Women are the Key to the Future of Construction

Oregon Tradeswomen, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau and Portland Community College (PCC), celebrated Women in Construction Week at our “We Are the Key” event on March 4th! With the theme of this year’s Women in Construction Week being “Keys to the Future,” tradeswomen and advocates from across the industry gathered to talk about why Oregon women are the key to the future.

Hari Chon, Program Analyst for the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau, opened the event by sharing the origins of the Women’s Bureau back in 1920, two years before women got the right to vote. Established by the U.S. Department of Labor, the Women’s Bureau was formed to promote the welfare of women and advancing opportunities for women in the workforce. Through research and grants such as the Women in Apprenticeship and Non-Traditional Occupations (WANTO), the Women’s Bureau is actively working in alignment of Oregon Tradeswomen’s vision to improve and increase women’s participation in high-skill, high-wage union careers in the skilled trades. Oregon Tradeswomen is grateful for Hari and the Women’s Bureau for their support.

The event took place at Portland Community College’s new Opportunity Center, a space built in alignment with project labor agreements ensuring the work was done with diversity, equity, and inclusion in mind. Amy James Neel, Workforce & Contracting Equity Manager for Portland Community College, detailed that PCC incorporated voices from the community in the design and planning of this project, and worked with contractors, subcontractors, dispatchers, union halls, and apprentice coordinators to maximize opportunity and access for women and BIPOC workers to earn a living wage in these careers. In fact, 10,599 (51.5%) total hours were worked by apprentice women, 4,402 (41.5%) total hours were worked by BIPOC apprentice women. The total hours worked by women were 12,308 (16.8%), meeting and exceeding project goals. We were thrilled to learn that some of the tradeswomen who attended the event worked on the project and were excited to revisit the space that they helped build. To be in a space exemplifying the goals and intentions of Oregon Tradeswomen was inspiring, and we thank PCC for hosting us.

With a venue whose planning and construction not only talked the talk, but walked the walk, it was fitting that our event speakers echoed the need to tear down barriers enforced by systems set up to serve the interests of a select few rather than us all. Sebrina Owens-Wilson, the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Metro addressed how government agencies are coming together to find ways to help women and people of color access these high-wage, high-skill union jobs. One pathway towards progress is the implementation of Project Labor Agreements (PLA) and Community Benefit Agreements (CBA) such as the ones that were enforced on the PCC Opportunity Center project to much success. Our regional framework sets goals that ensure 20% of hours each week are worked by apprentices, 14% worked by women, and 25% worked by BIPOC. Sebrina spoke further on the importance of funding pre-apprenticeship programs to train up qualified and diverse workers, community organizations that reduce barriers to employment, and jobsite culture change programs such as RISE Up to increase the retention of a diverse workforce. This work is ongoing as shifting systems is a long game, but Sebrina left on the message that, “As women, we can do amazing things on our own… but we can move mountains if we work together.”

The theme of strength and working together towards a better future was emphasized when Isis Harris, Union Electrician with IBEW Local 48, Oregon Tradeswomen Board Member, and small-business owner, took the stage. Isis echoed Sebrina’s words when she spoke about coming together to collectively build a better future for women and the construction industry. By forging life-long friendships and mentorships between tradeswomen, we can foster an environment that highlights the potential of women and lifts each other up. While we can hold the door open for more women to enter the trades, Isis reminded us that we need to act now to retain the women who cross that threshold. The keys to retaining women in construction start with breaking down systemic barriers to employment such as access to childcare and maternity benefits. As we look to change the systems, we need accomplices to do this work. Together, we can lobby, advocate, and build systems that work for women and people of color. “We are not only the future, but we are the dismantlers of the past,” Isis shared. “Our walk is no longer about hopes and dreams, but the execution of strategized plans. Here and now, we are working lockstep towards a more sustainable future for women in construction. There is no completeness in the industry without us. There is no week on the calendar strong enough to contain our greatness. We are here not to forge a path, but to pave a freeway for women in the trades.”

Following Isis’s powerful message, Susan Rodway, Treasurer at IBEW Local 48, moderated a panel discussion with Anjanet Banuelos Bolanos, Business Representative at LiUNA Local 737, Liz Nichols, Business Representative at Cement Masons Local 555, Montana Maurice, Project Engineer at Anderson Construction with Carpenters Local 271, Sharon Maxwell, Owner of Bratton Construction, and Willow Ryan, Co-Chair of Sisters of Iron with Ironworkers Local 29 as they shared about their paths into the trades, experiences with mentors and allies in the industry, and how to take your career to the next level. Three things became clear: Access to pre-apprenticeship training offered a pathway for all these women to find successful careers in construction; Mentors, allies, and a support system in general are crucial for successfully training and retaining women in construction; Women are held to a higher standard than their male counterparts and must go above and beyond to prove their themselves in the field. This panel illuminated the shared experiences of tradeswomen across trades, provided insight into where we are, and painted a picture of what the future could look like if we continue to collaborate on this important work.

As Donna Hammond, Interim Executive Director of Oregon Tradeswomen, took the stage, she shared how struck she was by the collective passion and dedication that filled the room. Being a native Portlander born into a strong union family, and someone who became a pioneer for black women in construction in her 40+ years as a Union Electrician, Donna spoke about how humbled and inspired she was to share the stage with so many leaders in the tradeswomen movement. She reminded the crowd that “we convene here today not just as attendees, but as master builders and narrators of our own unique stories.” By sharing and amplifying these stories, Donna says “we lay a foundation for future growth and change in our industry.” Donna also announced a new and exciting partnership between Oregon Tradeswomen, IBEW Local 48, and the Department of Energy to create pathways for African American women and other women of color to enter the skilled trades with a focus on being certified as electrical vehicle changing station installers. We are excited to progress our mission to diversify the trades while providing access to high-wage careers that utilize cutting-edge technology in this new era of green energy infrastructure.

Donna closed out the event by circling back to the theme of the night, asking “Who holds the key?” to which the room exploded in a cheer of “We are the key!” The enthusiasm of the attendees was palpable, and sharing space in this beautiful new building was the perfect way to kick off Women in Construction Week. Thank you to the Women’s Bureau and Portland Community College for collaborating on this inspiring event and showing unwavering commitment to our cause. Together, we hold the key to building a more inclusive future for women in construction.


2023 Women in Construction Week

Women in Construction Week is an annual event started by The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) in 1998 to honor women in the construction industry and promote the opportunities for women in this industry. This year Women in Construction Week falls on March 5 – March 11, making this the 25th year of celebrating women in construction!

This year’s theme is “Many Paths, One Mission,” focusing on the different journeys women have taken toward the goal of strengthening and amplifying the success of women in the construction industry. Join NAWIC, unions, construction firms of all sizes, and organizations like Oregon Tradeswomen in participating in Women in Construction Week events and show support for tradeswomen online!

Women in Construction Week Events

Saturday, March 4:
Women in Construction Week Kick-Off

Monday, March 6:
DE&I Panel: Hot Topic Discussion with Leading Women in Construction

Tuesday, March 7:
Walsh Construction Job Site Tour

Wednesday, March 8 (International Women’s Day):
NAWIC + Dovetail Trunk Show
UA290 + PMCA Women in Construction Week Top Golf Event

Thursday, March 9:
Establish Balance & Avoid Burnout Webinar
Night With NAWIC

Friday, March 10:
Women in Construction Week Build Day @ Habitat for Humanity
Zoom Wine Tasting with Pairings

Saturday, March 11:
Women in Construction Week Toast & ReCap

The 2022 Tradeswomen Build Nations Conference

The largest gathering of tradeswomen in the world recently reconvened in Las Vegas for the 2022 Tradeswomen Build Nations (TWBN) conference! The 2022 event was the biggest one yet with more than 3,000 tradeswomen and allies attending.

The conference officially kicked off Saturday, October 29th with a Plenary session hosted by Vicki O’Leary, Chair of NABTU’s Women’s Committee, and Erica Stewart, National Coordinator of Women in Trades Initiatives for the Boilermakers. They invited notable speakers from the Presidents of the Las Vegas Raiders and the AFL-CIO, to United States Secretaries of Labor and Commerce, Marty Walsh and Gina Raimondo. There was also a special surprise seeing Oregon Tradeswomen graduate, and union electrician with IBEW Local 48, Kennitha Wade introduce one of the speakers. Hearing so many high-level change-makers come together in passionate support of the tradeswomen movement was exhilarating. Each speaker shared about their background and how it connects them to our cause on a personal level. It was an important reminder that we are not alone in this work—the fight for the advancement of women in construction is turning heads and attracting attention far beyond our local communities. With buy-in from our leaders, lasting change is within reach.

With vibrant energy emanating from the Paris Las Vegas Convention Center, thousands of tradeswomen banded together by trade for the fan-favorite tradeswomen banner parade. Working their way through the casino and out into the streets, heads turned as women in construction chanted and cheered in exuberant joy. We wondered how many of these bystanders have ever seen or thought about the prospect of women as trades-workers. Some folks pulled out their phones to record, some joined in cheering on the tradeswomen, all were struck by the energy that radiated from the parade. Carol Murray, Training Coordinator for Oregon Tradeswomen exclaimed, “Seeing our OTW graduates with their locals and walking in the banner parade with their respective trades was SPECTACULAR!!!  Their energy was palpable and contagious!”

After demonstrating the power of the tradeswomen movement across the Las Vegas Strip, attendees self-selected into workshops that ranged from “Developing Tradeswomen Affinity Groups Within Your Local,” to “Childcare Strategies That Work for Tradeswomen,” and even “How to be a Male Ally in the Union Construction Industry.” The conference offered engaging workshops for everyone.

The day ended with Caucus meetings by trade and even included a meeting for researchers and non-profit organizaitons. Oregon Tradeswomen staff attended the “Researchers and Non-Profit Caucus” where people from organizations across North America came together to share data and best-practices to better serve women in the trades. Being an organization in such a niche movement can make it hard to find other people doing the same work, so having this space to hear what is and isn’t working for others is incredibly valuable as we continue serving tradeswomen in our community. “Meeting and collaborating with other pre-apprenticeship programs with the goal of adapting and growing in today’s ever-changing landscape was invaluable,” Carol added.

On Sunday, conference attendees heard from more prominent speakers such as Wendy Chun-Hoon, Director of the Department of Labor Women’s Bureau, and Timothy J Driscoll, President of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, re-iterating their commitment tradeswomen. The morning plenary session ended with a panel on the retention and recruitment of women in the trades, an always-important discussion as more women than ever are interested in construction careers, but many leave due to harassment, childcare issues, and other issues on the jobsite. Important discussions continued in the next block of workshops where topics included “Women in Union Leadership,” “Protecting Workers’ Mental and Physical Health and Safety,” and “How to Address Bullying, Harassment, and Intimidation.”

Following the Sunday workshop session, Oregon Tradeswomen graduates and other Portland tradesworkers in the Tradesworker Equity Council (TEC) presented at the Tradeswomen Task Force’s Policy Forum. About 120 people attended, ranging from trades-workers to policy-makers, and seemed captivated by the experiences shared by the TEC. Union officials Scott Oldham from IUPAT in Portland and Charles Greer, Pittsburgh SMART Organizer, shared that this was the best workshop they attended the whole conference, and that they learned so much from the vulnerability of the TEC.

This was a first-time Tradeswomen Build Nations experience for most of the Oregon Tradeswomen staff who attended the conference. “The conference reminded me that I’m not alone, and our organization isn’t alone,” Pathways Training Coordinator Kate Hibbs shared. “Hearing that we’re only 3% of the industry nationwide feels so small, and we can feel so small in the field, but being in a group of over 3,000 at this conference, plus thinking of the other 300,000 women and gender minorities out there—we can’t be erased, we won’t be erased! We want to be in the trades and we are doing what we can so that anyone can be here if they want to.” This idea that we can’t and won’t be erased is a driving factor for the spirit that this conference embodies. It is a constant battle, but we are pushing forward into a better future together. We can’t wait to see how much progress can happen by the time we gather again in 2023.

2021 Summer Tool and Gear Swap

For the first time since we moved in to our new office in the Rockwood neighborhood, we opened our doors to the community this August for our Summer Tool and Gear Swap!

Oregon Tradeswomen continues the tradition of these Tool and Gear Swaps becausebuilding up an arsenal of tools at the beginning of a career in the construction trades can cost hundreds of dollars. This event offers a way for tradeswomen to gather tools they need for free, and it brings our tradesworker community and our new Rockwood community together!

We were thrilled to see such an enthusiastic turnout of graduates and friends of the organization as well as some new friendly faces! It was heartening to witness connections being made and information shared over the selection of tools. One Oregon Tradeswomen graduate even came to the event to help re-build another graduate’s tool library after their equipment was stolen from their car. Whenever our network of tradesworkers come together, it is clear that the bonds that are made under our roof are long-lasting!

We cannot forget to thank our wonderful business partners Neil Kelly, Knife River, and Milwaukee Tool who provided eager volunteers to help us run the event! We are so grateful for our partners’ willingness to pitch in and make this event run smoothly!

Now that the Tool and Gear Swap is over, we are filled with elation at the strength of our community and absolutely cannot wait to spend more time with you all! Your next opportunity to join the Oregon Tradeswomen community is every third Wednesday of the month at our virtual Social Hours and this October at Build With Us! Oregon Tradeswomen’s Blue Collar Gala! We hope to see you there!

Social Hour Connections

Oregon Tradeswomen has offered Monthly Social Hours for years as a way for tradeswomen to connect with each other and provide educational experiences through topics and guest speakers. As a tradeswoman, it is commonplace to be the only woman on a jobsite, and the opportunity to connect with other women in the trades is such an important aspect for the retention of women in construction careers.

When the COVID-19 pandemic impacted us last year, our Retention Services Coordinator, Kim Neel, knew it was more important than ever to offer a way for tradeswomen to continue to have an opportunity for support and socializing. With that, OTWednesdays was created, a virtual Social Hour taking place on the third Wednesday of every month!

Unlike past Social Hours, OTWednesdays is more of an open format, with no topics or guest speakers, just pure connection between tradesworkers of all ages and experiences. There is something so special about seeing the mentorship between veteran tradeswomen and those who are just getting started on their paths with the sharing of stories, advice on surviving apprenticeship, and tips on how to earn the respect of their male peers. At a recent social hour, we had a tile-setter named Joanne who had been in her trade since the 1980’s who generously answered questions from some upcoming pre-apprenticeship students who were excited about their new careers, but a little nervous about what to expect. From advice on what PPE (personal protective equipment) to invest in to how to approach learning a new tool, the exchange of information was inspiring to witness and it was clear that the novice tradesworkers there took Joanne’s advice to heart.

A unique aspect of our virtual format is that other supporters of tradeswomen can join in to connect and learn. Sometimes industry partners join to provide opportunities to tradeswomen to advance their careers, offering a foot in the door for elevated positions like Construction Inspector or Surveyor. We have even been joined by regional legislators like Sue Chew, Idaho State Representative District 17, who want to learn more about tradeswomen issues as well as provide resources for professional development opportunities. We are grateful for those in our industry and those who are supporters of the tradeswomen movement for their commitment and involvement.

As the pandemic begins to wind down and we look to the future for what is on our horizon, we are evaluating how to best offer support to tradeswomen. While we cannot wait to host Social Hours in our own building, we have seen the value of providing a virtual space for tradeswomen and their supporters to gather and collaborate. Many tradeswomen are tired after a long day of hard work and to have to go home, change out of their work gear, and head out to a social gathering is not always easy. But, to be able to settle in to a comfy chair after work and simply log in to Zoom, the opportunity to socialize is available to a wider community of tradesworkers and their supporters!

The connection between tradeswomen is so valuable, and our goal is to offer easy access to a supportive community that can provide advice and camaraderie. Being a tradeswoman is a unique experience and the hurdles that can come with it can become more manageable when there is a place for others with similar experiences to gather and socialize.

Tradeswomen Build Nations 2021

Tradeswomen Build Nations (TWBN) is the largest annual gathering of tradeswomen from all around the world to connect, network, and be inspired to take the next steps in their careers and in their Unions.

The 2021 event happens October 1 – 3 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The North American Building Trades Union will make an official announcement in July about how TWBN will happen this year – in person or online.

Regardless of whether TWBN is virtual or in person, don’t hesitate to begin discussions with your local leaders about participating in the conference! Here are links to important resources to help in the process:

You Built With Us!


Build With Us!, Oregon Tradeswomen’s third annual Blue Collar Gala, was filled to capacity with excitement, generosity and a few happy tears! YOU turned out in force with an overwhelming outpouring of support that exceeded our goal and will help set us up to serve even more tradeswomen in our new training facility in January. The incredible spirit of community and unwavering commitment to equity, inclusion, and economic justice is humbling.

Congratulations to four incredible people, nominated by the industry and awarded for their commitment to being leaders in their trades. Valerie Curbelo, Shaz Lynch, Sara Moore, and Aisha Winters (Not Pictured) were selected for the award by Oregon Tradeswomen’s Board of Directors, not an easy feat considering the field of 27 exceptional nominees.

Two new honors were also awarded this year: The Equity Partner Award and the Wanda Hall Legacy Award. The Equity Partner Award was given to Rod Belisle, Training Director at the NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center, to honor his commitment to increasing diversity in the electrical trade, and for being an incredible partner to Oregon Tradeswomen.

The other new award in 2019 was a posthumous award presented to the daughters of Wanda Hall of the Portland Water Bureau. Wanda’s enthusiasm and dedication to uplifting women in the trades through support and mentorship will be missed. Starting in 2020, Oregon Tradeswomen will solicit nominations for the Wanda Hall Legacy Award to honor other women in the trades whose commitment to informing and mentoring the next generation stands out. Oregon Tradeswomen salutes all the winners and nominees for their perseverance, passion, and grit, and thank them for their many contributions to our community, industry, and movement.

The staff and board of Oregon Tradeswomen thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your generosity – helping us build the future home of Oregon Tradeswomen and increasing our capacity to help more women change their lives. Thank you for helping us pave a pathway to prosperity for the women who want to work in construction and a brighter future for our region’s construction workforce and industry.

We hope you had a wonderful time and we look forward to seeing you next year!

Woman on the Rise Nominations Are In!

2017 Woman on the Rise Award Winners from Left: Katie Kuchta, Isis Harris, Heather Mayther, Carly Rush

On September 28, 2018, Oregon Tradeswomen is hosting our 2nd annual Build With Us! Blue Collar Gala and this year we will be announcing the winners of the 2018 Woman on the Rise awards! These awards were conceived last year as a part of Women in Apprenticeship Day to honor exceptional women in the industry and we wanted to celebrate their accomplishments this year with a larger audience. Here are the 20 women who were nominated by their unions, employers, and peers as Women on the Rise:

Aida Aranda
Journeyman Laborer, LiUNA Local 737

Aida Aranda started her journey as a laborer with LiUNALocal 737. She proved herself on the field as a journeyman laborer and then worked her way up into management. Aida has worked as a Dispatcher, Apprenticeship Coordinator, Organizer, and is currently the Director of the Oregon Laborers Apprenticeship and Training Program. She has proved herself to be a natural leader and a mentor to all.

Gabrielle Cowan
Laborer Apprentice, LiUNA Local 737

Gabrielle Cowan is a go-getter Laborer with Liuna Local 737. Still an apprentice, Gabi is giving the men on the crew at Mortenson a run for their money. She is already a skilled concrete hand and leaves a trail of workers behind her questioning their own abilities when working alongside her. She does her job well, with passion and precision, putting her far ahead of her peers.

Sara Currie
Journeyman Inside Wireman, IBEW Local 48

Sara Currie is an Inside Wireman with Local 48 who has worked her way up to Safety Director at the NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center. Her motivation and commitment to the industry has gained her the respect of her peers as well as the NIETC Health and Safety community.

Kerri Danay
Sheet Metal Workers, Local 16

Kerri Danay is a Sheet Metal apprentice with Local 16. Kerri was nominated by her peers at McKinstry Co who said that, as a new apprentice, Kerri showed great potential. As she progressed through her apprenticeship, this potential was proven to be more than true. Kerri is a smart, hard working individual and has gotten positive feedback from every foreman she has teamed up with who note that she learns quickly, works safely, is highly productive and is always equipped with a good attitude!

Aisley Deymonaz
Line Worker Apprentice, IBEW Local 387

Aisley Deymonaz was nominated by a Crew Foreman from Arizona Public Service Electric Company (APS) who met Aisley when she was just a pre-apprentice. Aisley’s dedication, integrity, and great attitude immediately stood out to her foreman and he recognized her as #1 out of the 700 young adults who try to get an apprenticeship with APS. She excels at everything she attempts and was the only woman on the 2017 APS Lineman’s Rodeo team where she got 1st place in the hurt man rescue. Her passion was apparent early on to the Brotherhood and they uncharacteristically welcomed her with open arms. Aisley is someone who has earned the respect of a trade that is suspicious of outsiders and broke the mold of what it takes to be a Line Worker.

Danielle Elowe
Journey-level Plumber, Area 1

Danielle Elowe’s apprenticeship program is grateful to have her as she is always willing to help promote the program by putting on workshops and helping with speed mentoring which has helped draw more women to the plumbing trade. Her employer, Weekend Plumber, even gets regular calls from clients who have nothing but wonderful things to say about their experiences working with Danielle!

Jinnie Freeman
Apprentice, Sheet Metal Workers, Local 16

Jinnie Freeman was nominated by her union, Local 16, who describe her as an instrumental and integral part of the union. She puts her heart into anything she does and is a top tier student. Jinnie holds the position as co-chair for their new Minority and Women’s Committee where she organizes and runs meetings as well as always offers help and resources for members in hardship. She even volunteers with Oregon Tradeswomen to support the women who are on their way to starting a career in the skilled trades. Local 16 knows she has a bright future within the union and the industry!

Sandra Holguin
Flagger and Business Owner

Sandra Holguin started her own company, IQ Traffic Services, after disappointment with the lacking of quality employees at a flagging company. She is dedicated to provide a safe work environment for her employees and made sure they had steady employment, housing assistance, and even offered financial assistance. Her big heart and boldness have lent a hand in her success as an entrepreneur!

Ann Lawson
Deconstruction, Lovett

Ann Lawson began her work at Lovett Deconstruction in the field as a crew member. After 9 months, Ann had the opportunity to move up and into the office as an Estimator. In her new role, Ann went above and beyond and quickly took charge of organizing lead meetings, strengthening office culture, insisting on protocols and processes that improve transparency, communication and career mobility within the company. Her dedication to making Lovett a forerunner as an equitable place for women in the trades has been a hallmark of her management. Now as a Project Manager, Ann continually strives to bring a positive, solution-oriented, and team-centered perspective to her work. She contributes exponentially to both the functionality of the business and the quality of its culture, using her brilliant observation, incisive questions, ability to analyze information and situations, and daily joy.

Irene Mcguire
Journey-level Laborer, LiUNA Local 737

Irene Mcguire’s work at Anderson is recognized because no matter the task, Irene will make it happen. Her excellent work ethic and drive for success has left an impression on everyone who has worked with her.

Saylor Neher
Powerline Clearance Tree Trimmer Apprentice, Local 125

Local 125 details that Saylor Neher is an outstanding apprentice and is ahead of the pack in skill and maturity. Saylor repeatedly overcomes obstacles with tenacity and has won over her peers with her winning attitude and solid work ethic. Recently, Saylor proved herself with her impressive results in the PNW Lineman’s Rodeo including an awesome 55′ foot-locking demonstration!

Andrea Presler
Painters Apprentice, IUPAT Local 10

Andrea Presler is said to excel at everything she does and seems to have a natural talent making everything look easy. Leadership comes as second nature to her which goes hand in hand with her deep caring for others. Not only does she already have all her certifications, but she has performed on such a high level that the company she works for pays her at a level that only journeyman make!

Elizabeth “Tissi” Snelson 
Carpenter Instructor, Carpenters Local 1503

Elizabeth “Tissi” Snelson is very involved in her union and since its inception, Tissi has organized the 1503 Pride float. Now, Tissi works at Angel Job Corps as a UBC Carpenter Program Instructor and is excelling in her field!

Jani Turner
Journey-level Laborer, LiUNA Local 737

Jani Turner is a journey-level Laborer at Anderson Structures. Her peers at Liuna Local 737 nominated her as a Woman on the Rise because she is a skilled worker, a leader by example, and a caring teammate. She prioritizes her women’s group, Liuna Women @ Work, and is often used as an example of someone who has found great success in the trades. As someone with a difficult past, Jani uses her own experiences to relate to others and speaks up on behalf of those who haven’t yet found their own voice. She passes on her knowledge by going out of her way to teach, help, and lead others around her.

Stephanie Vasquez
Journey-level Drywall Finisher, IUPAT Local 10

Stephanie Vasquez is a journey-level Drywall Finisher with Local 10 who recently graduated from the Drywall Finishing Apprenticeship. She is said to be an outstanding journey-woman at Cascade Acoustics and actively promotes and recruits women for the Drywall program. Only three years in, Stephanie has already found her stride as a drywall finisher.

Jess Giannettino Villatoro
Political Director, Oregon AFL-CIO

Jess Giannettino Villatoro worked her way up the AFL-CIO because of her passion for workers rights. She exemplifies leadership and is an advocate and ally for all in the construction community. Jess’s persistence in fighting for fair wages, equal opportunities, and protection for families has led to her success.

Erin West
Journeyman Plumber, Area 1

Erin West’s apprenticeship program is grateful for her help in recruiting women for their program. Erin’s employer, Meticulous Plumbing, says that she is excelling in her field and overcomes prejudices of past generations. She continually receives positive feedback and it is clear that she is extremely proud to be a plumber. In her heart, she is setting the path for today’s young women to succeed in the trades.

Melinda Wilson
Journey-level Operating Engineer, IUOE Local 701

Even though she comes across as reserved, Melinda is a highly driven woman that goes for what she wants until she achieves it, no matter how long it takes. Local 701 deeply values Melinda’s work within the union as she is dedicated to doing outreach to other women who are curious about a career in the trades.

Sondra Winters
Journey-level Electrician and Solar Installer

Sondra Winters is a Journey-level Electrician and Solar Installer with the Energy Trust of Oregon. She is a licensed journeyman in Oregon and Washington as well as holds a State of Alaska Electrical Certificate of Fitness. Being able to work in multiple states makes her a great asset to her employer as well as her attention to detail and leadership in whatever crew she is working with. She regularly gets rave reviews from customers for going above and beyond. Sondra also is an active member of her community, organizing rafting trips, hikes, and volunteering with Girls Build.

Suzanne Young
Journey-level Roofer, Roofers Local 49

Suzanne’s union, Local 49, nominated her because everyone from her apprenticeship peers to her instructors enjoyed her presence in the program. She grew to become an excellent mentor to others and even takes time off from work to do outreach in the community for new female apprentices. Her work is decorated as she graduated among the top of her class and took 1st place in the 2017 West Coast Roofers Apprenticeship Competition. The International Union Office is even flying her back to Washington DC to do an article on her for her progress and help in recruiting for a more diverse workforce!

The Dropbox Derby Experience

On September 3rd, 2018, 27 teams of four gathered at the Eastbank Esplanade to compete in Lovett Deconstruction‘s Dropbox Derby, a building competition in the style of Iron Chef. Just 24 hours prior to the event, teams were given the theme, “A Seat at the Table,” and an inventory of salvaged materials was delivered. Actual building-time was limited to 4 hours – afterward, these finished products would be judged and then auctioned off, with the proceeds going to support Oregon Tradeswomen.

The morning kicked off with a spirited pep talk by Lovett Deconstruction’s Der Lovett, and at 10:00 a.m. sharp, the teams hurried over to the piles of materials and gathered their share of supplies. The next 4 hours was a flurry of sanding, sawing, staining, drilling, and hammering, as teams were feeling the pressure of 4 hours that felt more like 30 minutes!

Oregon Tradeswomen competed this year, too. The team of 4 was comprised of two board members, Moe Gauthier, and Meghan Moyer, and two staff members, Abby Bandurraga, and Trytten Tehrani. The team’s concept for “A Seat at the Table” was a hexagonal children’s picnic bench where everyone is the head of the table. The table top had a geometric inlay of wood of different colors representing the unity between all the different people who share the planet.


The level of artistry and craftsmanship at the Dropbox Derby was impressive. Many spectators wove through the Eastbank Esplanade observing the teams diligently working together to assemble their unique projects piece by salvaged piece. Once the building portion was complete, judges filed through to talk to each team about their finished products. The judging criteria included Aesthetics, Creative Use of Materials, Craft, and Theme.

There were many different ways in which teams interpreted “A Seat at the Table.”

With an honorable mention, Team OG crafted a tabletop with the image of a woman with outstretched arms which intended to symbolize welcoming everyone to the table.

In 3rd place, Team Feathered Caulk decided to challenge themselves and build the most complex type of table they could imagine: a fully functioning Foosball table!

In 2nd place, Team Neil Kelly, built a beautifully designed bench made up of two seats facing opposite directions, with their arm rests joined together to make a table.

In 1st place, Team Engaging Environments built a table with a seat within it. The seat represents the patriarchal oligarchy in which we live. Half of the table is not seen on the surface, but it functions by holding the rest of it up. This represents workers of all genders and ethnicities who are an essential part of our social systems, but are often unheard. This project was also honored with the People’s Choice Award.

The Dropbox Derby is an experience like no other. Vast imaginations, great skill, and fierce teamwork all came together to create stunning structures with a message. We are so  grateful to Lovett Deconstruction for organizing this stupendous event and for honoring Oregon Tradeswomen by naming our nonprofit organization as the beneficiaries of the auction proceeds.

Oregon Tradeswomen is grateful to all 27 teams for their creativity and talent, as well as all those who came out, cheered on, and bid on these handmade masterpieces. We are so lucky to have this community and we cannot wait to see what is in store for next year!


Oregon Tradeswomen is Headed to Women Build Nations 2018!

Women Build Nations is an annual conference where more than 1,900 tradeswomen from around the globe, representing every craft, come together for a weekend of workshops, plenary sessions, and networking. Women Build Nations welcomes all women of all ages and skill levels to come build relationships, learn from each other, and be a part of the largest conference for tradeswomen in North America.

Group Travel

This year the conference is being held in Seattle, Washington, so Oregon Tradeswomen staff will be heading North for Women Build Nations as a group and we would like to ride with a tradeswomen contingent! Please join us on Friday October 12 on the 12:00 pm – 3:30 pm train. Amtrak is also offering a 10% discount, but you must call to make your reservation at 1-800-872-7245 using code X90H-999. For additional travel information and resources, please visit the Women Build Nations website.


Oregon Tradeswomen is happy to offer two scholarships for tradeswomen who want to attend Women Build Nations. If you’re interested, please send email to Tiffany Thompson at tiffany@tradeswomen.net. Scholarships are offered on a first come, first served basis. If you haven’t asked your union or employer to send you yet, now is the time to get it done! Women Build Nations has online resources to help you write a letter requesting sponsorship.

Women Build Nations is the biggest tradeswomen focused convention in North America and this year it is in our backyard. We hope to see you there this October!