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Energy and Green Intiatives, Healthy Homes Initiative, NASCSP Updates, Weatherization

Women of Weatherization- #WomenOfWAP (#1)

The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) has been around for over 40 years and has served over 7.4 million households, saving families money and making their homes healthier and safer. From the very beginning of the WAP’s history, women have been a driving force in weatherization. This is the first post of a month long feature for Women’s History Month. Each post will highlight a few of the women working across the country in the Weatherization Assistance Program. You can join the conversation on social media with the hashtag: #WomenOfWAP

Featured in this post…

Rukia Streeter- Weatherization Specialist, Illinois

Brenda Ilg- LIEAP/WAP Program Manager, Wyoming

Ruth Torres- Residential Building Analyst Supervisor, New Jersey


Rukia Streeter

Weatherization Specialist, City of Rockford Community Action Agency, Illinois

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1.How did you first get interested and involved in weatherization?

A former college teacher of mine called me and said I should sign up for the Urban Weatherization Program. He said they were looking for qualified women and that I would be great at it! He was right!

2.Tell us about your current and past roles in the WAP.

I started out as a trainee in the Urban Weatherization Program. I studied basic building science and received my BPI Building Analyst certification. I currently work for the City of Rockford Community Action Agency as a Weatherization Specialist and a Quality Control Inspector performing energy audits and final inspections for the IHWAP program and the Emergency Furnace Program through LIHEAP.

3.What is it like being a woman in weatherization? Advantages? Challenges?

Being a woman in Weatherization is great! Weatherization is still mainly male dominant and can be quite competitive. It makes me set the bar high and challenge myself more often which promotes self growth.

4.Why do you work in weatherization? What about your job makes you excited to go to work in the morning?

Weatherization is the same yet vastly different every day. I love that I get to be outside and meet new people everyday. This job is never boring and is always making me ask questions. I am constantly learning as new technology emerges and building practices change. I also like that I am helping people while helping the environment. I am lessening the energy burden for the client and the world one house at a time. It’s a small contribution but a contribution nonetheless.

5.Do you have advice for other women interested in joining the weatherization field?

My advice to women is to use any hesitation and fear you may have as a driving force to be the best auditor you can be and don’t be afraid of a little competition!


Brenda Ilg

LIEAP/WAP Program Manager, Wyoming Department of Family Services

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1.How did you first get interested and involved in weatherization?

By a very fortunate result of being selected to take on the role of Program Manager for the WAP in Wyoming.

2.Tell us about your current and past roles in the WAP.

I have been the State of Wyoming WAP Program Manager since October 8th, 2008.

3.What is it like being a woman in weatherization? Advantages? Challenges?

For me, being a woman in weatherization has been very positive. There is so much to learn in this steadily evolving field, especially early on in my case, that it has really kept the challenge alive for me and that makes it such an exciting and energizing field to be engaged in. For me, the advantage of being a woman and being new to weatherization was that I knew I would need to study and work hard to be successful. I wasn’t afraid to ask questions and say “teach me” or “show me.”

4.Why do you work in weatherization? What about your job makes you excited to go to work in the morning?

Weatherization has such a far-reaching impact for the families we serve, for society, for the environment, local economies – how can one not feel good about that? It is knowing that every day we make a difference, whether it’s saving a family from carbon monoxide poisoning, providing significant energy savings to seniors living on limited and fixed retirement incomes, or resolving a heat loss emergency for a single parent with young children in the home. Every day we make a difference and we save lives. And, as an added bonus, I get to work with phenomenal people.

5.Do you have advice for other women interested in joining the weatherization field?

Do your homework. Discover what about weatherization you are interested in the most. Is it the energy audit process? Is it the hands-on installation of weatherization measures that interests you? Are you interested in quality control? Management? Policy? Whatever your interest, I advise contacting a weatherization agency to see if you can get a first hand look. Ask questions. Look for opportunities which could even be volunteer opportunities at first. Trust your gut. If it feels like a good fit, it probably is. Don’t let a perceived lack of knowledge or skill set hold you back. Jump in with both feet. You will learn and develop skills. Enjoy the ride.


Ruth Torres

Residential Building Analyst Supervisor, Greater Bergen Community Action, New Jersey

Ruth Torres

1.How did you first get interested and involved in weatherization?

I have a construction background and a past friend told me about the job.

2.Tell us about your current and past roles in the WAP.

I started as a crew member for 2 years and worked my way up to becoming a technician and now I am the technicians’ supervisor, still doing inspections for the past 10 years. (12 years total on the job).

3.What is it like being a woman in weatherization? Advantages? Challenges?

Being a woman in weatherization is okay until some people think you cannot do the job of a man. Most people are surprised to even see a woman in this field. An advantage I would say is that a lot of elderly women trust me and are very happy to see a woman in there home. As far as challenges go, it is a lot of pressure that comes with the responsibility on your shoulders when someone doesn’t have heat.

4.Why do you work in weatherization? What about your job makes you excited to go to work in the morning?

I work in weatherization because I love helping people. I work with some wonderful people, so yes I am excited to go to work and work with them.

5. Do you have advice for other women interested in joining the weatherization field?

Be confident in your work. Love the job you do and know that anyone can do anything they put their mind to. #womenpower

 

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About NASCSP

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