Ethel A. Birchland
Ethel A. Birchland (1888-1974)
In the mid-1920s, Ethel A. Birchland was the only woman highway official in the world, as commissioner of public works in Westport, Connecticut, becoming a pioneer in the road building community.
She was elected American Road Builders Association secretary in 1923, a position she held until 1929. Birchland helped lead the industry during the growth of a national road building program following several Federal-Aid Road Acts in the 1920s.
During her tenure, ARBA, as the association was then known, created seven divisions and experienced significant growth in the annual “Road Show” equipment exposition, the forerunner to today’s CONEXPO-CON/AGG. She also played a key role in the relocation of the association from New York City to Washington, D.C., a move aimed at strengthening its policy voice before Congress, the White House and federal agencies.