Michele O’Rourke joins World Demolition Awards judging panel

17 April 2024

D&Ri is proud to welcome Michele O’Rourke, CEO of O’Rourke Wrecking Company, to the judging panel of the World Demolition Awards.

Michele O'Rourke, CEO at O'Rourke Wrecking Company. Michele O’Rourke, CEO at O’Rourke Wrecking Company. (PHOTO: O’Rourke)

Founded in 1962 as a small excavation firm, O’Rourke has grown to become a nationwide powerhouse in demolition, environmental remediation, and recycling.

Michele became the first female CEO at O’Rourke in 2019 and under her leadership the company has consistently ranked among the Top 15 largest demolition contractors in the US by ENR Magazine.

Her construction career - which now spans almost 30 years, has seen her progress from positions in accounting, estimating and project management to senior roles in operations, business development, and, as in her current position as O’Rourke’s CEO, organisational strategy.

For as long as Michele has been in the industry, she has presented her authentic self; she is not afraid to be heard or express opinions opposing the norm. Her results and career growth in the male-dominated construction industry are testaments to the principles she exemplifies.

Leila Steed, World Demolition Summit and Awards Programme Organiser, said: “I’m so thrilled to have Michele on our judging panel.

“She brings a unique perspective, immense intellect and, as a proactive and positive force for change, a critical eye that is geared towards raising standards.  

“We are extremely lucky to have her as one of our judges, whose unparalleled expertise has made our awards the most well-respected in the demolition industry.”

Throughout her career, Michele has worked passionately to fight the stereotypes that shroud the construction industry. She knows as well as anyone the opportunities the industry has to offer.

Her message to women considering a career in construction is that, despite perceptions, the opportunities are there. The stereotype that construction is a rugged industry suited for men is a perception Michele works tirelessly to redefine.

While Michele has been heavily involved in industry associations throughout her career, her most recent work involves the Spirit of Construction/ACI’s efforts to encourage youth interest in construction.

The initiative includes a variety of in-school, after school, and summer programs for local school districts, educating students on the opportunities within the industry.

It is through this initiative that Michele - the current Past President of the organisation - collaborates with students through project-based learning, while engaging with parents and school counsellors to break the stereotypes associated with a career in construction.

The initiative has been wildly successful and is now implemented in over 40 schools within 21 school districts.

World Demolition Awards: open to entries Deadline for entries closes June 28, 2024

Beyond her corporate responsibilities, Michele also actively contributes to other organizations.

These include the Ohio Valley Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC)- LOGIC Secretary, Allied Construction Industries (ACI)- Board of Directors, National Demolition Association (NDA), Mercy Health Foundation- Board VP, Cincinnati Regional Business Committee (CRBC)- Governing Affairs Co-Chair, American Heart Association- Hardhats with Hearts Board member and previously served on Aviatra Accelerators and SPCA Cincinnati Board of Directors.

In 2022 Michele was awarded the “She Builds” Award by Allied Construction Industries and in 2021 was named “Construction Woman of the Year by Associated and Builders and Contractors (ABC).

More recently, Michele was honoured by the Cincinnati Business Courier, receiving the Women Who Mean Business Award in December 2023. 

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