Emerging Leaders

  • NEWS

      Anna Bell not only knows her laboratory, she understands the treatment process and how the lab data affect plant operations.  That’s because she’s not only a certified laboratory analyst, she’s also a grade V wastewater operator, and that enables her to know exactly what the analytical data mean out there where the wastewater meets the...

    • NEWS

        Oyuna Jenkins has been working all her professional life to serve the public.  That ethic goes back to her native Mongolia, where she earned a university degree in chemical engineering. In the U.S. she says she wanted to find a job that capitalized on her education, and she worked for a small analytical laboratory for nine years...

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          Joey Hilliard does a little bit of everything for the Goleta West Sanitary District.  As a Utility 4 worker, sometimes he runs the Vactor unit or the CCTV truck, other times he’s maintaining lift pumps, implementing the utility’s FOG program, inspecting projects like lateral replacements, taking care of billing, and filling out permitting forms. He was named Collection...

        • NEWS

            Those familiar with Jose Rodriguez know he’d rather be out in the field than stuck in an office.   “I enjoy being out in nature,” he says, “doing Mother Nature’s job and getting my hands dirty.”  Jose is supervisor of both water and wastewater at the Sunnyvale County Water District in Hollister. He’s been in his current position for...

          • NEWS

              Thomas Johnson started in the wastewater business by answering the phone, filing customer information, taking out the trash, and shipping products for his father’s company.  And he was only 15 years old.  Today, 17 years later, he is sales manager at WECO Industries, and poised to take over the business someday. “I grew up with...

            • NEWS

                Flor Burrola is committed to environmental sustainability. As a civil engineering associate II with LA Sanitation & Environment (LASAN), she feels great about where she is and passionate about the projects she works on.    “I’m lucky to be working with the city’s Wastewater Engineering Services Division, planning and collaborating with multiple departments and agencies,” she says.   A recent example was a...

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                  Nataly Dakak loves what she does, encourages other young women to get into water and other STEM fields, and sees potable reuse of wastewater as the practice of the future.  She’s an environmental engineering associate at the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation, and has responsibility for enforcing the Industrial Waste Control Ordinance and the USEPA wastewater pretreatment standards..  Her passion with water systems developed during her undergraduate studies...

                • NEWS

                    Manuel Zapien never stops learning.  He discovered water science while studying geology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  He took biology, chemistry, and physics classes.  Later he applied for a laboratory job at Ventura County.  He learned from those he worked with there, and he continues to study laboratory procedures in preparation for future requirements.  “I never stop learning,” he says. “There are new challenges every day.” ...

                  • NEWS

                      “Professional approach with all assignments.  Excellent communication skills. Participation and excellence in leading edge and special assignments.  Creative thinker. Thorough and very high quality work.”  These are words his nominators used to describe Ibrahim Hafeez.   “He uses technical knowledge and sound engineering to resolve complex issues,” says Mike Sarullo, principal civil/division engineer with the city’s Bureau of Engineering.  “Of the...

                    • NEWS

                         Lucia Diaz used to hang around her dad’s construction firm, an experience she says taught her well about contractors, construction drawings, plans and specs, and big projects.  She’s put that background to good use as Facilities Program Supervisor for the Inland Empire Utilities Agency. She’s been working for IEUA for 13 years, and now supervises a staff of seven.  She admits that...

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                          There’s hardly anything in wastewater treatment that Chris Christean hasn’t done.  “I started as a college student cleaning sludge beds as a part-time job,” he says. “The operators in Turlock convinced me to get into the industry. I picked up a couple of books and studied the profession, then joined the staff at Patterson as an operator-in-training.”  Later, he...

                        • NEWS

                            Pump stations, lift stations, and piping layouts were nothing new to Bob Stiles when he took a collections system job at the Novato Sanitary District six years ago. He’d worked with his dad on construction projects involving these kinds of jobs since he was a teenager. But he says he still had a lot to...

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                              Amy Hwang wanted to be where the action was. Water. Wastewater. Water reuse.  So after receiving her engineering degree from the University of Texas, she came to California, and got her master’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley. After working a bit as consultant, she joined the engineering staff at Central Marin Sanitation Agency.  “I decided to...

                            • NEWS

                                CWEA is gathering nominations for an Emerging Leaders story to appear in the Summer 2019 Clean Water. We are looking for accomplished water professionals who are making a significant, positive impact on California’s water and they have not yet been recognized for that effort. CWEA Definition of Emerging Leader Emerging leader describes an individual who: Has...

                              • NEWS

                                  If you selected a 2018 all-star team among clean water professionals in California, this year’s Emerging Leaders would be good choices to fill the positions. The seven selected for this year’s Emerging Leaders honors cover the field from collections to treatment, from compliance to environmental services, from laboratory analysis to engineering and project management. And...

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                                    Robert Wilson is an environmental professional who embodies the concept of multi-tasking. As the environmental services supervisor for the City of Petaluma, he is responsible for regulatory compliance of wastewater discharges, storm water, air quality and biosolids, water conservation, as well as pollution prevention, recycled wastewater, and pretreatment. And away from the office he’s taken...

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                                      Shannon Simmers has covered a lot of ground in the last seven and a half years…from earning a college degree, to volunteering and then working at the Riverside Water Quality Control Plant and now for Redlands Municipal Utilities, and chairing the CWEA’s P3S committee. That takes determination and persistence, and she has it. “When she...

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                                        Mark Koekemoer finds laboratory work very fulfilling. “It’s not just a day job where you collect a paycheck. It is an opportunity where you can go home to your family and feel good about what you have accomplished,” he says. “We are supporting the greater industry, providing data for operators to use, identifying trouble spots,...

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                                          Helping others was nothing new for Felipe Carrillo when he joined the Santa Clara Water and Sewer Department five years ago. He had spent the past 11 years working at an at-risk youth center, teaching students construction and general trade skills. So it’s little surprise that in his relatively short tenure at Santa Clara he’s...

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                                            Projects at the Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District are hallmarked by transparency, open communications, and disappearance of the traditional silos that often plague the clean water profession. That’s in great part due to the efforts of Jordan Damerel, Director of Engineering. “Jordan manages the District’s Capital Improvement and Asset Management programs, and he’s constantly working towards more...

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                                              Theodore Higgins has moved steadily taking on roles of greater responsibility in his 16 years at the Industrial Waste Management Division at the city of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation. Now he’s helping create advancement opportunities for his inspections colleagues through the creation of the Professional Development and Work Exposure Program. The program encourages the...

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                                                In a profession dominated by men, Dorien McElroy stands out. She manages the sewer Collections System for the Irvine Ranch Water District. “One usually doesn’t associate collections system management with a woman,” says Judith Marquez, Environmental Analyst/Consultant of Innovare Environmental who nominated her. “But she is passionate about her job in a way that makes...

                                              • NEWS

                                                  CWEA is gathering nominations for an Emerging Leaders story to appear in the Summer 2018 Clean Water. We are looking for accomplished water professionals who are making a significant, positive impact on California’s water and they have not yet been recognized for that effort. CWEA Definition of Emerging Leader Emerging leader describes an individual who: Has...

                                                • NEWS

                                                    In preparation for CWEA’s Annual Conference 2018 next April in Sacramento our Educational Program Team completed an annual survey of members and executives from several wastewater agencies. We’re looking for the profession’s most important challenge areas so we can develop sessions at Annual Conference to help our members address them. If you have an idea...

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                                                      Mark McGrath, Collections System Supervisor in Hayward, California, knows what it’s like to be part of the collections crew, because he’s been one of them. “I know their needs, because I’ve been there,” he says. “I understand the adverse conditions, the outdoor elements. I acknowledge their efforts when they’ve done well. I treat them as...

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                                                        “You need to be able to handle it in the dark with your eyes closed.” That’s the way Emerging Leader Joe Gregory views safety training. “When we come on the scene, people need to know what to do,” he says. “You should be able to handle the situation in your sleep.” Now thefor the Carmel...

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                                                            Christina Claxton does far more than analyze drinking water and wastewater samples in her position as a Laboratory Analyst with the City of San Luis Obispo’s Water Quality Laboratory.  She’s on a mission to improve communications, succession planning, and the opportunities for employees to grow professionally and personally.   “As a leader who is compassionate...

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                                                               John Minkel, has already accomplished a lot in his tenure as Utilities Superintendent for the City of Thousand Oaks, but his best days may lie ahead. His nomination for Emerging Leader listed leadership by example, creating a challenging environment for employees, interaction with the public, pursuing green certification, and more. His facilities and staff...

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                                                              When the “One Water” plant of the future finally arrives, Amanda Bird will feel right at home. A Grade V Operator at the Santa Cruz wastewater treatment plant, she’s excited about the future of the profession. She foresees the day when wastewater, drinking water, water recycle, biosolids management and energy generation will be combined into a single, efficient public...

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                                                                “We managed to eliminate the requirement that all certified labs be managed by someone with a bachelor’s degree, and got the addition of CWEA certification to count,” she says. “And we reduced the number of times per year that labs will be required to conduct and file a blind sample study from two to one.”  Not only does Mindy Boele successfully manage the wastewater and...