Kelley Fischer, a
24-year-old project coordinator for the F.H. Martin Construction
Co., Eastpointe, Mich., was recently appointed chair of the
Young Constructor Associates, the first woman committee chair
in the 88-year history of the Greater Detroit Chapter of the
Associated General Contractors of America. In between her
duties as chair, Fischer finds time to teach Tae Kwon Do,
serve as a middle school youth advisor to her church, and
volunteer for the Detroit chapter of the National Association
of Women in Construction.
Fischer doesn't sound like your
typical project coordinator, and she's not. She was never
formally trained in contracting. In fact, Fischer was hired
by F. H. Martin Construction Co., which mostly does commercial
and health care projects, to do data entry while pursuing
her B.A. in English Literature at Wayne State University.
Hired as F. H. Martin's full-time
project coordinator in 2000, she writes engineering manuals,
coordinates safety classes, and is aiding in the company's
strategic planning stages. Fischer credits the company president,
Andy Martin, with her decision to continue in the engineering
field and to get involved in the Detroit chapter of AGC.
"The president has a very
open-door policy, which has been crucial for me growing up
in this company," says Fischer. "Andy Martin is
very supportive of industry affiliations. He's also very supportive
Although Fischer is
the first woman chair in AGC's Greater Detroit chapter, she
doesn't see her gender as the principal issue. "I don't
see it so much as a female thing,' " she says.
"I see being a young professional as more of a challenge
than being a woman."
Fischer is particularly interested
in helping young professionals to make contacts in the community,
beyond their usual network of co-workers. On May 20, her committee
will sponsor a fundraising and volunteer venture between the
Young Constructor's Forum and the Ronald McDonald House. Fischer
sees the partnership with this charity as both a way to increase
attendance numbers and a "low-pressure" effort to
get the young people in construction more involved in their
Fischer is also spearheading
a seminar on leadership development for local engineers. She
hopes to invite speakers with very different engineering backgrounds,
from an engineer who started out in the mailroom of his company
and is currently its vice president, to an engineer who decided
to start his own company.
"[These seminars] are
something I want to carry on," says Fischer, who stresses
that such different perspectives are the key to success, both
on a committee and in the job world. She cites her involvement
in the Young Constructor Associates Committee as an example.
"There are five to six of us on the committee. One is
a conceptual engineer, another is from the concrete division
in his company, and another is the civil engineer," says Fischer.
"We bring such a diverse background to the committee and we're
doing great things. It's not just any one person who is making