NARI Celebrates Women in Remodeling

We recognize oustanding women in remodeling, in honor of Women in Construction Week, (March 3-9, 2024), and others we've profiled in past years.
Their stories embody the knowledge, drive and determination of NARI members to effect change and create a more diverse workforce!
From Monday to Friday of this week, we will post one new profile each day.



As the owner and principal designer at J Wiley Designs, Jennifer actively shares the value of NARI Membership with new members, especially fellow designers. She is vice president of the NARI North Texas chapter and often serves as a mentor. Often referred to as a “translator” by both builders and clients, Jenifer has a thorough understanding of the entire construction and design process. She’s an award-winning designer and speaker in the design and construction industry.
After studying interior design at the University of North Texas, Jenifer dove into the industry in 2001.  She developed her talents and creativity through experience in a luxury design firm and continued educating herself in the industry by managing a showroom and working as a manufacturer’s rep. Jenifer works on a range of design projects, including interior furnishings, large remodels, and new construction.♦

An enthusiastic and energetic force of nature, Kristy does it all! As Vice President and Owner of Hockberger Homes, Kristy oversees the entire operation. She designs and works with the customer, ensuring that they are extraordinarily happy with the results. Kristy serves as secretary on the Board of Directors of North East Wisconsin NARI. The first to volunteer to help out at each event, her outgoing and fun-loving personality welcomes new and potential members.
With 18 years of sales and management experience, Kristy has reliably proven to be a professional and efficient manager. She has supervised groups of between 10 and 65 people in both customer service and sales environments. She strives to improve the workplace's functionality by pinpointing areas for improvement and offering solutions to efficiency problems. She also manages staff performance and creates a top-performing team. The epitome of a people person, she loves to help homeowners with their dreams.♦

With a BFA in Interior Design and Architecture from the Academy of Art in San Francisco, Alisa has been designing kitchens and baths since 2000. She founded her firm Design Set Match in 2010 and joined NARI in 2012. She is a former president of the NARI San Francisco Bay Area chapter and currently serves on the NARI National Board of Directors. For her, design is a Sherlock Holmes puzzle—balancing space planning, codes, and budget constraints while addressing the problems homeowners need to solve.

Alisa served as president of the NARI San Francisco Bay Area chapter from 2018-2020. She now chairs the NARI National Bylaws and Ethics Committee, which is charged with regularly reviewing the NARI Bylaws and Policy Manual and NARI’s Standards of Practice to uphold the association's ethical standards. She is active in several trade associations and participates in continuing education courses to maintain her certification status. Her firm won a prestigious Regional CotY Award in 2022 in the Residential Kitchen $60,001 to $100,000 category. 

From childhood, Alisa was fascinated with homes of all shapes, sizes, and styles. She was disappointed when visiting an older home that had been poorly remodeled by a well-meaning do-it-yourself homeowner who, with a little design guidance, would have a functioning room that didn't stick out like a sore thumb. When she discovered there was a career to improve the life of a family and a home, she knew interior design was the right choice.♦

How does a 5-foot-tall woman end up demolishing the interiors of houses and creating lifestyles customers desire? Maria Nicastro, CR CKBR, UDCP, is owner of Nicastro Contracting Services, a general contractor in Paramus, New Jersey. Her company concentrates on interior remodeling, especially kitchens and baths, but she enjoys performing quality carpentry and trim work. 
Prior to running her own company for 18 years in North Jersey, Maria originally considered becoming an architect when she was in high school. But she soon learned she didn’t like sitting behind a desk all day. She preferred fieldwork, handling the materials and creating something. Her guidance counselor suggested the Construction Management four-year degree program at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
While studying, she worked for a construction company during the summer. She’s worked on large public works projects on Military bases and hospitals. After finishing her degree, she focused on commercial construction, building offices, and retail space.
After she started receiving calls from friends and acquaintances asking for referrals to reputable remodeling companies, she opened Nicastro Contracting Services. Joining the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, she met other remodelers who were willing to share their experience and expertise. “I use a fellow NARI member for my flooring installations,” she points out.
Now a member of the North Jersey NARI Board of Directors, she has earned three NARI certifications, including the Certified Kitchen & Bath Remodeler (CKBR). In December 2023 she earned the Certified Remodeler (CR). She also holds the Universal Design Certified Professional (UDCP) certification, which has benefited her and her clients. 

Petite in stature, Maria Nicastro has proven to be a heavyweight in her industry. A winner of North Jersey NARI CotY Awards, she also obtained licensure as a New Jersey Building inspector and Mechanical Inspector to better understand and interpret the building codes to provide better service to customers and clients.♦

Erin and her husband, Vince, have been co-owners of Distinctive Design/Build/Remodel, since 2013. After graduating from Arizona State University, Erin spent time in marketing and media before pursuing her passion for professional design. She is a NARI Certified Kitchen and Bath Remodeler (CKBR). Erin is also committed to those less fortunate and annually volunteers time and talent to The Community Crossing, Inc., repairing homes that are in extreme disrepair in impoverished communities.  

Erin has been an active member of NARI of Greater Charlotte for about 10 years. During most of that time, she has served on the board of directors. She is a successful business owner and has also won NARI’s Contractor of the Year (CotY) Award at the local, regional and national levels. She also initiated the Women in NARI (WIN) group in the NARI Greater Charlotte chapter. The group caters to women in the remodeling industry. Their mission is to educate women and youth on the diverse careers and impacts that can be made in the remodeling industry. They join forces with philanthropic groups such as She Built This City, ReBuilding Together, and Put Tools in Schools to spread the word that women can change the world!♦


Wendy Jensen, CRPM

Q: What is your company and job title?
A: I am the office manager and a project manager at Home Works Remodeling in Middleton, WI

Q:  What do you do for your company? 
A:  I work with homeowners from the very start when they initially get in touch, through the end of their project when we wrap everything up. I start with assisting to coordinate all the moving parts for product selections and design meetings to get things into their finalized Contract. The project planning stage is critical and the more details that can be worked out and expectations management that can be established, the stronger the relationship we have with a homeowner going into their project.
I also work with subs and vendors to help get products ordered and job items scheduled.  I make sure that all the pertinent information is relayed to homeowners so they know what to expect and when throughout their project.
In addition, I do a lot of work ‘behind the scenes’ related to the company bookkeeping, keeping records, analyzing jobs, advertising, actively working on ways to improve our processes, and assisting with the aspects of the business beyond just the projects themselves. This all goes hand in hand with maintaining high levels of quality for job planning, assessing risk, maintaining proper costs, assuring timeliness and quality control, and providing a high level of client satisfaction.
Q: Do you hold any NARI certifications?
A: I have the NARI CRPM certification and utilize the pillars it focuses on daily. The foundations of thorough project planning, keeping an eye on costs, risk management, maintaining top quality work from our crew and subs, detailed organization, and solid communication are all imperative and consistently practiced.

Q: How do you use your previous experience and/or education to do your job? 
A: I have a BA degree in English and a MS degree in Counseling and while neither of them may immediately seem tied to remodeling, both are being utilized daily. Working respectfully and empathetically with all types of people and taking scenarios as they come are valuable lessons learned from my background and applied here. Being able to write and verbalize effectively is key to relaying the needed information to all parties involved. There are also situations that can arise where maybe there are complicated factors, where more nuance is required and I have a lot to pull from with this past background in navigating some of the challenges that can come up.
Q: What do you love about remodeling? 
Remodeling a space is a powerful way to make positive changes in homeowners' lives. Making things more convenient, efficient, safe, beautiful, and useful improves market value which is important but it goes beyond that too. It can let a family stay in a neighborhood they love maintaining those community ties, it can let a homeowner have the room they need to carry out something they always wanted to do, to spend more quality time with loved ones, to enjoy cooking more, to be able to safely have accessibility in an area that it is needed. We are always thrilled when clients are happy and tell us how they are utilizing their new space and the ways it has made positive impacts in their lives. I have so much gratitude for being able to be a part of that when I come to work each day.   


Carrie Shores Diller

Q:  What is your job title? 
A: I am a Principal Architect and President of Larson Shores Architects and Inspired ADUs.

Q: What do you do for your company? 
A: Like many business owners, I do a little of everything, design, code research, business development, and marketing. However, my passion in the last few years has been Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). We have been working to make ADUs more accessible and affordable. We also focus on Universally Designed ADUs to support more inclusionary housing. With the eased State regulations around ADUs, we are inspired to add new housing units that can support families and help them stay in the expensive Bay Area by allowing them to pool resources and live multi-generationally or have rental income.

Q:  List any certifications or credentials.
A: I graduated from the University of Florida College of Environmental Design in Architecture and have a Master's from UC Berkeley in Architecture. I am the Northern California instructor for the ADU Specialist Program. I am a Certified Age in Place Specialist and a registered Architect.

Q:  How do you use your previous experience and/or education to do your job? 
A: I started the architecture firm 20 years ago this coming April by designing a house for my Dad in Maine. Being in a new town with a modern house design, we couldn't find a contractor with a reasonable price. My brother, a wooden boat builder by training, and I built the house ourselves with some great carpenters and tradespeople. With my design-focused education, I knew I could become a better architect by understanding construction. I continued the firm as a design-build for the first few years. My business partner and I pride ourselves on understanding our design skills and respecting the relationship with contractors. I use my design skills from school daily but enjoy layering in my experience, from building real projects to solving problems and creating great spaces.

Q: What do you love about remodeling? 
A: On one of my early houses, after months of design and construction almost finished, my client, said, "so this is what it looks like!" At first, I thought I had done a lousy job as an architect, but then I realized a skill only some have, I can understand space from a 2D drawing. I love this; it feels like a superpower! I love looking at an existing area and helping people see how the power of design can transform it into something extraordinary. We started to address Age-friendly design a decade ago, and people were so opposed to even discussing the topic. I was dedicated to showing how great design could support people remaining independent in a beautiful space. Creating a space that will help clients as their bodies and lifestyles evolve and for them to feel confident and independent in their housing is so satisfying.

Letitia Hanke

Q:  What is your job title?
A:  CEO of ARS Roofing in Santa Rosa, CA
Q:  What do you do for your company?
A:   I started my own roofing company in 2004 and currently employ 24 full-time employees. I make sure all things run smoothly in each department of my business, I conduct sales and presentations, estimating, trade shows, and speaking engagements. 
Q: List any certifications or credentials. 
A: California state license for roofing, gutters and waterproofing. I hold a GAF Master Elite Certification. I also received the NARI Harold Hammerman “Spirit of Education” Achievement Award in 2021.
Q:  How do you use your previous experience and/or education to perform your job?
A:  I have a nonprofit called the Nextgen Trades Academy. I teach teens to young adults ages 16-24 how to get into the construction trades and be very successful. Whether they want to become entrepreneurs or just work for a good company, I get to tell them about my experiences and what’s helped me succeed. I feel my job is to help our industry continue to thrive so it’s important to train the next generation about the importance of a trade. 
Q: What do you love about remodeling?
A: I love the smile on my client’s faces at the end of it all. It brings me great joy that we are literally keeping a roof over their heads. 

Keianna Rae Harrison Williams

Q: What is your job title? 
A: Principal/Remodeling Superintendent, HER Home Design BUILD, Indianapolis, IN

Q: What do you do for your company? 
A: As a principal, I supervise 12 staff members and lead business development, and marketing. I also manage overall business operations for the firm. As the remodeling superintendent, I oversee all the construction process steps. From managing our remodeling project management and construction trades teams to creating project scopes and budgets and keeping our clients happy. I also represent our firm on various industry-related organizational boards in our community.

Q: What certifications do you hold?
A: I've taken the NARI-Certified Remodeler classes and the NARI Build a Better Business course.

Q: How do you use your previous experience and/or education to do your job?
A: I started in the remodeling industry in 2009 by flipping homes as a side hustle to my corporate job in marketing and PR. I fell in love with remodeling and construction and ultimately left my good corporate job to pursue remodeling and design-build full-time. I was ALL up in their business while they were working on our projects, and I learned so much from the trades crew we hired over the years. Eventually, I went back to schedule to pursue a degree in interior design with a focus on architectural design. I leveraged that knowledge to start my own design-build firm.  

Since joining NARI, it has been wonderful to dive into the industry feet first with NARI colleagues from around the country. Having hands-on experience plus book knowledge has helped me and my teams produce better and better results with our projects over the years.

Q: What do you love about remodeling? 
A: As a design-build professional, my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE thing about remodeling is the transformation. I love seeing something that is ugly, looks hopeless and doesn't function well turn into a beautiful project people can enjoy, love, and live with for years to come.

Angela Barnhart, CKBR

Q: What is your job title? 
A: Designer and Co-Owner of White Birch Design, LLC in Minneapolis, MN

Q: What do you do for your company?  
A: Steve McDonald and I co-founded White Birch Design in 2018. Since then, we've grown to a company of seven. In addition to running the day-to-day business with Steve, I also handle the design for each of the projects we take on. This includes everything from concept to finishes and execution!

Q: What certifications do you hold? 
A: A NARI Certified Kitchen and Bath Remodeler (CKBR). 

Q: How do you use your previous experience and/or education to do your job? 
A: I've worked in the remodeling industry since 2010 and have a degree in Architecture and Interior Design.  I began my career selling plumbing, tile, and countertops before moving into the design + planning side for remodel projects. I love bringing my technical and design experience into every project we complete as I feel it provides our clients with a carefully and thoroughly planned design. While newly graduated professionals always want a design job right out of college, I think working on the technical side helped make me a stronger designer. I really pride myself on space planning, ensuring a new kitchen or bathroom functions better than a client currently has, even if we aren’t changing the layout or taking down walls. 

Q: What do you love about remodeling?  
A: I love to create new spaces that function well and are beautiful! Helping homeowners decide what their space will look like is such a fun and rewarding process. I can’t help but get excited when beginning the design process with a homeowner. And of course, the reaction we receive when things start to come together at the end of a project is the moment that makes it all worthwhile. 


Joey Kim, CR

Q: What is your job title? 
A: CEO & Renovation Lead at HArts Design + Build, San Jose, CA

Q: What do you do for your company? 
A: Co-manage our company, lead our talented staff, strategize client-centric renovation process, implement the latest technology to streamline the design/ construction process, design, project management, check quality control during construction, vet the latest and greatest in kitchen/ bath/ closet/ building products, and help educate our field crew re: installing these fabulous products.

Q: What certifications do you hold? 
A: NARI Certified Remodeler (CR), Certified Kitchen Bath Designer (CKBD) through NKBA, Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) through NAHB, Accessory Dwelling Unit Specialist (ADU) through Earth Advantage.

Q: How do you use your previous experience and/or education to do your job? 
A: I worked for a renovation company early in my career, sketching designs and then hands-on building my designs. My field crew likes this about my designs- they're practical and buildable. Clients enjoy designs that fit within budget and include innovative products. My first business was a soft furnishings workroom, where I built custom furniture, cornices, window treatments, etc.  Starting a business from scratch emphasized the need to partner with experienced professionals like bookkeepers, tax professionals, assistants, drafters, IT, etc. To meet the demands of our Design+Build remodeling business, we work with the right partners and hire top-notch staff. This lets me focus on improving our client’s renovation experience, designing functional spaces, and bringing innovative products into our projects. 

Q: What do you love about remodeling? 
A: Client's WOW reaction, improvement of a home's layout and function, increased property value, and client's enjoyment of the remodeled space. All the effort and work exhaustion dissolve with the completion of a project!


Allyson Case Anderson

Most of us know people who endured renovation nightmares after hiring a contractor who performed shoddy work at their home. After having a negative experience with her remodeling project, Allyson Case Anderson decided “I don’t need to pay this guy to mess up my project, I can mess it up myself,” and that’s when her career in the remodeling industry was born.

Allyson is the founder and CEO of Integro Builders, LLC, a full-service general contractor whose goal is to raise industry standards, develop and grow quality trade and craftspeople, and change the perspective for what can be expected of a contractor. Allyson took the leap in remodeling when she realized so many of her friends were experiencing remodeling disasters just like she was. “I started my company to change the competitive game among contractors and raise industry standards,” she says.

Without much experience, Allyson searched for a way to prove her company’s legitimacy. “I didn’t have a huge portfolio of work and needed credentials to help my company grow and get more projects.” She soon discovered her local NARI of Greater Chicagoland chapter. “NARI was the perfect fit because it provided me with a credential showing that my firm, though early in its career, was qualified and ethical.” After joining NARI, Allyson found more than she was looking for. “I have benefitted beyond what I could ever put into words from the expertise and experience of the other NARI members.” She goes on to say, “I have been comforted knowing experts, who have become friends, who understand my problems and concerns, and are there to support me.”

Times have definitely changed for the better and women in remodeling are making enormous contributions. However, there are still challenges to working in a male-dominated industry. For Allyson, the most challenging part is that when hard conversations need to happen, she is almost always met with an emotional response. Meanwhile, she sees people discussing issues with her male counterparts in a more professional and guarded manner. Yet, Allyson does not allow these difficulties to sway her. “Not all men are ignorant chauvinists who are threatened by women,” she says. “In my experience, many men have championed my cause, pushed me forward, promoted my work, mentored me, and shown genuine enthusiasm for my success.” Furthermore, she says, “Where would I be without the dozens of men who call me “boss” and use their exceptional skills, stress, and sweat to bring my projects to life? I’d be nowhere. So, don’t focus on being the best female remodeler. Just focus on being the best remodeler. Everyone else will take your lead.”

Lindsey Turner

It’s been said that home is not a place, it’s a feeling; one of warmth, security, and happiness. For business owner Lindsey Turner, creating a new space where clients “love to live” is her favorite part about working in the remodeling industry. Her passion for homes and home design began more than 20 years ago. “My husband has always worked in the construction industry and I used to love going into the showrooms with him checking out all the beautiful materials available,” she says. “We spent many weekends touring model homes, walking through homes under construction, and participating in the Parade of Homes.”

Now having worked more than 5 years in the remodeling industry, Lindsey is the first point of contact with new clients at her company, Turner Contracting Services, which she co-owns with her husband. Lindsey deals mainly with sales and initial meetings, but also contributes to the overall design process and, on a few occasions, does some of the designs herself. Most importantly, she values the relationships she creates with her clients as she walks through projects alongside them, helping to bring their visions to life. “My favorite part is truly seeing the excitement and joy in our clients as they get to watch a part of their home transform into something new and gorgeous,” she says.

When one thinks of industries dominated by men, remodeling come to mind. Often, women may find themselves as the sole female on a jobsite resulting in feeling like an outsider among a group of men. However, Lindsey says she has not found many challenges when it comes to working in this male-dominated industry. “People may underestimate my construction knowledge, but after having been in the business for over two decades I have learned a thing or two.” She continues, “I find that there are more and more women in the industry now, especially the design-build aspect. There are opportunities for everyone in this industry - from the creative type to the detailed ones, to the visionaries. It's a fabulous industry that brings with it growth opportunities and lots of variation.”

Remodelers have a common goal of improving the perception of the industry. Whether it’s to build better trust with professional partners or improve transparency with clients, remodelers are working together to push the needle forward. When Lindsey was introduced to the NARI of Greater Charlotte chapter through a past president, she saw the benefits of being a part of a larger group. “We are all working together to make our industry better, I knew right away I wanted to jump on board.” Additionally, Lindsey’s business has seen tremendous growth by entering in the CotYTM Awards. “Winning two significant awards at the local level and one at the regional level after only 3 years in business was a huge accomplishment that we were so proud of.  This really gave our company legitimate recognition that helped prove that we are who we say we are!”

Amy Volkmann, MBA

We asked Amy Volkmann, MBA, to tell us about her career in the remodeling industry and how NARI has helped her succeed. Here’s what she said:
My first opportunity to work in the remodeling industry came about through the network I had built in my previous work as the Administrator/Clerk/Treasurer for a local municipality. One day, I was speaking with Abe Degnan of Degnan Design-Build-Remodel (DDBR) about his business, and he mentioned that he was searching for an office manager. He eventually asked if I was interested, and now I manage all office functions for DDBR including employee relations and finance. Later, Abe discovered I knew how to hang wallpaper, so now I am the official company wallpaper hanger too! 
The position was a great fit because many of my friends and acquaintances are engaged in various aspects of the industry. Over the years, I had volunteered with the Wisconsin Builders Association organizing their major events. After joining DDBR, I had the opportunity to become involved in event planning with the Madison Area Builders Association. 
The culture of NARI of Madison is completely different from the other associations I have been involved with. I could tell right away that it was a positive group dedicated to helping each other in the remodeling world. As I became more involved with NARI of Madison and grew to appreciate the organization, I ran for the Board of Directors. I also served as Treasurer, and now serve on the NARI National Education and Workforce Development committees. These committees are a great fit for me as I also am an Adjunct Instructor in the business school for Lakeland University. I am proud to state that over the last couple years, I have been awarded our chapter’s Appreciation Award, the Torch Award and the President's Award. I am very appreciative of that special recognition for my work. 
My proudest moment came when we solidified the Women in Construction Wisconsin (WICW) group, connecting NARI of Madison women with the Madison Area Builders Association and Metropolitan Builders Association women’s groups.  Before WICW existed, NARI members were not allowed to join NAHB, but now we have built this new network that makes connections among all these groups. This makes us the first and only group that cut through to join all women in the industry. NARI members here in Wisconsin now have access to the benefits from NAHB’s Professional Women in Construction organization. We started with a group of 5, and our most recent event had 135 attendees! Our women’s group hosts a Women in Construction Wisconsin conference each year called BuildX.  Uniting women in our industry with networking and educational opportunities to learn, grow and motivate each other.  Our purpose is this: A professional network created to inspire, promote & support women in the industry through education & networking.
The best advice I can give anyone seeking to join the remodeling industry is to find networking opportunities, get involved and volunteer at events and know the climate in which we are doing business.

Mary Kathryn Reese

For the first 20 years of her professional career, Mary Kathryn Reese worked in management consulting where she capped off her career as a partner at one of the “big 8” firms.  Life changed for her and her partner, Jennifer Sherrill, when they adopted their first child. No longer interested in traveling for work and wanting to stay at home to parent, the couple pondered their next professional move. As luck would have it, the opportunity to acquire a kitchen remodeling firm fell into their laps. The pair approached the owners to purchase the assets, and since 2004 they have been remodeling kitchens and baths as Kitchen Design Concepts.
The decision to purchase Kitchen Design Concepts made perfect sense for Mary Kathryn on a personal and professional level. “I have been a recipe tester for America’s Test Kitchen for years, a cook on Good Morning Texas alongside one of the anchors, and a guest chef in a restaurant.” With a strong background in cooking and entertaining as well as her experience in consulting, she was able to focus on the design and business strategy side of the company. Now, Mary Kathryn’s role has developed within the company. “I lead the company and set strategic direction,” she says. “Everybody reports to me; however, I do not manage my team on a daily basis. Our team is self-sufficient and knows what needs to be done. If they ever have any questions, they know when to ask for help.”
When first starting their company, Mary Kathryn and Jennifer immediately looked for associations affiliated with the remodeling industry. “Jennifer and I knew a lot about processes, financial management, and project management, but we didn’t know about remodeling. Our firm is better because of our involvement with NARI.” Moreover, Mary Kathryn says her NARI membership has enhanced the eminence of her brand. “It’s been a method for us to network with other remodeling companies and tangibly demonstrate our value proposition and what makes us different – both to our peers and our customers.” She adds that NARI certifications have been instrumental in her employee’s professional development. “Jennifer was an MCR and MCKBR and I currently have 2 employees taking the CKBR prep course. The certifications are great and they enhance your knowledge.”
Working in the remodeling industry brings a smile to Mary Kathryn’s face every day. “We change a space in a real and tangible way,” she says. Clients often invite her over after a project is finished to discuss how much better their space looks and feels. “We actually do the work, we see the transformation, and it changes how people interact and live in their homes on a daily basis.” Mary Kathryn advises other women looking to join the remodeling industry to go for it. “We find women everywhere in our industry,” she says “and that’s good.” She continues, “I frequently hear from our clients that they love working with women. Women think differently – especially when it comes to executing the project and doing the work. It has been a differentiator when I’ve had clients select my company for their project.”

Polina Perju

Polina Perju discovered her passion for the remodeling industry through her husband. Originally assisting him with administrative tasks, Polina learned she had a knack for design when she began to advise him on design aspects of projects he would bring home. After receiving positive feedback from clients, Polina knew that design was in her future. In 2013, she graduated with an Associate Degree in Interior Design and has been working full time in their business, Let’s Remodel, ever since.

For business owners, the traditional model of one-woman (or one-man) with just one job simply isn’t a reality. As the head Interior Designer, Polina has mastered the balancing act of managing multiple responsibilities. Not only does she have two designers working under her, she oversees the administrative duties while also focusing on the marketing of the company. “It took a lot of work to learn about websites, SEO, and different types of marketing,” she says. “Right now, I am focusing on our social media presence on Instagram and Facebook.”

There is no doubt in Polina’s mind that women are ideally suited for the remodeling industry. “We have the uncanny ability to organize the frantic process of a remodeling job and make it relatable to the client.” However, when first starting out Polina realized her capabilities would be constantly doubted. “I was quite shocked when I first started out as a designer,” she says. “There were instances when I was asked if I had a man with me to explain my ideas.  I had cases of guys not responding to my emails or calls, but quickly answering when my husband called. She goes further to say, “I suddenly learned that as a woman I had to double-prove myself all the time.”

With many hours spent working in addition to being a wife and mom, Polina found it difficult to meet other remodeling professionals. Seeking a way to connect with her peers, her online search led her to the NARI Pacific Northwest chapter. Soon after joining, she attended her first meeting where she was immediately invited to join a committee and has been involved ever since. “NARI has helped me big time. The association has given me a place to network, stay connected to relevant news and events, and meet more industry peers.”


Susanne Van Selow, MCKBR, GCP

Susanne Van Selow, MCKBR, GCP, is president and owner of Van Selow Design Build LLC in Seminole, Florida. Her interest in the construction business started in high school where she began drafting and working with Computer Aided Design. She began her professional career as a receptionist at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in California and within a year, was recruited to teach AutoCAD and Interdraft for the government. Shortly after moving to Florida, she earned her Certified Building Contractor’s license and started Van Selow Design Build LLC. Since then, she has earned numerous awards including the Best of Houzz Service Award three years in a row, and many Remodeler of the Year Awards.
Van Selow Design primarily focuses on high-end residential remodels with a goal of taking on more commercial projects this year. Susanne’s favorite part about working in the remodeling industry is the design aspect and being able to put a smile on the faces of her clients. She also doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty. “I love when I get to tear things apart. I love being able to tear a full house apart and then put it back together.” 

Susanne joined NARI in 2006, has served on several committees and is a past president of the NARI Tampa Bay Chapter. She credits the connections she’s made within the organization as tremendously beneficial to her career. “Having the camaraderie and respect of all the guys who do what I do has been great,” she says. Van Selow Design is also on it’s way to becoming a NARI Accredited Remodeling Company. “NARI has been a huge part of my growth. I’ve owned my company for 17 years and with NARI for 16. I wouldn’t be where I am today without NARI.”

Despite working in a male-dominated industry, Susanne says being a woman in construction is an advantage. When it comes to working with clients on a project, “the woman makes the decisions in the household,” she said. She offers this advice to other women who are thinking about a career in the field, “You need to get involved, reach out, and make an effort to join organizations like NARI,” she says. “It takes a village to do what we do, and NARI is my village.”

Chontrelle Price Asuman, CRPM

Chontrelle Price Asuman, CRPM, didn’t necessarily see herself in a career in the construction industry. Prior to 2017, she and her husband owned a retail store for 10 years. It was while working at her store that Chontrelle developed a friendship with a customer named Leo Lantz, the owner of a design-build construction company. Little did she know that this friendship would eventually take her career in a new direction. 

After starting a family, Chontrelle became a stay-at-home mom for her five children while her husband managed the store. The pair sold the store in 2017. In February of 2018, she and Leo Lantz reconnected and he offered her a position at his construction firm. “The construction business is tough. There’s a lot of different things you need to know to succeed,” she said. Luckily, Leo took Chontrelle under his wing and taught her the ins-and-outs of the business. 

In her current role as Office Manager for Leo Lantz Construction in Glen Allen, Virginia, Chontrelle wears many different hats. She handles everything from estimating, talking to clients, sales, scheduling, and more. That’s no easy task during a pandemic where Chontrelle is simultaneously completing her duties while helping her five children with remote schooling. On top of that, Chontrelle recently earned her Certified Remodeling Project Manager (CRPM) certification. “It was tough to do in the midst of COVID,” she said. She praises her instructors who helped set her up for success during the certification process. “I loved the way they brought real life experience to the table for us to learn.”

Chontrelle recommends other women consider growing and developing their skills when entering the construction field. “When it comes to construction and remodeling, being able to learn as much as you can and build on it, is critical,” she said. “Being caught up on the latest trends, plumbing and electrical codes, etc., is important in order to do your job properly.”

Zoe Kardasis Sturtz, CR

Zoe Kardasis Sturtz, CR, began her career in finance but soon discovered a passion for residential remodeling and project management after starting a kitchen remodel in her own home. It was this newfound passion that led Zoe to earn her certification in Kitchen and Bath Design and soon start working at a Minneapolis design-build firm. 

After Zoe and her husband were laid off from their jobs during the Great Recession, the pair decided to take on a whole new adventure. Using Zoe’s experience in design and sales and her husband’s architecture background, they started Edit Design Build Studio in Minneapolis in 2009. “I really like that my work changes all the time. I enjoy the variety of the business, and not having to work at a desk all day long,” Zoe said. “There’s a lot of moving around in our business.”

Despite years of experience, being a female business owner in a male dominated industry is not without its frustrations. “95 percent of the time, people think I’m just a designer. I find that frustrating,” she said. The ironic part is, design is not even the favorite part of her day. “In fact my husband much prefers the design work and I prefer the project management and operations side of it,” she said.

In recent years, Zoe has noticed more women taking on leadership roles. For an industry that doesn’t have a great reputation for communication and timeliness, Zoe sees women as catalysts to change negative perceptions. “I love working with the woman who runs the electrical company we work with. She’s very organized and great at communication, which are traits that historically speaking, people are frustrated with in the world of construction,” she said. “A lot of those frustrations don’t happen as often when I work with other women.”

When offering advice to women interested in a remodeling or construction career, Zoe suggests finding other women to offer help and guidance. She started a women in construction roundtable for the NARI Minnesota Chapter and highly suggests other women in the industry join forces to start their own groups. “Roundtables are my favorite time!” Learn more about Zoe.

Maria Kovach, CRPM

Maria Kovach, CRPM, knew she had an eye for design and construction from an early age after watching her parents build her childhood home from the ground up. She also knew she wanted to own her own business but initially didn't see remodeling as a possible career path. After enlisting in the military, working other jobs, and raising a family, Maria decided to follow her passion and start her own design-build company.

For the majority of her remodeling career, Maria was a one-woman show and managed projects from design to finish for her clients. However, while attending a chief architect class in 2019, she met a fellow female designer and within months the two started Mojo Home Interiors in the Madison, Wisconsin area. 

At Mojo, Maria appreciates the fact that she can focus on implementation and project management. “I like being on the job site. I like interacting with the guys,” she says. “I like to see a project go from paper to reality.” It’s also important to make sure to have fun. “If something tells me this isn’t going to be a fun project, then I’m willing to walk away from it,” she said.

With over a decade of leadership experience in the industry, Maria knows first-hand about the challenges women face with asserting authority. “Early on, I had my fair share of dealings with men who are very smart but did not communicate well and did not want to take direction from someone like me,” she said. Maria credits her time in the military and her strong-willed personality in helping her be a better leader. “Being comfortable, and being able to stand in front of someone, particularly men, and say we need to make this modification because xyz, is very important,” she said.

Maria advises other women interested in taking their remodeling career to the next level to join organizations like NARI and take advantage of the support system it offers. “Set yourself up with the people who are going to help you be successful, and NARI has been that for me,” she said. “If I had known in my high school days that this could have been a career, I would’ve done it a long time ago."

Johanna Bowen

Johanna Bowen always had a profound respect for older structures and maintaining their historic character. Her passion for design and renovation developed while watching her mother and aunt complete remodeling projects during summer trips to her aunt’s house in New Jersey. In high school, she was able to use her passion to help out the community  by taking volunteer trips to Appalachia where she helped repair houses. She eventually went on to study art at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and began working for a lawyer after graduation. Johanna was content with her job at the time but knew her true calling was still out there.

Life would eventually take Johanna to Richmond, Virginia, where she pursued her passion for renovating old homes. She got a job as a carpenter’s assistant renovating high-end and historic properties where she learned how to manage and execute construction jobs. 

After being laid off in 2006, doing some traveling and working side jobs, Johanna decided to start Integrity Construction in 2008. For the next six years, Johanna was a one-woman shop but has since built up her team to several full-time employees and an extended team of subcontractors.

Johanna recognizes the importance of having women in all different types of roles in the industry and what that means to women homeowners. “Women homeowners trust women contractors,” she said. “They don’t feel bullied, or pushed, or belittled.” When asked to lend advice to other women thinking about joining the industry, she kept it short and sweet. “Just do it.”


Melissa Andrekus

“We’re all here to do the same job,” Melissa Andrekus says of her career as an electrical foreman in a male-dominated industry. Learn more about Melissa, on site at the new NARI headquarters.

Allie Berenyi, CLC

Ask Allie Berenyi, CLC,  what she enjoys most about being in the construction and remodeling industry and she’ll tell you it’s the unique opportunity to be hands-on and watch a project take shape in a real, tangible way.
Today, Allie applies her 27 years of industry experience as an instructor of construction & remodeling at Madison Area Technical College, located in Wisconsin’s state capital. Since 2005, she has taught a variety of classes to thousands of budding contractors and remodelers. Today, women represent 20% of the student population where 15 years ago, the student population was predominately male. She is also seeing people mid-career looking for a change. Whether their corporate jobs, such as computer programming, wasn’t rewarding, or people who work with their hands, including farming and art, are now turning to the trades.
She currently teaches framing and exterior finishes, estimating, building science, commercial construction and a course on remodeling, which she still finds time to do outside of work.
Allie ensures her students get real-world experience, including participating in an actual home build and working on framing and refinishing projects. According to Allie, the reason so many women of all ages are turning to construction is because they want to get out from behind a desk and do something that’s truly rewarding. As someone who did the same thing early in her career, Allie understands completely.
Allie is also an advocate for women in the industry, often volunteering her time and speaking on workforce development issues.

Judy Transue, CR, CRPM

As a young girl growing up on a busy Midwestern farm, Judy Transue, CR, CRPM, learned the value of hard work and on-the-job problem solving. Both served her well in her previous role as an IT professional. And today, after 15 years in the remodeling industry, Judy relies on her ability to apply logic, persistence and project management skills for clients of CHC Design-Build, the Kansas City-based firm she co-owns with her husband, Kevin.

While Kevin focuses on project design and custom cabinetry, Judy manages the overall business—selling projects, collaborating with clients, handling operations. According to Judy, much of her success stems from her interest in continuous education. Through NARI, she connected the dots of her professional experience with valuable certifications. She credits education as a key building block in her career.

This well-rounded background serves Judy well in a male-driven business. She says that while some male counterparts occasionally mistake her for a designer, it’s actually the female homeowners who are surprised by her role as a remodeler; as this is the first time they have seen a women in this position. But, as a Certified Remodeler with strong credentials, Judy proves every day that women can thrive as leaders in this dynamic industry.
As President of the NARI Kansas City chapter, Judy is committed to serving her local remodeling community and being an advocate for small business owners.

Jess Cannizzaro, CRPM, UDCP

Jess Cannizzaro, CRPM, UDCP, earned both a Business undergraduate degree and an MBA. She’s a Milwaukee-area small business owner and manages 14 employees. She’s also in a career she truly loves. If this sounds like a familiar success story, it may be surprising to learn that Jess is a licensed plumber.
Her path began with an apprenticeship in her father’s business. As she studied to earn her degrees, Jess also worked as a plumber. After five years (and despite a warning from her concerned father), she started her very own business, Milestone Plumbing, just before her 30th birthday. Jess relied on her business school skills and a loan from the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC). After being denied by banks, WWBIC gave Jess her first loan because they believed in her talents and business vision ( they even became her first customer).

According to Jess, building a customer base in a male-dominated industry required her to work around the clock, never turn away business, and even hope that “Jess” could be presumed to be a man’s name with new prospects. Nevertheless, her zest for learning, ability to advocate for herself and commitment to protecting the public health have paid off.
Jess has made a commitment to workforce development and to help combat the shortage of plumbers by sponsoring apprentices. This year, Milestone Plumbing celebrates nine years in business. Jess continues to set new milestones for herself, including reinvesting in her business, employee training and speaking on workforce development topics.