Member Services 2022: Merin Lund, Stephen Yang and Meuy Saechao

Meet the People Behind CWEA’s Outstanding Member Services

Jim Force, Correspondent, Announcements

CWEA members seldom meet them face to face, but they perform vital services every member needs—from helping with training and the technical certification program to handling dues and payments to taking care of a myriad of details for conferences, workshops and meetings.

They’re the Member Services staff at CWEA headquarters in Oakland.
The team includes Merin Lund, Meuy Saechao, and Stephen Yang. Together, they answer the phones, check the mail room, and log into the email, communicating with and providing support for CWEA’s 10,000+ members.
It’s a rewarding job, the member services staffers say.

“It’s like a second family here,” says Saechao. “We’re here to provide whatever our members need. There’s nothing we can’t fix.”

Adds Lund, who’s been with CWEA for more than 10 years, “We have a strong team. We get positive feedback for our quick responses. That always feels good when we get that kind of reaction.”

Here’s the team:

Merin Lund, Senior Member Services Coordinator 
Merin came to CWEA 11 years ago as a temporary employee in the certification department with a background in the hospitality and wellness industries. Later, she landed a full-time position in member services, where she’s been ever since. Today, she not only leads the member services team, but she is also a mainstay in CWEA’s conference program.

She said that when she arrived at CWEA, she was shocked at the small number of staff.

“I was surprised at the agency doing so many things with just 16 permanent staff. It’s our amazing volunteers. They have careers, and the fact that their employers allow them to spend time on the association shows me how passionate they are about our industry.”

Lund spends much of her time working on conferences and meetings.
Unlike office work, it gives Lund a chance to rub shoulders with members. She tries to attend as many as possible but being a single mom. She can’t travel to all of them.

She’s proud of the member services group she leads. “Our mission is really positive and it’s nice to be part of that,” she says.

“We go above and beyond, and I think our members really appreciate our prompt response to their questions or issues.”

Meuy Saechao, Member Services Coordinator 
Meuy has served CWEA for five years, coming to the organization with a background in organizational work. She was just promoted to her coordinator position.

“I love what I’m doing here,” she says. “I have no plans to leave.”

Her passion for member support is reflected in a recent situation where she assisted a member in obtaining a Grade 1 collections certification. She recalls helping the member prepare for the exam, download the study guide, and log on to the website to complete the training course for the exam. “The member passed the test,” she says. “I was happy I could help.”

Meuy says she has not yet had much chance to visit actual water and wastewater facilities, but she appreciates the value of clean water.

“When I started, I didn’t know anything about wastewater or water treatment,” she says. She does now and hopes to have more time in the field.

With her three daughters now off to college, she has more time for short vacations–hiking, camping and fishing in California’s great outdoors. She was planning a weekend trip to the Concow area in the Sierra Nevada foothills as we spoke.

Stephen Yang, Member Services Specialist 
Communication is key to Member Services’ success, which means Stephen Yang is well-suited for the job. He graduated in 2019 from the UC-Davis with a political science and communications degree and joined the Member Services staff in February 2020.

He feels his degree helps him deal with people and their situations. “It taught me about interpersonal communications in a big way,” he says. “How to talk to people without making them feel uncomfortable, to help them feel included.”

Many times, people call in unhappy about something,” he says. “I try to help as much as I can, provide options, figure things out.  I believe most people get off the phone feeling better than they did when they called in.”

A recent graduate, and an accomplished violinist, Yang says his college experience taught him how to organize and helped him grow as a person.

His new job has also been instructive.

“I’ve gotten to meet some of our members at the annual conference and smaller events. It’s good to put a face with a name.”

The CWEA staff has helped, too. “This is a great group, with good chemistry,” he says. “They’re willing to help you out.”