Celebrating Women in Construction Week

Posted: 05-Mar-2024

This week we are celebrating Women in Construction Week by taking the opportunity to spotlight the remarkable women who are behind our innovative construction efforts at Habitat for Humanity Peterborough & Kawartha Region. Among these are our CEO, Susan Zambonin, Director of Construction, Kylee McGrath, and Construction Laborer, Natasha Garraway whose outstanding contributions, construction expertise and advocacy for affordable housing solutions continue to impact construction and community development in our region! Join us as we delve into Susan, Kylee and Natasha’s journeys, celebrating their dedication to building affordable homes in our local community.

Celebrating Susan Zambonin, CEO

As the current CEO of Habitat for Humanity Peterborough & Kawartha Region, Susan Zambonin stands as a reputable leader in the realm of construction and community development. With a career that spans over two decades within Habitat for Humanity, her passion for empowering families and communities through affordable housing began in 2003 and has since allowed her to provide a hand-up to homeownership for 112 families – a statistic that only continues to grow!

One of Susan’s notable contributions has been her leadership as a Global Village leader, spearheading trips to locations like El Salvador, Nunavut, Nicaragua, and Portugal. Her dedication to global engagement and cross-cultural collaboration has not only expanded the reach of Habitat’s work but has also fostered meaningful connections with communities worldwide.

In addition to her international efforts, Susan has been deeply involved in local initiatives. At Habitat for Humanity PEI, she served as a board member before assuming the role of Executive Director in 2009. During this time, she oversaw groundbreaking projects such as the Summerside builds, where homes were completed in a record time of just two weeks, thanks to the tireless efforts of volunteers working around the clock between 8 am to 10 pm daily!

Recognized by her peers for her exemplary leadership, Susan was honored with the Mentorship Award at the 2012 Habitat for Humanity Canada AGM, a testament to her dedication to Habitat for Humanity’s mission of building strength and stability through affordable homeownership.

In 2016, Susan took on the role of CEO at Habitat for Humanity Kingston Limestone Region, where she revitalized construction efforts and championed the Work Release program in collaboration with Corrections Canada. During this time, she became a huge advocate for the rehabilitation of inmates at Joyceville Penitentiary and even began driving the inmates to the job site herself, to ensure they could take part in the program!

Since assuming the role of COO in Peterborough in 2018 and subsequently becoming CEO in 2021, Susan has continued to lead with vision and integrity, driving Habitat’s mission forward with determination and compassion. Her leadership exemplifies the spirit of Women in Construction Week, celebrating not only her achievements but also her commitment to building affordable homes, at a time when it is needed most!

Celebrating Kylee McGrath, Director of Construction

In the realm of construction and community development, Kylee McGrath stands out as a strong leader within the male-dominated field.

Kylee’s journey with Habitat began in August 2019, when she quickly immersed herself in various aspects of the organization’s construction operations. Starting as a Site Superintendent and Project Manager for volunteer and condo build sites, Kylee’s hands-on experience and leadership skills paved the way for her to ascend into the role of Director of Construction for our multi-unit condos.

Before joining the Habitat team, Kylee worked in the trades as a carpenter from 2005, when she entered the Women in Skilled Trades (WIST) program at Conestoga College during her university sabbatical. Her extensive background in carpentry for high-end customer homes and cottages evolved into an interest to do more with her skills to support her community and from that she spearheaded a small business in her local rural community that specialized in providing cost-effective renovation services to older homeowners within their set budget. Her passion for helping others and experience in the trades laid a solid foundation for her role at Habitat for Humanity PKR, where she seamlessly integrated her skills and expertise into our mission of building safe, decent and affordable housing in the Peterborough & Kawartha

What truly sets Kylee apart is her genuine connection with Habitat’s mission and the local families it serves. Her favourite aspect of working for Habitat for Humanity is the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with the families who benefit from the organization’s efforts. Witnessing families achieve their dream of homeownership through a hand-up, not a handout, is a source of joy and fulfillment for Kylee, motivating her to continue her tireless efforts at the build-site – and trust us, it is tiring work!

Currently, Kylee is leading the Leahy’s Lane Phase 2 Build Project in the City of Peterborough’s North End. This 12-unit affordable condo project, consisting of both one and two-bedroom units, is a testament to Kylee’s leadership and vision. Drawing upon her experience supervising the Leahy’s Lane Phase 1 build which comprised a whopping 41 units, Kylee brings invaluable knowledge and expertise to the table, ensuring the success of Leahy’s Lane Phase 2.

Moreover, Kylee’s dedication extends beyond the construction site, as she actively fosters relationships with Habitat’s build partners within the community. Her collaborative spirit and commitment to teamwork are instrumental in strengthening Habitat’s impact and expanding its reach.

As we celebrate Women in Construction Week, let us applaud Kylee McGrath for her passion for building strength and stability through affordable homeownership in the Peterborough & Kawartha Region.  Her contributions are not only shaping the landscape of construction but also transforming the lives of local families – one brick at a time!

Celebrating Natasha Garraway, Construction Labourer

Natasha began her journey at Habitat for Humanity Peterborough & Kawartha Region working at the Habitat ReStore, and her investment into Habitat’s mission of affordable homeownership on the store floor evolved into a passion for our build projects. In 2023, Natasha moved into her position as a Construction Laborer on the Leahy’s Lane Phase 2 Build Site, and her expertise and knowledge as a Health & Safety Representative followed in pursuit.

Natasha’s leap into the world of construction has complimented her enthusiasm for being part of Habitat’s mission of building safe and affordable homes in her very own community. Natasha thrives on the dynamic nature of construction and as our Leahy’s Lane Phase 2 build has progressed, Natasha has become expertly skilled in framing, insulating, drywalling and everything in between, solidifying her role as a vital team member on our build site.

Taking pride in her work, Natasha’s enthusiasm and compassion for our Habitat Homeowners’ success is what spurs her to get the job done – no matter what Canadian weather the build-site is facing! She recently led a tour of our future Habitat Homeowners through our build-site so they could see the foundations of what will very soon become their home. Her favourite aspect of working for Habitat for Humanity PKR is the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with the families who benefit from the organization’s efforts!

In 2024, Natasha was recognized by her peers as an emerging leader when she was awarded the Habitat for Humanity PKR’s Shining Star Award for demonstrating an accelerated understanding and skill on the construction site. Her award is a testament to her exceptional promise and significant contribution to Habitat for Humanity PKR.

As a woman in the trades, Natasha recognizes the unique opportunities and challenges that come with her role, yet, she is far from deterred! Natasha has embraced the invaluable life skills she has gained through her experience in the trades, which have not only enriched her professional journey but have also fostered personal growth and self-confidence.

During Women in Construction Week and beyond, let us celebrate Natasha for her tireless efforts, her unwavering passion, and her invaluable contributions to building not just homes, but stronger, more vibrant communities! Her story is a testament to the transformative power of women in construction and the profound impact they have on shaping the very region we live in!