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.

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:

LinkedIn Learning Teaches Construction Fundamentals

In 2018, Mary Ann Naylor, Oregon Tradeswomen’s Communications and Marketing Director, was approached directly by Linda Sellheim of LinkedIn Learning, also known as, a massive online learning resource for professional development. Linda was interested in creating a video series for LinkedIn Learning exploring careers in the construction trades, what working those jobs entails, and dispelling myths about the trades along the way. Most importantly, she was looking for a tradeswoman to be the face and voice leading the series!

After a productive meeting with Oregon Tradeswomen’s Development and Communications team, we directed Linda to the NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center (NIETC) and our friend Bridget Quinn, who works as their Workforce Development Coordinator. We knew Bridget would be a prime candidate to lead a series on construction fundamentals. Not only is Bridget a Journey-level tradeswoman, but her role at the NIETC revolves around working with prospective apprentice-applicants to provide them with resources and guidance needed to successfully access union apprenticeship. Bridget is also a huge ally for Oregon Tradeswomen when we hold our Annual Career Fair at the Electrical Training Center and is a recipient of the Daily Journal of Commerce’s Women of Vision Award in 2017!

We are pleased to share links to the LinkedIn Learning track featuring Bridget Quinn. Videos are live on LinkedIn Learning and we encourage you to preview this incredible resource we hope will help many understand and access the world of the construction trades!


Wire A Light Dates Announced for 2019

Would you like to learn about the possibilities a career as an electrician offers? The NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center is hosting four “Wire a Light” workshops for women who have an interest in the electrical trades. During this free workshop, you can learn how to wire a light, meet women electricians in the industry, and find out how to start your career as an electrician.

Dates & Registration:

September 19, 2019
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Register for the 9/19 workshop

December 5, 2019
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Register for the 12/5 workshop

NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center
16021 NE Airport Way

Bus Lines:
NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center is accessible via TriMet bus lines 74 and 87.

Oregon Tradeswomen “We’ve BEEN Doing It” At AAUW Convention

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) held a convention on the weekend of the 20th of April in Hillsboro, OR where many women gathered for meetings, workshops, and networking around the topics of equity, empowerment, and education of women. Oregon Tradeswomen’s Construction Training Director, Amy James Neel, had the honor of leading a workshop at the event on Saturday called “We’ve BEEN Doing It!”

Amy discovered carpentry by accident, but the trades are her ideal career! She didn’t even know that the trades were an option for her, as representations of tradeswomen are not common.  This put Amy on a mission to introduce women and girls to the possibilities of a career in the trades. This path eventually led her to Oregon Tradeswomen where’s she’s been for the last decade at first as a contract instructor, and now as our Training Director!

The workshop Amy led was focused on Oregon Tradeswomen, how our Trades and Apprenticeship Career Class is structured, how it impacts the women who seek our services, and our long-lasting impact on families, on our community, and on the industry – literally changing the face of construction. So many people were interested in attending this workshop that it filled to capacity and a number of people had to be turned away at the door. We are so grateful people are interested in the work we do and want to learn more about how they can support our mission.

Guest Blog: JCL Live Northwest 2016


JLC LIVE—the premier regional trade-only event for the remodeling, home building, and light construction industries—brings The Journal of Light Construction magazine to life through LIVE on-floor building clinics, classroom-style training sessions, and the ability to meet one-on-one with the industry’s top building product manufacturers.

JLC LIVE Northwest 2016 will take place December 1 and 2 with our conference program kicking off November 30th, at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. Experience JLC LIVE for yourself with a FREE Expo Pass or one of our popular conference packages provided to you at an introductory rate! Visit our website to register and use the promo code to receive special pricing only available to blog readers!


All the Education and Training You Need—In One Place!

Whether you need hand’s-on carpentry training or need to know how to run your business smarter, the JLC LIVE Northwest Conference Program has exactly what you need. From top-notch contractors who will teach you finish carpentry tricks, uses of recessed lighting, and lessons on jobsite communication, the JLC LIVE instructors are industry experts.

All sessions in the program are centered on the topics of carpentry, sales, marketing, human resources, and business financials. With over 40 sessions, attendees are able to tailor a schedule to meet their specific needs. There are also several networking opportunities available during the three days of conference and two days on the expo floor. There really is something for everyone!

See what education we have to offer here!

The Heart of All the Action—The JLC LIVE Expo


JLC LIVE sets itself apart from other area trade-only events with the ability to incorporate our education program into our LIVE-ACTION building clinics and manufacturer-led product demonstrations on the expo floor.   Our esteemed clinicians and manufacturers give step-by-step instructions during the on-floor presentations that showcase their expertise and techniques, utilizing the newest innovative products and technologies that our industry has to offer—all across eight lively stages.

Combined with over 70 product manufacturers and service providers, this event provides remodelers, home builders, and other light construction pros the best knowledge and tools necessary to adapt to the ever-changing world of residential construction.

Take a look at our schedule and come get inspired!


Green Your Garden with Greywater


Have you ever thought about diverting used sink and shower water to your yard, to feed your garden? As water rates escalate and summer droughts become more commonplace, Northwesterners need to use water more efficiently.

If you want a beautiful and productive landscape that uses very little water, attend one or two August 2016 workshops in Portland to learn about low-cost DIY greywater systems that you can implement to conserve water and enhance your home landscape.

Greywater Action, in partnership with Depave, Recode, Oregon Tradeswomen,and East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District are hosting two workshops for Portland area residents interested in implementing greywater systems at home. The workshops will be taught by greywater-expert Laura Allen who is a founding member of Greywater Action and author of The Water-Wise Home. Laura will share her tips on conserving water and saving money with effective and inexpensive greywater solutions.

Workshop 1, August 13 from 9:30a-12:30p Greywater 101: The basics of greywater reuse in this FREE workshop. Learn more and register here:

Workshop 2, August 20 from 11a-4:30p Hands-On Greywater Installation: Learn how to install a simple laundry-to-landscape system and see a branched drain system from a shower up close in a Portland backyard. Learn more and register for workshop 2 here:

Registration is open now to residents of Multnomah County, with a wait list for residents of surrounding communities to fill remaining spaces after June 15.

2016 Women Build the Nation


Registration is open for the 2016 Women Build the Nation! It is going to be in Chicago this year – the first time the event will be held outside of California. Registrations and hotel rooms are going quickly. If you are looking forward to the event, now is the time to register!  The conference takes place from April 29 – May 1, 2016.  Registrations received by February 29 will only cost $100, (with a $15 discount for North American’s Building Trade Unions affiliates!).

We know many tradeswomen in Oregon really want to attend, but are wondering how to  afford it? Your employer or union might sponsor you to attend. Asking early this month is a great idea so that you can offer them the best deal with early bird registration. Don’t forget to ask for wage replacement too!

If you aren’t sure how to go about asking for this support, don’t worry, Women Build the Nations is looking out for you. They have example requests, details about the conference value, and information on how to make a motion from the floor to help you out!

If you want some extra support from Oregon Tradeswomen, reach out to Tiffany and set something up!

Recap: Storytelling and Workshops


As most of you know, we started a new partnership this year with Back Fence PDX.  B. Frayn Masters, Mindy Nettifee, and Liz Olufson saw the importance of tradeswomen’s stories and jumped right into creating a storytelling event for OTI! Most folks don’t think twice about how much work an event involves from planning to recruiting to donations and every other little detail. The dedicated staff at Back Fence were there for us, every single step of the way, it was the type of partnership a non-profit dreams about.

This fabulous partnership led to the development of an exciting, appealing event. Demand from the community was even higher than we had expected, Back Fence and OTI fielded dozens of calls from people trying to get tickets at the last minute. We wish that every single person could have joined us, and that is why we hope to replicate this event next year. If you missed the event, you can watch videos from each of the story tellers online:

Sarah Heidler
Laurie Suchan
Jen Netherwood
Bea Jenkins

Of course, the event would not have been such a success without the support of the tradeswomen who took a big risk to get on stage.  We are so thankful to Sarah Heidler, Jen Netherwood, Laurie Suchan, Jodi Tillinghast, and Bea Jenkins. Hopefully, some of you are considering telling a story next year!

Friday night was a fun way to bond before we launched into the workshops for the Tradeswomen Leadership Institute. Tradeswomen volunteers, staff from AFSCME, the AFLCIO, and from LERC taught eight workshops for 47 women in attendance.  We kicked off the morning with a tour of Benson High School focused on their trades and manufacturing training. Did you know that approximately every two years, the students at Benson design and build a house from the ground up?

Marilee McCall inspired us all with her keynote address. She opened her life to us and shared her path to becoming Mayor Pro-Tem in Woodland, Washington. Marilee was heartfelt in telling her personal journey. Now, she faces challenges regularly for being a woman in leadership but it doesn’t slow her down and she revealed her own secret for dealing with Naysayers. Thanks to Marilee (and Bea for the connection) for showing us one path to leadership.

None of this would have even been possible if it weren’t for the amazing women on our planning committee: Anjeanette Brown, Maddie Ettlin, Irais Gandarilla, Sarah Heidler, Kadence Jimenez, Bea Jenkins, Leigh Jenkins,  and Jodi Tillinghast.

Thank you all so much and we look forward to an even more amazing Tradeswomen Leadership Institute in 2016!