NEWEA Success Story: Janine Burke-Wells

We set out to develop a collection of stories based on asking members a simple question: “How has NEWEA helped your education, career or community?” This is one of those stories.

Name: Janine Burke-Wells

Title: Executive Director, North East Biosolids and Residuals Association (NEBRA)

NEWEA member since 2001
NEWEA President in 2018

Current Positions Held: Nominating Committee Chair
Contaminants of Emerging Concern Committee Chair

How has NEWEA helped her education, career and community? Career-wise, after serving as Executive Director of the Warwick, RI Sewer Authority since 2008, Janine can point directly to the way NEWEA networking and connections led to her new position at NEBRA.

But it’s the theme she chose for her presidential year that reflects her commitment to the water profession: a focus on volunteers. When she became NEWEA President in 2018, she said “There is so much we want to accomplish, so many exciting initiatives going on… In my term, I will be looking to increase the number of people actively volunteering to work on NEWEA programs.”

As an example of putting her words into action, she decided to involve younger members of NEWEA in a community service project during NEWEA’s Spring Meeting in June 2018. In partnership with the Eastern RI Conservation District (ERICD) and The Common Fence Point Association, more than 45 volunteers gathered to construct a 71-m2 (760-ft2) rain garden at the Common Fence Point Community Center in Portsmouth, RI. The garden has been designed to capture 50 percent of the runoff from the community center roof. Since completing the construction, the community has added approximately $4,500 worth of additional plants and material to the area. “It was an incredible display of community camaraderie,” said Marc F. Weller, a NEWEA committee member who helped organize the project. “It was a great experience to actually get our hands dirty planting this rain garden side by side with our neighbors.”

If you would like to support the efforts of NEWEA members like Janine and the work of the Young Professionals and other NEWEA committees, please visit our Donations page today. By making a contribution to NEWEA, you are investing in our region’s water quality and supporting essential water workers.

What’s your story? If you have a story to share, please fill out a brief form on  or contact Jordan Gosselin, Communications/PR Coordinator

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