In 2016, Lee Lipniskis, of Core Contractors, attended the International Roofing Expo in Las Vegas. During the convention, every seminar was packed, and she was surprised at the number of women in attendance. However, Lee realized that if this was the entire representation of women in the roofing industry, it was a very small pool.
She felt a profound solidarity with each woman she met and a desire to glean from their expertise and wisdom. Lee recalls realizing that they all had something in common, “We were women, we were a little rough around the edges and we were strong enough to hold our own in a male dominated industry.” Seeing women in influential roles from competing companies root each other on was inspiring enough for Lee to establish the National Women in Roofing, Colorado Council chapter.
The National branch was formed in a similar fashion when the original founding members were enjoying a day off at the beach. Conversation turned toward how to best spur women forward in roofing and, collaboratively, they founded National Women in Roofing. National Women in Roofing (NWIR) is a volunteer-based organization that supports and advances the careers of women roofing professionals. Their focus is on networking, mentoring, education and recruitment opportunities; from the rooftop to the boardroom, for the young professional at the start of her career to the seasoned manager in the executive suite.
Currently, 38 councils exist nationwide and each one has embodied the pillars a bit differently. The Colorado Council has 123 members and has strongly pivoted toward education. Their goals for 2019 include a 30% increase in member engagement, a partnership with a non-profit of their choosing, and three hands on educational opportunities for members. There is a lot of stigma around women in the roofing industry and Lee is on a mission to dispel it: “When people think of us, they might imagine we just sit around, drink wine, and gossip. In reality, we’re holding powerful business meetings that equip women with resources and the education to advance their careers. We talk about storm prep, difficulties in hiring, the current labor force shortage, insurance regulations and the green roof initiative. It’s amazing to be in a room with people who understand you.”
NWIR’s website states that their emphasis is placed on connecting and empowering women so that their training and leadership skills can drive the betterment and professionalism of the roofing industry. Membership also includes and welcomes men who support the inclusion of women in the roofing industry. Working together, they are bringing the industry to a new level of excellence by supporting and promoting the contributions of women as an essential component to the future of roofing.