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A Scholarship Fund to Empower Women in Construction

Join us in unleashing the strength and capabilities of women entering the construction industry in Haiti. Scholarships for these courageous women help them gain access to high-quality training - and a fruitful career - in the construction trades.



*name and photo changed to protect identity

In October 2020, Verlande participated in Extollo's Welding Level 1 class. Her outstanding performance caught the attention of the instructors and she rose to become a Welding instructor at Extollo. Additionally, Verlande took part in the Electrical class in order to broaden her technical skills in construction. She has found fulfillment in her role as a Welding instructor, empowering others with her knowledge and skills.

Working in the construction industry as a woman has presented its challenges but Verlande has embraced them with determination and resilience. She appreciates the opportunities Extollo provides to learn and grow in her career. Verlande feels grateful for the positive influence Extollo has had on her life, both professionally and personally.


I think women bring a different voice to the table. They bring a different perspective, and that's valuable in any industry, but especially in construction, where we're constantly innovating and trying to find new ways to do things.

- Cathleen Connell, Project Manager at Skanska USA Building

Karen Hand, PE

Karen has been serving as President of the award-winning structural engineering firm, Needham DBS, since July 2018. Earning her master’s degree in Engineering Management, Karen has been focusing her efforts on business development, marketing, and sales for the firm.


With 20 years of experience in design and detailing of tilt-up panels (the construction method Extollo is introducing to Haiti), including innovative and specialty applications, she is known and admired in the industry. She has a clear understanding of construction methods as a result of hands on experience and the close relationships developed with design-build clients and contractors.


An inspiration to women in the construction industry, Karen has been named a “Top 20 Influencer in the Tilt-Up Industry” by the Tilt-up Concrete Association every year since 2020.


I have been working in the tilt-up industry for 25 years and it’s been an amazing journey, experience, and opportunity. Women are naturally drawn to the excitement of Tilt-Up and perhaps that is because of the unbridled freedom of it. Noting the similarities to strong, independent women: It can be shaped and molded into anything, there are no boundaries. Tilt-Up provides space for innovation as well as the ability to adapt to constraints due to local markets, material supply and labor forces. The exciting part is to figure out how to do it in your own unique way.

- Karen S. Hand, PE, President of Needham DBS and Tilt-Up Concrete Association


Meet Juliana*

*name and photo changed to protect identity

Juliana was born and raised in Port au Prince, Haiti. After completing her studies, she found employment at Extollo in January 2019 as an Administrative Assistant. Since then, she has demonstrated exceptional performance and excellence in her work, leading to her promotion to the position of Office Coordinator.

Married and a mother of a one-year-old, Juliana successfully juggles between her professional and personal life. Working at Extollo has had a profoundly positive impact on her life. The encouraging and collaborative work environment has allowed her to thrive professionally. Additionally, the development opportunities provided by the company have allowed her to progress faster than expected.

Work-life balance is a priority at Extollo, enabling Juliana to spend quality time with her family while advancing her career. Moreover, the inclusive leadership and support from her colleagues and superiors have bolstered her confidence and enabled her to fully flourish in her role as Office Coordinator. 

Working in a construction company as woman may present challenges, but Juliana approaches them with determination and confidence. She takes pride in contributing to the company's success and playing an important role in projects that have an impact on the community. Ultimately, for Juliana, working at Extollo is not just a job; it is a source of pride and personal satisfaction.


The construction industry is not just for men. It's for anyone who has the passion, the drive, and the willingness to learn. So put on your hard hat, pick up your tools, and let's build something amazing together.


 - National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC)

Debbie Fleser

Debbie Fleser has come a long way from her start as a receptionist in a small construction office. During a more than 30-year career she worked her way up through roles that included estimating and managing small tenant improvement projects, a leadership position at CIC Associates, and then joining BCCI in 2004. She led projects for clients including CBRE, Cooley LLP, and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP. As vice president of BCCI Construction Company's South Bay office, she spearheaded operations and business growth.

Throughout her career, Debbie has been a advocate for women in construction.

Check out her interview with Keith Cobell in 2022.

debbie fleser.jpg

A lot of people don't know that there's a career in construction other than just building with your hands. Somebody has to plan it, estimate it, project manage it. There are a lot of different aspects - it's not just limited to physical building.

- Debbie Fleser, VP of BCCI Construction



Women in Construction

Scholarship fund

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