Kathryn Hart spends her days building communities as a construction superintendent for a Washington, D.C. contractor.
At night, she’s building an online community to support, connect and inspire women in the construction industry. The Tidewater Community College alumna founded “Space to Build” with the mission of removing the feeling of isolation women can sometimes feel when building the communities around us.
Hart’s podcast, “Space to Build,” airs weekly on Spotify, Apple, iHeart Radio, Amazon Music and other platforms. Launched in November 2020, Hart welcomes guests from the construction community to talk about their successes and challenges.
“In this industry, you can feel isolated and this is a way to open doors and set the pace for other women in the field,” Hart said. “My goal is for women to find a community of women who encourage and empower them to grow in the construction industry.”
Hart, 28, got her start building communities at TCC as a member of the Engineering Club on the Virginia Beach Campus. “What I remember most about TCC is the people I was around all the time. We were like family,” she said. “Having that community got me through some of the toughest classes because there was always someone there to help out.”
“I started at TCC because I knew I’d get a good education and save money. But the real benefit was finding my way into a career I love.” — Kathryn Hart
In 2013 Hart earned two associate degrees at TCC – one in science, the other in social sciences. She found her path into the construction industry through conversations with Professor Paul Gordy and other Engineering Club members. She even learned about Virginia Tech’s Myers-Lawson School of Construction through the group.
“I started at TCC because I knew I’d get a good education and save money,” Hart said. “But the real benefit was finding my way into a career I love.”
Hart continued her education at Virginia Tech, earning a bachelor’s with a dual degree in building construction and psychology in 2016.
At Virginia Tech, Hart co-founded “Building Women in Construction,” a student club that is still meeting today. The goal of the group is to encourage students to grow personally and professionally and to provide career developing activities for members.
“We had large contractors contact us and we visited job sites and toured firms. This experience helped me build a network and gave me friends in the industry before I ever set foot in it,” she said.
Today, as a construction superintendent, Hart coordinates the field work and handles the onsite supervision of subcontractors, as well as the materials, safety, and quality control on the job site. She builds everything from multi-family apartments to data centers and school renovations.
Hart’s favorite thing about the work is interacting with people and watching nothing turn into something. “I enjoy watching the process from drawings to the physical end product,” she said.
Hart is involved professionally with the National Association of Women in Construction and serves as the Northeast Chair for Professional Development and Education.
Hart encourages others to follow in her footsteps because the opportunities are plentiful.
“This is an industry with smart people and good pay,” Hart said.
Once on the job, Hart bought her first car and her own home in Northern Virginia – all by the age of 25.
Her home now shelters two roommates, and a mini zoo with a fish, turtle, degus (ground squirrels), two cats and a dog.
“People can sometimes underestimate young women on the job. But if you show up with a strong work ethic and are willing to learn, you will be successful,” she said.