2022 CREW Network Convention
By: Tammy Pearce

January 1, 2023
Written by: ammy Pearce, Structural Engineer / Business Development Associate, GRAEF

2022 CREW Network Convention

​By: Tammy Pearce

I had the privilege of attending my first CREW Network Convention this year as a grant recipient. I was so excited to attend and had heard so many amazing things about what would occur, but I still was not fully sure of what to expect. After being at the conference for a little while I spoke with my husband who asked, “How is it?” All I could give him was adjectives: Exhausted! Amazed! Invigorated! I truly was feeling all the things.

Being in a male dominated field and the only female engineer in my office, it was so remarkable to be surrounded by so many driven, smart and accomplished women coming together to enrich, support and lift each other up. I did not know that CREW’s message of “you belong” was something I even needed to hear or be told, but it resonated so deeply with me. From the moment I walked into the conference I felt welcomed and like I was a part of the group.

Even while getting the chance to serve as a volunteer, I was able to connect with the other women and make meaningful connections. I thought that I would go to the sessions and outings and meet some nice people, possibly exchange a few contacts. What I experienced was a much richer and deeper experience. The opening session had me literally fighting back tears as the speaker’s story was so honest, vulnerable and relatable. I left that session with a new determination about what I new I needed to accomplish in my life and career, which was totally unexpected. I then found myself in a peer exchange session that was so engaging none of us wanted it to end. We put the entire group on a group chat so that we could stay in touch and continue our conversation. The way people were so openly sharing advice, successes and even failures as a mechanism to help others was astonishing to me and made it easy for me to open up and engage.

To top it off I attended the Gala, which was such a beautifully planned event. I got to dress up and now spend time having fun with these amazing women that I was getting to know. The room was so lively and full, yet there was a moment when the president of CREW Network took the time to sit with me and impart some of her wisdom. I will always remember that experience with her and the fact that with all the hustle and bustle going on, she took the time to talk with first time attendee that she didn’t even know and made me feel like I really belonged. When she got on the stage the next morning at breakfast and said you belong in CREW, I knew she meant it.

I want to end this by just saying thank you for affording me the opportunity to attend the conference as a grant recipient. I truly benefited from the experience both personally and professionally. I strived to represent CREW Chicago well in every act of service and interaction I had, and I hope that is what I did. I am already looking forward to next year!