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L.B. Foster's Spark Initiative: Encouraging and Empowering Women at L.B. Foster Company

L.B. Foster’s Spark Initiative is an employee resource group targeting all employees interested in furthering the mission of empowerment and professional growth of women in the workplace.

spark logo.

Spark encourages the development and growth of women while navigating through the unique challenges they may experience in their career, enhancing our position as an employer of choice. The group sponsors formal events and meetings, networking and mentorship efforts, a platform of idea and resource exchange, all with a focus on empowering women within the Company.

Spark was founded in the summer of 2020 as an employee resource group for women with Nicole Wilson, Manager, Talent Development, Stephanie Listwak, Manager, Financial Reporting and Investor Relations, and Caroline Toplak, Manager, Corporate Marketing & Communications, as chairs. To keep people connected within the global L.B. Foster Company while working remotely, the group kicked off virtual events. In 2022, they were able to introduce in-person events and coordinate with location liaisons to ensure all L.B. Foster locations were engaged. By the end of the year, the initiative had around 90 members.

In 2023, the initiative transitioned four new chairs to support their mission. The chairs were announced as Jamie O’Neill, VP, Human Resources, Michael Tolman, Senior Sales Engineer, Amy Kovats, HR, Admin Specialist, and Sara Rolli, Director, Quality.

As a new chair, Jamie O’Neill is most looking forward to sharing her experiences of facing challenges that most women will encounter during their professional careers. She commented, “I am excited to connect with employees differently than I do on a day-to-day basis. When we are at work, we know each other most by the role we have professionally, but it is a nice change to be able to connect on a different level. These events bring people together more organically because we are discussing topics and situations that are personally impactful it is important to have those opportunities to get together and learn from each other.”

The initiative sponsors events and meetings to spark conversations centered around their mission to support women in their professional successes. Most recently, the initiative sponsored a panel discussion with two L.B. Foster Board members centered around the issue of a work/life balance and additional pressures placed on women. This event was a favorite of many members, including new chair, Michael Tolman. Tolman, who recently joined the initiative and decided he was ready to become a chair, commented, “I am looking forward to further educating myself on the topic of women empowerment and bring the information I learn back to my team. I am a leader of the engineering team, 33% of whom are women.”

Amy Kovats joined the initiative when she started at L.B. Foster in March 2022 as she found it to be encouraging and empowering, not just for women but also for men. She commented, “I thought it was a great initiative offered by L.B. Foster. It is nice to let the men in the group see our viewpoint and for us to see theirs and engage with a mix of all levels of the company.”

Sara Rolli is looking forward to seeing the program develop. She said, “I have worked in manufacturing most of my career and am constantly one of the only females in the room. L.B. Foster has a lot to offer women and I think me being a part of Spark and now a chair, I can start to focus on L.B. Foster hiring and promoting women not only in administrative roles but in manufacturing and technical roles.”

O’Neill added, “We always pay attention to what makes L.B. Foster a great place to work, which impacts both men and women. Spark will serve as a platform for other groups to get started. It is a catalyst to motivate and encourage others to take similar steps with different topics and interests, all with the intent of connecting our employees and strengthening our corporate culture.”

Spark members and chairs alike are looking forward to continuing to build momentum in 2023 and supporting the initiative’s mission of encouraging and empowering the professional growth of women at L.B. Foster.

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We enjoy a market-leading reputation for high quality, high performance solutions in rail and infrastructure.

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When you choose to partner with L.B. Foster, you're not just selecting a vendor; you're aligning with a trusted global leader renowned for its commitment to excellence and superior performance.

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Our end-to-end critical engineering solutions fulfil an essential role in maintaining the safe and reliable operation of railroad networks around the world.

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We are experts in the design, manufacture and deployment of advanced technologies that positively impact the built environment.