Kristine “Krissy” DeNapoli, BTEA’s new board co-chair, has been in the electrical contracting trade for over 22 years.

On February 15th, Kristine DeNapoli was elected the first female co-chair of the BTEA’s board of governors in the association’s history. A past president of the New York Electrical Contractors Association, Kristine is a licensed master electrician and co-founder of KND Licensed Electrical Contracting & Services, a certified Women-Owned business and signatory contractor with both IBEW, Local #3 Chapter in New York City and IBEW, Local #25 Chapter on Long Island. In the following interview, Kristine shares her thoughts on her trailblazing accomplishment and how she wants to prioritize her tenure as BTEA co-chair.


BTEA: What does it mean to you to be BTEA’s first female co-chair?
KRISTINE: It’s an honor. I’m looking forward to the day when we can stop announcing this or that first for women, and it can just be a normal thing. We make up 50% of the population. We should generally be 50% of the representation in everything, if you think about it.

BTEA: How did you first get involved in the BTEA?
KRISTINE: I first started as a contractor going to some meetings way back when the association was more about networking for me. It’s always been a great place to network. It wasn’t until much more recently that I got pulled into the committees, when they needed people from MWBEs and all that. Then, about three years ago, I was asked to—well, I was voluntold—to be treasurer. I was supposed to be the secretary, but then it was just announced in an email that I was voted in as treasurer—I’m a CPA is my original life, so my skill set lends itself to that. It’s been a good experience being on the board. We’ve changed the BTEA a lot from the inside. It hadn’t been looked at in a long time. So this is sort of like a renewal of the organization. It was just time for it to change. You know, there’s a cycle for everything and we’re at the point in the cycle again for newness; to rethink and reimagine our mission and understand where things slid off a little bit and move to repivot our direction to advance the industry.

BTEA: Why is the BTEA important to you?
KRISTINE: I’m a small contractor, and I think as a smaller contractor in one specific trade, which is electrical, we tend to get hyper focused on our own part of the world in the construction industry. BTEA allows us to have a global perspective of our industry in New York City, which I think is really important. Another benefit of BTEA is it gives us a direct line of communication with labor, like the BCTC [Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York], as well as the GCs [general contractors] and owners. We need to be a cohesive group, rather than being all different associations, to try to effectuate change with labor. As a union shop, I’m certainly a proponent of unions. I know I’m on the right side of history, because I think that people should be paid appropriately and the right to collectively bargain must be kept sacred. If the people that are actually building New York City can’t afford to live in it, then we’re doing them and this great city a disservice, and we need to level the playing field for them and the union contractors that employ them to succeed more. When New York City succeeds in that process it’s just better for everybody.

BTEA: What do you want to focus on during your tenure as board chair?
KRISTINE: I want to advocate for union labor, probably on top of pretty much everything, because I do think labor is what makes the wheels spin in New York City, and I think it’s just the right thing to do. You know, I understand it’s a hard existence at times, and it’s a balance; everything’s a balance in life. And I’d say, at the moment, unions are a bit out of balance. They’ve been stumbling, and that’s not all due to outside forces. We all need to—both management and labor—recognize our shortcomings. These are going to be hard conversations to have. But my focus is going to be increasing union market share and we need partners in the unions in order to achieve that; it can’t be just us. And they really are our partners. I’m going to strive to make that known as well. We’re not adversaries. It’s not management versus labor or labor versus management. We’ve got to be together. We’re all the same industry and our success is intrinsically related.