Iowa Leads the Way in Female Leadership

Iowa can often surprise you with its’ progressiveness and forward-thinking business climate. Recently, I was elected to the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of The Home Builders’ Association of Greater Des Moines, in the role of 2nd Vice President. Having been a board member for the past three years, my election to the leadership team is noteworthy because I am rounding out an all-female leadership team – for the first time in the history of the National Association of Home Builders. Rachel Flint, who leads Hubbell Homes – one of the largest builders in the state, is the current President and Kalen Ludwig, who leads Groundbreaker Homes and writes the most widely-read industry report for builders and developers in the area, is now the 1st Vice President and will be President a year from now. While surprising that no other state in the country has reached this milestone yet, it speaks to the forward-thinking leadership of not only the current leaders, like Dan Knoup and Adam Grubb, but the members who have come before us.

My father, Bill Kimberley, was President of the HBA 30 years before I will be sworn in as President. He hired Sherry Failor, a longtime building industry media expert, and creator and Editor of Build and Welcome Home magazines, as the Executive Director of the organization. This was the first time a female filled this key position, and from what I hear, she did a fantastic job and brought an entirely new energy to the role. At the time, this was a contentious position to be in, as numerous members disagreed and wanted things status quo – men leading men. The members who supported the elevation of women in building are often some of the members who are still most active today.

While less than 5% of the National Association of Home Builders members are women, even less so in the state of Iowa, we aim to change that. One of the best ways to do so is for young girls witnessing women at the forefront of the construction industry. The construction industry, like many industries in our country, has a major labor shortage. Fewer young people are choosing careers in construction. Whether this is due to misconceived notions of what the field has to offer or parents hesitating to encourage their child that construction is a viable career, one of our major goals is to let young people – both girls and boys – know that whatever your skillset and passion, the construction industry has something for you.

The wide variety of careers offered range from construction attorneys – like Jodie McDougal, Partner at Davis Brown Law Firm and Construction Department Chair to Erin Ollendike, Project Manager and Engineer at Civil Design Advantage, to Amy Kimberley, 10-year board member and Secretary of the HBA and Showroom Consultant at Ferguson Plumbing and Lighting.

Almost half of our staff at Kimberley Development Corporation is comprised of women, from our longest-serving employee, my mother, Shannon Kimberley, who has run our commercial property management for almost three decades, to more recently, April Ford, who is our marketing and design coordinator, Joni Horton who runs our accounts payable/receivable, Lisa Cameron, who is lead estimator and client specialist, and Rylee Knutson who is our design coordinator.

Currently, women make up just 1.3% of the construction workforce according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017 data). Women in the construction industry earn 95 cents on the dollar to their male counterparts, which is leading our country in closing the wage gap. While we have a long way to go, the road was paved by the foresight of leaders of previous generations. The current board aims to both honor that and increase the trajectory of what is possible for women in the skilled trades.

Read more about women leading the way in the recent Build Des Moines Publication!