GUEST BLOG: Tiffany’s Return to Oregon Tradeswomen

In 2018, I sat outside an event at Women Build Nations and talked with Kelly Kupcak, Executive Director of Oregon Tradeswomen. It was a very difficult conversation because I had just told her about my impossible decision to leave the organization and move on to other work. Kelly and I cried together and dreamt of how we would continue to work together in a different context. I made the choice for my own life and career, but I didn’t fully understand that more than leaving a “job,” I was going to feel like I had left the tradesworker community.

In the same way that I didn’t fully understand what I was losing in 2018, I didn’t fully comprehend how much returning to Oregon Tradeswomen would feel like coming home. For those of you that don’t know me (yet), my name is Tiffany Thompson (she/her) and I am the new Director of the RISE Up program in Oregon. I worked at Oregon Tradeswomen for five years –organizing the Tradeswomen Leadership Institute, coordinating volunteers for Oregon Tradeswomen’s Career Fair, advocating for public policy, and providing training and assistance for unions, apprenticeship programs, and contractors. By and far, I was the most passionate about changing construction culture and preventing hazing, bullying, and harassment.

Even though I was no longer with Oregon Tradeswomen, tradesworkers still reached out to me to share their experiences of harassment and hostile worksites. I feel incredibly honored and grateful to these folks for trusting me. It is each one of those stories, each moment of trust, that made me realize that I still wanted to be focused on creating culture change. In 2018, it was a fledgling conversation about how to address issues that were rampant throughout the industry. Now, in 2021, so much has shifted, and I am deeply grateful that I can work full time, as a part of this community, to build the work environments that we all deserve – a culture that is inclusive to all people, where BIPOC and workers of all genders are able to thrive, grow, and build long-lasting careers.

If you have not heard of RISE Up (Respect, Inclusion, Safety and Equity), it is a respectful workplace program designed to provide all workers with the tools and support necessary to create and maintain a safe, inclusive and productive work environment for everyone. RISE Up provides industry best practice workplace consulting and training to help contractors and sub-contractors create an environment of productivity, safety, and equity in construction management and on work sites. I KNOW that change is possible and I firmly believe RISE Up is a path to much needed change. While I am grateful for the trust of tradesworkers, I hope that we will get to a place that no one needs to reach out with those stories again – that my new job will be unnecessary.

Now, these conversations are not just possible because of RISE Up. There is a huge push in the construction industry in Oregon for jobsite culture change. First off, I was working as the Construction Career Pathways program manager at Metro. Through this program, public agencies are teaming up with stakeholders from private industry, apprenticeship programs, unions, and community-based organizations to provide reliable career pathways for women and Black, Indigenous and people of color in the construction trades. Construction Career Pathways is a regional effort and, including culture change, anti-harassment training is a key focus of the work. Without this regional conversation, I don’t think I would be back at Oregon Tradeswomen! In addition, as a response to hate crimes on jobsites in 2020, the industry created the Safe from Hate Alliance. Participants much sign the Jobsite Culture Pledge and they are meeting regularly to create this change throughout the construction industry.

With all of these efforts underway, I can’t wait to see where we are in another three years. Through collaboration and intentional efforts, we can all work toward a future where worksites are truly safe in an industry that is free of discrimination, harassment, hazing and bullying.
I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has welcomed me back with such enthusiasm and are sharing in my optimism about the RISE Up program. And, for those of you who I have not met yet, I can’t wait to continue to build community with you.



Tiffany Thompson (she/her)
Director of Workforce Equity and Technical Assistance
503.335.8200 x 136

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!