OTI’s Next Executive Director

Thank you for all of your well-wishes, congratulations, and other kind words when we announced OTI founder and Executive Director, Connie Ashbrook’s, forthcoming retirement last October.

We are pleased to tell you that Oregon Tradeswomen’s Board of Directors has hired OTI’s next Executive Director.

Kelly Kupcak, from Chicago Women in Chicago Women in Trades, will take the reins of Oregon Tradeswomen on July 10, 2017. She brings more than two decades of nonprofit management experience to her new role as Executive Director of Oregon Tradeswomen.

Kelly holds a fundamental belief that economic equity and gender inclusion are critical to building strong women, strong families, and strong communities. Kelly brings considerable skills in strategic visioning, collaborative leadership, and outcomes-driven planning, and looks forward to expanding OTI’s impact in workforce development and building diversity in Oregon’s construction trades workforce.

From Left:  Sharon Latson (Chicago Women in Trades), Kelly Kupcak (OTI’s Incoming Executive Director), Melissa Jennings (Volunteer), and Olivia Porter (Volunteer)

Most recently, Kelly served as the Director of Technical Assistance for the National Center for Women’s Equity in Apprenticeship and Employment at Chicago Women in Trades. She managed a highly competitive, multi-year U.S. Department of Labor ten-state regional grant-funded initiative and a U.S. Department of Labor contract, national in scope, to improve outcomes for women in nontraditional sectors through technical assistance to industry partners including employers, registered apprenticeship, workforce system, career technical system, and government entities.

Connie will continue to be involved with national policy by serving as co-chair of the Taskforce on Tradeswomen Issues and conducting training, providing technical assistance and other consulting services to help employers, apprenticeship programs, unions, and government agencies diversify their workforces, and assisting Career and Technical Education (CTE) trade programs to attract and retain more women and girls.

Kelly plans to visit the 25th Women in Trades Career Fair on May 19 and 20, 2017, and she will officially start in her new role with Oregon Tradeswomen on Monday, July 10, 2017. Kelly looks forward to meeting you soon, whether at the Women in Trades Career Fair or another event later in the year.

Partner Spotlight: Sheet Metal Institute

Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. is most grateful for the support of community and industry in our work in promoting the success for women in the trades through education, leadership and mentorship.  We do this, in large part, working with our partners in a variety ways, including the coordination of field trips for our Trades and Apprenticeship Career Class participants.

TAC class is a free, 7-week, pre-apprenticeship training class that helps women prepare for a high skill, high wage career in construction. Over the course of the session, women visit several sites like the Sheet Metal Institute.

Kevin in classroom

The center is a registered non-profit joint labor-management training trust between the Sheet Metal Workers Local Union #16 and Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association – Columbia Chapter. It offers approved training programs in three occupations including Sheet Metal Worker, Sheet Metal Worker Service Technician and Residential Sheet Metal Worker.

Kim Neel is a career counselor and job placement specialist for OTI.  She coordinates the field trips and I asked her to share some thoughts about our appreciation for the center and the employees who operate it:

“I always make it a priority to make it to the Sheet Metal Institute, because so often many women do not understand what sheet metal workers do. Kevin does a remarkable job of walking them through the process of understanding the scope of the industry as well as its history. He has a great way of getting our students excited not only about the variety of the work, but also the mathematical and mental challenges it brings. They are naturally drawn to the industry because of his organized delivery.

Kevn SMI  Kevin Roth – Training Coordinator

At the beginning of class, we ask all the students what trade they are interested in. Few students ever say Sheet Metal at the start of class. When they graduate we almost always have women who enthusiastically say sheet metal after visiting the training center. The training staff is VERY patient and are great at explaining how and why they are doing what they are doing when they give them a hands on task. The training center also invests in our students and gives them a hands on experience which is invaluable. The students often tell me….”It was when I got my hands on the tools that I fell in love with the trade.” I love that they invest the time and resources into our students. It really shows their commitment to diversify their trade and I respect that a lot.”

— Kim Neel, Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc.

Thanks to the entire staff of Sheet Metal Institute for their years of support as a field trip host but also for their long standing support of our annual Women in Trades Career Fair.  If you want to learn more about their programs, see their web site for complete details.

— Dennise M. Kowalczyk, Development Director

New Seminars for Educators and Employers at the Women in Trades Career Fair

OTI's 2015 Women in Trades Career Fair


In addition to providing learning opportunities for students and job seekers at the Women in Trades Career Fair, Oregon Tradeswomen is proud to announce a new seminar series taking place on May 14th for educators, employers, and career guidance counselors.  In Apprenticeship 101, teachers and career guidance counselors will learn the basics about “the other 4-year degree” and how to help students successfully prepare for a meaningful career in the trades.

Employers, apprenticeship trainers, community college educators, and CTE professionals will be interested in attending Recruiting Women and Girls to Apprenticeship and Career & Technical Education (CTE)  —  an introduction to practical techniques used to increase the number of women and girls in traditionally male-dominated industries.

Our seminars for practitioners will take place right in the middle of all of the action at the Fair.  In addition to learning in a classroom setting from expert apprenticeship trainers and Oregon Tradeswomen’s founder and executive director, seminar attendees will receive a guided tour of the Women in Trades Career Fair.  They’ll also participate in hands-on workshops alongside the 1,000+ students that attend the Fair every year, and get to view the fun and inspiring Tradeswomen Work-Wear Fashion Show. Oregon Tradeswomen is also honored that Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian will join our group at the end of the day for a Q&A session for seminar attendees!

Whether you are a teacher or guidance counselor who’d like to learn the basics of apprenticeship, or you’re an industry veteran interested in learning more about diversifying your workforce, we know that you’ll learn a lot at the Women in Trades Career Fair Practitioner Seminars, and you’ll leave inspired by the energy of the tradeswomen and girls that make this event so special.

Register by clicking the purple button below: