In terms of years of experience, I stopped counting at 30 years, but think I am going on 35. When I stop to reflect, I realize that it has been an amazing journey and an opportunity to see a whole profession grow, development, recruit the next generation, and, in many way, flourish.
My experience spans local government, non-profit, private consulting, and teaching at the university level. I have now completed my second year running Hirschman Water & Environment (HWE) after keeping it dormant for over a decade while I pursued other endeavors (namely, working for the Center for Watershed Protection). Once again, I have found that training and collaboration are two hallmarks of what makes this enterprise work.
The Projects Page highlights several projects from this past year. I have had the privilege to collaborate with the following organizations:
Prior to starting HWE, I served as a Program Director and Senior Water Resources Specialist with the Center for Watershed Protection (CWP). This respected organization is a “go-to” place for watershed and stormwater information, and I was honored to work with a long succession of talented colleagues (current CWP employees and alums) on water issues across the country, and even on several tropical islands. I had a hand in developing the Runoff Reduction Method, now used by states and jurisdictions in various parts of the country as a stormwater performance metric. I also led and participated in many training activities, ranging from four-day stormwater institutes to field trainings for stormwater inspectors and national webcasts.
Prior to joining CWP in the mid-2000s, I managed the first incarnation of Hirschman Water & Environment and also worked for Biohabitats of Virginia out of an office here in Charlottesville. From 1993 to 2005, I served as the Water Resources Manager for Albemarle County, VA. This amazing opportunity gave me exposure to a full range of water resources topics. I managed stakeholder groups to develop the Water Protection Ordinance (including the groundwater component), implemented stream restoration and stormwater projects, reviewed plans, conducted inspections, had a hand in the Comprehensive Plan, and interacted with many citizens, other agencies, and the elected officials. Many challenges that we faced in the “early” days of stormwater program development have become common themes across the profession and therefore provided a strong foundation for my own professional development.
My resume outlines other aspects of my background. Three decades ago, I believed that working in the environmental field could best be expressed by working in remote places, with “natural” ecosystems, far from human influences. It is instructive how my professional journey has led me back INTO the cities and towns, working closely WITH people and understanding how human influences are really part of the problem AND the solution. This is where the work of environmental sustainability is being energized with many creative influences in stormwater, green building technology, urban agriculture/local foods, urban ecosystem restoration, transportation, energy, and the list goes on! I have found myself in the midst of a stormwater profession undergoing change and innovation, and have been fortunate enough to have had a hand in shaping a small bit of this exciting and emerging field.
I have also come to understand the important role of good, solid communication skills towards building capacity in this profession and making positive change on the ground. I have worked to cultivate my skills at developing and delivering presentations, ranging from keynote speeches to national webcasts to leading a small group of inspectors or landscape professionals standing in a BMP with their checklists. I truly enjoy all of these ways of interacting and communicating with my colleagues.
I look forward to working with many more colleagues and associates on stormwater and watershed challenges, both large and small.