DeSoignie Announces Retirement; Williams to Lead Heavy Constructors Association
KANSAS CITY, MO Bridgette Williams, a well-known and respected force in the region's construction industry, has been selected to become the new Executive Director of the Heavy Constructors Association of Greater Kansas City (HCAGKC). The announcement coincides with the retirement of Edward DeSoignie, who notified the HCA board of his decision earlier this year in order to provide a smooth and orderly leadership transition. DeSoignie has led the influential contractors group for the last 20 years.
The "Heavies," as the association is known, includes some 150 contractors and product and service suppliers involved in constructing the region's critical infrastructure.
Williams, who has served as the association's Deputy Director since 2010, assumed the association's top leadership role making her the first female and first African-American to lead the 67-year-old HCAGKC, and among the first in the country to head a major contractor's association.
DeSoignie will continue at the association as an advisor to assist Williams in the transition through the end of the year.
DeSoignie Succeeded in Challenging Times
"We have been extremely fortunate to have had Ed DeSoignie at the helm for the past 20 years, fighting for the interests of our members and for the people of Missouri and Kansas whose lives are at stake every day on our roads and highways," said the HCA's President, Barclay Hornung. "Ed has worked tirelessly with local, state and federal officials to encourage safety studies and push for much-needed improvements to our aging public infrastructure. During his tenure, he worked on passage of two statewide transportation programs in Kansas, including a refinancing of the 1999 Comprehensive Transportation Program as well as passage of Missouri's Amendment 3 in 2004, in addition to numerous local public works initiatives in the Greater Kansas City Area. The long-planned transition of leadership to Bridgette Williams began at the start of the year and comes at a strategic and pivotal time, when both Kansas and Missouri have fallen woefully short in funding for their roads, highways, bridges and utility delivery systems."
Indeed, a recent report by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) warned that there are now nearly 56,000 bridges nationwide that are structurally deficient. Hundreds of those potentially unsafe bridges are in Missouri and Kansas.
The HCA's members build and reconstruct bridges, city streets, state and interstate highways, water and sewer systems, and prepare sites for commercial development, housing tracts, canals, lakes and airports.
Williams Sees New Opportunities
"These are truly challenging times, but also times of great opportunity for the leaders of our country and our local governments to plan and implement upgrades to our infrastructure that will save lives and ultimately help boost our economy for the future," said Williams.
"It's essential that public projects where taxpayers are footing the bill are built by the best and most qualified contractors using the highly trained, highly skilled men and women of the construction trades," she said. "Quality work and safety are the hallmarks of the Heavy Constructors."
"I am extremely pleased that the Board of Directors has selected Bridgette to continue the work of the association to address the under-funding of our public infrastructure," said DeSoignie. "Bridgette will do an outstanding job."
The association maintains a close and positive relationship with its signatory labor unions (Cement Masons, Laborers, Operating Engineers and Teamsters), negotiating cooperative labor agreements between its members and the crafts.
Williams' experience with and connections to the area's labor community go back to the 15 years (1995 to 2010) she spent as the first African American, and first female President of the Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO. She pledged that she and the Heavy Constructors Association of Greater Kansas City will continue to advocate for fair and prevailing wages on area job sites, and challenge unfair right-to-work legislation.
In addition to her work in labor relations, Williams' experience in the industry and involvement in the community includes working extensively on issues related to economic development, transportation, and workforce development. She currently serves as chairwoman of the Economic Development Council of Kansas City, a not-for-profit organization working to promote economic development, facilitate redevelopment and provide business retention services in Kansas City, Missouri.