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Southeastern Construction Owners & Associates Roundtable



Karen Barefoot
National Champion, Coach, and Author

Director of Business Development | Industrial Reliability
and Repair

The road to my current position as Director of Business Development for Industrial Reliability & Repair was actually a hardwood floor. I carried a basketball rather than a briefcase. Known as “The Lady of Firsts,” I became the first basketball player in NCAA history, male or female, to record 2,000 career points and 1,000 assists during my four-year career at Christopher Newport University. 

While the ink on my diploma from CNU was still drying, I was hired at age 22 to create and coach the small college-level women’s basketball program for the Newport News Apprentice School, which had never fielded a women’s athletic team in its more than 75-year history. In just six years we were women’s small college national champions. Not only were the Apprentice women basketball champions, but their success that began with eight-hour days wearing hard hats and steel-toed shoes before basketball practice led many to places in high management at the Newport News Shipyard. 

I followed the hardwood road to head coaching positions at four colleges, three of them — Elon, Old Dominion and North Carolina-Wilmington — at the NCAA Division I level. During my 27 years as a college basketball coach I won 440 games and nine of my players were named to halls of fame, while I have been inducted into five halls of fame, including the inaugural class at Newport News Apprentice and at CNU. 

I learned along the way on that hardwood road to success that, more than basketball, I loved developing women who would become productive members of society. So, when the opportunity to mentor and coach the men and women of IRR to contribute to one of America’s fastest growing construction and repair companies in America, I jumped at it. Maximizing potential is a subject I am passionate about and have spoken about for organizations like Home Depot, the NCAA Leadership Academy and as the keynote speaker at the 2023 ABC Carolinas Construction Convention. 

In March, I authored my first book, “Brave, Bold & Barefoot,” about my career in basketball and the motivational keys to success. Within weeks it rose to No. 3 on the Amazon bestsellers list in the category of Personal Motivation.



Joe Xavier
Senior Director of
Health and Safety | ABC National
Joe Xavier is senior director of health and safety for ABC National. He has served in leadership, quality, health, safety and compliance roles since 1992. Prior to joining ABC National in 2022, Xavier was the CEO of Summit Sustainability Solutions. He enjoys working with chapters, members and other organizations to promote total human health.