Breaking Barriers in Construction and Sports

Linda Alvarado grew up in a family of five boys and one girl. Being the only girl with five brothers turned out to have a major impact on her career. Her parents built their home, but it had no heat or indoor plumbing. Water to wash clothes came from a drainage ditch.

While her parents had limited resources, they were very nurturing. They didn’t accept stereotypes about what girls were supposed to do. Linda, for example, worked on the family car. Her parents also encouraged her to do well in school, and as a result, Linda earned an academic scholarship to Pomona College.

With limited resources, Linda needed a part-time job. She was able to get a landscaping job on campus despite resistance from the college’s administration who thought a cafeteria job was more appropriate for a woman. This was the start of Linda’s interest in construction.

When she graduated she went to work for a development company. She again faced discrimination and was often relegated to office work rather than on-site project management.

Linda decided to start her own construction company so she could have the career she wanted. She borrowed $2,500 from her parents to get started. At first, she was only able to get small jobs, again because of the bias against women in the construction industry. One thing she learned was to only use her initials in bidding for work.

Eventually, she was able to win larger projects, and her excellent track record of success led to high-rise buildings, airport hangers, and a convention center. When Linda constructed a strip mall, she saw an opportunity in franchise restaurants. She started a second company as a franchise owner for fast food restaurants, eventually owning more than 150 establishments.

When Linda wanted to make a bid for an expansion team in major league baseball, she joined a group of Denver businesswomen to make a bid. They were successful and Linda became the first Hispanic woman to join the exclusive group of baseball team owners. In fact, she was also the first woman who acquired an ownership position that wasn’t inherited.

Linda became a barrier buster in two areas where men have dominated: construction and professional sports. She has also been selected for a number of board seats for Fortune 1,000 companies. She is an advocate for others of her ethnicity and gender.

As a mother of three, Linda has tried to be the nurturing influence for her children, as her parents were for her. She encourages young people to think outside the box and not limit their ambitions by stereotypes that may be prevalent in our society.

While Linda has received a number of honors, she remains relatively unknown in our society. Few could name a woman who has achieved success in four different areas: construction, professional sports, franchising, and corporate leadership. Unfortunately, the success stories of many hidden heroes are drowned out by the publicity machines of celebrity seekers who are a lot less worthy.

* * *

            “What I still hope for and long for is the day when people will truly be judged not based on where they came from, and their gender, but really on their ability.”– Linda Alvarado

How To Use

Useful guides for incorporating messages into discussion.