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Local roofing CEO Letitia Hanke surprised with $61,000 in tools, $35,000 check on ’Returning the Favor’

Letitia Hanke, CEO of her own roofing company in Santa Rosa and a nonprofit founder, was featured on “Returning the Favor,” a Facebook Watch series recognizing and rewarding do-gooders across the country.

Hanke appeared in the episode posted Tuesday. The show was filmed in February, as host Mike Rowe noted, “2020 B.C — before COVID,” when interactions like hand shakes and high fives were the norm.

On the program, Rowe gifted Hanke with a $5,000 Yamaha drum set, $61,000 in tools and supplies and a $35,000 check for her NextGen Trades Academy, a program she founded to help students to learn trade skills.

Hanke, the CEO of ARS Roofing, started the nonprofit in 2015 at Rancho Cotate High School in Rohnert Park after she faced difficulties finding young people to hire for her company and noticed a lack of workers in general.

“They don’t know what kind of amazing career they can have in construction until someone tells them,” Hanke told Rowe.

Hanke studied music education at Sonoma State University, starting a job at a roofing company to make some extra money. And although a lot of her time is dedicated to running her own company, she still finds time to play in her church band and practice drums at home.

Only three percent of skilled jobs are taken by women, according to the show, but Hanke said she encourages women and minority youth to consider jobs in the construction industry.

“We’ve been mentoring a couple of our female students that got hired from the program. We just kind of want to give them a little real talk letting them know what it’s been like for us but how we persevered through it,” she said.

Hanke received a North Bay Spirit Award earlier this year for helping youth find careers in construction and for overcoming barriers of sexism and racism in the industry herself.

Those featured on the series are nominated in the “Returning the Favor Effect” Facebook group.

Watch the episode here:

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