Many Paths Lead to More Diversity in Residential Construction

Committees and Councils

As the demand for skilled workers heats up, looking for new places to find and recruit those workers has expanded beyond conventional paths. With that change comes new entrants into the home building industry, and a more diverse field of workers.

NAHB's education and training partner the Home Builders Institute (HBI) is leading the way, helping to build the nation's home construction workforce by providing pre-apprenticeship training, job placement services, mentoring, certification programs, and online learning across the country to young people, veterans, and others who want to be a part of America's trained workforce.

Retired Army Second Lieutenant Amanda McNulty and her spouse, Lieutenant Colonel Anne Mitzak, both recently completed an HBI military services training program in Fort Hood, Texas, and are excited to start their own business in Arizona once Mitzak retires from the Army later this month.

McNulty said she's always had an interest in building and construction, despite both women having been military medical personnel. "I've always been a 'do it yourself' kind of gal. Some of that stems from being of the age where I wasn't 'allowed' to take wood shop in high school and was forced into home economics because I was a girl," said McNulty. "When the opportunity arose with the program offered at HBI, and it was offered to spouses as well, we jumped at the chance."

The regional career development coordinator for the program, Melvin Banks, also helped the women find part-time work with a general contractor in Arizona, as they settle in and get to work on starting their own business, McNulty said. In fact, HBI training programs have an 85% job placement rate for graduates. They are excited to do work with Habitat for Humanity and hope to be able to build homes for other veterans.

Spotlighting the Industry to Young Women

Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Judaline Cassidy was one of only three women selected to pursue plumbing at the former John Donaldson Technical Institute of Trinidad, now known as the University of Trinidad and Tobago. She has been a proud member of the Plumbers of New York City, Local Union No. 1 for the past 20 years and was the first woman elected to the Examining Board of Plumbers Local Union No. 1, and the first woman accepted into the Plumbers Local Union 371 in Staten Island.

Cassidy also founded the nonprofit Tools & Tiaras, Inc. in 2017 to advance the interest of young girls and women in careers in the traditionally male-dominated construction industry. The girls, from elementary to high school, experience hands-on projects in carpentry, electrical, plumbing and automotive at the group's summer camps, conferences, and careers workshops.

Cassidy said her goal is for all the participants to embrace the mantra that "jobs don’t have genders" and that the world needs them to be leaders of change.

Building a Community in New Orleans

Home builder Angelica Rivera, a native of Columbia, had a successful mortgage company in Orlando before relocating in 2008 with her husband to New Orleans to help rebuild homes with his new framing company after Hurricane Katrina. Rivera was the only female at industry events early on but she was determined to persevere.

Within 10 years, their company, Colmex Construction, had grown from a framing company to a full-service construction business, and was named to Inc. 5000's annual list of the fastest-growing private companies in America. The company's name combines the family's home country of Columbia and the home country of their first two employees, Mexico.

Rivera said she loves that the company serves their clients, but she is also proud of the benefits to the community in terms of employment and beautification.

Find more inspiring stories about women leading the way in diversifying the residential construction industry at

Part of this post is adapted from recent articles in Building Woman magazine, a publication of NAHB.

As part of NAHB's PWB Week 2020, sponsored by Lowe’s For Pros, we are recognizing and celebrating the important contributions of women in the residential construction industry and efforts to diversify it. Please follow along with daily blog posts and share our social media posts with #PWBWeek2020.

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