As NAHB wraps up its celebration of Professional Women in Building (PWB) Week 2021, we asked women in the industry to share their stories about what membership in the PWB Council means to them. We also ask you to share your own stories on social media about women in the industry with #PWBProud and #PWBWeek. Two individuals or groups that share the most posts with the hashtags will each win a $50 gift card from PWB Week exclusive sponsor Lowe’s for Pros.
Having a built-in network of women in the home building industry has never been more important than it was over the past year and a half during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tina Haro, senior national builder manager for Simpson Strong-Tie in Las Vegas said NAHB’s PWB Council is “like a web of endless potential connections.”
“Like many people, I’ve felt disconnected from family, friends and colleagues for the nearly two years since the start of the pandemic,” Haro said, noting the challenge it was to feel a genuine connection with others over that time period. “Professional Women in Building has given me that connection, not only through member relationships, but through the consistent outreach from council leaders who expressed a willingness to go above and beyond to make others feel welcome and connected,” she added.
Haro said the connections she’s made through PWB remained strong through 2020 and early 2021 amid virtual meetups and constant support whenever it was needed from fellow members and leaders. And as in-person events startup again in many areas, Haro is looking forward to reconnecting with the individuals she’s met through PWB.
As she’s changed jobs over the years but remained in the industry, Haro said the one thing that was constant is her interaction with the members of her local home builders association, local PWB Council and NAHB.
“The one thing that remained stable was my connections I’ve made through the PWB Council and the association. Every member I’ve encountered during my transitions have been so encouraging and supportive by providing resources that have enhanced my industry knowledge and expertise,” Haro noted.
The Power of Connection
As chair of NAHB’s PWB Council, Karen Schroeder of Lansing, Mich., knows first-hand how invaluable it is having a network of women in the industry. “I’m passionate about PWB. When I was first starting out, I was one of the only – if not the only – woman in this industry in my area,” Schroeder said. When she joined a friend in Washington, D.C. for an NAHB Spring Leadership Meeting, Schroeder picked the PWB Council meeting off the itinerary to attend not realizing how it would change her life.
“I’ve been going to IBS for 30 years, but I had never been involved in a council or a committee when I went to that first meeting in D.C,” Schroeder, who is also the vice president of Mayberry Homes in Lansing, said. At that meeting, current NAHB Second Vice Chair Alicia Huey and past PWB Council Chair Betsy Sheppard made it a point to invite Schroeder to sit at the table with other PWB board members instead of sitting along the wall.
“They made a seat available for me. From that moment on I felt connected and like I belonged,” Schroeder adds. It’s become Schroeder’s mantra, she says, asking people to “take a seat at the table.”
Schroeder left the meeting in D.C. and immediately contacted her local HBA's executive officer to start a PWB council. “We reached out to all the women in our local and within one month we had 30 people signed up,” says Schroeder. Her council was chartered at the next Leadership Council Meeting.
Emily Boyd, director of land acquisition for Tri Pointe Homes, Inc., in the San Francisco Bay Area has a similar experience with PWB. “Several years ago, when I moved to California and joined the BIA Bay Area PWB, the council was integral in forming my professional network. Since then, and especially during the trials of the past 18 months, PWB has continued to provide a connection not only to the industry, but to a professional and personal support system,” she said.
Boyd hears the same sentiment from other members of PWB and is thankful for the connections she’s made that formed the foundation of her professional network that would have taken years to cultivate on her own.
“From helping a displaced member find a new opportunity, to being a reference for a graduate coming into the industry, coming together for a charitable effort, or just the comfort of seeing familiar, smiling faces – even if only in a Zoom square this past year – PWB at every level offers an instant camaraderie and emphasizes all the things we have in common over our differences.”
Not a PWB Council member yet? To join, start locally at an HBA near you. If your local HBA does not have a council, you can join PWB directly as an at-large member. For more information visit nahb.org/whypwb or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
PWB Week 2021 is sponsored by Lowe’s For Pros