Lisa Davis graduated from the University of California, Davis, in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in biology, as a first step toward becoming a surgeon. She moved to Oregon to attend Oregon Health and Science University, but decided a life in medicine was not for her. Her resume soon included jobs ranging from working on a Hawaiian farm to the operating room, but it was working as a mechanic in a bowling alley that made her realize working with her hands was her path to a satisfying career.
She found Oregon Tradeswomen and completed the organization’s training before she was accepted into the apprenticeship at Sheet Metal Workers Local 16 in Portland, Oregon, where she completed a building trades apprenticeship and service program. Davis worked her way up to become Local 16’s first female instructor, while also helping form a diversity committee and serving on the ground floor of the local’s mentoring program.
In 2019, she joined the International Training Institute (ITI), the education arm of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) workers, as a heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) service and testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB) specialist. In January 2023, she became the ITI’s director of recruitment and retention, working to expand mentoring programs for apprentices and cultivate relationships between local training centers and apprenticeship readiness programs or pre-apprenticeships.
In March 2023, Davis was named administrator for the National Energy Management Institute, or NEMI. In this role, she helps expand legislation efforts, manages SMART industry certifications through the International Certification Board (ICB) and partners with contractors and members to make buildings healthier while increasing energy efficiency.
Davis also serves on SMART’s International Women’s Committee, where she has helped craft resolutions and amendments to the union’s constitution. She is currently working on mentoring resources and parental support connections for members.
Kline joins NEMI as director of building construction technology:
Ohio native Cassandra Kline has been hired as NEMI’s director of building construction technology. In that role, she serves as a field representative to locals all over the United States and Canada and is responsible for creating and implementing strategies for the use of new and existing technologies in order to expand skills and opportunities for members of the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) workers and signatory employers.
“I’m building relationships with local unions and contractors, promoting new business ideas and technology, as well as representing the National Energy Management Institute (NEMI) on committees and developing documents for ANSI [American National Standards Institute] accreditation,” Kline said.
As a second-generation sheet metal worker, Kline entered apprenticeship on advice from her father, who served as the training coordinator at Local 33 in Toledo, Ohio. Kline’s brother is also a sheet metal worker, and she has an uncle who works in the electrical trade, so union life runs in her family. After graduating high school, Kline moved to Panama City Beach, Florida, and worked in the food and beverage industry for several years before returning to Toledo to take a job as a shop maintenance manager’s assistant. This sparked her interest in the field, and she tested and entered the apprenticeship, graduating in 2020.
During that time she worked at VM Systems Inc., where she gained experience in TAB, architectural, commercial and heavy industrial applications of sheet metal work. In 2021, Kline took classes through the ITI and became a part-time instructor at Local 33 for Fire Life Safety, Indoor Air Quality and TAB. She then joined Gem Inc. as a field supervisor for the TAB division and was soon promoted to service manager.
She says her rise in the field is a testament to the fact the sheet metal industry provides opportunities to anyone willing to put in the time and effort.
“Be prepared for the opportunities. Show up, work hard, and learn everything you can.” she said.
Kline has been settling into her new role and is enthusiastic about working with the rest of the NEMI staff.
“I’m fortunate to be surrounded by a great team,” she added. “I’m learning every single day and have great mentors looking out for me and helping guide me along the way.”
Kline spends her spare time golfing and enjoying walks with her dog, Huckleberry.
Chris Ruch had a bachelor’s degree in education from Sonoma State University and two years of teaching experience when he switched careers in 2004 and entered the apprenticeship at Sheet Metal Workers Local 162 in Sacramento, California. He specialized in testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB), working his way up to the role of manager/foreman at Airco Mechanical in Sacramento. There, he implemented a fire life safety program, obtained Testing, Adjusting and Balancing Bureau (TABB) certification and developed new departments, procedures and markets. In 2018, he became the director of training (now director of education) for the National Energy Management Institute (NEMI), merging his background in education with his career in air balancing. Ruch serves on numerous technical committees as an expert and voting member, and he holds several certified supervisor roles within the International Certification Board (ICB).
Duane Smith started on the path to mentorship not long after entering the trade in 1999 at Sheet Metal Workers Local 20’s Indianapolis training center. He worked for HRC Roofing and Sheet Metal Co. Inc., and once he earned his journey card, he also took on the role of part-time instructor. In 2008, Smith became a full-time instructor at Local 20.
Passionate about the education of sheet metal workers and members of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) workers, Smith joined the NEMI as director of training in 2017 before transferring to his current position as director of certification.
Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in labor education from the National Labor College as well as a graduate certificate in nonprofit management from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He is a member of the National Fire Protection Association’s Technical Committee for Standards 80 and 105, which regulates the installation and maintenance of devices used to protect against the spread of fire and smoke in a building. Smith also serves on the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Technical Committee for the control of fire and smoke.