In celebration of Women In Construction Week 2023, we highlight a few women within the Ergon family of companies who are making an impact in unique ways within the construction and infrastructure fields.
Amy Blaida is Technical Marketing Manager for Ergon Asphalt & Emulsions’ (EAE) Florida market. In this role, Blaida educates, trains and collaborates with industry engineers and meets with agencies regularly to discuss the benefits and best practices of pavement preservation. This includes highlighting options available to stretch road budgets and extend the life of asphalt roadways as well as troubleshooting when necessary during roadway construction, preservation and maintenance projects.
Blaida’s career in public works began in 2008, following in the footsteps of her father, who served as Public Works Director for Hillsborough County, Florida. According to Blaida, “People in the public works industry are the salt of the earth, and they do their job not for the acknowledgement, but because they want to make a difference in their communities.” Prior to joining Ergon in 2020, Blaida worked for an engineering/architecture firm and a pavement preservation contractor, but she has since found her niche with the Ergon family. “Public works is my passion, and I genuinely love what I do," Blaida said. "Working for a company like Ergon provides me the opportunity to support the industry by providing solutions to pavement preservation needs.”
In addition to serving as EAE Technical Marketing Manager, Blaida also holds leadership roles within state and national public works and asphalt associations. Most recently, she was named the Committee Chair of the Asphalt Emulsion Manufacturers Association (AEMA) Leadership Development Team (LDT). This team focuses on developing future leaders within the asphalt emulsion industry while also providing industry insights and research updates and increasing AEMA participation. As LDT Chair, Blaida oversees these efforts and ensures various subgroups are on track to accomplish annual goals. One of the subgroups she helps to oversee the curriculum for is the AEMA Leadership Education for Asphalt Preservation (LEAP) program, in which Charity Cook, Group Leader for Ergon’s Paragon Technical Services laboratory, was named 2023-2024 Class Dean. The following are additional industry roles Blaida holds for various associations:
American Public Works Association Florida Chapter
Florida Association of County Engineers and Road Superintendents
Florida Pavement Preservation Council
To women interested in construction/infrastructure careers, Blaida says, “Go for it! A career in construction is truly rewarding. You know that at the end of the day, you had a hand in making a difference in communities.”
Blaida earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology and a Master of Public Administration from the University of South Florida.
Theresa Moore is Asphalt Lab Analyst for EAE’s Vicksburg, Mississippi, facility. In this position, she is responsible for testing performance grade (PG) and other neat asphalt products to ensure they meet state specifications and certifications.
Moore joined the Ergon family in 2012 and worked as an Asphalt Lab Analyst for Ergon Refining before transitioning to EAE in 2020. She has always been interested in a career in the construction industry, specifically on the production side. “I enjoy testing and just being part of creating good quality asphalt products to sell to various agencies,” said Moore. “I love that the work I do makes a difference and is used to help construct and maintain roads people use every day.”
When asked what she would say to women interested in pursuing a career in construction, Moore offered this encouragement: “Most view construction as a man’s profession, but there is always a place for women to succeed in this space.” Thanks to women in construction like Moore, EAE is able to ensure consistent quality products to meet needs and extend the service life of roadways.
Moore earned an Associate Degree in general studies from Hinds Community College in Mississippi and is a certified asphalt analyst.
Rhonda Michael is Senior Lab Technician for EAE’s Nashville, Tennessee, facility. She helps to oversee quality control and assurance efforts to ensure EAE products meet specifications provided by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Tennessee Department of Transportation and other agencies. Quality control efforts include receiving, labeling, testing and analyzing asphalt product samples as well as troubleshooting.
As Lab Technician, Michael must be able to handle a variety of challenges in her daily work, including equipment malfunctions, unexpected product testing results and other unforeseen circumstances. But handling challenges is where her attention to detail, problem solving and ability to work independently are real assets.
Michael has family and friends who work in the construction and infrastructure industries, and she has always been interested in following a similar path. When the Lab Technician job became available at EAE – Nashville, she jumped at the opportunity. "I have enjoyed all 25 years with the company.”
Women make up approximately half of the population and, according to Michael, “It’s only right that we fulfill our potential and thrive in careers across multiple industries, including construction.”
Michael has Asphalt Institute Professional Development Certification.
Maris Risinger is Industrial Engineer for Ergon's Business Process Management Department (BPMD). “I have always been fascinated with the processes of building, maintaining and repairing structures,” said Risinger. In her role, she is involved with process improvement projects, such as drafting design layouts for maximum efficiency at Ergon facilities. This includes utilizing lean manufacturing methodologies to analyze, identify and implement cost, quality and workflow improvements. Regarding new construction, Risinger’s position is critical to determining both interior and exterior layouts of materials and traffic flow to help determine construction needs and feasibility. Risinger also works with Ergon personnel to write out procedures for operations, including, for example, procedures for gauging and emptying tanks, injecting additives and transferring products at Ergon’s fuels, refining and asphalt facilities.
Risinger graduated from Mississippi State University with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering and a minor in mathematics. She is also a Certified Associate in Project Management.
Working alongside Maris is Megan Ancelet, who also serves as Industrial Engineer for Ergon BPMD. Ancelet is responsible for designing and improving facility layouts, reducing waste and increasing efficiency within Ergon facilities. She has always been interested in engineering, but it wasn’t until she joined the Ergon family that she began to learn more and uncover how her interests could not only help improve facilities but ultimately ensure these facilities are operating at maximum efficiency to produce the quality products needed to serve customers within various industries, including construction and infrastructure. Ancelet’s advice to women wanting to pursue careers in these industries is: "Continue to work toward your goals, be confident in your skills and knowledge, and surround yourself with people who continuously challenge you to work harder.”
Ancelet earned her Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering and her Master of Science in Industrial Engineering from Mississippi State University.
Read about more of Ergon’s women in construction HERE.