How did you first hear about Southface?
Through various parts of his career, my dad interacted with Dennis Creech and has been a huge fan of Southface. I grew up in Atlanta, and I attended Southface’s Summer Solstice events as kid when the campus was just the Resource Center. When I was graduating from college, my dad suggested I apply to Southface as an intern. That was in 2009, and I’ve been at Southface ever since. I began as an intern, and now I am a senior project manager.
What made you want to invest in your career at Southface?
Southface has allowed me to be pretty nimble in the opportunities that I have had. I have jumped around from teams, and I have been able to develop skill sets in ways that are pretty diverse. Southface has exposed me to a lot of different on the job training experiences that have been both challenging and rewarding.
Describe what you do on jobsites? What do your responsibilities look like?
My tasks involve collecting data on the energy efficiency of structures. When I am onsite, I talk to supervisors or HVAC contractors so that they can view energy efficient measures as a benefit to their work. Being on a job-site is a comfortable setting for me because it gives me an opportunity to show building science in practice; I believe that has a much bigger impact than having an office meeting.
A large component of what I do for work has to do with educational assistance. I assist with the building rehab program, EarthCraft MultiFamily, custom home builder for single family – everything I do falls under the theme of helping to improve housing through education.
You were the first woman to earn the Interstate Renewable Energy Credential (IREC) Certified Master Trainer – Energy Auditor credential in May 2015. What sets of challenges come with working in a male-dominated field?
The Department of Energy came out with a series of professional certifications that they require contractors of have, so I completed all four of the certifications. I think the challenges that come with working in this field as a woman is that you have to speak louder and prove you’re stronger than what is expected. You have to be thick-skinned also. It can be challenging, but for the most part, people are good, and I have had more good experiences than bad. I would not be here if it was not rewarding.
Are there any women you have worked with that inspire you or keep you motivated?
The majority of my mentors are men, including Brad Turner and John Blithing. They have kept me motivated, and they do not hold me back. However, there are women at Atlanta Habitat working in construction that I believe are incredible!
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently in your career? What do you wish you would have known, if anything?
Nope. I have been pretty fortunate with the opportunities that I have had, and that is something I recognize.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
Women do not choose to go into HVAC or home performance or construction because of the stereotype that it is a male industry. A lot of women do not like that, and there is not enough encouragement. Public education is lacking in that support – there is not shop class or something like it anymore that women can invest in.
What have you learned about yourself by working in a male dominated field?
I never anticipated that this would be the path that I would take. My college education did not prepare me for my job. My earlier career consisted of a lot of hands on training, so I have learned that I am a lot handier than I thought I was. I have also learned that I could have an impact on people’s lives in a way I did not think was possible.
Why do you do what you do?
I have seen some of the worst housing in this country, and I have seen some of the best housing in this country. That has opened my eyes to the fact that people’s access to basic housing, education, food, etc., are wildly unequal. My job plays a factor in social equality. If you start with where someone lives and make it safe, healthy and comfortable, that is going to have a great impact on their livelihood. A living environment impacts so much, so when you make housing better for people, they have a better shot at seeking their full potential.