California Water Environment Association                                                            March  2011
Leader Link

News, insights, and advice for CWEA's volunteer leaders                     

In This Issue:

Engage Your Local Section Members

Local Section & Committee Budgets Due April 30

Workshop for CWEA Leaders

Study Session Instructors for your Local Section

Managing Complexity with Checklists

Staff Contacts

Leadership Calendar

Tips on Engaging Your Local Section Members 
from CWEA’s Southern Region

CWEA’s regional committee meetings are a great place to share ideas and check in with local section and committee leaders. At the January Southern Regional Committee meeting, leaders exchanged a number of successful ideas and strategies to increase participation in their section events and to more effectively engage members. Here is a quick summary of some of the ideas exchanged.

Communicate value to your agency board.
Make sure your agency or company leaders understand the value that comes from your participation as a CWEA leader. When you get the chance to talk to your board or management, seek an opportunity to mention how being a CWEA leader translates to skills you can use on the job through the development of practical leadership skills. Also, be sure to thank them for their ongoing support of CWEA and your participation. If your agency has won an award, and it is being presented to your board, be sure to reinforce the benefits participating in the CWEA awards program. Your efforts could be well rewarded— some employers, recognizing the benefits of CWEA’s award program, have given bonuses for all employees when winning awards like Plant of the Year.

In case you are stumped about the benefits of CWEA’s award program to employers, here is a list to get you started:

  • Acknowledges team and individual excellence. Boosts employee morale and agency pride. Celebrates and recognizes good work.
  • Benchmarks accomplishments in the field.

  • Analyzes and evaluates annual progress.

  • Raises organizational profile in the community – and with ratepayers, public officials and board members.

  • Gives the media something constructive to report. Free positive publicity.

  • Increases results and productivity though friendly competition.

  • Attracts and retains talent. Adds a vote of confidence for new hires. Helps identify best candidates.

  • Reinforces agency and industry direction. Adds credibility to claims of excellence in regards to environmental record, public health or employee safety, among many others.

Annual planning and calendaring meeting.
Some sections dedicate one meeting a year to plan activities and training events for the following year. Dates are entered into the local section activity calendar for the entire year, and leads are assigned on each item. Once events are on the calendar, they are much more likely to happen. The newsletter editorial calendar can then also be planned to highlight upcoming events, and recap events with photos and key learning points.

Local sections should also post their events on CWEA’s master calendar by emailing all event info to [email protected]. Please include in your email links to event material along with the event description, dates, and key contact info. For an example of the info needed, see other similar events on the master calendar.

A la carte dinner meetings.
If your local section members might be having some difficulty paying for flat-rate meals at the restaurant where your local section meetings are held, explore the possibility of allowing each member to order what they want from the menu, and then they pay just for what they eat. Golden Empire Section has had some success with this model, and it has probably helped some members stick to their special dietary needs.

Get 150 attendees at your awards and installation banquet.

The San Diego Section thought of a few creative ways to boost attendance at their awards and installation banquet:

  • Invite all local section past presidents, and let them attend for free.
  • Build a strong and competitive awards program.

  • Offer free admission for the spouses of nominees whose employers won’t reimburse the banquet expense.

These special incentives boosted San Diego Section’s pre-registered attendance from about 100 to 150 attendees. It also brought back some past presidents that section members hadn’t seen in a while, and encouraged a large number of nominees and their families to attend.

Offer a variety of events and training with diversified leadership.
We learned at the January SRC meeting that two neighboring sections seemed to specialize in offering two types of programs: one in engineering, and the other in operations and maintenance. This has resulted in a cross-migration of members to attend events at each section, and each section becoming more and more specialized. This same specialization was also reflected in the composition of the leadership of the two sections. It seems obvious, but leaders who are engineers might tend to lean toward engineering programming, and O&M professionals tend to offer O&M events.

If your local section seems to be in a similar rut, and seems to be offering the same kind of training over and over, consider bringing more diversity to your board and committees. Since CWEA membership represents the entire breadth of the water quality professions, it is important to make sure your leadership represents a balanced cross-section too.


Local Section & Committee Budgets Due April 30th

Get your Local Section and Committee budgets and work plans for FY 11-12 in by April 30th so they can be considered in CWEA’s upcoming budget cycle. The Board Planning and Program Development Committee (PPD) is already working along with staff to develop next year’s budget. So, the sooner you submit your local section or committee budget, the better.

The committee budget form has been spruced up the forms this year…the budget form is actually in Excel this time…so we hope it makes completing and returning the information even easier and faster for you. Contact Victoria Rawson to get a budget form, and email the completed form back to her by April 30.


AC11 Pre-Conference Workshops for CWEA Leaders

The CWEA 2011 Annual Conference is right around the corner!
 CWEA leaders are encouraged to attend the free leadership workshop that includes a free lunch. The Growing in Leadership  workshop include a mix of classroom and roundtable style formats to equip members to be successful in their roles as CWEA leaders, workplace leaders, and beyond. In addition to leadership training, there will be a complimentary lunch, opportunities to share and exchange leadership concepts with other workshop attendees, and time to network with other water quality professionals.

For more info on the Growing in Leadership workshop, check out page 9 of the AC11 brochure.


Get Study Session Instructors For Your Local Section

If you local section has struggled to get moderators (instructors) for CWEA certification study sessions, the Certification Prep Task Force (CPTF) is here to help. But first the CPTF needs the help of local sections and committees to identify and recruit potential instructors who can attend the free study session moderator training workshop (and free lunch) on April 12 in Ontario. During the workshop study session moderator recruits will enjoy a full day of learning about adult teaching methods and specifics about what to cover in study sessions for each vocation. Trainees will also be given access to study session curriculum materials that include vocation specific presentations, sample questions, and preparation techniques. The workshop will be taught by experienced study session moderators and professional trainers, and will be followed up with a mentor supervised teaching session at a live CWEA study session.

Learn more about the study session moderator workshop on page 9 of the AC11 brochure and start encouraging your local section’s up-and-coming training stars to attend.


Managing Complexity with Checklists

When working on projects of almost any complexity, checklists are are a simple way to make sure no important steps are missed. The checklist, as we know it today, started back in 1935 when the US Army Air Corps was ready to enter into a contract with Boeing to order a new long-range heavy bomber called the Flying Fortress. Just three decades after the first successful flight, engineers were beginning to wonder if the increasing complexity of new aircraft was pushing beyond the ability of pilots to manage. Sure enough, on a test flight, the Flying Fortress took off, banked sharply, and then crashed. Pilot error was blamed, and the plane was thought to be too complex for a person to fly. It turned out that the pilot had failed to release the locking elevator and rudder controls before taking off. Boeing lost the contract. Test pilots continued to work on the problem of flight complexity, but instead of redesigning the airplane, or the training of the pilot, they decided to use a simple pre-flight checklist to make sure pilots didn't forget the "dumb stuff" (like releasing the locking rudder control before take-off). Now checklists are used for just about every situation in aviation including what to do during emergencies.

Surgeon and journalist Atul Gawande expands on the idea of using checklists to overcome complexity in his book The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. Simple checklists can be used to make sure critical, but routine, steps are carried out in processes ranging from flying an airplane, surgery, or building a skyscraper. Checklists can also help teams communicate and work together better. For example, on surgical teams , traditionally the surgeon reigns supreme and it is difficult for others on the team to speak up if they have a concern over some aspect of the procedure. The use of a simple pre-surgery checklist can help to make sure the "dumb stuff", like administering antibiotics, is done before the first cut is made. The process of going through the checklist can also provide an opportunity for others on the team to ask questions and voice concerns. Gawande shows how this extra communication can significantly decrease postoperative complications. Checklists are similarly used in the construction industry to facilitate communication between the building trades. 

As CWEA local section or committee leaders you probably often find yourself planning and managing complex projects like training events. Much of the process might consist of simple, but critical components, like making sure you have a projector in a meeting room. Checklists are an excellent tool to make sure nothing is missed. Keep checklists simple and concise and make sure all team members agree on the usefulness of the checklist. may also want to think of how to use a check list to enhance communication with others on your team. For example, you could delegate authority to others to sign off on their part of a checklist before moving on to the next step. If something can't be checked off, then the team members will need to discuss a solution.

You can learn more about checklists, and read some gripping stories of them in action, in The Checklist Manifesto or in Gawande's New Yorker article the same subject.



STAFF CONTACTS - 510-382-7800
Staff Concierge: 
Lola Dvorak
. Contact Lola if you need help and don't know who to contact.  


Latasha King x 110


Publications & Advertising
Lola Dvorak
  x 114


Local Sections, Committees, Leader Link

Chris Lundeen  x 104



Brian Murray x 102


Lola Dvorak  x 114



Leslie Carino x 107


Conferences & Exhibits

Julie Taylor x 103

Leadership Reference Materials Online
Local Section Orientation Packet: 
Committee & Liaison Orientation Packet: 
Leadership Web Pages:

Leadership Calendar      





April 12 CWEA Leaders CWEA Board Meeting Victoria Rawson
[email protected] 
April 12 CWEA Leaders CWEA Leadership Workshop
Ontario, CA
Carrie Mattingly
[email protected] 
April 12 Study Session Moderators Study Session Moderator Training Joanna De Sa
[email protected] 
April 12-15 CWEA Leaders/Members Annual Conference
Ontario, CA
Jodee Schwan
[email protected] 
April 13 Local section and committee leaders NRC and SRC meetings
Annual Conference
Ontario, CA
NRC: Rick Staggs [email protected] 

SRC: Debra Bogdanoff [email protected] 

April 16 CWEA Leaders CWEA Board Meeting Victoria Rawson  
[email protected] 
April 30 Treasurers:
local section and committees
Annual work plan & budgets for FY 2009-10 due for local sections and committees. Brian Murray
[email protected]
June 24-25 CWEA Leaders CWEA Board Workshop & Meeting Victoria Rawson  
[email protected] 
Full CWEA Event Calendar
Leader Link: Linking Local Sections, Committees, Board Liaisons, and Past Presidents
For more info contact us at [email protected]