NAWIC Names Soto and Henry as 2007 Crystal Vision Award Winners

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Veronica Soto, director of the small business program for the Los Angeles Unified School District, and Deborah J. Henry, Ph.D., director of special programs at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, help pave the way for women in the construction industry. NAWIC's Crystal Vision Awards celebrate the achievements of individuals with vision who help promote, expand and encourage the role of women in the construction industry.

Veronica encourages women to participate in the workshops that we offer. She takes time to provide them with one-on-one guidance, support and assistance. The passion she demonstrates in assisting [these women] to develop strength and meet their desired goals and successes in this industry is unsurpassed.

The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) is pleased to announce the winners of its 13th annual Crystal Vision Awards. The mission of the Crystal Vision Awards is to recognize individuals who promote, expand and encourage the role of women in the construction industry. Veronica Soto is the recipient of the Crystal Vision Award, which is awarded to a nonmember of NAWIC, and Deborah J. Henry, Ph.D., is the recipient of the Crystal Achievement Award, which is awarded to a NAWIC member.

Veronica Soto is the manager of the small business program for the Los Angeles Unified School District's $19.3 billion School Construction and Modernization program. Soto has 10 years experience in creating and implementing economic development programs to increase and build the capacity of small and/or disadvantaged firms. She joined the District in February of 2003 to create and implement a Small Business Program to enable the District to achieve its 25 percent Small Business Enterprise (SBE) participation goal, and increase the pool of contractors, engineers, architects and other professionals to participate in the District's $19.3 billion school construction program.

Maria D. Acosta, Los Angeles district director for the U.S. Department of Commerce's Minority Business Development Agency, says Soto has earned great respect from her peers and the business community. "Veronica encourages women to participate in the workshops that we offer. She takes time to provide them with one-on-one guidance, support and assistance. The passion she demonstrates in assisting [these women] to develop strength and meet their desired goals and successes in this industry is unsurpassed."

In her role as manager of the small business program for the school district, Soto's responsibilities include the development and continued management of several programs: the Small Business Boot Camp, Contractor MoneyWork$, the We Build Construction Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program and the iSEE Architectural & Engineering Internship Program. Soto makes a concerted effort to ensure all students interested in these programs are able to participate, especially young women who are underrepresented in these fields. Collectively, these programs serve to change the face of the construction industry in both race and gender.

Deborah J. Henry, Ph.D., is the director of special programs at the University of Missouri, St. Louis. She is a 27-year member of NAWIC and is currently a member of the St. Louis, Mo., Chapter. At the University, she teaches in the Department of History and Institute for Women and Gender Studies. She often mentors students in the civil engineering program, helping with scholarship applications, interview skills and résumé preparation. Her industry and NAWIC connections help secure internships for these young women pursuing construction-related careers. Henry is also responsible for directing the University's Advanced Credit Program in St. Louis metropolitan-area high schools. She is the University's contact for more than 3,500 area students.

Henry's nominator, Kimberly A. Staats, also a member of the St. Louis Chapter says, "Deborah's many years as a project engineer fueled her passion for the construction industry. When that passion was combined with her dedication to the success of women and minorities in construction, she became an unstoppable force for their success. She is a true champion of inclusivity born of an understanding that true success can only be achieved using a wide and diverse pool of resources."

Few people have as clear a vision as Henry of what is possible when everyone joins together to work toward a common goal. Henry recognizes that when we focus our commonalities and appreciate our differences, we can build the construction industry to be the best of the best.

Soto and Henry will be honored on Sept. 8, 2007 for their achievements during the Crystal Vision Awards Gala at NAWIC's 52nd Annual Meeting and Convention in Orlando, Fla. The recipients of this year's Crystal Vision Awards were selected by a panel of three judges: Karen Brannon, educational consultant for Paxton/Patterson; Richard Cattanach, executive director of Associated General Contractors of Alaska; and Matt Stevens, president of Stevens Construction Institute Inc.

The Crystal Vision Awards Program was established by NAWIC Past National President Susan Levy in 1995. The program recognizes individuals who promote the role of women in construction through initiatives, policies or legislation. The Crystal Vision Award recognizes a nonmember of NAWIC, and the Crystal Achievement Award recognizes a member of the Association. Since the first visionaries were selected in 1995, this one-of-a-kind program has not only fulfilled its purpose of recognizing exemplary leaders in the industry, it has developed a reputation for honoring individuals who are committed to building a diverse work force amidst the demanding backdrops of the industry today. To schedule interviews or learn more about the Crystal Vision Program, contact Kara Roberson at (800) 552-3506.

Founded in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1955, NAWIC is an international Association serving approximately 5,500 members in nearly 200 chapters in the United States. NAWIC is proud to celebrate more than fifty years of service. NAWIC's Core Purpose is "To enhance the success of women in the construction industry."

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