Women in Construction Week Spotlight: NAWIC’s Nancy Lira

The NAWIC Los Angeles Chapter board member talks about why more women should work in construction plus lessons learned over her 20-year career

With Nancy Lira, what you see is what you get.

A genuine authenticity and enthusiasm booms out of Lira as she describes all the things she loves. Her children. Her late father. Food, a passion she shares with her 25-year-old son, a professional chef.

And, of course, construction. Nancy Lira loves construction.

Lira has worked in the industry nearly her entire 20-year career, mostly for her current employer, Herzog Contracting Corp.

“I like to see when it’s just dirt and then something is built,” Lira said to the Bluebeam Blog while sitting in her Long Beach, California, office. “Anytime I see anything going up, I’m thinking, ‘they’re helping provide for someone else.’”

Providing for others is seemingly always at the top of Lira’s mind. This is evident in her commitment to helping other women in the construction industry as a board member for the National Association of Women in Construction’s Los Angeles Chapter.

This week, Lira and NAWIC L.A. are celebrating Women in Construction Week. By way of three headline events across the city, NAWIC is honoring and celebrating women in the industry who are continuing to make an impact in how our world is built.

The Bluebeam Blog interviewed Lira about why she loves construction, how the industry can be more inclusive to women and more. Edited excerpts follow.

Bluebeam Blog: Who’s somebody that inspires you every day when you go to work?

Nancy Lira: That would be my dad. He always expressed to be prideful in my work at the end of the day. He would always say, ‘make sure that you accomplish something before you leave work today, tomorrow and the next day.’

So, I would never not follow what my father said to me or what his guidance was to me before he passed away. I would never embarrass my dad by not doing what he asked me to do. It’s something that I’m proud of.

Getting to Know NAWIC’s Nancy Lira …

Who: Nancy Lira

What: Office manager, Herzog Contracting Corp.; Board Member, National Association for Women in Construction, Los Angeles Chapter

Where: Long Beach, California

Why: “I like to see when it’s just dirt and then something is built—whether it’s a railroad or a building or some kind of structure. Anytime I see anything going up, I’m thinking, ‘they’re helping provide for someone else.’”

Bluebeam Blog: What message do you have for women who are trying to figure out their career and may be considering construction?

Nancy Lira: It’s kind of an old-school mentality that construction is only for men. And some girls still hear the word ‘construction’ and they think digging trenches or hammering or picking up heavy things. And not to say that there’s not heavy things that need to be picked up, but it’s not just that. There are so many avenues to work in construction from administrative to out in the field.

Bluebeam Blog: What has NAWIC meant to you and your career?

Nancy Lira: NAWIC has given me a lot of confidence to be able to do the things that I’ve not been able to do prior. You know, just asking for things and going out to the field and looking at a jobsite where I felt like I couldn’t ask. They have helped me learn to communicate a little better.

You can be in a construction industry for years and not have certain knowledge or information because it’s not shared or you didn’t ask. So now I ask. That’s one of the main things I’ve learned. And asking other women that can actually relate to me and knowing that they are having the same issues and hearing how they worked through it is helpful. That knowledge has been given to me and now I can share that. More than anything, NAWIC has given me the knowledge that you can ask for things and it’s a safe space to ask. The organization has just done so much for me.

Bluebeam Blog: If there are women reading that want to get involved in NAWIC, what should they do?

Nancy Lira: If they’re in Los Angeles they could go to NAWICLA.org and become a member or get involved—or just come to a meeting and see what it’s about. They can be introduced to most of our board members that are there or any other member. We’re also open to having non-members attend our events as well so they can come and see what it’s about before actually becoming a member.

WIC Week L.A. 2020 at a Glance:

  • Breakfast Event: Tuesday, March 3, 2020, 8:30 a.m., Los Angeles City Hall, Tom Bradley Tower
  • Fundraising Event: Wednesday, March 4, 2020, 5 p.m., Lodge Room, Highland Park
  • Luncheon Event: Thursday, March 5, 2020, 11 a.m., Proud Bird, Los Angeles, CA