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Founder of Jamaica-based nonprofit named to 2023 L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth

Aug. 8, 2023 By Bill Parry

The founder of a Jamaica-based nonprofit organization has been recognized as an extraordinary changemaker for her charitable achievements.

Judaline Cassidy, 54, was among the 10 women to be named as a 2023 L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth, celebrating extraordinary nonprofit leaders working to address the nation’s biggest issues. Cassidy was among 10,000 applicants for this year’s class.

“It feels magical and that’s because I guess the universe was on my side,” Cassidy told QNS. “I was happy, very, very happy because this is like my third try, so I’m very happy that I had the opportunity and it’s such an honor to be one of the honorees.”

Tools & Tiara’s founder Judaline Cassidy was recognized as one of the 2023 L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth for her Jamaica-based nonprofit mentoring young girls in the construction trades.Photo courtesy of L’Oréal Paris

Cassidy is the founder and chief visionary officer of the pioneering Tools & Tiaras that has mentored young girls with a vital message, that they should embrace the fact that “jobs don’t have genders.” Her organization is open to any girl who has a keen interest in all areas of construction and teaches the skills and techniques required to excel in those fields and other areas of their lives.

“We bring the construction trades to the forefront,” Cassidy said. “We’re like the final frontier that a lot of people don’t think about as jobs and this sector is where jobs are available for a lot of women. This award is a real game changer that will help us shine a spotlight for women and girls that these trades are lucrative and represent amazing opportunities.”

As a history-making union plumber in New York City, Cassidy has broken barriers over the last 25 years fighting for equity for women in the male-dominated construction trades. She was raised by her grandmother in Trinidad and Tobago and was among the first three women selected to learn plumbing at the John Donaldson Technical Institute of Trinidad before she emigrated to the United States as a 19 year old. She became one of the first women to be accepted by Plumbers Local 371 on Staten Island and 20 years later Cassidy was the first woman elected to the examining board of her union.

“I was a housekeeper and a nanny before I got back into plumbing and joined the union,” Cassidy said. “And now that we merged with others citywide to form Plumber Local One NYC, now we have over six thousand union plumbers and I am the only woman officer elected by the membership.”

In 2017 the self-described “Black immigrant woman with an accent” founded Tools & Tiaras in Jamaica hosting monthly mentoring workshops and summer camps that introduce girls as young as six to construction trades like plumbing, carpentry and electrical, all while she continues working full time.

“Now I work for the New York City Housing Authority and I love my job as a plumber for the city because I get to help people on a daily basis and improve their lives through plumbing,” Cassidy said. “So it’s a win-win. I get to be with the love of my life, which is plumbing and coffee, and when I’m off and then I get to help people which is one of the things that I actually truly love doing.”

In addition to the recognition as one of the 2023 L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth, now in its 18th year with a network of 170 previous winners, Cassidy will be the recipient of a $25,000 grant to help alleviate some of the challenges women nonprofit leaders face.

“I know it’ll come as a surprise, but I wish there was more of me,” Cassidy said with a laugh. “And there’s only one of me running Tools & Tiaras while having a full time job as a plumber. So we will use our funds to help us hire somebody to help me because I still love being a plumber and I love the opportunity I get to help girls.”

Cassidy said she will hire an executive assistant in southeast Queens to help keep the program running into the future.

“This will help us definitely expand our reach and to help us because the demand for the program is really high,” Cassidy said. “But currently, the infrastructure is not there, so this will help us tremendously.and I truly couldn’t be happier.”

To learn more about her organization or to donate, visit toolsandtiaras.org.

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