Leadership for a New Century

Rachel Harvey is the first woman to serve as board chair of Alabama AGC.

The Alabama AGC turns 100 this year. And while much remains the same–with a focus on innovation, ideas and hard work–there will be something exceptional about 2020.

For the first time in its history, a woman–Rachel Harvey with Brasfield & Gorrie–will serve as Chairman of the Board of the Alabama AGC.  Harvey has been involved in AGC her entire career. She has served on untold numbers of committees as well as president of the Birmingham Section, on the board of directors and on the executive committee.

Harvey brings a lot to the job, not the least is a love for the construction industry.

“I got interested in construction as a kid (growing up on a farm in upstate New York),” she says from her cluttered, well-lit office, the noise of business held at bay by the closed door. “I watched a crew build a big hay barn, pouring concrete in the snow. In the summer I could climb on the hay and see the rafters. I was fascinated by how they went together.

“A high school teacher helped me, made construction-type classes for me. I was encouraged by my teachers to pursue engineering, but as it turns out I’m no engineer because I’m more interested in the process of building.”

Harvey started at a two-year college in New York and “hated it. My brother-in-law had moved to Auburn to open a plastic injection molding plant and he suggested I come south. I took a bus to Auburn.”

It was on that ride, with an Auburn University curriculum book in hand, that she decided to get a degree in Building Science. She co-oped at Brasfield & Gorrie while a student at Auburn and went to work there full time as an estimator in 2000. She now serves as Chief Preconstruction Manager.

“I fell in love with estimating,” Harvey says. “It’s fun because you step back and see the big picture…and then you put the deal together. The fun part is making the deal.

“I’m aggressive like the guys. The girl thing doesn’t bother me. I didn’t set out to be the first female anything. I had some interesting comments made by people I didn’t go to work for. I got introduced around as ‘that girl I told you about.’ The last thing you want to be, as the first anything, is to make it about that. Because then you’re just a token person.”

Of course, there is much more to Harvey than working for one of the premier contractors in the Southeast. She and her husband Gary are raising their two girls, Chesca, 12, and Gabrielle, 10.

“The experience has been great,” she says. “Some of the effect of being a woman in a field when you’re a minority is not at work. It’s about the stuff outside of work, even the other moms not understanding a high pressure job.”

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