• Ranette Carlson Ranette Carlson is a senior construction project manager for School District 27J. She oversees capital construction projects including new school buildings and renovations of schools. In her job, she ensures that schools open on time and projects are within budget. “I love seeing the finished product; from an empty dirt field to a beautiful new school for students,” said Carlson. “It’s rewarding being involved in projects that bring pride to the community and give students a functional, safe place to learn.” Carlson said the majority of people she works with are men. “There are also quite a few women in the industry who have essential roles in the projects I have been part of.  I would strongly encourage young women to look into a construction career. It is a career that never gets boring with new challenges every day and new things to learn. Even being a predominately male field, I have rarely encountered anything negative toward women in the industry. In fact, quite the opposite as most workers are happy to share their knowledge and work together as a team.”

  • Maribel Malpica Maribel Malpica is the 27J Bond Accountant in the School District’s Finance Department. Malpica is in charge of tracking expenses, revenue and investments for the 2015 Bond. She oversees having checks cut or funds wired to pay construction contractors building and renovating schools. The largest check issued to date for the 27J Bond was for more than $5 million--$5,839,680.41 to be exact—and paid to Saunders Construction to build Riverdale Ridge High School. Saunders then turns around and pays their contractors. “It’s awesome to see the construction department spending the money we have budgeted in the Bond, and in return providing new and updated schools for students,” said Malpica. She finds her job interesting. “I love numbers and when the numbers balance out, it makes me happy.”

  • Pachia Moua Pachia Moua works for Group14 Engineering in a commissioning job. She’s testing the lights and lighting control systems at RRHS to ensure everything works like it should. What does she love about her job? “Knowing that what I do will assist the design and construction team with handing over a building to the owner,” she said. Moua said her firm employs both women and men but out-in-the-field she works mainly with men. She would tell younger women: “Pursue what your heart is telling you no matter the dominant gender in the field,” Moua said. “Remember that it’s okay to break the mold. You’ll find, as I did, that you are content and of course: fiercer.”

  • Lorie Richmond Lorie Richmond is with Trojan Labor and was on the Riverdale Ridge site in a temporary position. She used to work for Brinkman Construction as a foreman. “This is awesome to see the school,” said Richmond. “More and more women are getting into construction and they do a great job,” she said. Richmond said moving to different construction jobs is one of the challenges of working in the field.

  • Sarah Roberts Sarah Roberts worked as a plumber and pipefitter installing piping systems including the plumbing at Riverdale Ridge High School. She installs pipes for different building systems and reads blueprints; drills holes in walls to find routes for the pipes and installs pipes in walls of new construction. She enjoys her job. “I’m happy working outside and I like building things,” Roberts said. She has worked as a plumber/pipe fitter for three years. “I fell in love with the work and I like the challenges,” she said. “The days go by fast and you’re always going to learn. I just followed my passion and this is the field I landed in and I really like the work environment.” She said her trade is definitely male-dominated, but, Roberts said, it isn’t a problem for her to carry the weight of the pipes as a female worker. In fact, she encourages all women to pursue jobs in the construction industry in general.

  • Meggan Roth Meggan Roth is the administrative operations manager with Saunders Construction. In her position she assists with contracts, contract compliance, licenses and insurance for projects. “Every project is so different, so it’s never routine. I love working in construction,” said Roth. “Just because it’s construction, doesn’t mean it’s just for men.”

  • Caroline Schopp Caroline Schopp is a lead estimator with Saunders Construction. Her job is to budget construction projects. “I like that my job is creative, especially when a project is in the conceptual phase of design which may only have a sketch of the future building,” she said. Schopp has a degree in civil engineering. “My grandfather was an architect, so I grew up thinking I wanted to be an architect until high school when I started to love physics and math. That led me down the engineering path. I knew from the beginning that there were never going to be a lot of females in my line of work. I realized this in my high school advanced physics class where I was the only girl,” she said. “This never bothered me because I knew what I wanted to do. While Saunders does have a good amount of women in the office, most of my day-to-day dealings are with men. Construction in general is a good-ole boy’s industry. Women are slowly sneaking their way in.”

  • Jodelle Senger Jodelle Senger, with DLR Group, is the lead architect on the Riverdale Ridge High School project. Her job duties include being part of the design team, project management, answering contractor questions about the design intent and walking the construction site to verify the project meets the design intent. “All of the team members on this project have been great to work with,” said Senger. “I’m grateful I have been able to stay a part of this project for almost 10 years starting with the early planning, concept phase.” Jodelle loves her job. “Every day is different. I’m challenged and I learn every day. Most of the time I work with men on construction sites. I would definitely encourage women to pursue a career in design or construction. It is wonderful to be a part of a team that creates amazing buildings.”

  • Becky Smith Becky Smith is a construction specialist in School District 27J. She tracks every penny spent for the $248 million bond project through a construction software program, allocating where funds are spent for every school project. Her favorite part of her job is going out to see the projects as they progress. Her background is in interior design. “This position is the closest I have worked with construction sites. My previous positions in the design field were office settings,” Smith said. “It is very rewarding to see construction progress take place from the approval of plans to final completion. Construction is a great industry to be involved with.”

  • Mary Lou Steinbacher Mary Lou Steinbacher, with Inline Management, has her office on the construction site. She worked for Jefferson County School District as a high school bookkeeper for 10 years before accepting a position with the school district construction department for nearly 20 years. That’s how she met her current supervisor, Michael Hall, owner of Inline Management—the Owner’s Representative for Riverdale Ridge. She accepted a position with Inline in 2004. Now her home office is always in a construction trailer on a job site, where she says it is mostly men who come into the office. “The majority of people I have worked with in construction are men,” said Steinbacher. “Here at Riverdale Ridge, I’m treated just like one of the guys. What I love most about my job is the people,” she said, “and I love seeing the finished project.”

  • Arlene Tafoya Arlene Tafoya works for Tailor Made Services. She has a crew of two other females who are cleaning up the school after construction crews finish their jobs. “We are the last bunch here,” Tafoya said. “We come behind the construction crews to clean up. I work around nothing but men and they are really respectful.”

  • Porsha Thomas Porsha Thomas is a project engineer with Architectural Concepts. “I love that my job is challenging and I’m learning new things every day. Most importantly, I love that I am a woman in an industry that is male-dominated, but I am never made to feel as though I am a woman in a male-dominated industry. My input, voice and involvement in projects is valued,” Thomas said. “There are more men in the company overall. However, we have a good balance of women in the office working as technicians, project engineers, estimators and project managers.” Construction, she said, is a challenging yet exciting career. “It can take you all around the world working on projects that will be around for years to come. Imagine going to a mall or football stadium one day and being able to tell your friends and family, ‘Hey, I helped build that.’ Regardless of what role you played in the project, I guarantee they will think you are the coolest; and you’ll feel that way about yourself as well!”

  • Lacey Trokey Lacey Trokey is a commercial estimator with Black Roofing. Her team put the roof on the high school. “I love bringing new innovations and concepts to a timeless industry. I started at Black Roofing as the receptionist in hopes of building my resume. During the next few years, I was promoted to different positions in the company to gain the experience I would need to become an estimator,” Trokey said. “During that time, I developed a love for the people and an appreciation for the protection we provide to each building. I work with more men but have seen growth in women joining various construction trades. This change has brought new value and appreciation for women in what has historically been viewed as a male-dominated industry. She shares her excitement for working in construction with her six-year-old daughter, Olive. “The work is hard, sometimes dirty, but noble work that is essential for everyone whether it’s roofing a business or a home.”

  • Stephanie Williams Stephanie Williams is an interior designer with Architect DLR Group. She looks at schematic design, space planning and furniture and finish selections. “I love being a part of shaping the future of schools and having the opportunity to make a difference in a child’s life by creating safe environments that help foster learning,” said Williams. “In the industry, it is typically more male driven but I do see a big push of amazing women, who are starting to make their way to the forefronts of this industry.”