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Construction pioneer Lenore Janis dead at 86

Lenore Janis, past president and a founder of Professional Women in Construction (PWC) died on January 31, 2021. She was 86.

A native of White Plains, Janis founded and ran ERA Steel, a woman-owned business enterprise (WBE) in 1979.

In 1986, she was appointed, under the Koch administration, as the first woman director of the Bureau of Building Management of the NYC Department of Sanitation in charge of 250 tradesmen and multi-million dollar projects.

In 1995, Janis began to devote herself full-time to PWC, the organization she founded with 11 other women in 1980. PWC was often lauded and memorably heralded by a leading member as “an idea whose time has come.”

Janis was honored by the American ORT (Service Award); NYC NOW (the Susan B. Anthony Award); the CSI (Construction Specifications Institute – NY); SBA’s SCORE; the Association for Women in Communications; the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce (GNYCC); the Association of Women Construction Workers of America (AWCWA); the Concrete Industry Board – alongside nine men; the Brick Industry Association; the NY Women’s Chamber of Commerce; the General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen (GSM&T); and Anchin. She wrote a chapter, “Women in Construction,” for Construction in Cities, published by CRC Press in 2000.

The keynoter for the 2010 Mechanics Institute graduation ceremony; she presented papers for the International Cost Engineering Conference (Paris); addressed Baruch College’s ‘Pearls of Wisdom’ Women’s Leadership Conference; NYU’s Entrepreneurship Roundtable; the American Bar Association; Hispanics in Real Estate & Construction; SimplexGrinnell; and the US General Services Administration. She was inducted into White Plains High School’s Hall of Fame as an example of a pioneering woman in a nontraditional industry for today’s youth to emulate.

Janis once said, “In 1980, a woman could not hope for a well-paying, managerial job in the construction industry. Women attempting to run construction businesses were shunned by banks and suppliers.  Attitudes have changed…When a woman steps into the room she may even be pleasantly surprised to find she’s not the only woman at the table.”

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