the GCA Trades Academy, and if so, how? Are there additional partnerships in the community?
A: We partner frequently with GCA in their annual events, such as the annual golf tournament fundraiser, picnic, “Pizza, Pop and Power Tools,” the annual awards ceremony, CORE Fundraising, and membership meetings. With the GCA Trades Academy, we offer scholarships to their students, and they have been very supportive of our efforts and generous with letting us use their space both physically and through their monthly newspaper insert. We are also benefiting from a partnership with the Construction News Bulletin monthly publication to highlight our members and their companies. It has been a very inspirational and uplifting relationship with the other professional organization in the construction space since the very beginning of NAWIC Guam #381,10 years ago.
Q: How supportive is the national association, and what benefits does NAWIC Guam derive from that relationship?
A: National is always responsive to any assistance we may need, be it for website management, trainings (we have to work hand in hand with the NEF to enroll in their classes), or scholarship distribution.
Q: Getting a job is sometimes just the beginning. Does NAWIC offer mentorship and guidance to young women as they begin their careers?
A: You bet. That’s one of our main goals, through the methods mentioned earlier. We are always here to support and mentor any young women who are interested in pursuing a career in construction. Our scholarship recipients know they can reach out to us at any time. mbj