Adding to the numbers

Russell, Renee.jpgWith a woman on the cover of this month’s Rural Builder and the lead story focusing on successful women in the industry, there could hardly be a better time to introduce myself.

A new editor here, I’m sitting in the chair that Scott Tappa occupied for five years before he moved to another position in this organization. I’ve inherited the great staff that put together this issue. My first days on the job coincided with deadlines for this issue, and it was exciting to jump in and be as helpful as I could without getting in the way of those who know what they are doing.

While I’m new to the building trades and I have everything to learn, let me tell you my first contacts in this industry have been overwhelmingly positive.

Four gentlemen I interviewed for a story on “Expecting the Unexpected” (page 24) couldn’t have been more helpful as they shared their wisdom on dealing with some of the challenges business — and life — throw at them.

In tracking down photos for Mark Ward’s well-written cover story on women in the industry, I talked to some savvy business owners who are proud of their profession and just happen to be women. Like every other successful business person, these women are adept at handling whatever comes their way.

I bring to this job 25 years of experience in daily newspapers. I’ve done nearly every job in the newsroom except sports writer. Through the years I was a reporter and editor, specialized in health and medical reporting, reviewed plays and concerts, wrote features, edited recipe books and bridal editions, interviewed candidates for state and local political offices and wrote for the opinion pages.

Like the women in the construction business, women in newspapers have had some challenges of their own. Not too many years ago, nearly the only place one expected to find a woman in the newsroom was at the “society” desk. But, thanks to women and men who work to change what they don’t like, and a world that’s increasingly more open to opportunities, all that’s different now.

My own passions include my children and grandchildren and hiding out at my rustic cabin on a sparkling Wisconsin trout stream. I devote some of my energy to Soroptimist International, a worldwide service organization whose mission is to improve the lives of women and girls around the world through education, business opportunities, equal rights and elimination of violence.

I’m not able to predict how many more women will be in construction industry leadership positions in coming years, but I am encouraged by the statistics from the Center for Women’s Business Research (see page 16) and confident enough to know their — our — numbers will keep growing.

Each day at this desk brings a new adventure. I’m finding that climbing the learning curve is like scaling a granite wall, but I’m determined. And everyone I’ve met so far has offered to help.

So, be patient with me, please. If we talk on the phone or by e-mail, I may need you to explain some elementary (to you) concepts and terms. By the way, my address is and I’d like to hear from you.

Renee DuFore Russell

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