As folks closely watch the calendar, marking off the final countdown Christmas, I am ever observant of another approaching date that marks the end of my 35-year career with WWEMA: December 31. Instead of viewing it as an end, I view it as the beginning of a new chapter in my life and that of WWEMA’s. Personally speaking, it affords me the opportunity to devote more time to caring for an ailing parent, liquidating properties, engaging in community work, strengthening spiritual ties and enjoying time with a wonderful husband, experiencing all that life has to offer.
For WWEMA, it is indeed a “new dawn” with new leadership coming on board. My successor, Vanessa Leiby, has nearly as many years experience in the industry, having served as executive director of the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators for more than a decade and most recently as a principal for The Cadmus Group, working on U.S. EPA water-related initiatives. I leave the organization in better hands knowing she will continue our proud 105-year tradition of serving as the voice of industry’s solution providers.
What an honor it has been working for an industry comprised of such talented, skilled professionals who share a passion for nature’s most precious resource. Not only is your work essential to life itself, but it sustains the economic and social fabric of society. For most of my career, our industry’s success was measured by what was not known about what we do for a living. It was only when a pipe burst or the rare case of water contamination occurred did people stop to think about the significance of our profession. It was not until recently that we recognized the need to proclaim our existence, promote the value of our services, and educate the public of the true cost of providing safe drinking water and treating wastewater discharges 24/7.
Until such time as water supply and wastewater treatment facilities become synonymous with bridges, roads, energy and mass transit as critical infrastructure in need of wholesale repair, we will not have the will of the public to make the enormous investments required to best serve their needs. So I urge you to be proud, be loud and be heard. You have a great story to tell and I am honored to have played a minor part in its evolution!
Dawn Kristof Champney is president of the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Assn., a Washington, D.C.-based trade organization that has represented the interests of manufacturers serving the water supply and wastewater treatment industry since 1908. Kristof Champney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.