Diversify the Workforce: Recruiting Women and Minority Workers
More diversity leads to more talent, more productivity, and more market share. Research shows that embracing diversity in construction helps contractors experience higher performance and increased profitability. And that leads to greater market share for the industry.
This session’s knowledgeable panel of industry leaders will explore why diversity and inclusion are key to our future sustainability as an industry. They will also discuss how to overcome barriers to achieving greater diversity including: attracting qualified women and minorities; addressing the needs of women and minorities to keep them in the industry; and developing culture of inclusivity.
Mechelle McNew is a key team member of the SMART Women Team. The mission of this team is to “recruit, retain and promote women in our Trade and ensure workplace equality within our Organization.”
Julie Muller-Neff has actively addressed the industry’s workforce needs by creating an intern program to help bright, young people find their way to deserving contractors. She has also worked with her peers to establish the Women in Construction Leadership Council, where she continues in a leadership role.
Leah Rambo currently serves on the New York City Department of Education’s Career and Technical Education Advisory Council and Gender Equity Committee. She is also a member of NYC Coalition for Women in Construction.
Angie Simon has been a leader in the Bay Area construction industry for many years. She formed a Women in Construction Leadership Committee within National SMACNA to work with both the contractors and the Union to encourage and promote the role of women in sheet metal.
Mechelle McNew, SMART Local Union 464
Mechelle McNew is from Ponca City, Oklahoma. She was employed into Air System Components in 1990 working production in a sheet metal facility. Sheet Metal Workers Local 464 was chartered in 1997 at which time Mechelle was elected into office of Executive Board.
Over the years Mechelle also held position as Shop Steward and Vice-President over Local 464. In 2011 Mechelle was elected into office as Business Manager/Financial Secretary-Treasurer and currently holds that office into her now third term.
In 2016 SMART put together a SMART Women team that Mechelle is a team player in. The mission of this team is “to recruit, retain and promote women in our trade and to insure workplace equality within our organization.”
Julie Muller-Neff, Esq., SMACNA – Western Washington, Inc.
Julie Muller-Neff is the Executive Vice President of SMACNA-Western Washington. After attending Loyola Law School and working as a construction attorney for two years, Julie was retained by Orange Empire SMANCA as Executive Director. Julie worked for Orange Empire SMACNA from 2006 – 2014 and then was recruited by SMACNA – Western Washington as Executive Vice President in 2014. Julie’s duties as Executive Vice President include: Labor Relations and Collective Bargaining; Promotion of the Industry and developing business opportunities for member-firms; Providing innovative educational programs for member-firms enhancing business skills; Maintaining marketing, advertising and promotion programs for the sheet metal industry; Legislative and regulatory advocacy on a local, state and federal level; and Administration and management of SMACNA – WW.
Locally, Julie Serves as a Trustee on the JATC, Northwest Health Trust and the Labor-Management Organizational Trust. Nationally, Julie serves as Co-Chair of the Women in Construction Leadership Council, and is Chairperson of the SMACNA National Council of Chapter Representatives. Julie is also a Board Member for Construction for Change, a non-profit located in Seattle. Julie is married to Arthur Neff and has four-year old twins Mac and Belle. Julie and her family reside in Issaquah, Washington.
Leah Rambo, SMART Local 28 Training Center
Leah Rambo is the Director of Training for SMART Local 28 and has been serving in this capacity since 2011. Ms. Rambo’s primary responsibility is the training of Local 28’s 521 apprentices and 2,300 Journey and Light Commercial workers.
Ms. Rambo began her career as a sheet metal worker in 1988 and after working 10 years in the field, she was appointed as a full-time instructor, becoming the first woman to hold this position. Ms. Rambo has also been used to teach instructor development classes for the International Training Institute (iTi).
Leah currently serves on the New York City Department of Education’s Career and Technical Education Advisory Council and Gender Equity Committee. She is also a member of NYC Coalition for Women in Construction.
Ms. Rambo has a BA in Labor Education and several trade certifications.
Angela Simon, Western Allied Mechanical
Angie has been a leader in the Bay Area construction industry for many years. Starting as a young 22 year old project manager in the late 80’s, when there were very few women in construction, to becoming the president of a $70 Million Mechanical contracting firm with over 220 people. She has taken on the challenge over the next 4 years to elevate the awareness of women in construction. She formed a Women in Construction Leadership Committee within National SMACNA (Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors) to work with both the contractors and the Union to encourage and promote the role of women in sheet metal.
Angie was honored to be asked and excited to accept the position of National SMACNA Vice President. She will go through the chairs and in 2019 will be the first ever woman National President for SMACNA which represents over 1800 contractors in the US and Canada.
She has committed to continuing to mentor not only within her own firm, but on a national level as well, hoping to encourage women to get and stay involved in construction.
As current President of Western Allied Mechanical – a premier HVAC contractor in the Bay Area employing over 200+ people – Angie has increased the volume of business to over $35 Million. She is responsible for many successful projects including The Packard Foundation Net Zero Head Quarters, SLAC – Science and User Support Building (awarded DBIA award) and Stanford SESI Energy improvements.