Camp NAWIC 2019 - Building Up
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It has been just over a month since the 12th annual Camp NAWIC San Diego, but many people are still finding themselves in amazement of the amount of positivity this event brought this year and has continued to bring to the community since its inception. This year’s committee co-chairs, Linda Young and Melinda Dicharry, worked tirelessly alongside the Camp NAWIC committee to increase camper participation and community involvement. The committee went to work marketing camp at different events, sending emails to local high schools, and with the help of former campers’ excitement to come back for another year of construction fun, applications flowed in for over 100 campers! For a second year in a row, we managed to double the number of campers! Taking the increased numbers into consideration, the committee knew all too well that it was going to take a great deal of work to prepare, organize, teach, and provide the whole Camp NAWIC experience to all the campers. It was going to take a village, so we built one.

Sponsorships began pouring in from local construction companies and individuals wanting to help however they could; and it wasn't just monetary donations that came through. We had an abundance of personal protective equipment, material, tools, even whole meals donated. Volunteers from all walks of life: tradespeople, retired folks, parents, teachers, industry professionals, and everything in between, donated their time to make sure that 100 girls knew that they could work in construction one day. We even hosted special guests like District Attorney, Summer Stephan and none other than Trades Advocate and DIY Networks, Kayleen McCabe. Kayleen stayed with us the whole week donating her time to rally the campers and encourage them that a future in the trades was promising.

With no time to waste, the doors of AGC San Diego Apprenticeship opened at 6AM on the morning of June 17, it was Camp NAWIC Week! The girls were greeted by eager volunteers and breakfast. After fueling up on bagels and fruit, the campers attended Safety orientation and were separated into their work teams for the week. The apprentices went on to pour and smooth concrete with the help of Largo Concrete. Concrete fun was followed by learning about solar energy with Solv, Inc. and even building their own solar lights our of everyday mint cans. The journeywomen on the other hand learned that they were going to embark on their biggest project yet; two she-sheds! Equipped with framing, drywall, windows, roofing, solar, a door, the whole nine yards! The campers had their hands full, but were excited for the week ahead of them.

Day two of camp had everyone off and running. The journeywomen worked with the help of trades volunteers from Raymond Group, the AGC Apprenticeship and Swinerton volunteers to begin stud framing the she sheds. The girls got the opportunity to learn how to work with tools used in the field like: air power nail guns, drills, scaffolding and safety harnesses. While the journeywomen were framing, the apprentices were tinkering away with Sheet Metal Union Local #206, learning about sheet metal and making their own sheet metal dinosaurs. After lunch the girls worked on tile setting with Howards Rugs. The campers got to make their own stepping-stones and make tile designs; which also included learning how to cut tile!

Midweek snuck up quick and before we knew it, it was electrical day for the apprentices. NECA, IBEW Local 569 Contractors, and the Electrical Training Institute came ready for a full day of sparky fun with the girls. Campers were instructed on wiring boards, conduit bending, and even made their own solar lamps. The journeywomen finished up framing their sheds and went straight in to drywall, taping, and finishing the walls. Wednesday was also the day that DA Stephens visited camp and talked to the girls about social safety and encouraged them to continue following their dreams, that they were capable of accomplishing great things.

Thursday and Friday went by so quickly it was hard to believe it was two full days! Apprentices spent their last days of camp learning about the wonders of plumbing with Countywide Mechanical. Thanks to Jesus Hernandez, of Twin Oaks High School, the girls got some carpentry training and power tool practice while they built jewelry racks. Then they strapped on harnesses and participated in fall protection and confined space training. And probably one of the best activities of the week, thanks to Hawthorne CAT and Rick Engineering, the campers went out to the AGC remote yard where they got the opportunity learn about surveying and even operate heavy equipment! Meanwhile the journeywomen and their volunteers were feeling that construction project pressure. Finishes had to go in, the roof and solar attachments needed to be put up, painting had to be completed. The journeywomen worked incredibly hard to get the two sheds done and come Friday afternoon, they had two completed she –sheds!

Campers, family, friends, mentors, and volunteers gathered for the annual Graduation Day Bar-b-que Friday afternoon, hosted by Hawthorne CAT. Together, we celebrated a week chalked full of accomplishments, transformations, community, education, and construction. As always, tears were shed with gratitude and pride; laughs and smiles filled the air, and another Camp NAWIC San Diego was complete. Campers were left with inspiring words from Melinda Dicharry, Kayleen McCabe, and NAWIC San Diego, President-Elect Kimberly Bell; together these fierce female leaders reminded the girls that each and every one of them is special. That they are all capable and that they are strong. Every camper left knowing that they can do anything and everything and that they have the support of a village of people who built them up and believe in them. As Camp NAWIC continues to grow, the values will always stay the same, Camp NAWIC exists to teach girls that they can be anything they want to be, even a construction worker.

Kristen Panebianco
It is time to invest in your future workforce. It is time to invest in Camp NAWIC.
Camp NAWIC 2018

For 12 years Camp NAWIC has been introducing girls 8th grade and up to careers in construction.  This year, Camp NAWIC San Diego is welcoming more than 100 campers, our biggest group yet, and there is a waiting list of interested girls. All of them eager to try their hand at the trades. All of them ready to learn from industry experts like you.

The week-long camp is staffed by men and women employed in the local construction industry who volunteer their time and share their experiences and knowledge with these young campers. These mentors and volunteers inspire and educate our campers to see the numerous opportunities available. 

It costs approximately $500 per camper to run Camp NAWIC, but it is totally free for the participants. Campers receive transportation, meals, a hard hat, safety glasses, a set of small hand tools and LOTS of experience with different trades. All of this is only possible through the generous contributions of our community.

Whether you contribute your time, materials and/or funds, we need you to help us deliver a memorable experience for these campers. Your 100% tax-deductible charitable contribution or donation of your time is an investment in the future of the construction industry.  

Camp NAWIC San Diego is June 17-21. Please click the links below to learn more.

Being at camp helped me build up my confidence. Camp NAWIC has helped me consider a career in construction.
— Mayra, 16, Fourth Year Journeywoman, Camp NAWIC San Diego
Kristen Panebianco
Construction Family Spotlight: Ballow Family

Meet the Ballows!

Shelby and Brandon have been married just over a year and are both working in the construction industry here in San Diego.

Shelby is a Project Coordinator at Dowling Construction! Finding her way into the construction industry was 100% by chance; after responding to a Craigslist ad for a receptionist position; Shelby was hired by Dowling and has now been there for the last three and a half years.

When asked if she always planned on going into construction she stated, “Definitely not. I wanted to be a writer for a Food/Travel magazine.” She goes on to say that after having been in the industry for a couple years, it has shown her all the opportunities that industry has to offer. She thoroughly enjoys the people and the fast-paced nature of construction.

Being that women only make up about one in every ten construction workers, we asked Shelby what it’s like for her working in a male dominated industry. “To be honest, the only time I really notice is when I go on job sites and a man comments that, ‘he will be on his best behavior,’ just because a woman is around.” She adds that construction is a fun industry for any individual because it allows individuals the opportunity to learn new skills, techniques and meet hardworking people in the process.

Unlike Shelby, Brandon always wanted to join the industry, “My mom always tells a story about when I was 5 years old, I would ask how many years of college it takes to become a construction worker.”

Now, Brandon has been in the industry for nine years and is a Sheet Metal Foreman at AO Reed & Co. His exposure to the industry came early as his father was a general contractor and Brandon would always help out with whatever jobs he could. As someone who has always wanted to be apart of the industry and is now in the industry, he told us that he would like to see more schools including trade education as an option and allow students the opportunity to learn about the industry trades.

Much like anything else, the Ballows recognize that there are pros and cons to both of them working in the industry.

Pros: It makes talking about their days at work easier because they both encounter similar problems and have a first-hand understanding of what the other is talking about. Also, they are better equipped to handle some of those home DIY projects as a team!

Con: They have come to the understanding that if the industry takes a dip like it did back in 2008, the chance of their jobs both being impacted is likely and that could potentially cause financial stress.

All in all the, Ballows are another thriving Family in Construction and we wish them all the success in their construction careers!

Helen Panebianco
NAWIC's Toast to the Trades Fundraiser Brings Awareness to Future Construction Leaders Foundation

March 6, 2019 - Alyssa Burley, Client Services Coordinator at Rancho Mesa Insurance Services, Inc. did a great write-up of the highlight of WIC Week, the Toast of the Trades. Check out the full article and images at

The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) San Diego Chapter kicked off the Women in the Construction (WIC) Week with a ‘Toast to the Trades’ fundraiser benefiting the Future Construction Leaders Foundation (FCLF) on March 5, 2019 at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse on San Diego Bay.

The nearly 200 people in attendance raised $10,000 through ticket sales, silent auction and sponsorships. The funds will be donated to the FCLF, a local 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to the advancement of programs focused on educating youth about career opportunities in the construction industry and encouraging them to pursue careers in this field.

Kayleen McCabe, the evening’s keynote speaker, is a general contractor, TV host of DIY Network’s Rescue Renovation, and trades advocate. She spoke about the rising demand for trade professionals and how it is currently outpacing vocational training.­ McCabe advocates for the restoration of America’s respect for the trades. She also enlightened the audience with anecdotes from her TV show and how the popularity of the DIY movement has gotten some homeowners in over their heads with renovation projects.

Ana Gutierrez, tradeswomen at Clark Construction and former Camp NAWIC participant, spoke about her journey from attending camp as a high school student and learning about the various construction trades to her successful career in the industry.

The ‘Toast to the Trades’ event was part of WIC Week which is designed “to highlight women as a viable component of the construction industry,” according to NAWIC. “WIC Week also provides an occasion for NAWIC’s thousands of members across the country to raise awareness of the opportunities available for women in the construction industry and to emphasize the growing role of women in the industry. It is also a time for local chapters to give back to their communities.”

Sponsors for the event included:
Project Manager Sponsors - DPR Construction, Tru-Duct Sheet Metal Fabrication, and MC Painting
Superintendent Sponsors - Paradigm Mechanical Corp., SMART, Titan Fire Protection, RDO Equipment Co., and Wateridge Insurance Services
Foreman Sponsors - Herc Rentals, Harper Construction Company, Inc., Ryan Companies, ROE Strategic, Sunrise Bobcat & Hauling Service, Inc., and Women’s Construction Coalition
Journeyman Sponsors - Clairemont Equipment, C-SOS Consulting, Denning Moores, SASC Surety Associates
Apprentice Sponsors - D3 Construction Services, Inc. and Ferguson Commercial

About NAWIC San Diego Chapter
The San Diego Chapter, chartered on April 30, 1959, is very active and involved in the construction industry and the community. Each year the chapter participates in a variety of events including educational seminars and conferences, Women in Construction Week (WIC Week), Block Kids (construction awareness program for children in grades 1 thru 6), CAD/Design/Drafting Contest (High School student activity), Camp NAWIC (a week long program designed to mentor high school girls planning to enter the construction industry), college scholarships, joint meetings with other San Diego professional organizations and various activities with local charities. For more information, visit

About Future Construction Leaders Foundation
The Future Construction Leaders Foundation of San Diego is dedicated to providing opportunities for young men and women to investigate the many private and public construction career opportunities available. From kindergarten to college, we have hands-on, free programs that expose students to various trades and the corresponding seasoned professionals who can guide and coach them. For more information, visit

Kristen Panebianco
Scholarship: What Can $1000 Do?

The Future Construction Leaders Foundation supports the NAWIC San Diego Chapter 21 Scholarship Program which aims to help the next generation earn an education they can not only be proud of, but build a life on. The program offers two types of scholarships; one, is specifically for male or female students who have a parent working in the local San Diego construction industry, and the other is precisely for young women who are working to obtain a degree in a construction related field. Together, these two scholarships are helping to propel not only the next generation forward, but also the industry. By offering a scholarship to the children of construction workers, we are supporting construction workers in their quest to make sure their children earn a great education. Additionally, the scholarship for young women entering the industry provides great promise that more women will find their place and careers in the industry.

Scholarship donors may wonder, “What can a $1000 scholarship really do for a student?” At Grossmont College, a local community college here in San Diego, $1000 can roughly pay for 1 semester of tuition for full time units. At San Diego State University, $1000 can pay for almost a full year of undergraduate textbooks and fees. For a local trade apprenticeship, $1000 could pay for a year’s worth of textbooks, entry-level tools and potentially more. When people think of rising education costs, $1000 doesn’t seem like much, but to the next generation, $1000 could be the difference of a lifetime. $1000 could get a first generation college student started down the path of higher education. $1000 could help a working student buy supplies necessary to complete classes. $1000 could kick start a student’s career!

Because of private, individual and corporate donors, the Future Construction Leaders Foundation is able to continue their mission in providing the next generation with the tools they need to be successful. When there are hundreds, if not thousands of ways to invest money, decide on investing in the education of the next generation. Consider donating to the Future Construction Leaders Foundation today, together, we can build up the next generation of Future Construction Leaders.

Helen Panebianco
2018: A Year of Growth!

With just over a week into the New Year, it’s a wonderful time to look back on what a wonderful year 2018 was for the Foundation. 2018 was without a doubt a year of immense growth for the Future Construction Leaders Foundation’s programs. We made huge strides in our efforts to provide youth with knowledge about the abundance of opportunities the construction industry continues to offer.

Our biggest growth came with Camp NAWIC and the Block Kids Building Program

For the first time in its 11-year history, Camp NAWIC hosted 50 high school girls! It was also the first year at the new facility thanks to the Associated General Contractors offering up their apprenticeship facility, which opened the program up to more opportunities. With more space to spread the girls out, the first year apprentices got more hands on training in welding, carpentry, plumbing, sheet metal, electrical, surveying and heavy equipment operation. With a large class of 13 journeywomen, camp instructors broke down the basic skills of estimating, project planning and print reading. All three skills would come together as each girl worked to complete their OWN individual projects. In one week, each journeywoman went on to construct their own doghouse. Some girls decided to keep their dog houses while others were donated to a local dog rescue and one was donated to a mini house village in Ventura County to honor a long time Camp NAWIC supporter who had recently passed. At the end of the week long camp, happy tears were shed at the annual Camp NAWIC graduation; 50 girls were sent off with more knowledge of the construction trades and more importantly, more confidence in themselves.

Block Kids 2018 also saw tremendous growth. The event chairpeople had a vision to host Block Kids at the San Diego STEAM Maker Festival in 2018, and on December 2, 2018 that vision came to life after months of planning. With 80 children competing, this was by far the biggest Block Kids event ever hosted in San Diego, and even more kids wanted to participate. Having been at a very large public event, more people stopped by our FCLF booth to learn about all the programs we have to offer and sign up for more information. The winner of our competition was a young girl who built an elevator with a pulley system. When she walked in she was devastatingly nervous and scared, but the smile on her face when she heard he name called said it all. A fun time was had by all the participants, judges and volunteers alike.

While 2018 was full of wonderful improvement, there is still room to grow. In 2019 we plan to grow our Design Drafting Competition and our scholarship programs. We hope to reach even more youth and show them the opportunities that await them post high school graduation. The Future Construction Leaders Foundation is determined to teach today’s youth that they can be the Future Construction Leaders the world needs.

Helen Panebianco
Show Your Support for the Future of Construction on #GivingTuesday.  

On November 27th charities worldwide will be participating in #GivingTuesday and asking you to make a contribution. The Future Construction Leaders Foundation is joining this movement. Here are some reasons why and how we really need your support.

Over the year, construction has added 330,000 jobs* in the US. Skilled tradespeople like carpenters, plumbers, concrete workers, electricians and bricklayers are in high demand.  Yet a labor shortage plagues today’s construction industry. The Future Construction Leaders Foundation of San Diego is on a mission to educate today’s youth about these opportunities. From kindergarten to college, we have hands-on, free programs that expose students to various trades and the corresponding seasoned professionals who can guide and coach them.


Your tax-deductible contribution helps us continue to provide the following FREE programs designed to introduce the construction industry to today’s youth:

  • Block Kids Building Program: This year we’ll host 100 kindergarten through 6th grade students at this free event designed to stimulate imagination and drive interest in building.

  • Camp NAWIC: We have a goal of hosting 100 8th-12th grade girls at this summer’s week-long, hands-on introduction to construction camp. Campers not only gain awareness about possible careers, they develop greater self-confidence, self-esteem and teamwork skills.

  • Design Drafting Competition: This year our San Diego County high school and college participants will draft architectural drawings for a “high speed study zone.” Mentors and educators engage with the students throughout the process to enrich their learning.

  • NAWIC College Scholarships: We grant at least two scholarships each year. One is granted to a student who has a parent employed in the San Diego construction industry. The other is for a female student pursing a degree in a construction-related profession.


  • Become a Sponsor: Find the sponsorship level that is right for you or your company. To show our appreciation we recognize our sponsors in various ways including on our website, in social media, in print and at the event.

  • Donate Online: Select a general donation or designate your support for a particular program. Don’t forget to see if your company has a match program.

This #GivingTuesday please give as much as you can to ensure the next generation knows about the incredible opportunities available in construction.

*Bureau of Labor Statics, October 2018

Kristen PanebiancoComment
Top 3 Reasons to Sponsor Block Kids 2018

With Block Kids only a little over a month away, organizers are hustling and bustling to find sponsors of all levels for our highly anticipated event. With a prospect of nearly 100 participants, we need all the help we can get to make this year’s Block Kids event the best one yet. Whether it’s 10 kids or 100 kids, the reasons to be a sponsor is all the same.

  1. It’s an investment in the future of construction: Being a Block Kids sponsor means more than just sponsoring a building competition. It symbolizes a commitment to letting kid’s creativity grow and encouraging them to dream big. It means investing in the future of construction in San Diego. It means believing in the next generation of big thinkers and go-getters. Simply put, sponsoring this year’s Block Kids event means investing in the future of San Diego’s youth.

  2. It is an affordable way to promote your business: With sponsorships starting as low as $250 you’ll get your company logo on the Block Kids shirts and signage as well as a company mention in the awards ceremony.

  3. It is great exposure in the community: This is the first year the Block Kids Building Program will be held at the STEAM Maker Festival at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. This popular annual event has over 6,000 attendees from 42 school districts and diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. Your company will be on the Block Kids signage and shirts being worn at the festival for all to see.

The Block Kids Building Program is coming up quickly! December 1, 2018 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.


Any donation, no matter how big or small will make a difference in the experience of all our participants. Please consider donating to this year’s event.

Helen Panebianco
Construction Family Spotlight: Marocco Family

This week’s construction family spotlight features Isabel Marocco and her children, Gabriel and Theresa, who all work at Casper Company! Isabel is the CFO and a part owner of Casper, while Gabriel is an operator working mostly with flat saw and core drill and Theresa is an office administrator.

Isabel mentions that she began her career by chance, but for Theresa and Gabriel, it was an opportunity they just could not turn down. Gabriel for instance began working part time during high school and college washing trucks, making tool lists, and helping with inventory. The longer he worked there, the more he was influenced by different positions throughout the company. As he got older, he had the opportunity to go out to the job sites and learn more about what the company did, “I learned that we did a lot of the jobs most people do not want to do, and we did those jobs well.” As he began to experience more, he realized that while there were many things people around him did well, there were things that could be done better, with that he found a niche, “I don’t think I really planned on going into the least glamorous trades out there, it was more something I fell into. I wanted to do it because I felt like I could make a difference there.”

Much like her mom, Theresa acknowledges that she came into the industry by chance, “I did not always plan on going into the construction industry. I never thought I would see myself having an office job at a construction company.” She goes on to say that initially she worked part time to earn some extra money, but over time she began working full time and saw the amazing opportunity before her. All in all she’s excited to continue to learn and grow within the industry.

When asked what it’s like having her children work at the same company as her, Isabel stated, “It’s rewarding and at the same time worrisome;” she goes on to explain that the children of management parents working within companies have to sometimes work harder and smarter than others purely based on who they are related to. Gabriel validated his mom’s answers by saying that he does sometimes feel like working at the same company as a parent can be a stressful. He continues by saying that while the work he has been rewarding it has been equally as challenging; “I’ve always made sure that I’ve never given anyone the opportunity to say that I was lazy or that I wasn’t pulling my own weight.” Seeing that Theresa works in the same office as her mom, she offered a different perspective than her brother who works predominantly in the field. She stated that, “I enjoy working with my mom [at] the same company. It has its many blessings and I enjoy learning from her and being able to ask her questions.”

The final question we had for the Marocco’s was whether or not Gabriel and Theresa gained values or skills by working in/growing up around construction? Isabel answered that she believes her children have an, “appreciation for the trades and the hard work from the field that makes the company successful.” Gabriel and Theresa both agreed that by growing up and going on to work in the industry, they have gained work ethic and strongly believe that if one is willing to work hard, the industry will give them back what they put in.  

Helen Panebianco
Future: 'I Am & I Will' - Helen Panebianco
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For this blog, one of our FCLF website bloggers/editors is sharing her experience of entering and working in the construction industry. Helen graduated with honors from San Diego State University in the Spring of 2017 and she works as a Project Assistant for Dynalectric San Diego; this is her story.

I am a woman, I am college educated and I am in construction. I was born into a middle class, blue-collar family where I was continuously told from a young age that I could be anything I wanted to be. When I was in high school, I was coached into the ideology that I would find success in life if I went to college and earned a degree. When I was in my junior year of college I realized that success would come as long as I was willing and ready to work hard for what I wanted.

Throughout my four years of school, I supported myself by working full time as a material handler for a large electrical contractor. Thanks to hard work and dedication, every year came with more responsibilities, from work and from school, but I didn’t shy away from them. From the get go, I knew that I was probably never going to be one of the guys at work, and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to relate to a lot of the students I was going to school with, but I decided I needed to make sure my voice was still heard in order to get the most out of my career and my education. Being a woman, even in today’s current progressive society, isn’t always easy. When silence is seen as compliance and opening your mouth is seen as feminist ranting, it’s easy to feel like you’re always walking on eggshells. Eventually, you get to a point when you realize, the eggs are cracked already, why not crack them a little more?

I’ll never forget the first time I cracked the shells. I was helping an old school journeyman because he needed some material that was boxed up and he couldn’t open it himself for some reason. I took out my Kershaw and he quickly said, “that’s scary!” and I asked him, “what?” and without hesitation he replied, “a woman with a knife.” Without thought, without question I replied, “at least I know how to use one.” He was shocked. He didn’t know what to say and I walked away feeling empowered. After that day, I refused to be silent anymore. I refused to be, “the girl in the shop,” I was Helen; I was capable of doing anything and everything my male counterparts could do. I stripped wire, I used tools, I drove the trucks and operated heavy equipment. I had a voice, a loud one at that, and I was going to be heard. My newfound voice ultimately made me a better student. I stopped agreeing with everything my professors and classmates said. I began debating and using my life as an example; in the end, I would like think I helped others too. I helped other students realize that there were other ways of thinking and it was okay to bring something new to the table. I helped my peers realize that their opinions and voices could and would make a difference.

When I graduated, I had the option to enter an upwards of six different career fields and I chose the one I didn’t get a degree in. I chose construction because in finding my voice, I found my purpose. I found a drive to build things, from digging the hole to cutting the ribbon. I developed a love/hate relationship for the constant challenges that I have and will continue to face when working as a woman in a male-dominated industry. I found purpose in laying a foundation for more than just myself.  In my working life, I may never see a construction industry that is a 50/50 ratio of women to men, but I can help lay the ground work for more young women to find their voices and their passions within construction. Generations and generations of women in construction dug the hole and poured the foundation for women like myself to have a place in the industry if I chose it as a career. It’s my turn now to work with the rest of my generation to build the stairs and help take women in construction to the next level. I am a woman, I am college educated, I am in construction and I WILL be successful.


Helen Panebianco
Present: 'Pay attention' - PJ Panebianco
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An apprentice is going to have consistent prompting on roughing in a wall, a journeyman is going to be handed the drawings and expected to know what to do based on those drawings; a lead guy is going to be given drawings for a whole floor and be told to get the floor done; a foreman or a general foreman is going to be handed the keys to the trailer and told to get the job done.

For this week's FCLF blog we sat down with PJ Panebianco! PJ is a General Foreman at Dynalectric-San Diego. After 30 years in the construction industry, PJ is a seasoned, certified Journeyman Wireman (JW) who knows a thing or two about the ins and outs of construction. 

When asked how he got into construction, he cracked a few jokes, and eventually came to the answer that after attempting junior college for a few semesters, playing college basketball in the process, he found that he didn’t enjoy college. 

"To be honest, I didn’t like the other students. I felt like it was an extension of high school and I wasn’t feeling it."

In his presence it is easy to understand this statement; Mr. Panebianco possesses a ‘no nonsense’ attitude which makes his claims of ‘not feeling it,’ that more understandable. He went on to explain that in a nutshell, he figured out college wasn’t for him and that he was ready to have a job and start earning a life for himself. He started working in the industry and soon after he made the decision to apply for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers - Local Union #569 (IBEW Local #569) Inside Wireman Apprenticeship Program. This program was and still is a five year training program that offers apprentices a wide range of electrical skills that will help them to further their career. While the program is seen by some as rigorous, the turnout is a JW certification and the potential of a wonderful and successful life as a certified electrician. Just to be clear, Mr. Panebianco did not give up on his traditional college education. After finishing the apprenticeship program, he went back to attend night school at the same junior college and worked for the next 20 plus years to earn an Associates of Science in Electricity (thanks to his credits from the apprenticeship program) and an Associates of Arts in Photography (Fun Fact: when PJ graduated in 2014 from Grossmont CC, he was only one of ten people who had ever finished the photography program).  It was also in that 20 plus years that he went back and taught as an instructor for the IBEW apprenticeship program. He is now in pursuit of his Bachelor’s Degree in electrical engineering; he hopes to transfer to San Diego State University in the near future. All in all, through actions and statements, Mr. Panebianco clearly supports education in all forms whether it be junior college, trade programs, four year universities, apprenticeship programs, etc.

As our interview moved forward, I asked PJ what advice he would give to his 18 year old self? After some head scratching and ponder, he said,

Make sure you find something you really want to do, because at 18 you don’t know [a lot].

As a leader himself, we asked what qualities he believes makes for a great leader? Believe it or not, this question took him a while to answer. Initially he made comments that leadership goes hand in hand with responsibility. He explained what he calls the “flip the pyramid” method (See diagram). This method expresses that at different levels of leadership (he used his own realm of leadership roles) there is growth in the need of leadership qualities. After this he stated that ultimately, a great leader, “makes others better,” and does that by surrounding themselves with people they trust and people that are educated. Mr. Panebianco went on to say that in his opinion, in order to make others better, a great leader needs street credibility, which comes with experience, people skills and ability to maintain composure under pressure. Furthermore, he explained that the experience and street credibility is very important in construction because it goes hand in hand with the way you grow as a construction worker and a trade’s person. 

With each level, comes more responsibility and more skills necessary to delegate tasks and work with different people. A leader will be able to get the job done with the help of those around them.

The final question we had for Mr. Panebianco was what the most valuable lesson he had learned in his career? He answered, without hesitation, “Pay attention, you might learn something; in life and in work, you’re never as smart as you think you are.” It is clear that Mr. Panebianco  has had a colorful 30 year career pegged with experience, wisdom and his own fair share of obstacles. His perseverance and dedication has shown that construction leaders are not built overnight, but will shine through in the end.

Helen Panebianco
Camp NAWIC 2018 - Making A Difference
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Being at camp helped me build up my confidence. Camp NAWIC has helped me consider a career in construction.
— Mayra, 16, Fourth Year Journeywoman
One thing I enjoyed about the camp was getting to meet girls from all different schools and regions of San Diego. Another thing that stood out to me was how kind and passionate all the mentors and teacher at this camp were.
— Evie, 16, Apprentice

Camp NAWIC San Diego was started on the focus to present local high school girls with knowledge of the career opportunities that awaited them following graduation. For 10 years the Camp NAWIC SD committee worked through the usual and not so usual challenges that arise when fostering new youth outreach programs, the 11th year came with its own new set of challenges: doubling numbers, new facility and a need for transportation. With our continued dedication to our campers, the committee set out to make things happen. Over the course of a few months we locked down a new, bigger, location: Associated General Contractors Training Facility, now, how to get everyone there? With the need to increase numbers and a generous donation from DPR Construction, we established four bus routes bringing in students from as far south as Downtown San Diego, as far east as El Cajon, and as far north as Poway. By May 20th we had 50 campers, we were going to make a difference.

With 37 fresh minded apprentices and 13 returning journeywomen in a new facility, it was expected that Monday morning was going to be a busy one, but we were as ready as we could be. Continuing the tradition of a two tier camp education, the returning journeywomen were off to a new curriculum and new projects while our apprentices waited anxiously to see what this new experience would bring.

To break the ice we started the apprentices with something we knew would ‘spark’ their interest. Thanks to our new facilities, we were able to teach each apprentice the basics of welding. AGC instructors taught the girls basic spot and half-moon welds, and in their off time, campers worked on their basic carpentry skills building bird houses and bird feeders. Across the facility, our journeywomen were in for quite a surprise. For the first time in the camp’s 11 year run, our journeywomen were embarking on individual projects, plan reading and estimating! Each of the journeywomen were tasked with building their own dog house in a mere five days. The girls were also in for another treat; a Camp NAWIC 2008 Alumni was going to be their instructor for plan reading and estimating; talk about full circle! 4PM on Monday came quick, but by the end of the day we had hooked all our campers, they were ready and excited for the rest of the week.

I never thought I would have the opportunities I have had.
— Hazel, 18, Fourth Year Journeywoman

7AM, Tuesday morning came early, but nothing beat the excited faces of campers as they arrived for another day packed full of new experiences. As the journeywomen went to work prepping and cutting material, the apprentices headed to their next lesson, sheet metal work. Members from the Sheet Metal Workers International, Local 206, came out and taught the girls about the abundance of ways sheet metal is used and finished their lesson by helping the girls make their own sheet metal roses. In the day’s spare time, apprentices got first hand fall protection experience. Learning how to put on a harness properly, climb up a scaffold and even using equipment to lower oneself into a manhole, which also included some confined space training.

Day three, the journeywomen began the process of constructing their houses. With the help of instructors and volunteers, the girls learned to use new tools and saw their projects come to life right before their very own eyes. Across the facility, apprentices were learning the basics to electrical and solar trades. Members of the JATC, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 569, brought out wiring boards designed to teach the girls about wiring up lights and switches, and then finished off with some pipe bending lessons. Volunteers from Swinerton Renewable Energy also came out for electrical day, bringing solar panels to teach the girls how they work and the benefits of solar renewable energy.

With half the week already gone, the journeywomen began to feel the pressure to start wrapping up their projects. With every passing day they gained new knowledge and perspective to the multitude of aspects that go into completing a project. Reading, investigating and deciphering drawings while making sure they remained productive and worked diligently to meet their daily goals. While the apprentices did not have a grand project that they were working on, they were met with their own challenges. On Thursday, volunteers from Countywide Mechanical Systems, INC. came and taught the girls the entry-level ins and outs of plumbing. The apprentices learned all about sinks and toilets and even got the opportunity to test their skills in groups as they raced to take apart and put back together toilets.

The final day of camp is always fun! As the journeywomen completed the final touches on their doghouses, the apprentices got the experience of a lifetime operating heavy equipment thanks to Hawthorne CAT and learning surveying with the help of volunteers from RICK Engineering. The 11th annual Camp NAWIC Hawthorne Barbeque followed the day’s lessons. Family, friends, instructors, volunteers, and campers came together to celebrate the accomplishments of all the campers. Following the lunch we recognized the girls at our graduation ceremony and left them words of advice, “look back on what you accomplished this week and realize that you are capable of anything, whatever that may be.”

The end of every camp always feels a little bittersweet for those of us who work to put it together. Each year you walk away hoping that you’ve made a difference; you tell yourself, "if I just helped one, it was enough." This year’s camp was full of challenges just like any construction project, but we faced them, we worked through them and when we looked back on the camper’s reviews, we were reminded of why we do what we do. Camp NAWIC 2018 was truly a game changer in bringing construction career knowledge to local high school girls and we cannot wait to do it all again next year. Together, we’re making a difference.

The activities are really fun, but being a journeyman is a lot more fun. You really feel like you’ve done something.
— Shanon, 17, Third Year Journeywoman
To break it down for you we are pretty much one big family that always work together to build cool things.
— Stephanie, 15, Third Year Journeywoman
The opportunities this camp offers are incredible. This experience will teach you how to work in male-dominated work places with women who presently work in one. This camp really gave me the confidence I needed to pursue this type of work.
— Fineita, 14, Apprentice
It was fun. I can’t tell you how much I learned from this camp.
— Gigi, 15, Third Year Journeywoman
Helen Panebianco
Clark Construction - Camp NAWIC Introduction

Clark Construction has been a key partner for Camp NAWIC San Diego. Check out their latest video promoting the program. We are so proud to see it features one of our Camp graduates. She'll tell you in her own words the impact this program has made on her life. 

Want to learn more about Camp NAWIC? Check out our Programs page.

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Camp NAWICLinda Young
KUSI Features Camp NAWIC 2018

The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) provides its members with opportunities for professional development, education, networking, leadership training, public service and more.

Its mission to support women active in the construction industry.

The San Diego Chapter, chartered on April 30, 1959, is very active and involved in the construction industry and the community.

Each year the chapter participates in a variety of events including educational seminars and conferences, Women in Construction Week (WIC Week), Block Kids (construction awareness program for children in grades K thru 6), CAD/Design/Drafting Contest (High School student activity), Camp NAWIC (a week long program designed to mentor high school girls regarding a career in the construction industry), college scholarships, joint meetings with other San Diego professional organizations and various activities with local charities.

Future Construction Leaders of San Diego, (NAWIC San Diego’s charitable foundation) mission is the advancement of programs focused on educating youth about career opportunities in the construction industry and encouraging them to pursue a career in this field.

Camp NAWIC is coming up on its 11th year June 18-22.

Camp NAWIC provides a supportive and nurturing environment for high school girls to explore and develop basic skills in construction and safety areas such as carpentry, electrical, plumbing, sheet metal, landscaping, heavy equipment, surveying, and masonry.

Linda Young
San Diego’s Camp NAWIC Highlighted in National Magazine

NAWIC Image, the national magazine of the National Association of Women in Construction, features San Diego’s 2017 Camp NAWIC in its Fall 2017 edition. The success of San Diego’s Camp NAWIC came to the attention of editors through a column written by Associated Builders and Contractors apprenticeship board chairman Brian Lynch. He agreed to write a column for NAWIC Image.

Thank you to Brian and NAWIC for the coverage, and thank you to all of the instructors, organizers, sponsors, and many other partners and volunteers who make Camp NAWIC possible for our high school students.

If you would like to sponsor Camp NAWIC 2018, please contact us or visit our Donate page for more information.

Linda Young
Masonry Industry Training Association Highlights Camp NAWIC 2017

The Masonry Industry Training Association (MITA) shined a spotlight on masonry skills training as part of the 2017 edition of Camp NAWIC in its July 2017 newsletter.

MITA provided instruction in hands-on skills, putting tools in the campers’ hands to build two planters in a single-day project. The 2 beautiful planters were designed to match the updated entrance to the Athletic Fields at Kearny High School Stanley E. Foster School of Engineering, Innovation and Design (EID). 

See video of the young women at work below.

Linda Young