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Energy and Green Intiatives, Healthy Homes Initiative, Weatherization

Women of Weatherization (#8)

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 post is part 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…

Mimi Burbage, Energy Programs Weatherization Manager, Alaska 

Stacey L Oswald, Home Energy Auditor, Iowa 

Veronica Alvarez, Permit Specialist, California


Mimi Burbage

Energy Programs Weatherization Manager, Alaska Housing Finance Corp., Alaska

miimi plane

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

In the late seventies I took a training from DOE on conserving energy in public buildings. I took that program to remote Alaskan villages. It wasn’t really appropriate for the building stock but it introduced me to the brand new world of residential energy efficiency. Working out of Fairbanks Alaska our little company was in on the ground floor of building science especially in cold climate retrofit. We partnered with Canadians to design better homes and figure out what works in older homes.

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

I run the state program now with fifteen weatherization agencies and native housing authorities to reach all parts of our state. In the eighties I ran the early days of weatherization with the small company in Fairbanks. We traveled to almost every community in the state to try to help make homes warmer and safer. Still doing that with our much more advanced industry these days. The weatherization standards and principles are being implemented into many of our other native and rural development housing programs.  I also work with Energy Outwest as Board President which is one of the highlights of my life. This is a group of weatherization professionals from all the Western states and some further east, who have gotten together as a non-profit to further the goals of weatherization. I love traveling to other states and utilizing the network to exchange technical discussions and information.

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

After working as one in fifty women on the Alaska pipeline, it is not so hard. I find that if you know what you are talking about and you are trying to help people to implement change for the better, it doesn’t really matter. Women can often really help with client education just bringing a different perspective.

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

I have loved this job from day one and almost fifty years later I still love it and believe in it strongly. I have seen more of my state than most people ever will and been in the homes of thousands of people. When you see that you have helped someone, that is the greatest gift.  I also love the bigger network of energy professionals and the interaction generated through work with EOW and NASCSP. It is great to share with folks of like mind and profession from states and agencies around the country.

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

You can learn any part of this job and be just as good at as anyone. It’s not easy working in bad weather or with difficult clients but there are so many good moments where you see that you have made a difference that if you slog through the difficult times, it will be so worthwhile. I have always loved learning the science of weatherization and buildings in general. If you become passionate about that, the investigative aspects and the problem resolution provide a lot of satisfaction as well.


Stacey L Oswald

Home Energy Auditor, Operation: New View CAA, Iowa

stacy oswald

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

I used to be an Outreach worker here at Operation: New View CAA working mainly with clients in the office when I started being a part time WAP assistant.  Therefore, I started to get more and more interested into the depth of the program and then eventually progressed into a Home Energy Auditor position.

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

I started as an assistant for WAP, scheduling evaluation appointments, calculating priority numbers, and helping with concerns/questions about the program. I am currently a Home Energy Auditor working towards my QCI certification to become an Inspector for the program as well.

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

Some days are more challenging than others in working in the WAP.  In the beginning, I had a hard time getting contractors/clients taking my role seriously. But it didn’t take long for people to come around; we are all for the same purpose after all…and that is to help people!!

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

The part I love most about my job is being able to help the elderly and disabled make their homes healthy and energy efficient.  The WAP is able to do things to our clients homes that they would normally not be able to afford otherwise. It is a good feeling being able to help!

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

My advice to women in the field is to aim high and be confident in yourself! It doesn’t get any better than helping people and changing lives!!


Veronica Alvarez

Permit Specialist, Central Coast Energy Services, Inc., California

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

I was hired through the LIHEAP program and begun learning all aspects of the job and I love it.

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

I started off assisting customers on the phones, I wanted to gain more knowledge of the actual work and what it all entails, so I started asking more questions and gradually gained more experience doing more hands on. I now work closer with building officials, homeowners, contractors.

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

It’s challenging trying to keep up with all the Building Standards. The advantage is being able to educate the homeowner/customers.

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

I enjoy helping others, in this field of work it is rewarding knowing we can bring a smile to someone with the work we do.

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

It is definitely challenging, but don’t be scared to tackle it on, this line of work is very rewarding.

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About NASCSP

NASCSP Staff

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