Lydia Clary honored for raising the public awareness of code personnel
The International Code Council selected Lydia Clary, deputy director and building official of the Community Development Department for the city of Stockton, Calif., to receive the 2019 ICC Raising the Profile Award. This award recognizes an individual or organization that has increased public awareness about code professionals that improve public safety in the built environment. Previous recipients include Jack Applegate (2018), Yasmeen Sami Saadah (2016), former New York State Senator Betty Little (2012) and past Code Council Board Director Ravi Shah (2008).
Clary raises the profile of code officials through her actions not only in the community but also by her mentoring of staff. By building her mentees’ confidence, self-esteem, morale and showing them how codes not only provide a career but also provide safer built environments, Clary represents the best of the profession.
“Lydia understands and promotes the importance of code officials,” said Code Council Chief Executive Officer Dominic Sims, CBO. “On behalf of the entire International Code Council community, we thank and congratulate her for her outstanding support to raise the public profile of code officials, which truly serves to raise awareness of their commitment to public safety. We are honored to present her with our Raising the Profile Award.”
With more than 40 years of professional experience, Clary’s journey in the building industry has been challenging but rewarding. Her professional career began in 1979 when she became a state wildland firefighter in California. During the off season, Clary remained busy working with construction crews on rehabilitation projects for state fire camps. After three years, she was promoted to crew supervisor and led a crew of 10–15 men and women.
Her love for construction grew and in 1988 Clary made the decision to leave her job as a firefighter and attend Butte College in Oroville, Calif., to study building inspection technology. At the age of 30, Clary was more focused than ever and completed five certifications in nine months.
In 1989, after earning her certifications, Clary accepted a position as a plans checker/inspector for the city of El Segundo, Calif. Her most notable inspections in this role included the Chevron Oil Refinery, Mattel Toys and the Xerox Hughes Aero Space headquarters. During this time, Clary also attended the International Code Council’s (formerly the International Conference of Building Officials) Los Angeles Basin Chapter meetings where she was “impressed with the dynamics of the conversations about codes.”
In 1991, Clary accepted a plan checker position with the city of Santa Rosa, Calif. After six years, she became a building inspector. In addition to her regular duties, during her three-year tenure as a building inspector, Clary represented the building division on a team helping to create a city-wide disaster plan. This plan implemented guidelines set by the State Office of Emergency Services for Standardized Emergency Management.
In 2000, Clary accepted the opportunity to work for the county of Merced, Calif. Only two years later, Clary was promoted to supervising inspector and became active in the Code Council’s Yosemite Chapter. By 2003, she was elected to the board of directors and in 2007 she proudly served as president of the Yosemite Chapter’s board.
“As you grow, it is your duty to allow people to mentor you and to mentor others,” said Clary. As a firm believer in mentorships, she credits her willingness to learn from others for allowing her the opportunities to branch out and grow within the industry.
In 2011, Clary was promoted to the position of deputy building official for the county of Merced. One project that Clary is especially proud of is achieving total electronic plan reviews in Merced County. After attending a class on electronic plan reviews offered during the Code Council’s 2013 Annual Conference in Atlantic City, N.J., Clary was committed to facilitating change back home. On Jan. 1, 2016, Merced County operated with 100-percent electronic plan review submittal — a huge win in Clary’s book.
In June 2017, Clary accepted the position of deputy director of community development building/safety for the city of Stockton, Calif. She plans to enable the city to achieve 100-percent electronic plan review, just as she did for Merced County. Clary is also focused on creating a strong workforce in Stockton in order for the city to continue its expansion.
Clary continues to explore her passion for working with students and bringing in a new generation of building safety professionals. Her most recent contributions involve work with students in Lincoln High School’s Engineering and Construction Academy. Her long-time associate from Simpson Strong-Tie, Rick Reid, introduced her to the “Design Build” event, in which Lincoln High School participates, which increases student awareness of career opportunities and highlights the importance of construction and trades programs in high schools. Immediately, Clary felt compelled to get involved. As a part of the 2018 event program, 24 schools throughout California participated to build a 96-square-foot building with one electrical outlet. Because the building had an electrical unit, the students had to obtain a building permit, which taught students about permitting since many of the participants were headed into the construction workforce. The students had the opportunity to interact with city staff, including employees in the permitting, engineering, planning, plan check, inspection and fire divisions.
Clary’s advocacy and involvement with students directly aligns with the Code Council’s Safety 2.0 initiative, which welcomes a new generation of members and leaders to the building safety profession. Under the Safety 2.0 umbrella, the High School and College Technical Training Programs enable technical schools to integrate a technical educational program into its current construction trade curricula. The program includes the necessary course materials, exams and certifications to ensure easy implementation and students completing the program receive a nationally recognized certificate of achievement from the Code Council.
With 21 certifications, Clary is an excellent example of where hard work and determination can take you. “Within the building industry, there are so many areas that you can branch out into and so many opportunities that you can take advantage of,” Clary said. As a strong proponent of obtaining as many certifications as possible, Clary’s advice for anyone striving to work in the building safety industry is to, “Never narrow your expectations or limit yourself.”