Young Professional 2022: Joel Bouchey

Joel Bouchey

Joel Bouchey

Regional Director
& Public Policy Coordinator
Inland Northwest Associated General Contractors

Favorite book? Movie?
Hard to name just one favorite of either, but book:
“The Song of the Lioness Quartet,” by Tamora Pierce, and movie: “Chocolat”

Favorite music?
Genre: Symphonic metal
Band: Nightwish

What would people
be most surprised to learn about you?

I built my own couch in the style of a grand piano when I was in college.

Most disliked food?
Raw broccoli

Age: 36

Current city of residence: Kennewick

How long have you worked there? 3 years

Briefly describe your organization:

The Inland Northwest Associated General Contractors is a membership organization dedicated to furthering the agenda of commercial, industrial and government construction contractors.

We are the leading national construction trade association representing all facets of commercial construction for both public and private entities including building, heavy, highway and municipal projects.

Founded in 1921, the Inland Northwest chapter is the region’s largest full-service commercial construction trade association and is one of 89 chapters of the Associated General Contractors of America. Representing over 370 companies throughout our region, the AGC has been the organization of choice for those associated with the construction industry for more than 100 years and serves as the voice of the industry.

AGC members construct commercial and public buildings, airports, shopping centers, factories and industrial plants, schools, dams and flood control facilities, highways, roads and bridges, ports, public transit, underground facilities, water and wastewater treatment facilities, multifamily housing projects, military and defense related facilities, rail and transit facilities, tunnels, housing developments and mining operations.

Our services include networking and business promotion, workforce development, political advocacy and safety.

Education: Please list your degrees and professional certifications.

Bachelor of Arts, English, Washington State University.

Briefly describe your job and how you got into it:

After leaving a career managing college bookstores, I moved to the Tri-Cities in 2015.

I sought to serve the community in nonprofit roles, working for both the local March of Dimes and American Cancer Society as a fund raiser and event coordinator. These were extremely fulfilling roles that allowed me to play a small part in solving medical challenges facing our world.

However, both organizations went through restructurings that saw them move out of small and mid-sized communities such as ours.

I was unable to find another nonprofit in search of staff, so I became a licensed insurance agent in the states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho. My goal was not to sell but to be an avenue to a solution, focusing specifically on underutilized company benefits. I would have continued had the opportunity at the AGC not opened up.

AGC decided to hire a full-time staff member to serve the Tri-Cities after six years of hosting an office for training and visiting staff. In many ways this was kismet, as the role required my skills developed in sales as well as community-oriented missions and coordination with education organizations in our region.

I started as an architecture major at WSU, and now find myself in a role that appeals to the construction interests I have long held.

How long have you lived in the Tri-Cities?

7 years and counting

How did you earn your first dollar?

I grew up on a third-generation family farm in the lower Yakima Valley.

While you could argue my first dollar was made doing weekly chores around my parents’ house, I tend to think of my first dollar having been earned by managing the irrigation on one of the potato or asparagus fields or working on the potato sorting and cleaning operation that we ran to harvest and ship potatoes to Tim’s Cascade Snacks.

It was not expected that I would one day help take over the family farm, but those early days working under my dad taught me what hard labor and dirty work really look like. From then on, any job I worked, including food service, retail, sales and event planning seemed far easier.

What professional lessons, if any, have you learned during the pandemic?

The greatest lesson I learned was an ability to work with, and coach, all ages and skill levels to make technologic opportunities available and advantageous. I learned to recognize when an in-person meeting is really called for, and how to make the most of either situation.

I just so happened to be the president of my Kiwanis Club at the beginning of the shutdown, a year earlier than the succession plan was originally slated.

The intended president stepped back for health reasons, so I was only a few months into the job when we were faced with the reality that we could not host our weekly Kiwanis meetings in person.

Due to my knowledge and experience with Zoom, GoToMeeting and similar platforms prior to the pandemic, I was able to help club members adapt. We continued our meetings without missing a single week. Of the five local clubs, we  were the only one not to miss a week.

I am the youngest member of my club by one to two decades. A majority of our members are well into their retirement years. But because of the prevalence of smartphones and even basic home computers that now come with cameras, I was able to coach our members on using virtual platforms.

The pandemic also meant that our club’s various fundraisers were largely shut down. As with our meetings, we managed to brainstorm and execute our socially distanced “Raising the Flag” fundraiser, which continues to this day and provides our youth support programs and scholarships with funds even as we bring our traditional programs back online.

As for work, we were able to use those same platforms to increase member participation in several of our chapter committees, host virtual candidate interviews and participate in the state’s legislative sessions through remote testimony.

Those programs – which increased participation – we continue to hold virtually, whereas those programs that saw a lack of participation, or simply a loss of a key element to the event, were returned to in-person, but we can all agree that we are able to be more efficient with our time by accepting virtual meetings as part of our workday portfolio now.

What was your dream job as a child?

I dreamed of working in the construction industry, specifically as an architect. Years of building with Legos, art lessons and small construction projects had my family and I convinced that this was the direction I would go. Although that didn’t end up being the direction I went, I am so glad to be able to work with talented construction professionals and to be a small part of the growth and development of our community today.

Tell us about your community involvement/community service:

Kiwanis of Tri-Cities Industry member since 2016, board member 2017-18, vice president 2018-19, president 2019-20, co-chair for Raising the Flag Fundraiser 2019-present. TCI Kiwanis is one of several local Kiwanis clubs focused on the betterment of young children in our society.

Pasco School District Skilled Tech Advisory Committee, 2020-present.

As a community member of the Tech Advisory Committee, I serve as an industry partner voice to the construction trades programs that Pasco is successfully running year after year. It is our duty to review staff goals, student activities and overall outcomes of the program to ensure that students utilizing the CTE classes can meet graduation qualifications and have connection to real world jobs based upon skills and licensing provided during the school year.

Tri-Cities Civility Caucus, 2020-present, caucus secretary as of 2022. The caucus is a growing group of diverse individuals who are focused first and foremost on returning civility to the political arena. We continue to seek ways to encourage civil discourse and an ability for all of us to foster an understanding of a differing point of view.

Washington Policy Center Young Professional, 2016 to present.

Tri-City Chamber LEARN Group, 2019-present, co-chair beginning this year.

How do you achieve work-life balance?

Anyone who says that they have found a complete work-life balance is probably lying to you.

It is something I struggle with daily. As a father of four, two of whom reside in the Tri-Cities part time, I am always tasked with the challenge of picking which activities and moments I devote to my kids, or which moments I must pass on for work opportunities.

Harder still, as we are a house of two professionals, is the challenge for my wife and me to find time for ourselves. Activities related to my job do not always follow a 9-5 schedule, and nor do hers, so we often have to plan out our calendar for big events months in advance.

The age range of our children also has its advantages and disadvantages as they are spaced out, ages 12, 10, 5, and 4 months.

Sometimes the older ones are self-sufficient enough to let my wife and I focus on chores, or our own “me” time. Sometimes their events mean that we are spread thin, running not just long hours, but often driving long distances if the elder two are doing something sports or school related in their own school district.

But the key is that we always make the effort.

In the end we consider ourselves successful in work-life balance if the kids feel we are present for their biggest moments, that we actively take part in their interests, that we squeeze in a few “date nights” or “date weekends” a year, and that our time at work leaves us feeling successful in our careers without stressing us to the point of detracting from the family part of our life.

Ask me again in 10 years.

List any awards/honors you have received:

TCI Kiwanian of the Year, 2019.

George F. Hixson Fellow, 2022.

Do you have family? Pets?

We currently have our four kids: Damien, 12, Connor, 10, Kaila, 5, and Wyatt, born March 17, 2022, St. Patrick’s Day.

We have 2 cats, Jory and Malory.

What brought you to the Tri-Cities? Did you grow up here?

Following the separation from my two sons’ mother, I began dating my best friend since freshman year of college, Michelle.

At the time I was working in Pullman at WSU’s campus bookstore, and she was early in her career as a veterinarian at a practice in Chehalis.

We knew the moment we began dating that it was serious, and that we would have to both relocate to a place where she could continue her career and I could remain close to my sons.

This left our options at that time as either Tri-Cities or Spokane, and we are grateful that it was the Tri-Cities opportunity that opened to us.