Ladies, start your engines!

Before the International Roofing Expo “officially” started on Feb. 4, women professionals in the roofing industry put the pedal to the metal in Dallas during National Women in Roofing (NWIR) Day 2020.

NWIR held the annual event on Feb. 2, continuing a tradition of bringing like-minded women from all facets of the industry together for a day of fun, insight and inspiration. Now in its third year, the all-day event saw more than 320 women in the industry gather and learn business strategies and tactics from one another.

The day opened with a quick meet-and-greet for first-time attendees to get to know one another before NWIR Co-Chairs Jennifer Stone of Johns Manville and Renae Bales of KPost Roofing & Waterproofing welcomed everyone alongside NWIR Executive Director Ellen Thorp and Melissa Walker of Johns Manville, who serves as the NWIR Mentoring Committee chairwoman.

"We have the opportunity to be really purposeful in who we choose as speakers and choosing women in the industry to tell our story, and that's something that a lot of companies can't do, but our association can," said Stone. "We're not out just preaching diversity and inclusion, this is about educating ourselves and making sure that we are the best that we can be."

With this year’s event themed after racing, “turbo boost” sessions similar to TED Talks were held throughout the day where attendees learned the tricks of the trades and the secrets to success, whether it was communications, career development, mentoring or the latest technology advancements.

Once lunch was over, the ladies attended breakout sessions to address any burning questions they had about specific issues. Topics ranged from general financial advice to using social media for branding. This included a fast-paced “pit stop” breakout session that addressed multiple facets of being a roofing professional, one of which was about work-life balance led by RC’s Publisher Jill Bloom. The breakout sessions even featured demonstrations from NWIR Diamond Sponsors GAF, KARNAK and Firestone.

Xochitl Arango, owner of The Roofing Lady in Long Beach, Calif., was among those in attendance, having received the 2020 NEWS Scholarship from NWIR. She was impressed by the wide range of topics covered, from emotional intelligence to women-specific roofing safety gear.

"It's been great, a lot of educational information that I believe is going to help me as a woman do better in the industry," Arango said.

For those interested in starting their own NWIR council, helpful breakout sessions addressed the basics of council management and how to keep a council running smoothly. NWIR has more than 45 councils set up across the country.


Capping off this year's event was the presentation of the first-ever WORLD Award. Created to honor a woman who has provided outstanding contributions to the industry, NWIR received a total of 37 nominees. In the end, NWIR chose Heidi Ellsworth of HJE Consulting as the inaugural winner.

“There’s just so many amazing women…all these women who were nominated, and that just shows the power of this room. The power of this room is amazing,” said Ellsworth. 

The women crossed the finish line at 5 p.m., giving them enough time to absorb what they learned before heading to the evening networking event held at Fine China in the Statler Dallas Hotel.