DC16 Women in Construction

Posted March 6, 2023

In honor of Women in Construction week, we would like to recognize some of our women in the Trades! We appreciate your hard work and dedication in your respected craft. You are an inspiration to all women who may be pursuing not just a job, but a career!

Sharon Brown – Painter, Local Union 3

Sharon works for MGM Drywall and is currently working at the Brooklyn Basin Project in Oakland. Sharon is a graduate from MC3 program Rising Sun. She says the best part of her Apprenticeship so far is learning something new everyday. Her foreman Luis has taken her under his wing and is showing Sharon how to mask and primer surfaces. Sharon says that the construction industry has introduced her to people she would’ve never met otherwise and is excited to meet other tradeswomen. 

Marlen Maranda – Drywall Finisher, Local Union 83

Marlen met a friend who introduced her to the trade, she had no experience but needed a change and wanted something new. Marlen heard about an opportunity at Centro Laboral de Graton, who worked with the DC16 Apprenticeship School, and after completing a 6-month program in 2017, Marlen joined Local 83 as a 75% apprentice.

Marlen is now a Journeyman working full time and was a delegate for Tradeswomen Build Nations Conference representing Local 83 in Las Vegas last October. What she says to encourage other women is “Don’t be intimidated by men on the job… The union offers good work for good pay”.

In her spare time, Marlen spends time with her family and is dedicated to taking care of them.

Heidi Phillips – Painter, Local Union 159

Heidi has been a member of LU159 for over 20 years.  She is an incredibly talented faux finisher and Heid also is a paperhanger and painter here in Las Vegas.  She has traveled all over the world doing unique and amazing finishes in our industry.  When asked what she loves about being a tradeswoman, without missing a beat, she responded: “I make good money all on my own and have created a great life for myself because of Union wages and have not had to be dependent on anyone else.”

Melissa Rector – Painter, Local Union 159

Melissa is in her final year of the apprenticeship. She has taken advantage of all opportunities the apprenticeship has offered by tapping into all kinds of crafts. She has been a Painter, an Industrial Painter, a Drywall Finisher, as well as where she is currently thriving, a Paperhanger. Melissa is the proud mother of an amazing daughter that she is preparing to be a force to be reckoned with in our world. Melissa is also very involved with our Volunteer Activist Committee and is a needed voice within our Local Union Monthly Meetings.

Meghan Sharp – Painter, Local Union 159

“For 15 years I was a manicurist here in Las Vegas, but after the pandemic I simply couldn’t rely on my struggling business to get me to the goals I had for the future. So, I sought out what new career would provide me with health benefits and eventually a retirement I could count on and work towards, which lead me to union work. I originally signed up to specifically join the painter’s union thinking, ‘I already paint for a living, this is just a bigger canvas.’ 

The pre-apprenticeship program was fantastic! I got all my certifications to be ready to work and a comprehensive boot camp training in wall covering, not to mention three weeks to adjust to a new early bird schedule. 

I was so excited to get taken on as an apprentice at DC Vient right away and working alongside journeymen I see now just how much I got to learn in those three weeks and am so grateful I didn’t have to start from scratch. This is a career I can feel secure in and being a part of my union feels like I’ve joined a team I can rely on and grow with; I can’t wait to give it my all.”

Melody “Mel” Pastor – Painter, Local Union 159

“My name is Melody or to most I go by Mel, born and raised on the island of Oahu. I can honestly say I ‘started from the bottom, now I’m here!’  

I briefly was a helper, slowly working my way into getting sponsored to become a Union member. When my career in the Union started to take off, I gained so much knowledge and experience from my fellow peers and mentors.  I’ve had the pleasure of applying my skills that I’ve accumulated in those 5 years on Oahu, by being a part of projects for both residential and commercial buildings.  

With all the invested opportunities I’ve had in Hawaii and my growing passion for this trade, I’ve decided to journey out in Las Vegas with pride and excitement to perform the skills in my everyday duties here with George Raymond Co.  Meanwhile, being eager to grow more and flourish in my role here in Vegas.  It has been a journey for sure, but I’m here and ready to keep thriving as a female in this trade.” 

Sarah Delgadillo – Painter, Local Union 376

“Joining the trades gave me the opportunity to work hard, stay busy, positive, and humble
in order to be able to raise my daughter with a hungry for work mentality.”

Sarah Coyne – Industrial Painter, Local Union 741

Being a member of the IUPAT DC16 LU 741 for almost 30 years has been an incredible experience filled with some amazing opportunities. Some of those opportunities are, graduating from the apprenticeship school, working out in the field, becoming a full-time apprenticeship instructor, earning my AA and BA degrees utilizing scholarships provided by the union, and was the Executive Assistant Director of the International Finishing Trades Institute in Hanover, Maryland. These opportunities were available to me as a direct result of being a member in good standing but more importantly because I have always been involved with my Local union and District Council.

I recently moved back to California and am a Foreman for Murphy Industrial Coatings, Inc. Special thanks to my Business Rep. James Boster for recommending the company and to Pete Brake for giving me the opportunity to be part of his team. Being successful in the trades can be difficult. Having support and mentors, to me is key. I wouldn’t be where I’m at today if it wasn’t for folks like the late “Great Ron Johnson”, DC4 Dan Penski, Mike Cassidy-Long Painting, Terry Webb-Eureka Glass, and Elmer Kennessy-former BA LU741. My life today is good! I’m self-sufficient, independent, have health care, a pension, and a good job working with good people.

Ayesha Benson Calloway – Drywall Finisher, Local Union 913

“My name is Ayesha Benson Calloway. I’ve been working in the construction trades for 23 years. I attended a construction training when I was 16 years old called Young Community Developers in San Francisco. After I completed the training, I joined the Local 22 Carpenters Union, where I worked as a Carpenter Apprentice for 2 years before switching over to the Painters Union to become a Painter and later becoming a Journey Level (Journeyman) Drywall Finisher.

I’ve been a Drywall Finisher with Local 913 for over 15 years now and I must say, it’s been worth the ride. Growing from an apprentice to Journeyman and being able to learn all the different aspects of the trade. It has given me stability in life, allowing me to travel different parts of the world with my friends and family and become a homeowner. As a woman in the Drywall Finishing trade, it hasn’t always been easy, but as I worked hard to learn the trade, it has gotten easier for me. I enjoy being a Finisher because it’s consistent and fast pace with great pay and benefits.   

In the future, I look forward to seeing more women in the Drywall Finisher trade, but I’m here offering all the apprentices support and motivation while helping train them to become successful Journeyman.”

La`Jeana Thompson – Painter, Local Union 913

On behalf of Women in Construction Week we would like to honor our Local Union 913 Sister and VAC Coordinator La`Jeana Thompson of San Francisco, CA. As a long-standing member and Painter of 15 years, she has worked extremely hard in the trades to maintain her stability and empower other women to join. As the VAC Coordinator of 5 years she has hosted monthly events as a strategy to recruit new members especially women, team build and create union awareness overall. La`Jeana is very passionate and creative when it comes down to planning VAC events like homeless outreach feedings for individuals experience homelessness or just passing out hygiene kits to the less fortunate as a way of recognizing and acknowledge their hardship. Over the years she has expressed time and time again her love for the trade and how it has changed her life for the better; her goal is to encourage other women to join in hopes it will do the same for them.

Maria Zaragoza-Camarena – Drywall Finisher, Local Union 913

“Hi, my name Is Maria Zaragoza. I joined the union in 2021 because I wanted a better future for myself and doing something hands on such as Drywall Finishing, is somewhere I can be artistic and make money at the same time. I joined through City Build which is a pre-apprenticeship program where you learn about a variety of trades and get training prior to picking one you want to pursue. I am glad San Francisco City College has this program because it led me to this opportunity of making a career out of something that is fun. I was 21 not knowing what I was walking into but I’m glad I did as it has taught me discipline & commitment. My end goal in life is to learn the trade and teach others.

When I was growing up, my family didn’t have much. I was raised by my mom, a single mother, and my sister & I are a year and a half apart.  Things were limited. This career will help my family and I have a lifestyle where we can live comfortable and do fun things together.

Being a women in the trades has been a roller coaster. I have had the bad and the good, but all of this shows that if I can do it, other women can as well. Don’t ever give up, keep pushing!”

Brittney Nelson – Glazier, Local Union 1621

“I am a AGMT Certified Glazier.  I am a leadman for All Bay Area Glass out of Oakland, California. In 2022 I was awarded NCGMA Glazier of the year from ABAG. My experience throughout my career has been extremely positive. I have worked extremely hard at my trade and continue to learn every day.  I’m grateful to be financially independent, as well as very secure in my financial future. 

I have worked for 3 companies throughout my career. I worked a short time for Permasteelisa, I was with Rynoclad Technologies for 5 1/2 years and the past 9 months I’ve been employed with All Bay Area Glass. 

I am in a very positive and unique environment with All Bay Area Glass, ABAG. Shaune Gbana, the owner, is a female as well as a second generation owner. She has been a great mentor and amazing support in the time I’ve worked for her.” 

Trisha Cabral – Glazier, Local Union 1621

“Being in the trade as a woman has impacted me in so many ways. It has given me the courage and independence I have never had before. I have overcome many fears, and finally felt proud of myself that I actually can do it, and have done things I never even thought I could. I am proud to be able to say that I am a woman in the trade, it is a feeling I will never forget.”

Aletta Banks – Glazier, Local Union 2001

“I am very grateful to be a Glazier Apprentice. I love learning the different type of systems and learning the different types of tools. Being in this trade has impacted my life a lot, it has made me do more projects on my own and it has helped me become more financially secure.”