It’s nearly impossible to talk about the history and influence of the local building and construction industry without talking about the legacy left behind by Sandy McAdams, who passed away in December.

As the first female president of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties—and owner of her own remodeling company—Sandy forged a path for women in a line of work typically dominated by men, especially in the 80s and 90s. Before her bid for president, Sandy and her colleagues built a business network within MBA of King and Snohomish Counties called The Force, where women met once a month to discuss ideas and launch initiatives like the REX/T-REX Awards and Rampathon. It was the first of its kind—and served as a much-needed outlet for women professionals in the industry. 

“Sandy played an integral role in not only the Master Builders Association but was a key contributor to advancing women in construction,” said Ty and Bonnie Waude, MBA members, in a tribute. “We always admired her for her ability to be a go-getter and broach many obstacles in securing positions not traditionally held by women.”

When Sandy became president of MBA of King and Snohomish Counties, she was swift in inspiring change. The association established the Women Building Hope charity fundraiser, which provided educational and mentorship opportunities for dozens of women in the construction industry—from electricians to plumbers to remodelers. Together, members of the group donated their efforts to improve the community, including renovating housing for homeless single mothers and their children.

Women Building Hope would eventually become the Professional Women in Building Council. In honor of Sandy’s legacy, PWB created the Sandy McAdams Woman of the Year Award, an annual recognition given to women who demonstrate excellence and commitment to making a difference in their professional life and community. Traci Tenhulzen, current first vice president of MBA of King and Snohomish Counties, says the award reflects Sandy’s own devotion to her community. “She had a heart of gold; she truly did. Anyone that needed help, she was there. She would drive to the homebuilders associations in Washington state to sit in on their meetings and give them advice. She was amazing at what she did.”

Helping others and inspiring women already in the association wasn’t enough for Sandy, though—she also wanted to welcome as many new faces to MBA as possible. She promoted membership with enthusiasm and welcomed 350 new members to MBA of King and Snohomish Counties—enough to earn her the inaugural MBA Life Spike Award, among multiple Remodeler of the Year awards. Sandy’s impact wasn’t just local, either—she served on the executive board of the Building Industry Association of Washington as well as the National Association of Home Builders Remodelers Council. 

Colleagues and friends remember Sandy as a strong and confident yet empathetic leader. “Sandy was an endless ball of energy, a total spitfire,” said Patrick McCourt, former MBA president. “She always stepped up and did more than what was expected of her. There was no beginning or end—she was incredible.”

“I admired her tenacity, listening skills, and humor,” said Sam Anderson, former executive director of MBA. “The world is a lesser place without her in it.”