Driving Diversity in Roofing

Get an insider catch-up of this year's NWiR Day and learn how the association is striving to be an LGBTQ+ ally.

Rachel Williams, Former Chief Editor

August 11, 2021

5 Min Read
National Women in Roofing logo.jpeg

On Sunday, National Women in Roofing (NWiR) held its fourth annual conference at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The event was held in advance of the International Roofing Expo (IRE), which on Tuesday, August 10. The purpose of the event was to bring “multidisciplinary women in the industry together to learn about the latest business strategies and tactics and share their secrets of success.”

Kicking Off an Impactful Day

RE_NWIRDay2021.jpegThe event kicked off with a breakfast, first-time attendee welcome, headshot station and TikTok station, which NWiR’s Co-Chair of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Jess Cress (Social Media Marketing Specialist, Bone Dry Roofing Company), explained allowed members to “show everyone that [they] are more than just that title when [they] go to work every day.”

Then, NWiR’s Executive Committee kicked off the formal event proceedings. Taking the stage was Chair Renae Bales, VP Services, KPost Roofing & Waterproofing; Vice Chair Michelle Boykin, COO, Rackley Roofing Company; Immediate Past Chair Jennifer Stone, Preferred Accounts manager, Roofing Systems, Johns Manville; Executive Committee Member Anna Anderson, CEO, Art Unlimited; and Executive Director Ellen Thorp.

Past Chair Heidi J. Elsworth, partner, RoofersCoffeeShop highlighted the opportunities of the day in the aptly named session “Setting Your Stage.” “Setting your stage in life is about visualization, it’s about support, it’s about empowerment . . . what happens today is that we fill ourselves up,” shared Elsworth.

In the “Owning It” session, Megan Keyes, Preferred Accounts leader at Johns Manville, embodied this empowerment by sharing her personal journey starting out in roofing, focusing on the challenges that construction poses for women and minorities. “When we talk about owning your story, for me it really comes down to how you react. How much do you allow negative experiences to impact your spirit? . . . You have to own your response because there will be a never a shortage of challenges that come your way as a woman in the world, not just in roofing,” said Keyes.

A NWiR First
During its opening remarks, the board was excited to announce that they recently passed a new policy related to diversity, equity, and inclusion and will be rolling out a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Roofing Industry Education Program (DEI-RIEP). Along with this, NWiR Day launched its first session dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community titled “LGBTQ+ 101,” presented by Beacon Building Products and  Dr. Alexandria White, VP of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at ReBoot Accel. Dr. White shared with the audience how to be an effective LGBTQ+ ally, including breaking down the word into four easy to implement steps:

A: Adopt Inclusive Language;

L: Listen Closely;

L: Look to Make a Change;

Y: Start with Yourself.

Next Mikell Bollinger, executive director, SRS Raise the Roof Foundation, led “Raise the Roof,” updating the audience on SFRS’ Raise the Roof Foundation, which is dedicated to bringing disaster relief, recovery and restoration to individuals and their communities. The foundation will be hosting a concert in conjunction with IRE on Wednesday at the House of Blues. The concert will feature Darius Rucker and Little Big Town and proceeds will benefit NWiR and the Roofing Alliance Foundation of NRCA.

A Courageous Step
During the event’s general programming, the Owens Corning team, consisting of Angie Grosjean, marketing manager, Shelby Smith, Human Resource Leader, and Houston Young, Community Outreach Leader, led a session titled “Courageous Conversations.” 

“In simple terms [courageous conversations] are conversations where people come together with different perspectives and backgrounds, race, culture, lived experience to share their perspectives. What makes these unique is that they are very uncomfortable,” said Young.

Next, Grosjean and Smith shared with the audience the process Owens took when the company committed to a “courageous conversation journey.” “We invited employees to come in and have conversations about what they are going through, what they are thinking, and what they are feeling . . . we were empowering our employees to make connections and be emotional when having these and be vulnerable . . . we have a misperception that it is not okay to be vulnerable but it truly is and we need to embrace that a bit more,” shared Smith.

Break Out Highlights
After lunch, which allowed for regional networking, attendees had the option to choose from a variety of breakout sessions focused on their areas of interest. One standout session was “Roofing is… Mentoring,” where attendees could engage in one-on-one mentoring sessions. Mentoring topics included, “Personal Development,” “How to Be Heard/Negotiating Skills,” and “Identifying Allies & Advocates.”

Other sessions instructed attendees on how to become involved and start an NWiR council, being a woman in sales, the ins and outs of residential roofing, recruiting interns, working in a family business, understanding DISC methodology and strengthening relationships with co-workers, and more.

Who Runs the WORLD?
At the close of the event, NWiR recognized outstanding women in the industry through the WORLD award. This year, there were 11 nominees in the Veteran category and 17 women recognized as Rising Stars.

The 2021 Veteran Award Recipient is Christine Mockenhaupt, Regional Ops controller - East Division for SFRS Distribution and the Rising Star recipient is Heather Estes, Senior Codes & Regulatory Compliance specialist at GAF.

The event concluded with a post-conference celebration and reception. The Diamond Sponsors of NWiR Day were Beacon, GAF, Johns Manville, Owens Corning, SRS Distribution, TAMKO Building Products LLC, and Tremco Roofing & Building Maintenance.


About the Author(s)

Rachel Williams

Former Chief Editor, Informa Markets

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