Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges: A Black Woman’s Journey in Construction Leadership


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As Women’s History Month continues its vibrant celebration, I find myself reflecting on my extraordinary journey into the dynamic realm of engineering and construction. In an industry often viewed as the exclusive domain of the good ole boys’ network, breaking barriers as a woman of color has been both a challenge and a triumph. From navigating the maze of stereotypes to shattering glass ceilings, my path has been paved with resilience, determination, and a healthy dose of humor. So, grab your safety helmets and steel-toed boots as I take you on a rollercoaster ride through the world of construction leadership.

The Early Days:

Picture a young girl, designated as the family’s resident “put-the-thing-together” prodigy. Intelligent but not eager to flaunt it, I found my calling early on. I may not have been the stereotypical straight-A student, but I had a knack for unraveling the mysteries of the physical world. Talented and gifted programs in elementary school set the stage for a pivotal decision in high school: Oxon Hill Science and Technology Program or boarding school. Opting for the former, I embarked on a journey that would lead me to architecture, or so I thought. University beckoned, and with it came a realization – a career in engineering was my true calling. The History of Architecture and drafting classes left me feeling like I’d rather bang my head against a wall than design buildings all day. Construction management became my passion, the art of building structures on time, under budget, and with impeccable quality.

Navigating the Concrete Jungle:

Post-graduation, I dove headfirst into the tumultuous waters of the construction industry. There were one or two other women in assistant project management positions in a sea of men, just like in my UMCP engineering classes. Project meetings filled with the occasional profanity-laden discussions became my new normal, signaling that I had found my tribe. Shoutout to Mr. Brian Rezac (featured in the photo below), my guiding light in those early days, who still supports me. With his mentorship and a sprinkle of determination, I spread my wings and soared into construction management.

Mr. Brian Rezac

The Good, The Bad, and The Trash Human Beings:

Let’s face it – every journey has ups and downs, and mine was no exception. From supportive male mentors who opened doors to those who hid documents and blamed others for their failures, I’ve seen it all. And don’t even get me started on the women who don’t support other women – talk about a plot twist! But through it all, I’ve learned some valuable lessons.

Lessons Learned:

Now, let’s talk turkey – or, rather, lessons learned. Here are five nuggets of wisdom gleaned from over two decades in the trenches:

1. Be the Best You Can Be: Strive for excellence in everything you do. Set your goals high and refuse to settle for mediocrity.

2. Embrace the Humble Pie: In a male-dominated industry, acceptance may not come easily. But when they finally come knocking on your door, relish the moment and let humility guide you.

3. Failure is a Friend: Embrace failure as a teacher, not a foe. Some of the best lessons are learned from missteps along the way.

4. Know Your Worth: Don’t waste your time knocking on doors that wouldn’t be held open for you. Walk away from toxic environments and know that what’s meant for you will find its way.

5. Lean on Your Tribe: Surround yourself with a supportive circle of friends and colleagues who lift you up when the going gets tough. And remember, it’s okay to let it all out – tears and all.

In Conclusion:

My journey in the construction industry has been a testament to the power of perseverance, resilience, and a healthy dose of humor. I didn’t get to where I am today alone – I had a village of supporters cheering me on every step of the way. And now, it’s my turn to pay it forward. So, to all the women navigating the concrete ceiling, keep pushing, keep striving, and remember – you’re not alone. Together, we’ll shatter stereotypes, break barriers, and build a brighter future in the construction industry.

Together, let’s build a future where diversity and inclusion reign supreme and where every voice is heard, valued, and celebrated. After all, in the concrete jungle of construction, it’s the bridges we build that bring us closer together.

So, here’s to us, trailblazers in hard hats, defying expectations one blueprint at a time, and paving the way for future generations. And remember, when life hands you a blueprint, build something extraordinary.