“I wish that one day my daughter will have the same opportunities as her twin brother”
- Lela Goren
Girls That Build was founded by New York real estate developer Lela Goren. After years of being one of the only women in meeting rooms and construction sites, Lela found that the fields of design, development and construction are still very much dominated by men. When she spoke to other women in the industry, she learned her experience wasn’t unique. From architecture and design, to construction, to facilities management, women shared what a rarity and challenge it was to be a woman on-site -- much less be part of a woman-led team.
Lela decided to look into the root of the problem. With nominal numbers of women -- and even fewer women of color -- entering design, development, and construction sectors, it became clear that the scarcity of women builders is directly connected to a need for programs that mentor young women. Lela joined forces with other leaders, who recognized the need to spark and cultivate enthusiasm in young women in the built environment. It was time to change the face of industry by sharing the tools for success with the next generation of women builders.
The idea for Girls That Build was born.
"All I ever wanted as a woman, is to prove that I have passion
and that I am undoubtedly capable just like men. Now watch me rock this."
- Judaline Cassidy
Girls That Build is an instrumental part of Lela’s personal mission to create buildings that foster change. Lela’s other projects include “The Woman’s Building,” a visionary development years in the making. In collaboration with the NoVo Foundation, Lela Goren Group was awarded the rights to develop and restore The Bayview Correctional Facility. The former medium-security prison will be converted into a home for organizations addressing the underlying causes of violence and discrimination against women and girls.
In keeping with the building's mission, Lela Goren Group made a commitment that the development process would be led by women. Lela listened to her peers who relayed their frustration over the lack of female leadership in these industries. She recognized how empowering it is to join teams of women across real estate’s diverse sectors to complete a large-scale project. The Woman’s Building is both a space that will benefit women, and demonstrate their collective power to construct their own future.
Girls That Build is a fundamental part of building this future. The organization strives to remedy the widespread underrepresentation of women in the design, development, and construction sectors, by inspiring future generations of women builders. Through education, mentorship, and scholarships, Girls That Build equips girls and young women with the tools they need to thrive in the built environment and beyond.