Trades Women Conference promotes empowerment

More than 2,800 attendees discussed, networked and learned about the importance of empowering tradeswomen during the 2019 North America’s Building Trade Unions (NABTU) Trades Women Build Nations (TWBN) Conference.

The 9th annual Conference, which not only helps to promote women in the building trades, but also provides them with speakers and workshops geared to helping them be successful and advance in the industry.


This was the third consecutive year the HFIAW provided financial support to encourage our union Sisters to attend. During the first weekend in October, more than 2,800 tradeswomen and tradesmen met in Minneapolis surpassing the previous attendance record for the event, which was set last year in Seattle. The Insulators were proud to have over 175 Sisters and Brothers in attendance.

Participation by members of the Insulators Union has increased year-over-year, and the IIIATF proudly announced that 46 Local Unions, with at least one Local from every Conference, took part in the conference.

The three-day event was packed with speakers and workshop sessions. The opening session included addresses from NABTU President Sean McGarvey, AFL-CIO SecretaryTreasurer Liz Shuler and Ullico President Stephanie Whalen.

McGarvey welcomed all attendees and thanked everyone for their dedication to the industry by wanting to spend the weekend with thousands of Sisters. “Our movement is your movement, our progress is your progress,” McGarvey said as he detailed the various forms of support NABTU offers the building trades.


Shuler, a current IBEW Sister and the AFL-CIO’s first elected female leader, urged all attendees to be empowered and to offer support to other women in Unions. “We are making changes in our movement,” she said.

Insulator Union Sisters escorted Whalen to the stage, including Gina Walsh, Diana Norris, Claudia Sixtos, Sheilann Williams, Rubidia Rivas, Ashley Duncan, Dee Alfich, Kim Patrick and Debra Patrick.

Her speech focused on empowerment and the ability to empower others. She discussed how she was able to get support and mentorship from the males around her in order to be successful in her career.

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sent a video message to the attendees. As someone who broke a gender barrier, she gave a heart-felt message to those women paving the path for future women in the building trades.

Ginsburg’s video message can be seen here.

Several breakout sessions were offered on Saturday and Sunday with members of the Insulators Union present at the following
sessions: Building a Women’s Committee; Building Trades Multi-Employer Plans and Benefits; C.O.R.E. (Critical Organizing and Recruitment Education); How Unions Can Best Engage Millennials and Nurture Their Energy; How to Run for Office
In Your Local Union; Learn Who Has What; Where: Pregnancy Accommodation and Paid Maternity; LGBTQ+; Deconstructing Gender and Working with And Supporting Trans And Gender Diverse Folks in The Building Trades; Policy Matters: Legislation, Regulations and Initiatives to Benefit Tradeswomen; Respectful Workplace (DOL-Women’s Bureau); Sexual Harassment: Preventing and Addressing Sexual Harassment; Suicide Prevention/Opioid; Surviving and Thriving in Apprenticeship; Tradeswomen Advocacy 101; and You Can Have It All – Build Your Support System to Success.

Local 45 Sister Lynette Jones led the Caring for Hair and Skin When You Wear A Hardhat session.


Newly appointed LMCT Deputy Director Gina Walsh was featured in the breakout session titled, “Lean In: Women
in Leadership Positions.”

Local 118 Vice President Ashley Duncan eagerly attended the Lean In session and came away impressed. “I’ll be participating and coordinating on the roll-out of Lean In with Build Together BC,” she said. “It was nice getting an overview prior to starting. Very insightful on how other women handle issues and problems on the job.”

On Saturday, the Insulators held a union-wide caucus, where Sisters and Brothers heard from Union and Training leadership in attendance. During the caucus, Local 1 Sister Ashley Cougill was awarded a Certificate of Recognition for her acts of unionism over the past year.

During the caucus, General Secretary-Treasurer Greg Revard also made a big announcement: Local 1 Sister, State Senator and current Missouri Building and Construction Trades Council President Gina Walsh was appointed Labor Management Corporative Trust Deputy Director.

Walsh is now the highest-ranking female in the Insulators Union. She comes to this position with extensive experience as a proud Union Sister and with a rich history of political experience. Walsh was praised and received a standing ovation from her Sisters and Brothers after Revard’s announcement.


The group then joined the NABTU Trades Parade in the streets of downtown Minneapolis. In addition to the Sisters carrying banners promoting the trade and their Locals, many of our union Brothers participated and walked side by side with our Sisters in solidarity.

“I feel the more Insulators attend the conference, the more positive influence it has on our union,” said Local 17
Sister Alexandria Gray.

Local 18 President Kim Patrick appreciated the solidarity shown by conference attendees. “This is just one more way the leaders here can show and act on their support for the conference and for the women who are in our trade,” she said.

Local 2 Sister Samantha Lippert-Kendall encouraged all women and Local Union leadership to attend. “It is not just about numbers, but about the connections you are making with the peers who are there,” she added. “We are a support system, and being a female in the trade, we are there to support and we do support each other.”

Local 86 Sister Crystal Cantrell, the first appointed female on the Local 86 JATC Committee, came away from the weekend committed to be an asset to her Local Union. She learned how to take the steps to help diversify her Local, which starts with recruitment efforts.


Thank you to the following Sisters and Brothers who support the Insulators Union and attended the 2019 NABTU Women Build Nations Conference: Local 1: Ashley Cougill, Natalie Quick, Kathleen Walsh, Amber Wozniak, Business Manager Gerry Donovan and Training Coordinator Terry Walsh; Local 2: Jessica Burney, Samantha Lippert-Kendall, Courtney PenBerthy, Kayla Varney and Business Manager Jim Cassidy; Local 3: Ebonie Bridges and Wendy Kistner; Local 4: Michelle Jacobsen and Sherilyn Snyder-Parker; Local 5: Deneisha Jackson and Claudia Sixtos; Local 6: Nicole Dalton, Sheilann Williams and Training Coordinator Rick Rothwell; Local 7: Olivia Bryant, LeTraya Lee and Business Manager Todd Mitchell; Local 8: Melissa Black; Local 14: Shana Graber, Thalia Morales, Debra Patrick, Business Agent Robert Cellucci and Training Coordinator Edward Krawczyk; Local 16: Jessica Collins, Stacey JonesManning, Brittany Nava and President and Training Coordinator Bill Hodges; Local 17: Delia Alfich, Natalie Dominguez, Jennifer Frank, Jeri Gandy, Alexandria Gray,
Ashley Margentina, Jolene Raudio and Training Coordinator Bob McGuckin; Local 18: President Kim Patrick; Local 19: Michelle Krachey, Emilyjo Tate and Training Coordinator Craig Stevens; Local 23: Cindy Montoya; Local 24: LaKacha Barnes, Telma Mata, Otilia Perez, Devora Rivas, Rubidia Rivas, Massiela Ruiz, Business Manager Brian Cavey and Training Coordinator Jim Hoos; Local 25: Barrie Conner, Laura Dertz, Robert Ducker, Tami Ducker, Kelsey Somoski and Constance Vincent; Local 30: Angelica Reinhardt; Local 33: Lara Bannon and Maria Leath; Local 34: Monet Daniels, Liza Douville, Helen Griffin, Teanna Gutzke, Erica Hartse, Brianna Huspek, Ciara Knight, Casey Messler, Angela Peterson, Lisa Schmidt, Angela Sheehan, Lindsey Skeie, Tanya White, Business Manager Sam Schultz, Business Agent Al Byers, Business Agent Pete Verdeja, Business Agent George Kisel and Training Coordinator Eric Houske; Local 36: Shawna Frahm, Angela D’Esposito, Maxine Lachnite-Pelker, Jessica Oldroyd and Sarah Schuff; Local 39: Janae Spring, Business Manager Marvin Marshall and President John Hanson; Local 40: Carol Cole; Local 45: Lynette Jones, Amber Ledford and Lauren Varga; Local 46: Jean Huskins, Lindsey Taylor Schooler and Emily VanWinkle; Local 47: Mary Jo Hidalgo; Local 50: Cherikee Ringer, Amy Shaeffer and Training Coordinator Kenny Craft; Local 53: Melissa Madron Ryals; Local 55: Diana Norris and Tammy Yarnell; Local 58: Isabelle Deschenes, Jade St. Pierre and Business Manager Pierre Gollain; Local 60: Bianca Heredia; Local 62: Cathy Deno; Local 64: Vivyana Aguirre and Teresa Payne; Local 78: Isabel Ortego and Jermisha Smith; Local 80: Candy Harmon, Angela Herald and Training Coordinator Todd Motz; Local 82: Alexa Edwards and Training Coordinator HB Wright; Local 86: Crystal Cantrell; Local 90: Cynthia Braddock and JoAnn King; Local 92: Jamie Hentges and Patricia Holder; Local 96: Jennifer Jenkins and Rachel Smith; Local 110: Laura Adams, Janice Matlock and Robyn Noyes; Local 118: Vice President Ashley Duncan, Lindsay Sangster and Business Manager Neil Munro; Local 127: Erica Schneider; Local
131: Makayla Graham Danielle Burchill and Abigale McAdam; Local 135: Melisa Pender and Michele Valoaga; Local 137: Michelle MacNeil and Glenda Roylan; General Secretary-Treasurer Greg Revard, Midwest States Conference International Vice President Mark Selby, LMCT Executive Director Pete Ielmini, LMCT Deputy Director Gina Walsh, Government Affairs Director Chip Gardiner, IIIATF Administrator Tom Haun, IIIATF Administrator John Stahl and IIIATF Administrative Assistant Christina Bouchard.

At the conclusion of the final plenary, Washington D.C. was named host city for the 2020 TWBN Conference. The Insulators Union will continue to update the page with any information related to the conference. Please continue to check this page for updates.

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