With more than a decade of professional experience, Debra C. McHenry has excelled as an ironworker for the Ironworkers Union Local #433 since 2008. In this capacity, she has worked in various positions including a steward, foreman and a regular hand for several companies such as Western Steel, Milco Concrete Concepts, LLC and Schuff Steel Company, Inc. Her favorite position, however, is deck work. Constantly inspired by her daughter, she attributes her success in the field to her fellow union members. As a woman in this trade, she has encountered various moments where she felt as though she was not going to make it. However, Ms. McHenry was able to push through and utilized the necessary tools to continue striving forward.
Holding a welding certification, Ms. McHenry is most knowledgeable in concrete form decks. Prior to joining the wielding industry, she contributed as a front desk for the Marriott Hotel in Las Vegas. An active member of her community, she has volunteered for the Miss Nevada Competition and for the St. Viator Church. Additionally, she served as a clown for Special Olympics for five years and as a fifth-grade Sunday school teacher. Ms. McHenry also maintains a membership with the Catholic Daughters of America.
Born on December 31, 1972, Ms. McHenry is the oldest of four children, born to a bookkeeper and a policeman in Calumet City, Illinois. Both of her grandfathers had careers at U.S. Steel – one as a switchman for a railroad company and the other in fabrication. Growing up, she has an interest in the field, but was subsequently discouraged by her mother. Later in life, Ms. McHenry met an acquaintance in the field, who helped her begin the process to become an ironworker.
For her many achievements throughout her career as an ironworker, Ms. McHenry was recognized at the Harry Bridges Institute Working Class Women’s Luncheon in 2015. In the coming years, she hopes to still be working in her current field and learning more ways to better herself. Additionally, she would love to remain active in her union because they want her to run for office. However, she isn’t sure how people will feel having a woman sitting on the board. For other interested in joining the ironworking field, Ms. McHenry believes that safety and teamwork is the key to success. She ensures that the job site is safe and looking out for other partners is vital because if one is affected, all are affected. She is the proud mother of her daughter Kira, who competed in Miss Nevada during 2018.