Professional Women in Building Members: Get Involved in Public Service

Filed in Councils & Committees by on August 15, 2018 0 Comments

Oregon State Rep. Julie Parrish was homeless and living in a park when she decided to change the trajectory of her life. After creating an online company for grocery coupons, Parrish ran for the Oregon legislature, where she has been serving since 2010.

Parrish and her former House of Representatives colleague, Oregon HBA CEO Jodi Hack, shared their inspiring stories of entering public office at the NAHB Professional Women in Building Council’s (PWB) legislative breakfast during the Midyear Board of Directors Meeting.

PWB Legislative BreakfastPWB member Jodi Bailey, business development manager for Terrafirma Foundation Systems in Portland, Ore., moderated the panel discussion on women’s rising influence in politics and how NAHB members can become more involved in the political process.

“Women are difficult to recruit” for public office, Hack said, because they often put their family ahead of their own ambitions or think that they are not qualified to run.

Hack, who was recruited by Parrish and had no previous government experience before launching her first campaign, encouraged women to think about their qualifications in a different light. “All of these different paths that women take in life really are opportunities.”

Parrish agreed and reminded the group not to fall into the trap of waiting for the perfect time to get involved.

“There is no ‘good time’ in your life to serve…you just have to do it,” said Parrish.

To help provide a diversity of experiences and perspectives in state legislatures, “we need to recruit from within our industry,” said Bailey, who also ran for public office.

But even if you are not inclined to serve, members can still be involved in the legislative process by getting to know their local policymakers and weighing in on issues impacting the housing industry.

Hack stressed the importance of members visiting their state capitols to meet one on one with their legislators. “Telling your story has such a big impact.”

“It’s more than just doing a lobby day,” Parrish added. “Reach out to your individual lawmaker and get to know them. Let them know you are a resource. And show up for hearings so they can hear both sides of the issue.”

For more information on how you can get involved at the local level, go to NAHB’s State and Local Advocacy section on

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