I have been actively working with ASA for 20 years now. When I started in 2002, there were only two networking groups — Young Executives (now Emerging Leaders) and the Past Presidents. 

Since then, ASA has done an excellent job of organizing peer networking groups within job specialties across member companies and by doing so, ASA has increased the number of ways to gain value and engage into the association. One of ASA’s fastest-growing specialty groups is our Women in Industry division, which was the industry’s first such peer group. 

This division was formed to help attract and promote the expanding role of women in an industry traditionally dominated by men. When we first formed WII, our industry was beginning to face significant labor loss, and women comprised only 26% of our labor force. At that time, with 50% of the U.S. population being female, we felt that a strong effort to bolster our industry’s low percentage could go a long way toward solving our declining labor numbers. 

The focus of WII is empowering women by providing them with the opportunity to connect — through practical guidance, direction and education to reach their individual and company’s professional goals. Even more important, WII has become a great example that we can display to women who are considering joining our industry of the exciting careers that are being built by women in our industry.  

Any woman who is employed by an ASA member company is eligible to engage and gain access to the many benefits that make it invaluable to almost every woman. Let’s face it, our industry needs to attract, retain and promote qualified and educated women for the long-term sustainability of the PHCP-PVF industry.

Helping to spotlight the careers and great opportunities is the Women in Industry Alice A. Martin Woman of the Year Award, established several years ago to honor the legacy of the late Alice A. Martin of NIBCO. The award was established to recognize women in the PHCP-PVF industry who have a record of significant accomplishment within the industry, and who embody the character of Martin. We will recognize the 2021 award winner at this month’s Women in Industry ELEVATE2021 virtual event, as well as at NETWORK2021 live in Las Vegas Nov. 9-11. 

Speaking of ELEVATE, it is rapidly becoming a must-attend event, annually attracting more than 200 attendees from hundreds of ASA member companies across all industry segments. 

Still dealing with the disruption from the ongoing pandemic, ELEVATE switched to a virtual format this year and will be held April 20-23. I am thrilled to report that as of this writing, more than 300 women have signed up for the event and will experience a strong program headlined by Tami Evans’ first-day keynote “Passport to Excellence: Making the Most of Your Personal and Professional Journey.” 

For more on ELEVATE virtual, check out Natalie Forster’s column here.

I am extremely proud of the ELEVATE conference and how it enables ASA to strengthen the network of women working for ASA member companies and their ability to expand their careers in this industry.

I encourage you to take advantage of all of the special interest groups, none more than Women in Industry. It is our future.