“Women of Water” Group to Debut At WEFTEC ‘05

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I did it! I finally took my first advanced skydiving free fall. The saying “A giant step for mankind” took on new meaning when I stepped (fell) out of the plane onto a platform of cold, thin air. Other thoughts not fit for publication also crossed my mind! It was truly a WOW experience and one I look forward to repeating.

There’s another WOW experience that many of you may wish to take part in. It’s a new organization called “Women of Water”. WOW was formed to offer an organization for women involved in all aspects of the water business, whether in manufacturing, consulting engineering, academia, government, or non-profit organizations.

Women of Water is a fresh splash in the water industry. The organization functions from the grand vision of women sharing ideas, guiding, providing resources, interacting, growing and making contacts. This vision recognizes that mentoring is a crucial factor in business success. Having guides in this industry dramatically facilitates success in technical and theoretical knowledge and places all participants on a level playing field. Thus, everyone gains from joining Women of Water. Furthermore, since the best solutions to problems often come from those facing similar issues themselves, there is much to be learned from an interactive, dynamic, embracive and all-encompassing environment. The group will meet to share, communicate, understand and take action on topics and concerns that are noteworthy to its members

Now, I don’t normally affiliate with gender-specific organizations . . . unless it’s exercise related (I do have my pride). So, why support an organization of women in the water industry? Because we have an incredible opportunity - and obligation - to bring much needed diversity to this important industry.

The time has never been more critical to entice new entrees into this business with the graying of our workforce and the intellectual brain drain that we will experience. In the next 15 years, 20% of the labor pool will consist of individuals 55 and older, present company included. A joint study funded by AwwaRF and WERF confirmed that our industry will be facing the loss of experienced workers and may have difficulty hiring competent replacement personnel.

It is imperative that we attract as many young workers as possible that share our commitment - and passion - for protecting the environment and preserving our precious water resources.

With the growth of women engineering graduates, one can only hope that they will become a larger component of our industry’s workforce. We can facilitate this by providing an attractive forum where they can meet other women who have made a significant contribution to our industry, such as Lynn Orphan, the current president of the Water Environment Federation, and Katie McCain, the immediate past president of the American Water Works Association. There is much we can learn from one another and share with others in helping to advance our industry and the role that woman can play, and will play, in its evolution.

The brainchild of this new organization, Michele LaNoue, president of Headworks, Inc., is currently making plans to hold the first WOW get-together during the WEFTEC show in Washington, D.C. Arrangements are being made to hold a cocktail party on Saturday evening, October 29, at the City Museum located in the heart of the District’s revitalized downtown neighborhood and just south of the Convention Center. It serves as the only institution dedicated to telling the story of the city of Washington, D.C. and its people. Attendees will enjoy a historical orientation to the diverse city beyond the monuments while getting to make new friends within the Women of Water community.

Details about WOW can be found at www.womenofwater.org. The Women of Water website will cover a variety of topics. The fun W-page will include all the W’s a woman thinks about: wonders, wishes, worries, weekends, wine of the month, not to mention WATER, among others. The website is also a great resource for organizing forums or posing questions.

For more information on the October 29th cocktail party at the City Museum, feel free to e-mail: marketing@Headworksusa.com.

Hope to see you there!

About the author:
Dawn Kristof is president of the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association. WWEMA has operated for 97 years as a Washington, D.C.-based, non-profit trade organization representing the interests of companies that serve the water and wastewater industry.

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