CDBIA Celebrates women in the building industry at the PWB Bella Donnas


Media Release: CDBIA Celebrates women in the building industry at the PWB Bella Donnas

The Charlotte DeSoto Building Industry Association started a local chapter of the National Association of Home Builders Professional Women in Building in October 2020. This council is dedicated to promoting industry professionalism and supporting members at the local levels through education, professional development and networking opportunities and support building women in the building industry. On July 18th the CDBIAPWB held its first Bella Donnas, a night to celebrate the success of women in the building industry.

Special guests who joined us this evening were Secretary of the Department of Business & Professional Regulation Melanie S. Griffin, Deputy Director of the Department of Regulation Angela Shave and State Attorney, 20th Judicial Court Amira Fox.

State Attorney Amira Fox celebrated all the women in the building industry, sharing how the state attorney’s office has focused on bad contractors.
Deputy Director Angela Shave congratulated women for working in the building industry. She made it a point to share how her team is working hard to combat unlicensed activity.

The guest speaker, Secretary Griffin inspired the room sharing the beauty of women in building and working together to make an impact. “Secretary Griffin is a true inspiration to women and all in the building industry” said Jim Weisberg, CDBIA President.

To kick off the celebration, the CDBIAPWB paid tribute to the four women who led the Charlotte DeSoto Building Industry.

In 2006, Suzanne Graham, Massey Services became the first woman, and 20th President of the CDBIA. Seven years later, Beth Cantin Brown, Cantin Homes was the next female president in 2013 followed by Melanie Markel, Array of Cabinets in 2020 and Caryn Huff-Sufferling, Wharton-Smith in 2021.

To commemorate their dedication to the building industry, each will have an award named in their honor.

The Suzanne Graham Legacy Award is to honor an outstanding woman in construction who has a dedicated their time, talents, and treasures to shattering the glass ceilings that may exist in the building industry. The recipient of this award is Sharon Neuhofer, Coldwell Banker Sunstar Realty. For over 30 years, Sharon has been a leader in the building industry. She is a past Executive Officer of the CDBIA, and a Realtor, currently serving as the President of the local Realtors Association.

The Beth Cantin Brown Gaining Momentum award recognizes newer members who have already made significant contributions to the Association and/or to the profession and have demonstrated the potential for leadership and continuing service. This was given to Jessica Overcash, Integrity Electric of Charlotte County. Jessica recently purchased her father’s company, Integrity Electric of Charlotte County. Her positive attitude always wanting to help and learn has made her a leader.

The Melanie Markel Building Our Future Award will celebrate a woman in our community who positively builds, mentors, and leads other women in the construction industry. Odette Embury, Drummond Mortgage, was the recipient of this award. Odette is a model leader. For over 40 years, Odette has mentored and built relationships within the building industry. As a mortgage lender she has helped work with people to achieve the American Dream of homeownership.

The Caryn Huff-Sufferling Work In Progress Award will be presented to one outstanding leader in the construction industry who dedicated their time to making a difference in our community, putting service above self. This award was humbly received by Kathy Kemeny, Just Counters & Other Stuff. Kathy is very involved in nonprofits that help children. She is normally in the shadows of many events working behind the scenes. From supporting Kiwanis Clubs and sporting events to helping build programs to grow leaders in construction, Kathy makes a difference in so many lives in our community.

The Lady Boss Award is to give tribute to one outstanding woman owned business in the building industry and Sandra Lebeau Cheek, Lebeau Construction was honored with this award. Sandra grew up in Charlotte County. Following in the footsteps of her father, Alan, Sandra is a licensed certified residential contractor and runs Lebeau Construction.

And to celebrate those who work in the public sector, the Champion of Building Award will commemorate one outstanding woman in the public sector. Claire Jubb, Charlotte County Assistant Administrator was selected as the first recipient of this honor. In 2003 Claire started working for Charlotte County. Claire moved up the ranks in Community Development, becoming the Director for this department in 2016. In 2020, Claire was promoted to Assistant County Administrator. Claire has always worked to help find solutions and compromises with the building industry to keep building going strong.