Most Influential Business Women 2019: Donna Richter, Southern Illinois Builders Association

By on August 13, 2019

From St. Louis Business Journal:  Donna Richter was 18 years old in 1981 when she was hired to be the administrative assistant for the executive director of the Southern Illinois Builders Association, a local chapter of construction advocacy group Associated General Contractors.

Her only desire at the time was obtaining an office job. She had no expectations that she later would be one of a handful of women in positions of leadership in the male-dominated industry when in 2015 she was appointed CEO of Southern Illinois Builders Association, or SIBA.

Richter, a native of Freeburg, Illinois, essentially grew up with her colleagues and SIBA members, offering a familiar and personable contact to go to when questions arose. Focusing on technology in an industry that is typically slow to adapt also made her indispensable.

“I don’t think I was ever afraid to take on challenges,” she said.

As CEO, she oversees seven employees and an organization of 450 members. Her work to recruit and retain members led to SIBA having one of the lowest drop rates, 8%, among all AGC chapters across the U.S., with 167 contractors belonging 10-24 years; 88 belonging 25-49 years; and 30 belonging 50 or more years, SIBA officials said. She’s also helped raise $118,400 in scholarships for college students pursuing a career in construction during her tenure as CEO.

“The construction industry is hard for a woman, but years ago it was difficult. I think Donna just proved herself. She said she was going to get stuff done and she did,” said Stacy Robben, who leads Boldt Co.’s business development strategy and efforts for the health care construction market.

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