On Sept. 27, 120 women representing 30 states and all facets of the HVACR industry gathered in Fort Worth, Texas, for the first-ever stand-alone conference for the Women in HVACR. Described as “first class” by attendees, it was a sold-out event that included networking, technical training, soft skills training and so much more.

The conference began with a meet and greet at the highly acclaimed Reata Rooftop, where women enjoyed a cool Texas evening with unobstructed views of the Fort Worth skyline, all while engaging in conversations and expanding their network of women in the HVACR industry.

Tarrant County College (TCC) Center of Excellence in Energy Technology partnered with WHVACR to host the conference. The state of art HVAC facility at TCC was the backdrop for a day full of inspiration, mentorship, memoirs, and a step-by-step guide to soar to success.

Executive Vice Chancellor and Tarrant County College Provost Elva LeBlanc kicked off the event with her own inspiring story. Julie Decker, current president of Women in HVACR, followed with a strong message on how to discover, build, protect, and empower our legacy. Mary Jo Gentry, vice president and 2018 incoming president of Women in HVACR, discussed the growth of women in our industry and what we can expect in 2018.

Rhonda Wiggins, an instructor at Hennepin Technical College in Minneapolis, educated the attendees on the sequence of operation for a gas furnace. She had the room on the edge of their seats as she told stories of her career experience, including valuable lessons on wearing cotton to avoid the aftermath of melted undergarments in heated situations. 

Just before a delicious lunch from Z's Cafe, Fort Worth Councilwoman Kelly Ann Grey energized the audience and encouraged each attendee to be a cheerleader for women. Jessica McKinney informed the audience on the efforts HARDI is making in Washington, D.C. on behalf of our industry.

Melissa Santillan, a graduate of the TCC HVAC program, taught the attendees to be winners and cheer each other on in a competitive game of rock, paper, scissors. Along with the staff at TCC, Santillan gave attendees a tour of the facility and then discussed how her experience in this program can help recruit more women into the HVACR industry.

The education component of the conference wrapped up with keynote speaker and former U.S. Army Black Hawk Pilot Elizabeth McCormick. McCormick shared her experiences, demonstrated the power of positive thinking, provided tools to banish negativity and showed attendees the steps to soar to success.

Following the conference, attendees gathered at Joe T. Garcias for an evening full of fun, food and festivities. Mariachis and margaritas made the night one to remember. The women who attended the WHVACR conference left feeling empowered, energized and connected to women all over the country who want to help them succeed.

The organization and coordination of this event would not have been possible without the commitment and many hours volunteered by of the Women in HVACR Board of Directors, AC Supply Co., and Chris Noonan and Dionne Bagsby at the Tarrant County College Center of Excellence in Energy Technology.

Women in HVACR is a non-profit all-volunteer organization dedicated to supporting women in HVACR through networking, mentorship and education. For more information about the Women in HVACR visit womeninhvacr.org