The Nashville Chapter #16 of the National Association of Women in Construction was chartered on January 31, 1959, with 32 chartering members. Our chapter was the 16th chapter within the National Association to be chartered; the 1st chapter was Ft. Worth, Texas in 1955.
How did the Nashville Chapter get started? Mr. T. E. Akers (known to most as Jack Akers), now deceased, owner of a general contracting firm, T. E. Akers & Company, attended a meeting of contractors and learned about NAWIC from a man in Memphis. Mr. Akers thought such an association would be of mutual benefit to the construction employers and the ladies working in their offices. He suggested that his “gal Friday” Marion Beazley see how many women would be interested in a NAWIC chapter in Nashville. There were 32 women willing to make the commitment to organize this chapter. Marion Beazley served as the first chapter president.
At the annual convention in 1960 held in Amarillo, Texas, the association was divided into six regions; Nashville being in Region 2. At that time, Region 2 included Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, as well as North and South Carolina. With more chapters being chartered yearly, the regions became too large for close contact and communication. Divisions of the regions have been made through the years and today there are 14 regions. Nashville is still part of Region 2, however, the territory for the region is now Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee (east of the Tennessee River).
The Nashville Chapter has had four of its members serve as National Directors of Region 2 and has been the hostess chapter of five Regional Forums. Additionally, three members of our chapter (Marie (Bouvet) Hardin, Jill Swenson, and Deb Angielczyk) have been name NAWIC Rookie of the Year and three members (Betty Capps, Patsy Smith and Susan Carson) have been named NAWIC of the Year for Region 2.
On a national level, our city has hosted two NAWIC Annual Conventions. We have one member, Patsy Smith, who has held the national office of Treasurer 1994/1995, Vice President 1996/1997, President Elect 1997/1998, and President 1998/1999. In the 1999/2000 year, our chapter was awarded both the Construction Industry and Community Benefit Award at the national convention and Susan Carson was awarded “Thinking Outside the Box”, a special Presidential Award. We currently have one member (Susan Carson) who is active with the NAWIC Education Foundation and has served as Secretary in 2003/2004, Vice President 2004/2005, and as President in 2005/2006.
While the national association of NAWIC has many partnering agreements with various other associations in our industry, the Nashville Chapter of NAWIC entered into it’s own partnering agreement with the Tennessee Road Builders Association in 2004. This partnership, as well as, the close relationship we have developed with AGC of Middle Tennessee, allows our members to participate in events and educational opportunities that enhance our members success in the their careers.
The Cordie Hughes Scholarship, when started by the Nashville Chapter, was named in honor of a Nashville Chapter founding member and her devotion to helping students to pursue a career in the construction industry. The scholarship was designed to assist a student residing in Tennessee and attending a school within the Nashville Chapter region (Tennessee, Alabama or Georgia). Funding for the scholarship fund has been through members efforts in conducting fundraising activities and through solicitations of supporting patrons. In 2004 the Cordie Hughes Scholarship was incorporated to form a 501(c) 3 charitable foundation called the Nashville NAWIC Scholarship Foundation. This allows corporations and individuals to make contributions that are tax deductible. Each year our chapter gives between $2000 and $4000 dollars in scholarships to students in Tennessee who are Juniors and/or Seniors attending colleges and studying in a construction related field.
Through the years, our chapter has offered many educational opportunities to its members and the industry at large. To date there have been 3 courses for certification as a Construction Industry Technician involving both members and non-members of NAWIC. We have conducted Blue Print Reading classes as well as classes in the Introduction to Construction and Intermediate Construction from the NAWIC Education Foundation.
Another educational opportunity for both members and non-members has been construction tours of various projects in the Nashville Area. The U.S. Tobacco facility, the Union Station Hotel renovation, BMI Headquarters building, Centennial Medical Complex, International/Nashville Airport, Adelphia Stadium, and most recently the Nashville Symphony Center. These tours provide members with opportunities to learn about construction first hand and on site from experts in the field.
The Nashville Chapter of NAWIC participates in many programs that promote our industry to students at both the high school level and elementary level of education. Block Kids contests are conducted at elementary schools and with the Girls Scouts of Cumberland Valley and the CAD/Drafting program is conducted at the high school level. Our chapter has played a very active role in the formation of the Tennessee Construction Career Days events that are held each year and we have one member, Susan Carson, who has served as the Event Coordinator for each of the events and also serves as Secretary of the Tennessee Construction Career Days Corporation. In 2004, we joined with the Tennessee Road Builders Association and Ray Bell Construction to support the Bridge Building Program conducted by Chris Cothran in Rutherford County and Williamson County public schools.
Giving back to the community has always been a high priority with our chapter and each year we conduct Civic Programs that provide assistance to the Nashville Community. In the past we have partnered with the Junior League of Nashville to build the “First Ladies Build” with Habitat for Humanity and First Lady Martha Sundquist. Other projects include a brick planting bed for the Knowles Senior Citizen Home and Christmas gifts for the YWCA Domestic Violence Shelter.
The Nashville Chapter of NAWIC strives to be an integral part of the construction community as well as the community at large in the Nashville Area. Our members are respected in both the construction industry and Nashville.