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Woman at Work: Hope Renovations Founder Nora Spencer

Tell us about Hope Renovations. 
Hope Renovations’s mission is to inspire hope in women and older adults for a joyful and fulfilling future. We build futures and transform lives by empowering women into living wage jobs in the skilled trades via hands-on, workshop-based training and through on-the-job experience, working alongside our all-female crew providing repairs and renovations to older adults who want to age in place.

Hope Renovations Trainees with instructor Sandy DeWeese (far L)
Hope Renovations Trainees with instructor Sandy DeWeese (far L) 

We recently created an awesome grant-funded COVID-19 safety video series for the construction industry! The best thing about it is that it features our all-female crew and trainees (wearing Dovetail of course!) We're very proud to be able to help keep our industry safe while elevating women in the trades. 

How did you begin your career in the trades? 
I picked up my first drill when I was in my mid-20s after paying someone to do a job that I realized afterwards I could have figured out how to do on my own. I quickly found that I had a knack for all things hands-on. Home projects became remodeling, and I renovated a few houses over time, teaching myself everything from framing walls to pulling wire. But over the years, I NEVER met any women doing the work. None. 

Stylish Safety: A Hard Hat atop Nora's Dovetail beanie
Stylish Safety: A Hard Hat atop Nora's Dovetail Workwear Beanie

When I decided to leave my career in corporate recruiting to go to grad school for social work, I became acquainted with the dire need for living wage jobs for women, particularly those who are underserved or disadvantaged. Knowing that the trades offer amazing opportunities that pay good wages, I decided to combine my love for the trades, my background in HR, and my desire to make a difference in women's lives—and came up with the idea for Hope Renovations.

Nora and crew on the training video set
Nora and crew on the set of their training video.

What scares you?
Complacency. There's a quote I love by Nelson Henderson that says, "The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not intend to sit." If I ever become content and stop planting trees, it will be the end of me.

Who’s a role model who helped in the journey to get to where you are?
My mom. She's the picture of a beautiful, strong, smart, charming yet coolly imposing Southern lady who suffers no fools. She taught me tenacity—that the surest way to prove yourself is to not give up. It's the value I hold most dear.

What are you great at, and what do you suck at?
I am great at inspiring people. I have a very contagious energy when it comes to things I'm passionate about. It was my superpower when I was a recruiter and now, as the leader of a dreamy young nonprofit with a teensy little startup budget, it's the reason I've been able to pull together my amazing team of brilliant, dynamic women who are 100% invested in our mission to empower other women into living wage jobs in the trades. 

Trainees at Work
Trainees at Work

But I suck at hammering nails. Seriously. It's the great irony of my career!

View Hope Renovations' COVID-19 training videos and share to keep our tradies healthy and safe! 

Nora's pronouns are she + her.