The Louisville, Ky., chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) is one of over 179 chapters in the United States enhancing the success of women in the construction industry. The chapter, which represents women in Louisville and southern Indiana, has been playing an instrumental role in the industry for 47 years.
"We have a dynamic group of women," says Sherry Blakey, president of Encon Contracting, LLC, Louisville, and president of the 33-member Louisville chapter. "It's a diverse group, including owners, bookkeepers, suppliers, and a heavy equipment operator. I'm very proud of these ladies."
Other chapter officers are Stephanie Branham, North Coast Commercial Roofing Systems — president-elect (she begins her term Oct. 1); Sandy Boehringer, McKinney Drilling — vice president; Erin Hall, Messer Construction Co. — treasurer; Suzie Kayrouz, Gohmann Asphalt & Construction Co. Inc. — recording secretary; and Norma Vuckson, R.L. Vuckson Excavating Inc. — corresponding secretary. Members of the board of directors are Angela Stephens, Stites & Harbeson; Beth Robison, Gohmann; Angie Stokes, Messer; and Carlotta Sadler, Gohmann.
NAWIC's Louisville chapter's objectives include promoting education, networking, personal growth and development, and industry and community involvement. Community service is a group priority, with participation in the Block-Kids program and Girls Scouts. "We try to reach out to children," Blakey says.
Like its sister NAWIC chapters in Region 4 (which includes Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio), the Louisville chapter promotes and supports the advancement and employment of women in the construction industry. "We encourage women to seek careers in the industry, and we encourage women to support other women," says Blakey, a 17-year NAWIC member.
Blakey says the industry is becoming more accepting of women, and there are more opportunities. "The industry has changed quite a bit in the last 10 to 15 years," she says. "There aren't as many obstacles today, but sometimes we still have to prove that we can get the job done. Our chapter encourages women to do their jobs — to get out there and show what they can do."
Blakey, who began her 25-year construction career with a commercial roofing company, founded Encon Contracting, LLC five years ago. Her daughter, Staci Murdoch, is project manager. "We do erosion control and ground restoration mostly on city-type projects, and we also do private work with some of our member companies," she says.
NAWIC has a membership of more than 5,500. Since 1996, NAWIC has grown internationally, with the signing of several International Affiliation Agreements — including one with South African Women in Construction. In November, Blakey will be among a delegation of 35 NAWIC members from across the country traveling to South Africa. "We are going to meet with the South African women, and see their customs," she says.