Meet CWEA Member, Kathy Herman

Roni Gehkle, Clean Water Magazine Editor, Career Stories, Members in the News, Women in Water

A biology class at Sonoma State University (SSU) piqued the City of Santa Rosa’s Principal Laboratory Analyst, Kathy Herman’s interest in the sciences. Her first position after graduating with a biology degree was as a Laboratory Technician for Brelje and Race Laboratories, Inc. in Sonoma County.

“At Brelje and Race Laboratories, I was introduced to the analysis of water and wastewater,” she said. “And later, I was promoted to Bacteriological Lab Supervisor.”

In 2007, Herman started her career with the City of Santa Rosa’s Laguna Treatment Plant in the Laguna Environmental Laboratory, where she was ultimately promoted to Principal Laboratory Analyst in 2014. Always willing to step in and support the team wherever needed, she has also taken on the position of project manager with the operations division at the City of Santa Rosa’s Laguna Treatment Plant and volunteering to lead special projects to support compliance with regulatory requirements.

One of the current special projects Herman worked on included taking an active role in compliance with the State’s 13267 letter for PFAS.

“I help collaborate with management, Environmental Compliance, and a consultant to develop a sampling plan that resulted in multiple successful sampling events with no blank contamination,” she said.

She explained that the project included working with a subcontractor laboratory to prepare for sampling and maintaining clear communication with the third-party lab regarding data submittal and format. After receiving the data, she reviewed it for accuracy and spearheaded the data migration from the subcontractor to the City’s laboratory information management system.

At the start of her career, Herman was invited to attend CWEA presentations and dinner meetings held by CWEA’s Redwood Empire Section.

“There, I met fellow professionals in the water and wastewater industry,” she said. “I try to attend as many of these events as I can. I also attend CWEA Laboratory Committee meetings. I strongly believe in networking as a core of your career.”

As professional development, Herman sought certification through CWEA as a Laboratory Analyst Grade II. As a longtime member of the CWEA, she believes some of the credit for her career’s success is due to the Association’s programs and conferences, allowing her to gain knowledge for her personal development and bring back the ideas and latest advances to her coworkers.

“The instructors have consistently been engaging, providing the necessary course material and applying it to the work we do at the bench,” she said. “Attending the Lab Analyst Certification Prep Webinar definitely helped me to prepare for the exam.”

During the pandemic, Herman had a chance to utilize CWEA’s Online Wastewater Education Network (OWEN) to attend the CWEA-CASA COVID-19 webinars and a variety of other webinars that helped her knowledge of the industry.

“I was appreciative that OWEN was available during the pandemic to keep me connected with the industry and peers, as well as the shared knowledge during this time of scientific advances with the coronaviruses,” she said.

Herman mentioned that CWEA’s OWEN webinars and training seminars have complimented her career in water/wastewater and that attending CWEA events keeps her current with the latest industry advances. “I get to connect with people who have the same passion as I, to protect public health and the environment.”