Sarah Schneider, Cool Roof Rating Council Deputy Director

AAPI Heritage Month Feature Questionnaire

1. How did you get involved in the roofing industry?
I started working for the Cool Roof Rating Council (CRRC) in July 2013, immediately after earning a master’s degree in environmental policy with a focus in collaborative policymaking and social justice. I had several years of experience working in the energy efficiency field prior to joining the CRRC, and when the opportunity presented itself to work for the organization, my first thought was “but I don’t know anything about roofing!” The past eight years have been a rewarding and positive experience for me, not only because I work for a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that educates the public about the benefits of reflective roofing materials in combatting climate change and the Urban Heat Island effect, but also because it has afforded me the opportunity of meeting so many wonderful people in the industry, many of which have become very good friends.

2. What is one of the key things you’ve learned about yourself that you wish you would’ve known when you first entered the roofing industry?
I wish I would’ve known that you don’t have to be “perfect” to be successful. As a biracial woman in an industry historically dominated by white men, I spent the first couple years feeling like I needed to justify my presence while proving that I was qualified for the job. I tended to shy away from opportunities and didn’t always let myself celebrate the progress and growth I was making. I realize now that that line of thinking is flawed, damaging, and counterproductive.

3. In the spirit of AAPI Heritage Month, who in your life has been an inspiring female figure that has helped you get to where you are today, physically, emotionally, intellectually and/or spiritually?
Hands down, my mom. My mom emigrated from Japan in 1976. She came to the U.S. by herself and spoke not one word of English. Over the past 45 years, my mom has overcome so many struggles and barriers as a woman, a foreigner, and a single mother of two. She has persevered and flourished despite the challenges that have been thrown at her, and that is extremely inspiring to me. She is the strongest woman I know and a bona fide badass.

4. As we know, many of the women in our industry are always juggling multiple responsibilities. How do you manage a work-life balance?
It’s taken a pretty long time for me to find a work-life balance, and frankly, I’m still working on it. I used to equate working long hours as a strong work ethic, but as a working mother of a 21-month old boy (and two needy cats), I had to adjust that way of thinking. I am slowly learning to let go of the “little things” that waste time, like fretting over a sink full of dishes, and embrace the “big things” that enrich time, like hanging in the backyard with my family after dinner or going on nature walks with my son.