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From Hurricane to Pandemic, How This FM Kept Her School District From Collapsing

Alishia Jolivette-Webber, officer of facilities, maintenance and operations for the Houston Independent School District, explains how Hurricane Harvey helped prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic and why more women should consider a career in facilities management

Women in FM


It’s been a challenging time for facilities managers. With regulations constantly changing because of the COVID-19 pandemic and people finally returning to the office, there has never been a time when people are focusing on facilities management more. However, with this newfound spotlight, it has shown despite the industry being traditionally dominated by men, more women are starting to break into the field. Still, this doesn’t prevent challenges from arising — let alone a global pandemic.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, facilities managers have had to stay on top of maintaining their operations. While regularly shifting to stay on top of new regulations and protocols, these people have had to carry the weight of keeping people safe when the world opened back up.

New Building Operating Management advisory board member Alishia Jolivette-Weber, officer of facilities, maintenance and operations for the Houston Independent School District, knows what it means to protect people. Deep in the trenches of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, it was up to Jolivette-Weber and her staff to keep the district up and running. She and her team were forced to stay in one of the school buildings for seven days because of the storm, but being able to witness the damage, they were able to determine what needed to be fixed first. Because of the hurricane, Jolivette-Weber was able to create a task force and now has a risk plan in place in case of another extreme weather event.

While Texas has been hit with other weather events, including a winter storm, the pandemic was a different kind of disaster. Still, it was facility managers that had boots to the ground in order to best protect the school district.

“I think going through Hurricane Harvey and being able to breathe through that helped me prepare for this pandemic,” says Jolivette-Weber. “We wanted to make sure that once the students came back that they would be safe, and this [school] was one of the safer places to be.

Assistant Editor Mackenna Moralez sits down with Jolivette-Weber to discuss how she was able to navigate extreme weather events and a global pandemic and why more women should consider a career in facilities management.





 
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