Throggs Neck woman inspired by ‘strong minded and old school’ mom

Bronx resident Bridgette Rivera
Bronx resident Bridgette Rivera
Photo courtesy Broadway Builders

Bronx resident Bridgette Rivera has a special bond with her mother Daphne Ayala. Ayala, a single mom, has been a big influence and strong role model for the lifelong Bronxite.

Today, Rivera, 28, of Throggs Neck, is a risk manager at Broadway Builders, a construction company in Manhattan, and hopes to one day become a lawyer.

The Co-op City native has worked in food service and construction and credits her work ethic and success to Ayala.

“I think a lot of my drive and go-getter attitude comes from my mom,” Rivera told the Bronx Times. “My mom, I don’t think she knew at the time, but she gave me all the tools to be the best mom I am now.”

Rivera described her mom as “strong-minded and old school.” Ayala, who works for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), was determined to provide a good home for her daughter.

Rivera attended Academy of Mount St. Ursula in Morrisania for a year and then finished high school at St Catharine Academy in Pelham Gardens. While there, she played volleyball and was a cheerleader.

However, private school is not cheap, so Ayala picked up a second job. Rivera saw how hard her mom worked and wanted to follow in her path of success. She did well in school and definitely “was not a rebel.”

“It was really just my mom and I for a very long time,” she said. “I thought she did a wonderful job raising me.”

At age 18, she landed a job at Pret A Manger, where she worked for a year until she had her first son. Rivera was offered the assistant manager position, but wanted a different path in life and turned it down.

She had two options: go to college or continue up the corporate ladder in food service. Rivera took another route and accepted a position as a receptionist at Lettire Construction in Manhattan. It was entry level, but a step in the right direction, she said.

Rivera, who is a people person, worked hard, learned the business and was constantly asking questions. Soon,  she was promoted to risk manager, where she oversaw the compliance of the subcontractors.

“I wanted to do something where I was going to be able to hone the skills I have,” she said. “I’ve always been intrigued by the law, so it made sense for me to try and find my niche.”

She grew to love her job, but by 2018, had two children and wanted to work closer to home. So, she left Lettire and joined Colgate Scaffolding on Bruckner Boulevard where she was a contract administrator.

“It (switching jobs) was the right thing to do at the time,” Rivera said.

Rivera worked there through the COVID-19 pandemic, but always had the yearning to return to a general contractor.

Life works in mysterious ways. In 2021, her first boss at Lettire, Edward White, now the vice president of operations at Broadway Builders, reached out to her about joining him at the company.

She immediately jumped at the opportunity and accepted the offer in June 2022. As risk manager, Rivera ensures all vendors and trades are compliant with insurance requirements, legal regulations and construction guidelines. She is certified as a Construction Risk and Insurance Specialist (CRIS) and in April, obtained her certification as a New York State Paralegal.

Rivera said it started as just a job, but grew into a second home.

“I love problem-solving,” she said. “I feel a connection there. All of these people are trying to make my home, the Bronx, more affordable for the people that live there.”

Rivera is not done with her career or goals. She wants to be more part of the contract negotiations, is attending Berkeley College for a degree in legal studies and one day plans to become a lawyer.

Being a legal advocate for women would be a dream come true, Rivera said. She is not rushing and knows things will fall into place.

“I would love to be an attorney, but I do have small boys,” she said.

Like her mom, she wants to guide them and lead her kids on the right path. Rivera recently relocated to Throggs Neck and loves the community for her family. She belongs to the Throggs Neck Tennis Club and is slowly adjusting to the northeast Bronx community.

However, Rivera said it’s often tough balancing a career and a being a mom.

“God only works when he sees that you’re working,” Rivera said. “Whenever I feel like giving up or feel overwhelmed, I just keep showing up. When you put in the hard work, doors open and blessings come in waves.”

Looking forward, Rivera hopes other young women aren’t afraid to work in construction. She is grateful for all of the advice and help her mom and boss gave her over the years.

Rivera knows she would not be where she is without her mother’s guidance.

“I am playing the long game,” she said. “Every hardship, every scary feeling I’ve felt and every career change made me who I am today.”