New generation of code officials on the rise


by Anthony Diallo, DCRA Communications and Community Outreach Specialist

A new generation is taking the built industry by storm. Quanya Reese, a graduate of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C., is one of the many examples of young people interested in advancing in the building safety profession. Through hard work, dedication and perseverance, Reese has excelled in completing the Department of Consumer and Regulatory (DCRA) Pre-Apprenticeship Program and has received certification for the International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC).

See below to read more about Quanya's journey in an article written by Anthony Diallo, DCRA Communications and Community Outreach Specialist.

The International Code Council (ICC) offers numerous educational programs for young people interested in the built industry including the High School Technical Training Program (HSTTP). HSTTP is an educational program that helps prepare high school students for careers in code enforcement and the construction trades and teaches students the importance of building codes in constructing safe and sustainable structures. To learn about other ICC programs geared toward welcoming a new generation of members and leaders to the building safety profession, click here.

Nineteen-year-old Quanya Reese is a reserved young man with a steely resolve. He is determined to make a positive contribution to the community and ensure a better life for himself and family. Although Reese is soft spoken, his drive and ambition far supersedes his age.

The native Washingtonian who grew up in the northeast quadrant of the city attended the highly touted Paul Laurence Dunbar High School that is located in the Truxton Circle community. The high school has a sterling reputation in the District for seniors attending historically black colleges and universities like Howard University, Morehouse College and Tuskegee Institute and other prestigious schools.

"Training and hiring District residents is a priority for Mayor Muriel Bowser's Administration to ensure there is a pathway to the middle class for residents in all eight wards," Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Brian Kenner said at the high school's 2015 inaugural graduation for the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) Pre-Apprenticeship Cohort Program.

Dunbar is especially known to inspire graduates to seek majors in either the engineering or mathematics fields. DCRA's Pre-Apprenticeship Program is designed to teach students how to become qualified and competent housing code officials and give them another choice and pathway to the middle class. DCRA's goal is to allow District junior and senior high school students to become exposed to the existing trade and engineering curricula through classroom instruction, field shadowing and professional development where the theoretical code fundamentals will be demonstrated through real-life application. The Dunbar students participate in weekly classroom and instruction with DCRA staff and assists inspectors in the field throughout the summer.

Reese was part of DCRA's first cohort and graduated from Dunbar in June 2016. As a result of his participation in the program, in October 2016, Reese was hired as a Housing Code Contact Representative. During his tenure in the Pre-Apprenticeship Program and his subsequent employment at DCRA, Reese developed the necessary skills to be an asset to housing officials. He took his International Property Maintenance Code Certification test in January 2018 to become a certified housing inspector and made the cut passing the two-hour long certifying test with at least a 75 percentile.

"We are extremely proud of our Pre-Apprenticeship Program for a number of reasons. Not only does DCRA eventually gain top notch housing code inspectors to better serve the residents, business owners and visitors in the District, but we are likewise able to effectively improve the overall lives of individuals by enhancing their socio-economic status and ultimately realizing their American Dream," said DCRA Deputy Director Lori Parris, who was paramount in making the Pre-Apprenticeship Program a reality.

"I plan to get more certifications in the near future. I understand that the more certifications I get, the more knowledge I can learn," said the now proud full-time certified housing inspector who hinted at having challenges at an early age but is determined to succeed. Suffice it to say, Reese is not planning on resting on his laurels.

Clean cut, soft spoken and sporting a respectable goatee, Reese has some pertinent advice for those students entering the Dunbar program he completed. "Come and be focused. Worry only about yourself. Speak up for yourself. Focus on your main goal and never give up. Keep going for yours."

One person who has seen his rise from high school student to co-worker is Maleka Lenzy, DCRA's Building Department Program Support Specialist who was part of the original five-member team that devised the high school program in 2015 that was steered by Deputy Director Parris.

"Quanya appears to be quiet but is an intuitive person. I am proud of him. He has a specific interest in plumbing and will probably apply himself and take the plumbing certification," Lenzy said. She helped coach the Pre-Apprenticeship students and in the summertime was responsible for them getting any prerequisites they might have needed.

Yet another influential person in Reese's professional life and member of that team was DCRA Director of Data & Innovation Kristina Savoy. Savoy, who currently serves as the Human Resources Training and Certification Lead at the District of Columbia Department of Human Resources (DCHR), summarized the program by saying, "Dunbar Senior High School provided several juniors and seniors with an opportunity to gain fundamental knowledge in the residential and property maintenance code," Savoy said.

Savoy added that "One of the cohort's participants, Quanya Reese, was a keen, sharp and focused senior, who expressed a passion for plumbing prior to beginning the program. Quanya set the bar high as he studied consistently in preparation for taking the International Code Council's International Property Maintenance Code Examination. The entire DCRA Team is excited that Quanya excelled with such confidence within the past two years. We are grateful for the continued partnership with Dunbar High School and the International Code Council as we support the Mayor's vision of building paths to the middle class."

The other value members on the team include Program Support Specialist Lori Fowler, Acting Administrative Officer LaShawn Dickey and Supervisory Combo Code Specialist Ira Neff. Without their combined dedication and effort neither the program nor its individuals would be as successful.