Resident Feature: Della Tolliver, Laborer at Preservation Square

May 10, 2021 | McCormack Baron Salazar

Ms. Della Tolliver is a union laborer with EAD Construction, a woman- and minority-owned company working on the first stage of the Preservation Square revitalization project. It’s not common to see females in the construction field. In fact, Ms. Tolliver is the only female currently on the job site.

“As I was getting into construction, I noticed I was almost always the only female, and always the only black female. This intrigued me, this was a totally untapped area. This piqued my interest even more.”

Challenging stereotypes and encouraging young females to enter the construction field are passions for Ms. Tolliver. Prior to being a Laborer, she worked for nearly three decades as an administrator in University City public schools. Now she makes it a priority to visit schools and share her career with students and young people.

“I’m very proud of this job. I enjoy exposing this role to young people, especially young females. I love to break the stereotype, this is an area that more women can get into. It means a lot to be out here on the job site, changing the perception”

On the Preservation Square job site, Ms. Tolliver describes her role as handling incidentals, she follows behind the lead demo laborers. Her top priority is safety - from ensuring the removal of hazards like loose nails and stray wires to ensuring the EAD crew is wearing their PPE including hard hats and masks. Her colleagues describe her as a great team player.

As her time on the Preservation Square site winds down, Ms. Tolliver is hopeful for the community. “I think this project is something the community will be proud of. This project has the potential to spark a revitalization in this area. There are good things happening in this area with the NGA coming and GreenLeaf Market and Zoom station opening around the corner. I can’t wait to come back through here in the future and see the improvements.”

Della Tolliver in a safety vest in front of a brick building being renovated.

Ms. Tolliver has a message for those living around Preservation Square, especially young women - Get involved in the job site. Call the number on the sign and see what opportunities they have.

“The best part is the money. This career provides great, stable income with benefits. The only prerequisite is a strong work ethic, you don’t need a degree. This career provides guaranteed strong income and hours. We have been blessed. We have worked the entire time during the pandemic.”

Ms. Tolliver has worked as a laborer for nearly three years. While she is relatively new to the construction field, this work is in her blood. Her grandfather was a union laborer.

“Being on the job site is kind of like a full circle for me. My grandfather, my mom, and my dad would be really proud to see me out here.”