“I hope that with all the knowledge that I have learned throughout the years that I am able to continuously pass that knowledge on to the next generation of restoration contractors. NEVER stop learning. It can set any woman, or man, apart from their peers.”
--Lori Young
President, Bartwood Construction
2019 Women in Restoration Winner


Education in the restoration industry is seeing a revival. While certifications and training have always held value, there are more educational opportunities and certifications available today than ever before. Within the last year, the Restoration Industry Association has started offering brand new advanced designations, the IICRC continues offering key certifications, and there are numerous other training events happening across the country on a weekly basis covering everything from drying to large loss to estimating and everything in between. None of that even takes into consideration the larger industry conferences, expos, and trade shows that offer a plethora of educational opportunities on a number of topics related to restoration.

Since its inception in 2016, nearly 200 women have been nominated for R&R’s Women in Restoration award. Each year the field seems to become broader and more competitive, with nominations becoming more in-depth and elaborate! This year’s nominees included owners, VPs, project managers, technicians, operations managers, marketing and sales, and more. Just as in years past, this year’s winner has a heightened passion for a specific restoration niche. Anyone who knows this year’s winner even a little bit knows that her passion is educating and sharing knowledge with others.

A little Bit about Recognizing Women in Restoration

The Recognizing Women in Restoration campaign was launched in 2016, and celebrates its fourth year in 2019. This year, nearly 40 women were nominated for the award by fellow industry peers and colleagues. Each boasts at least a decade of experience in the industry, which is the only requirement to be considered for the award — position with a restoration company, title, etc. do not matter. Four industry judges, including R&R Editor-in-Chief Michelle Blevins, carefully read and judge each nomination on six criteria:

  • Thoroughness of the entry
  • Supporting documentation
  • Journey/experience in the industry
  • Job growth and future reach
  • Worthiness of recognition
  • Industry awards and certifications

This year’s award will be presented on Friday, June 21, at the Violand Executive Summit in Canton, Ohio. All ladies involved in this year’s campaign are invited to attend the summit itself, as well as a very special half-day Women in Leadership event leading into the summit on Wednesday, June 19, facilitated by R&R Editor-in-Chief Michelle Blevins.

Women in Restoration

The Winner

Lori Young, CR

President | Bartwood Construction | Fountain Valley, CA

Industry Service, Awards, Accolades, & Certifications

  • RIA Certified Restorer (CR) Designation
  • Service on the RIA Board of Directors
  • Service on the Contents Council for RIA
  • IICRC Master Certification in Fire and Smoke
  • IICRC CCT (Carpet Cleaning Technician)
  • IICRC RRT (Repair and Reinstallation Technician)
  • IICRC WRT (Water Damage Restoration Technician)
  • IICRC AMRT (Applied Microbial Remediation Technician)
  • IICRC ASD (Applied Structural Drying)
  • IICRC HST (Health and Safety Tech)
  • Environmentally Friendly Award – California State Assembly, 2013
Women in Restoration

Getting Her Start

Lori started her first business in 1990, specializing in carpet and upholstery cleaning and water damage restoration services. Nine years later, she transitioned into restoration and construction as the front-desk administrator for Bartwood Construction. She and her husband, Robert, bought Bartwood Construction in 2011. But it was when Lori first started at Bartwood in the late 90s that she truly learned the business of restoration—and found her passion within one specific department.

“With the support of the founding owner of Bartwood Construction, Bruce Bartolomeo, Lori learned as much as she could about best practices and procedures of restoration,” wrote Amy Wonacott and Rebecca Grudt in Lori’s nomination for this year’s award. “Lori was integral in building Bartwood’s in-house contents division that started as a bucket and a sponge, and quickly evolved into an impressive state-of-the-art facility.”

Women in Restoration

A Passion for Contents and Education

As Bartwood invested and grew its contents division under Lori’s leadership and guidance, the company established itself as one of the first restoration companies to have equipment like ultrasonic cleaning stations, a commercial dishwasher, ozone chamber, Esporta wash system, electronics cleaning system, commercial laundering and sanitizing station, and more. Soon, Bartwood had established itself as the leader in contents restoration in the region.

In 2011, with more than two decades of restoration experience under her belt, Lori became a Certified Restorer through the RIA. At the time this article was written, there were 775 Certified Restorers worldwide; just about 20 of them are women.


Bartwood’s four walls haven’t been able to contain Lori’s passion for contents and learning. She’s a part of the Property Loss Research Bureau (PLRB), the Claims Education Panel (CEP), the Southern California Claims Association (SCCA), the Combined Claims Conference (CCC), and she is a current member of the Fountain Valley Chamber of Commerce as well as a former member of Business Networking International (BNI).

“Lori’s contributions extend far past her memberships, teaching, and speaking engagements,” wrote Amy and Rebecca. “She has helped bring the subtleties and value of contents restoration to light. The repair of a house is important, but Lori believes it is the contents of that house that make it a home. Trinkets, photos, heirlooms, comfort items—Lori believes these all come together to tell a family’s story.”

Lori will be honored and receive the award during the Violand Executive Summit in Canton, Ohio, happening June 20-21. Fellow women in restoration and cleaning are also invited to a very special half-day Women in Leadership event on the afternoon of June 19, moderated by R&R Editor-in-Chief Michelle Blevins. To find out more and get registered, head to violandsummit.com.

It’s from this belief that Lori has developed her love for contents education and training. Those who have been through her classes say you will be instantly struck by her enthusiasm, knowledge, and training ability because she truly cares about what she teaches.

Leaving Her Mark

Lori has a servant’s heart that leads her to give back whenever and wherever possible. She keeps bags of supplies and food in her car so she can give them to those in need, provides pro bono work for those who suffered a property loss and don’t have funds or insurance to pay for the repairs, is very active in her church and around her local community, and so much more.

“I want to make a difference in someone’s life,” Lori said when asked why she spends so much time and energy pouring into others. To fellow women in restoration with the same dream, she says to learn as much as you can, give back as much as you can, and mentor as many as you can.

Women in Restoration

And when it comes to being a woman in restoration, she says fellow restorers continue to motivate her to be even better.

“The only thing I have ever noticed about being a woman in the restoration industry is I am generally hanging out with a lot of gentlemen. Women can follow the exact educational paths that men can and become very successful in the restoration industry,” she said. “I have had the privilege of meeting some of the most well-respected restorers, writers, authors, restoration specialists, project managers, and industry leaders of our time. It doesn’t discourage me—it encourages me to rise up.”

Women in Restoration

In her words, Bartwood has never been just a job. “If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.”

Women in Restoration

First Runner-Up

Kelley Dolan

Kelley Dolan

Chief of Staff | Maxons Restorations

New York, NY

Kelley Dolan began her career in the restoration industry in 2004 at age 23 as a sales coordinator with Maxons Restorations in New York City. She quickly learned about how all of the company’s different clients interact on projects and could see the changing trends in the industry with new sources of work beyond insurance companies.

Two years later she was asked to join the project management team as a project coordinator, and by 2008 was promoted to run the company’s human resources and operations department. From there, she grew into the role of chief of staff and has spearheaded several key initiatives to improve the company’s efficiency and overall operations. Every day she strives to grow employee engagement and enhance the company’s fun and driven culture through feedback, guidance, and coaching at all levels. In 2017, Maxons Restorations won the Culture Award for the Greater NYC Area, and a Bronze Award from Great Places to Work Nationally.

Among her industry involvements, Kelley was an early beta tester for some of the RIA’s online training programs and helped publicize them within the industry, was a participating member of Business Networks, connected with numerous industry partners through the Restoration Affiliates peer network, and more.

Like Lori, Kelley is a champion of continuing education for the Maxons team. With her help, Maxons has four Certified Restorers, two Registered Third Party Evaluators (RPTEs), and many more staff with advanced designations through the RIA and IICRC in addition to required OSHA, state, and federal certification requirements. When she’s questioned about what happens if they’re only training employees who then leave, her response is simply, “What happens if we don’t train them and they stay?”

Kelley’s advice to others in restoration is brilliant:

 “Don’t run away from problems. Problems are a sign of success, and there is no way to avoid them. Look at these as challenges to overcome and clues to what needs your priority attention. Problems will arise that may seem at first to have no way to be solved … As a leader, in any situation, you can demonstrate an empathetic confidence showing that together, any problem can be solved and turned into something that demands an interesting, creative solution.”

Second Runner-Up (A Tie!)

Heather Miconi

Heather Miconi

National Project Director | Interstate Restoration

Pompano Beach, FL

Heather got her start in restoration with a family-owned restoration company when she was just 21 years old and fresh out of college with a degree in political science and public administration. She wasn’t really considering a career in restoration, but fate had other plans. Heather was immediately struck by the impact restorers have on the lives of others, especially after working through a water damage job with a single mom raising three young daughters. Another turning point in her career came with the arrival of Hurricane Wilma in Florida in 2005. While the damage was heartbreaking, Heather called the restoration work exciting and started transitioning into large-scale CAT work.

Since then, Heather has worked as an estimator for Belfor and is now the National Project Director for Interstate Restoration. She has found success by being a student of relationships and personalizing every interaction. In her nomination for this year’s Women in Restoration award, it was said that “there is almost a science to the way she cultivates and nurtures a relationship.”

Heather’s advice to fellow women in restoration:

“Trust your own knowledge and abilities, and don’t let other people’s doubts affect the way you see yourself. Of course, the best way to maintain that kind of self-confidence is for women to maintain their proficiencies via continuing education, constant improvement, and hard work. Self-reflection is fine, but it has to remain on a healthy level; and if it sinks into self-doubt, then it’s a problem.”

Gail Yanker

Gail Yanker

Office Manager | Buffalo Restoration 

Bozeman, MT

Gail has been the administrative and accounting core of Buffalo Restoration since the company was launched in 1991. In 28 years, Gail has never missed a payroll, and she has also instituted a savings plan that has successfully grown the working capital available for growth and investments within the company. Plus, her financial acumen has allowed employees at Buffalo to enjoy amazing benefits like 100 percent company-paid healthcare and mentorships for students still in school.

For 26 years she has been a regular attendee and supporter of the RIA and other educational opportunities in the restoration industry, and she travels across the U.S. to help fellow restorers establish winning office and accounting systems.

Above and beyond numbers, Gail is a champion of true care and empathy for customers and team members alike.

Gail’s advice to others is simple, and wise:

“Never give up and have as much fun as you can while doing it!”

Meet the Judges

Katie Harris

Katie Harris

Katie is a founding partner of Spot On Solutions, a digital marketing agency specializing in helping cleaning and restoration companies grow and profit online. She is also a partner at Get Found First, one of the top digital marketing agencies in North America. As a Google Premier Partner Managed Agency, Get Found First and Spot On Solutions manage ad spend for more than 400 companies. She manages more than 30 U.S.-based employees with headquarters in their hometown of Blackfoot, Idaho. This growth in employees led Katie to become a certified John Maxwell Leadership coach and trainer as well as a certified DISC personality consultant. Helping employees and clients understand their personalities and grow their leadership skills in an ever-increasing digital world has become one of her passions. She is a member of the Forbes Agency Council and contributor to Forbes magazine.

Susan Pinto

Susan Pinto

Susan Pinto has guided Wonder Makers Environmental as the president since 1988. She earned a master’s degree in Education Leadership from Western Michigan University and molded young minds as an elementary school teacher.  Given this background, Susan has a unique perspective of leading a multifaceted organization that includes consulting, manufacturing, laboratory analysis, and training. In 2018, Wonder Makers Environmental celebrated 30 years of helping individuals resolve indoor contaminant problems.

Kristy Sifford

Kristy Sifford

With years of background in the flooring industry and involvement with large disaster restoration and carpet cleaning companies, Kristy understands the work that goes into finding and keeping top talent. A highly successful matchmaker in this industry, Kristy successfully placed more than 150 candidates in a one-year span while streamlining the recruiting process and ensuring the most effective ways to find and attract skillful employees for her restoration industry clients.

Past Winners

Recognizing Women in RestorationAnnissaShelliLisa

*Click on the past winners' photos to see the articles.


*Click the image to see a larger version.

Recognizing Women in Restoration