A Woman of True Grit
“Don’t let anyone tell you, ‘You can’t do that.’ Raise your head and say, ‘Yes, I can.’ Prove them wrong,” says Donna Thomas, Training Manager for Oil & Gas.
Donna proved them wrong at Long Beach City College as one of the first women to take a welding class, and she proved them wrong again when she joined United Association Local 250 as a welding and pipefitting apprentice. When asked what kept her going, she laughs and says, “I’m Irish.”
When Donna Thomas became a welder in the 1970s, when a woman in the trade was unheard of, she had to either show her grit or leave.
“Once they saw I took my profession seriously, they let me focus on my work and gave me what I felt was privileged support in making me the best fitter and welder I could be.” Donna says she encourages women to enter the trade because it’s a skill many find comes naturally to them.
After six years as a journeyman and then a craft instructor in California, Donna moved to Texas for a position at Brown & Root Refinery Services in Houston Kellogg Towers as a Safety Statistical Analyst.
“When I wasn’t training, I started working in the field as part of the safety team. Those were some of the greatest days of my working life; I bleed safety.”
After a year in Texas, Donna found her way back to California, landing a Safety Manager position with Timec at ARCO [Atlantic Richfield Company] in 2000. When that assignment ended, she was asked to take on the task of standardizing training across the company. Donna credits sheer determination for what she has accomplished and where she is today.
“No matter what the obstacles are, you can get over them and move forward.”
Donna says her greatest personal accomplishment was raising her daughter, Misty, now a teacher with Los Angeles Unified School District.
“I also have two of the world’s best grandsons, who make me proud on a daily basis. My son-in-law is the world’s greatest dad. And I have my great niece, who has shown me strength since the loss of her father. She is strong, smart and funny. I am blessed in life.”
Ferrovial Services North America is proud to highlight Donna Thomas for International Women’s Day.