Women in Water

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      For Cheyanne Harris, it all started in middle school. Growing up in Sacramento, she attended the School of Engineering and Sciences – a specialized school that invited guest speakers from the math, science and engineering industries. What appealed to Cheyanne about engineering was the opportunity to make a positive impact on the community using math...

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        Name: Dr. Kumudini Dharmawardana Title/Agency: Public Works Supervisor – Laboratory Certifications: CWEA Laboratory Analyst Grade IV Dr. Kumudini Dharmawardana always knew she wanted to pursue a scientific career that would make a positive impact in the world. After receiving her master’s degree in Analytical Chemistry and PhD in Biochemistry, Dharmawardana began working in medical research...

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          Name: Lisa Boyko-Davidson Title/Agency: Laboratory Technician, City of Livermore Certifications: CWEA Laboratory Analyst Grade IV, CWEA Environmental Compliance Inspector Grade I Lisa Boyko-Davidson had an early start in the science field. “Growing up, my dad worked in an environmental laboratory and I remember helping him run biochemical oxygen demand tests when I was six years...

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            Name: Farnoush Levers Title/Agency: Associate Civil Engineer, City of Livermore Certifications: Professional Engineer (PE), Construction General Permit Qualified Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) Practitioner/ Qualified SWPPP Developer (QSP/QSD) Only one in ten civil engineers are women, but that statistic did not deter Farnoush Levers from being drawn to the field. After completing her civil engineering...

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              Name: Brenda Gastelum Title: Water Utility Mechanic II Tenure: 2 years, 3 months Agency: Long Beach Water Department What is your role? My role as a Water Utility Mechanic ll is to clean, inspect and make repairs on sewer lines. Currently, I am a member of our sewer section Pipe Patch crew. This is a...

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                Name: Alondra Soto  Title: Water Utility Mechanic 2 Tenure and certifications held: 2 years and 2 months.  Distribution 2, CWEA 1 and scheduled to take my CWEA 2 on October 2!  Name of agency: Long Beach Water Department  What is your role? I work in the sewer division of the Long Beach water department. My...

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                  Name: Anna Bell Title: Lab & Compliance Supervisor Certifications Held: Wastewater Operator Grade V and Laboratory Analyst Grade II Employer: Valley Sanitary District Tenure: With VSD since 2013, In Industry since 2007 What is your role? I am the Laboratory & Compliance Supervisor and a Wastewater Grade V Operator. When not directly overseeing the Laboratory...

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                    Video Profile “The requirement to continue training is vital because it ensures we stay up to date with current trends in the field.” Tara McClinton Volunteer TCP Moderator Lab Technician II Napa Sanitation District Laboratory Analyst, Grade 4 Environmental Compliance Inspector, Grade 4 This month’s member Q&A is with Tara McClinton, a CWEA member since...

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                      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...

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                        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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                          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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                            As environmental professionals work to address the most pressing challenges of the 21st century, is time dedicated to the California Water Environment Association (AAEES) well spent? The answer from an active volunteer, Wendy Wert, P.E., BCEE, is a resounding yes and a compelling story. Wendy is registered civil engineer with the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts....

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                              Read the original profile from Comstock magazine. Cindy Messer was sworn in as chief deputy director of the California Department of Water Resources the day after the Oroville Dam crisis began in February 2017, when damage to both the main and emergency spillways forced the evacuation of more than 180,000 residents. Find more info on...

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                                Colleen Larsen, Geographical Information Services Coordinator Twenty-one years at Padre Dam Municipal Water District US Naval Reserves: Eleven years Colleen Larsen, a veteran of the US Naval Reserves, now serves the community as the Geographical Information Services (GIS) Coordinator at Padre Dam Municipal Water District. In her eleven years in the Naval Reserves, Colleen supported...

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                                  Rhondi Emmanuel, Administrative Services Manager, Vallecitos Water District Tenure and certifications held: 7 years; IPMA-SCP Branch/years of service: USMC/9 years What is your role? As Administrative Services Manager, I’m responsible for multiple departments including human resources, public information/conservation, information technology, and risk management. What / who inspired you to work in water? To be honest, I never really thought about working in the water industry.  Since my...

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                                    The California State Senate has voted to confirm Laurel Firestone as a member of the State Water Resources Control Board, following her appointment by Governor Gavin Newsom earlier this year. “It is an honor to be appointed by Governor Newsom and confirmed by the Senate to serve the people of California in this capacity.” Firestone said....

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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...

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                                         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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                                          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...

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                                            Support for our coverage of Women in Water is provided by DN Tanks. The Professional Development Committee and the Students and Young Professionals Committee of the San Francisco Bay Section of the CWEA held a Supporting Women in Wastewater Workshop and networking dinner on May 9, 2019. The event had almost 90 attendees and kicked...

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                                              Support for our coverage of Women in Water is provided by DN Tanks. At AC19 Palm Springs, CWEA held it’s Second Annual Women Impacting Water Breakfast. It was a morning of networking, inspiration, encouragement and career advice. Megan Yoo Schneider of Seven Management Consulting lead the audience and panelists on an interactive discussion on challenges,...

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                                                Angela Lowrey was named by the California Association of Public Information Officials (CAPIO) as the state’s Communicator of the Year for 2019, recognizing her dedication to clean water education and resource recovery outreach, her overall expertise in the communications field and for her award-winning creativity in her work. She was presented with the Communicator of...

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                                                  Valerie Leone became interested in the water profession when she was working for a metal finisher. It was there she learned about wastewater regulations and decided she wanted to be a part of something that allowed her to benefit the environment, community and future generations. As the Industrial Source Reduction and Control Program (ISRCP) manager at...

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                                                    Meet Cari Dale, Water Utilities Director, City of Oceanside, a recipient of the Kirt Brooks Memorial Water Environment Scholarship in 2004. Cari graduated from Cal State San Bernardino with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with an emphasis on Water Resources in 2005. Her Master’s project focused on Achieving Effective Asset Management for Water and Wastewater...

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                                                      Coverage of water workforce topics supported by waterTALENT Debi Lewis Past President 2017-2018 Professional Engineer Stantec Debi Lewis’ career began in business administration working for an ad agency. She started as a secretary in the Pasadena office of James M. Montgomery, which later became MWH and is now Stantec. Eventually she became an office manager...

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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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                                                          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...

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                                                            Support for our coverage of Women in Water is provided by DN Tanks. We’re hiring! Water and wastewater utilities across California need talented, hard working professionals to help keep our water clean and healthy. This interview is with: Elizabeth Meyerhoff Environmental Specialist Coachella Valley Water District The interviewer is CWEA leader: Judith Marquez Innovare Environmental...

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                                                              In keeping with the October Wastewater Professional theme of “Women in Water,” the CWEA History Committee has produced a brief profile of a woman who was a pioneer in the history of CWEA’s governance. Background Historically, the wastewater collection and treatment field in California was dominated by men through most of the 20th century.  And,...

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                                                                Support for our coverage of Women in Water is provided by DN Tanks. The Silicon Valley Clean Water (SVCW) Commission unanimously selected Teresa Herrera as manager, succeeding Daniel T. Child, who retired from public service and has begun his own wastewater consultancy business. Herrera becomes the third manager in SVCW’s nearly 50-year history following Child...

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                                                                  The Samueli School Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering held a water symposium to honor the exemplary career of longtime faculty member and CWEA member Betty Olson. Olson, who researches public health aspects of water and wastewater, joined UC Irvine in 1974. In her 44-year career, she also served as a professor of environmental health,...

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                                                                    Director of Wastewater at EBMUD treatment plant, Eileen White, discusses her career in the industry. #womenimpactingwater

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                                                                      Support for our coverage of Women in Water is provided by DN Tanks. Video produced by the Water Career Pathways program at West Valley College. #womenimpactingwater

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                                                                        Water & Wastewater Digest’s Class of 2018 Young Professionals includes two Californians… Nataly Dakak Environmental Engineering Associate City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation Age: 25 Education: Bachelor of Science in environmental engineering from the University of California, Riverside. Master of Science in civil engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles. Professional accomplishments: Protecting the City...

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                                                                          The lead sponsor for the Women Impacting Water breakfast is CDM Smith. CWEA held its first Women Impacting Water breakfast meeting at the Annual Conference in Sacramento this past April. The event was so popular it sold out. It was an inspiring morning of networking and discussion with California water leaders, engineers, operators and scientists....

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                                                                            Story provided by Society of Women Engineers A joint Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) research study recently released found that there is a lack of role models for women of color in engineering, gender and racial biases encountered in the workplace, and a level of disillusionment regarding the level of...

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                                                                              Support for our coverage of Women Impacting Water comes from Water Career Pathways

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                                                                                Support for our coverage of Women in Water is provided by DN Tanks. CWEA had the fortunate opportunity to conduct a round table discussion with four inspiring California water leaders. Debi Lewis, Kathy Suter, Tracy Stigers and Heather Collins shared personal experiences of being a woman working in water. Our conversation included the narrowing gender...

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                                                                                  For Lisa Arroyo, wastewater systems manager for the City of Santa Barbara, the hardest part of being a women in the clean water profession is balancing family with a job. “I have two small children,” she explains. “Sometimes it is hard to turn off work and concentrate on being a mom. Changing your focus is...

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                                                                                     Years ago, Amber Baylor read Marc Reisner’s Cadillac Desert, packed up her car, and headed for California. She’s never looked back. “California represented the most complex water system in the world,” she says, “and I wanted to be part of it.” She got her wish and after 10 years managing a water quality laboratory, she...

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                                                                                      Only one in seven engineers in the United States is a woman, according to the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress. And in wastewater, only one in 20 treatment plant operators across the country is a woman (The Institute for Women’s Policy Research). So, is the gender ration any more balanced in California? Yes...

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                                                                                        Michelle Beason, regional manager for National Plant Services in Hayward, is responsible for her company’s sewer and storm water services throughout northern California, Oregon, and Washington. After a student internship with EPA in her home state of Michigan piqued her interest in environmental work, she earned a Civil Engineering degree from Purdue University, and worked...

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                                                                                          Michelle Tarantino is one of only two women in the group of 20 operators at the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District in Martinez. Yet she sees no particular barriers keeping women from the field, as long as they are determined to succeed and willing to put in the time. “The sky is the limit for...

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                                                                                            After two years with the city, Milpitas Public Works Director and CWEA member Nina Hawk is leaving to become the chief operating officer of water utility enterprise at Santa Clara Valley Water District. “Nina is a rare talent, and I’m very sad to see her leave our city.  But I am also very excited to...

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                                                                                              (Alexandria, VA) – On Tuesday October 3, 2017, during WEFTEC in Chicago, IL, the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WE&RF) awarded Shaily Mahendra, Ph.D., with the 2017 Paul L. Busch Award. With the $100,000 prize, Dr. Mahendra proposes to encapsulate enzymes in nanoparticle cages called vaults. Ultimately, if one or more enzymes involved in biodegradation...

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                                                                                                Press Release from siwi.org Contact: Ms. Rowena Barber Communications Manager, Outreach & Media Relations [email protected] In its citation, the Stockholm Water Prize Nominating Committee recognized Professor McCaffrey’s “path-breaking leadership and legal scholarship in international water law. He has made a unique contribution in three specific areas: his seminal work on Treaty negotiation; his major scholarly works, including his...

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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...