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Operating Engineers 324 members honored as 2021 ‘Women of Impact’ in construction industry

Operating Engineers 324 members honored as 2021 ‘Women of Impact’ in construction industry

HOWELL, Mich. – Grit, perseverance and curiosity led Danielle Athey and Krystle Schnell to excel as Operating Engineers, earning them recognition recently as 2021 “Women of Impact” by the National Association of Women in Construction (Michigan chapter).

Now, the two journeypersons are eager to expand their roles as mentors.

Schnell’s commitment to teaching, helping and inspiring all apprentices to succeed in careers in construction earn her regular praise for her leadership. Schnell, of Middleville, is the first woman instructor at OE324’s nationally recognized Construction Career Center.

“I appreciate all NAWIC has done to empower women in our industry, said Schnell.  “I think it’s more of an honor to be able to be a part of helping our apprentices to not just succeed but excel in the industry, than it is for me to receive an award myself. Having the opportunity to see our own women be recognized for the hard work and dedication they have shown is beyond exciting for me. It inspires me to keep setting a positive example and to push a little harder to help set the next generation of operators up for success.

NAWIC has done such an incredible job making sure that these strong women are brought forward and celebrated which in turn allows them the chance to inspire other women to do the same.”

Athey’s growing advocacy for women in construction as well as apprenticeships and union issues earned her NAWIC’s “Rising Star” award. Athey, of Barryton, works for M&M Excavating and is widely recognized in the construction industry as someone who’s willing to take on any job, earning her invaluable experience in a wide range of skills from road construction to pipeline work.

Before joining Operating Engineers 324, both women tried other industries, unsure about a career path. Then they learned about construction and took to the work as operating engineers with drive and passion.

“Danielle and Krystle are outstanding professionals in the construction industry,” said Rita Brown, (VP NAWIC Lansing). “Both are role models for professionals in any field and of any gender. Watching them seize opportunities, turn obstacles into opportunity and maximize circumstances for their chosen career path, their families well-being as well as for the good of their work teams, is inspiring and a lesson for all of us. They work hard, they work smart. What a credit to the resiliency of our construction industry.”

Douglas Stockwell, Operating Engineers 324 Business Manager and General Vice President, said: “Operating Engineers 324 and all our members are proud of Danielle and Krystle for their hard work, their drive for excellence and for bringing value to everything they do. During their apprenticeship, they showed a real hunger to learn and succeed. While they received excellent education and training at OE324 during their apprenticeship, they took what they learned to the next level. Danielle and Krystle represent the best of Michigan’s operating engineers and the construction industry as a whole.”

Ken Dombrow, Operating Engineers 324 President, said: “For more than 100 years, Operating Engineers 324 has made it our mission to prepare young men and women to be the best in the construction industry and the skilled trades. Danielle and Krystle show us what that looks like.  Now they are taking the next step by helping to teach, encourage, and inspire future Operating Engineers. They continue to develop in-demand and sought-after skills in a growing economic sector, earning good wages and respect from their fellow professionals, and –probably the best part – without racking up huge college debt. Danielle and Krystle are an inspiration to all of us.”