Jennifer Bryan (l.) and WHVACR President Danielle Putnam (r.) present the Crystal Gavel Award to Mary Jo Gentry, Past WHVACR President, Photo by Lance Lackey, AC Today.

Women in HVACR Host 16th Annual Conference

November 06, 2019

The Board of Directors for Women in HVACR (WHVACR) and Boston played host to a sold-out crowd for the 16th Annual Conference of WHVACR, held at the Aloft Boston Seaport District Hotel September 25-27, 2019.

Jennifer Bryan (l.) and WHVACR President Danielle Putnam (r.) present the Crystal Gavel Award to Mary Jo Gentry, Past WHVACR President, Photo by Lance Lackey, AC Today.
Jennifer Bryan (l.) and WHVACR President Danielle Putnam (r.) present the Crystal Gavel Award to Mary Jo Gentry, Past WHVACR President. Photo by Lance Lackey, AC Today.

Over 200 engaged WHVACR members and sponsors came together to celebrate our scholarship winners, the sharing of trends and ideas, success stories, and networking with the theme “CONNECT. CULTIVATE. GROW.” The attendee size was record-breaking over all previous years and was filled with the brightest and best women in the industry today!

The event featured 11 speakers including keynotes Roseann Sdoia Materia, a Boston Marathon bomber survivor and amputee; and, Dr. Lois Frankel, psychologist, author, and motivational speaker. Danielle Putnam, president of the Board of Directors for WHVACR and president of The New Flat Rate, opened the conference welcoming all attendees and thanking the sponsors for making it all possible.

Day one was definitely filled with emotion, inspiration and passion! Materia spoke with incredible courage about losing her leg to the bombing saying, “I had to make the decision that I would remain as positive as possible. Not to do so would have sucked the life out of me,” Sdoia Materia said.

Following the keynote’s inspirational message came the announcement and appointment of Karen Lamy DeSousa as incoming 2020 Women in HVACR board president, following Putnam’s excellent year leading our organization. DeSousa accepted the appointment, thanking Putnam and saying, “we are so fortunate to have had Danielle lead our efforts in WHVACR. Danielle served with great knowledge, dedication and grace. Because of her leadership, we have clear direction on how to continue our mission to grow membership, award valuable scholarships, and appoint more ambassadors and mentors,” said DeSousa. “I will know exactly where to pick up in my work as board president to grow the organization and bring recognition to women’s contributions in this industry. On behalf of all us, we thank you, Danielle.” concluded DeSousa.

Emily Saving, Executive Vice President of HARDI took to the main stage to present on trends for equipment sales and leading industry indicators to help us understand what to look forward to in the near future. Saving has worked for HARDI analyzing HVACR business and policy climate for seven years. She indicated that “with existing home sales down and construction activity flat, we can expect at best normal growth (+6-8%) in the coming year for equipment sales. More price increases will be seen, as well,” said Saving.

The moment we all awaited was when scholarship winners accepted their $2,000 awards at a formal dinner on Day 1 of conference. The seven scholarship winners included: Amanda Crafts, Hennepin College, Eagan, MN, Emily Gavrilenko, California Polytechnic University, Antioch, CA, Rebecca Gregg, Erie Institute of Technology, Erie, PA, Kailey Hardy, ACE Institute, Gadsden, AL, Service Titan Scholarship Winner, Morgan Lee, South River High School, Edgewater, MD, Pointmen Scholarship Winner, Janet Gibbons, Conrad Weiser High School, Scranton, PA, NATE Scholarship Winner and Briana Prouse, Idaho Falls, ID.

As they accepted their checks, the heartfelt and grateful sentiments of the scholarship winners were received by a cheering and supportive crowd. “HVACR has provided me with confidence that I am good at something,” said technician Rebecca Gregg. “I am interested in the design process of HVACR and seeing my ideas come to life in the real world,” said Industrial Engineering student Emily Gavrilenko. The emotional crowd came to their feet as the scholarship winners then exited the stage.

Breakout and working sessions, networking, the “technicians’ panel”, and more inspiring speakers kept attendees engaged throughout the two-day event. And, sponsors showcased their products in the common area. Following the conference, Kate McLinden, Business Development for Schedule Engine, said “Congratulations on such an amazing event. Highlights for the Schedule Engine team was the scholarship winners, tech panel, and comedian (Carolyn Plummer), and of course, all of the connections we made with women in the industry. Congrats on a well-planned and educational event!”

To conclude the event, Colleen Keyworth, board member, Director of Sales and Marketing for Online-Access, and a recognized 2019 The NEWS 40 Under 40, preached on the importance and value of social media. Keyworth offered many new ideas to which all attendees could take on and grow their respective businesses with no matter what kind of industry business she has.
Of the conference, many long-time members said, “it was the best one we’ve ever attended.” “The content of this conference was very educational and so valuable, I know exactly what to do with it when I return to my business.” And, “I can’t wait for next year, even though this one will be hard to beat!”

Additional photos of this event are available here.

About Women in HVACR

Women in HVACR exists to improve the lives of our members by providing professional avenues to connect with other women growing their careers in the HVACR industry.
We empower women to succeed through networking opportunities, mentoring and education.

To learn more about Women in HVACR, become a sponsor or become a member, visit