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Celebrating Women in Construction: Newnan Program Manager Ronda Helton


Headley Construction is proud to serve the City of Newnan, and works closely with Program Manager Ronda Helton to deliver quality facilities.


With almost 20 years of experience in local government, Ronda supports local capital projects that increase public amenities and services available to taxpayers in a way that is timely, efficient, and within budget.


Program Managers play a critical role in the architecture, engineering and construction field. Along with drafting annual budget documents, Ronda works on monthly and quarterly reporting, coordinating project contracts and permits, assisting Department Directors with RFPs/ITBs and RFQs as well as assisting them during the review process. She reports to the City's Assistant City Manager, Hasco Craver.


Together, they work with numerous public and private sector partners to create a healthy downtown, stimulate our growing local economy, produce wealth for residents and businesses, strengthen existing and future industry clusters, and diversify the City of Newnan's economic base.

 

What inspired you to pursue an AEC career?


I began my career in local government in 2003, serving as the Administrative Assistant with the City of Whitesburg, Georgia. Several years later, I began working with the City of Newnan as a Licensing Clerk in the Finance Department.


My current position, Program Manager, was created in 2013 to support the city’s numerous capital projects. My interests have always been in the construction industry, therefore the Program Manager position was a perfect fit for me.


Over the past 8 years, I’ve been able to assist in delivering over $116 million in capital projects. I greatly appreciate the Citizens of Newnan and the support of City Council in allowing me to shepherd our community’s capital projects.


What are you working on now? What are you looking forward to in 2022?


Currently, the City is completing the connection of the LINC from downtown to Ashley Park, the demolition of former Caldwell Tanks Facility, Sprayberry Road and Jackson Street Sidewalk projects, the design and programming of renovations of the existing Fire Training Facility and several integral transportation improvement projects.

Mayor Keith Brady cuts a ceremonial ribbon at the opening ceremony of the City of Newnan pickleball complex
City of Newnan Pickleball Complex

The City completed several exciting recreation projects in 2021: C. Jay Smith Park, Newnan Pickleball Complex and Pickett Field.


In 2022 and beyond, the City will intentionally focus more on transportation projects and the redevelopment of the Caldwell Tanks Facility.


What was your favorite construction project in Newnan?


If I had to name a favorite, it would be the Newnan Hospital Redevelopment Project (now the UWG-Newnan campus), which was completed in 2015.

University of West Georgia Newnan Hospital Redevelopment
University of West Georgia Newnan Campus

This was an amazing project for numerous reasons. To be a part of the successful transformation of a blighted structure into a beautiful, valuable community asset is very rewarding.


In addition, I believe the LINC is a project that I continue to enjoy. I love the outdoors and the LINC provides an opportunity for citizens to engage the outdoors via a transportation-oriented recreation project. I work as the City’s Project Manager/Representative on this project.


On this particular project, I work directly with the PATH Foundation to make sure the LINC is built to the standards in which it was planned and that it is delivered on schedule and within budget. I also work with the property owners to assure they are pleased with the outcome as it effects their properties.


What do you enjoy most about your work? Enjoy least?


Seeing a project start from scratch and become a reality is what I enjoy most about my work as Program Manager. I least enjoy weather interferences, which is outside of my control! Other than that I can’t think of a single work-related task that I dislike.


What are the biggest challenges women face, both breaking into the industry and as they progress?


While we have seen great progress, there are some that continue to not respect a woman’s capability in the project management/construction industry. Fortunately, I’ve had strong support from the City of Newnan. I am respected by my co-workers. In the construction industry, opportunities are unlimited if you have confidence in yourself and you have a will to succeed. Internships with local firms would be a good start for those interested in the industry.


What are the greatest opportunities for women in the industry? The biggest challenges?


As with any career, the construction industry is not for everyone. Remaining nimble can turn a job change into something rewarding. But for myself, this is where I am meant to be.

We can encourage by sharing experiences. Earning respect is real and probably the most difficult aspect of women working in the industry. However, it is not impossible if you are driven to succeed.


There will always be that one person that doesn’t believe in a woman’s capability and you can’t change that; you must believe in yourself and move forward.

We have had students reach out and ask for internships as part of their curriculum, and we have been able to accommodate most. The City of Newnan is an amazing place to work. Management encourages growth and when an opportunity is present, they show nothing but support as they wish all employees success. All it takes is putting forth your best effort.