Although disappointed the picketing took place at all, I
have since sat down with Mike Gibson, Senior Representative
Council of Carpenters and Dan Morey, Area Representative
Council of Carpenters and had a successful meeting in which
we discussed ways to move forward.
Then I read the opinion piece about me published April 6 in
The Truth. The article was prompted as a response to the
protest at the former factory. The article came across as
if I do not value workers’ rights, treatment and wages,
which could not be further from the truth.
I was shocked by the words and phrases used to describe me
and the situation involving me. For example, the article
described me as “emotional” and the phrase “get in bed with”
were used. Unfortunately, these sexist descriptions are
commonplace when it comes to women in leadership roles.
These words are never used to describe men occupying the
I thought those words to be ironic published in a newspaper
titled “The Sojourner Truth,” a publication named after a
former slave and women’s rights activist who in her “And,
Ain’t I a Woman” speech said, “if a woman have a pint, and a
man a quart - why can’t she have her little pint full? You
need not be afraid to give us our rights for fear we will
take too much, for we can’t take more than our pint’ll
ARK Restoration & Construction, a minority-certified
construction business, provides quality construction
services for residential, industrial, and commercial
clientele. As a locally-grown business, we support our
workforce, many of whom are people of color, because ARK
strives to provide economic opportunity for our family of
As we wait for the Carpenters Union, the group which staged
the well publicized protest outside our development to
provide their minority workforce numbers, here are mine:
Nearly 50 percent of my workforce are Black
30 percent are Women
With a combined 100+ years’ experience in construction,
our team possess the skill, training, safety, and
dependability for absolute customer satisfaction. We
specialize in construction management, general
contracting, masonry, carpentry, historic
rehabilitations, and consulting. arktoledo.com
Our company has long utilized a healthy mix of both
union and non-union workers for our projects.
To provide more in-depth context: Last year, I was in
opposition to legislation proposed by the Carpenters Local
Union. I believed would negatively impact Brown and Black
people from pursuing careers in construction. My advocacy
was falsely characterized as anti-union, which is utterly
Instead of putting barriers in place, we should be building
bridges for workforce entry. At the time my motivation was
specific to one of my most loyal employees who rode a bike
to work, the late Rayshard Brooks who lived close to ARK’s
major project, the former Wonder Bread Factory. I was
concerned that with the passage of the ordinance, Ray would
not be able to access training facilities located outside of
Toledo, a proposal in the legislation.
I was concerned about Ray’s ability to provide for his
family and get his driver’s license and car one day. I
hire, mentor and meet people where they are, from the onset
I knew I wanted to be the type of employer who not only
provides a paycheck, but one who invests in the entire
individual. Ray was able to get a license and a car after
working with us for a couple months. Although the
ordinance did not pass, I was not able to help Ray entirely
after all, he was shot and killed in Atlanta by police in a
highly publicized incident in a Wendy’s parking lot. His
death brings me great pain today.
I want to make it abundantly clear since ARK’s inception we
have proudly partnered with both union and non-union local
companies to foster a diverse workplace and ensure we are
responsible developers. Every company involved with the
project including KCS Contracting has taken the utmost care
and safety precautions to ensure all employees are safe and
the project is following every building code set forth.
The Lofts at WB is a groundbreaking development in the
Historic Vistula neighborhood in Toledo that has long
experienced disinvestment and structural barriers to capital
and development. Moreover, it will attract additional
investment and amenities to a community with residents, many
of whom are Black or other people of color, that have faced
racial and economic inequities.
The restoration of the building signifies the diverse nature
of the Historic Vistula. The building will be converted to
33 new apartments with office space on the first floor. The
Wonder Bread project will greatly add to the economic
development plans of The Downtown Area and the overall
growth of our community and region. The development of this
historic building represents hope and progress and evidence
of our community’s beautiful history.
I believe in supporting and championing causes that ensure
the progression of the community, realizing that I can only
do my small part, but it is worth doing nonetheless less.
Every decision made I keep this top of mind, I currently
mentor young ladies as well as volunteer and serve on
several impactful boards, such as:
The Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce: I believe in
supporting businesses and championing causes to remove the
hurdles and barriers that exist;
The University of Toledo Alumni Association: I believe in
the power of higher education and its influence over my own
The Toledo Warehouse District Association: I believe we
should have a strong downtown like other major cities, where
people can choose to live, work and play, my work here helps
revitalize the city;
Mosaic Ministries: whose mission is to eradicate poverty in
dire neighborhoods in Toledo through education and ministry.
I do not do this work for recognition, but rather to show
what is possible for generations of Black and Brown little
girls that will soon come after me.
I recently read a quote, “You can’t be what you can’t see”
by Marian Wright Edelman.
The impossible is in fact possible, regardless of the
industry or what is deemed an acceptable career path for
women. To show we are more than the box that we are placed
in. To normalize women leading as change agents for their
communities and economic growth drivers.
Finally, I regret feeling as if I have to justify the
sanctity of our project as a proud Toledoan investing in my
community. I remain committed to the progress of this
project and ARK’s mission rings true today and every day
thereafter to innovatively restore and build the communities
Ed. Note: The Lofts at WB will be completed and ready for
occupants this fall, in October, says Ambrea Mikolajczyk.
ARK Construction is running ahead of schedule.
Apartment rent per month will range from $700-$2000. Readers
can view apartment layouts, amenity information and
additional cost details at
Readers can view the company’s entire apartment portfolio
and availability at
and specific information regarding our construction company
The leasing office’s phone number is 419-246-9693 and