The NEWEA Young Professionals (YP) Committee hosted the first annual YP Summit at the NEWEA Annual Conference on January 22nd with a tremendous turnout of nearly 70 attendees. The idea for the summit arose from NEWEA’s campaign to increase young professional engagement throughout the organization. The summit was structured to provide a welcoming forum for YPs to engage with their peers as well as leading members of the industry. The summit consisted of two industry-related presentations and a Q&A session, followed by a networking reception with the NEWEA Executive Committee.
The session kicked off with a welcome from the YP Committee Chair, Justin Skelly; the summit facilitator, Anthony Giovannone; and WEF Speaker of the House of Delegates, Howard Carter. Carter, the Director of the Water Resource Recovery Department for the City of Saco, ME, spoke of his career path and how water was not his first career. He urged attendees to “Find your passion” and put that passion into a committee
The first presentation was given by Jenny Hartfelder, WEF-President Elect and vice president of MWH, now part of Stantec. Her presentation, titled Creating the Future of Water Together, began with a quote from Abraham Lincoln, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Hartfelder spoke of the changes in the water industry as well as its differences throughout the various regions of the country. She urged young professionals to get involved in NEWEA and WEF and outlined the WEF YP events throughout the year. Hartfelder ended her presentation with the same quote as she began and encouraged the attendees to be a water advocate and be proud to save water and the environment.
Hartfelder’s presentation was followed by Pat Connelly, Vice President and Southeast Region Manager with Weston & Sampson. Connelly’s presentation, Leading & Managing in Times of Change, discussed the generational challenges often faced in the workplace between younger and older members of an organization. He stressed the importance of leadership and outlined the basic principles of being a leader: know who you are, know what you want, articulate what you want, understand your audience, and know when to delegate. Connelly ended his presentation by having the attendees repeat after him: “Lead more, manage less.”
The Q&A panel was comprised of a diverse group of professionals ranging in years of experience as well as fields of expertise. The panel members were Wayne Bates, Nelson Haeseler, Paul Hogan, Nora Lough, Brad Moore, John Murphy, Vicki Quiram, and Bill Rizzo. The session was moderated by Bruce Berger, Executive Director of MWUA. Berger started the session by telling the attendees that “Experience is the best teacher,” and not necessarily personal experiences, but learning from others’ experiences as well. The panel answered a series of questions about their career paths and offered advice to the young professionals. The panel emphasized the importance of involvement in professional organizations and mentorship. They discussed the necessity of work-life balance and being passionate about activities outside of work. Berger closed the panel discussion by urging the group to “Be active in NEWEA…you’ll never regret it.”
NEWEA President-Elect Jim Barsanti adjourned the summit and again stressed the importance of mentorship and being involved in professional organizations throughout one’s career. He concluded the session with the message, “You are important, you are valued.”
If you are interested in contributing to the planning efforts for next year’s YP Summit please contact Ben Stoddard (firstname.lastname@example.org), Colin O’Brien (email@example.com), or Amanda Lade (firstname.lastname@example.org).