Committee Leadership Council Implements Strategies To Improve WEF Volunteer Experience

Volunteers of the Future Task Force recommends five initiatives for committees
 
Volunteer leaders who serve as chairs and vice-chairs of these committees belong to WEF’s Committee Leadership Council (CLC) which meets every year during WEFTEC. Photo courtesy of Oscar Einzig Photography.

Volunteer leaders who serve as chairs and vice-chairs of these committees belong to WEF’s Committee Leadership Council (CLC) which meets every year during WEFTEC. Photo courtesy of Oscar Einzig Photography.

Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) leaders are working to optimize the operation of WEF committees and to improve WEF volunteer engagement. Currently, WEF has 30 committees that help develop policy positions; write technical publications; develop training materials, program content, and conference programs; and contribute to many WEF program activities. The volunteer leaders who serve as chairs and vice chairs of these committees belong to WEF’s Committee Leadership Council (CLC), which was established to promote communication between WEF’s committees, staff, Board of Trustees, and Member Associations (MAs) through the House of Delegates.

In 2013, WEF’s CLC established the Volunteers of the Future (VoF) Task Force. The task force spent a year evaluating the WEF volunteer experience, volunteer opportunities, and existing committee structures to provide recommendations on how to improve volunteer engagement and align committee activity with WEF’s Strategic Plan.

The VoF task force was divided into two groups, one focusing on communications and the other focusing on product outputs. A volunteer survey completed in 2012 provided background for a more detailed second survey in January 2014, and approximately 300 WEF committee volunteers provided input on committee communications and volunteer outputs. The task force, led by a steering group consisting of volunteer leaders Joan Hawley, John Trofatter, Keith McCormack, Ifetayo Venner, Amy Corriveau, and Tania Datta, and staff members Barry Liner, Christine Radke, and Theresa Mixon, also conducted numerous conference calls, town hall meetings, and volunteer engagement events to collect information.

In a March 2014 meeting, the VoF Steering Group and WEF staff developed a strategy based on the task force’s findings and recommendations. Meeting participants identified five initiatives for WEF committees:

  1. Improve structure and consistency of committees.
  2. Identify activities for committee members.
  3. Improve communication within WEF.
  4. Engage committee members.
  5. Define and market “value to volunteers.”

CLC chair Hawley and vice chair Trofatter presented the task force’s final report to the WEF Board of Trustees in April 2014 and to the CLC at WEFTEC in September 2014. The report described these initiatives as well as provided recommendations or action items needed for each initiative’s successful completion.

Since WEFTEC 2014, two recommendations have been implemented. Under the initiative to improve structure and consistency of committees, the CLC Steering Committee formed Communities of Practice (CoP) by grouping committees with similar or collaborative interests into a community. Currently there are six CoPs: Conveyance and Watershed, Treatment, Resource Recovery, Operations and Maintenance, Sustainability, and Programmatic. Director positions to lead each CoP were established, creating new leadership opportunities for volunteers.

CoP directors will act as a resource to committee chairs and vice chairs, serve as liaison to the CLC Steering Committee, and help identify collaboration opportunities and communication improvements among committees and with WEF’s House of Delegates and MAs. CoP directors also comprise the CLC Steering Committee. The new directors went through a nomination process and were selected based on their professional experience and accomplishments in the water sector; understanding of WEF’s strategic goals and objectives; diplomatic skills and affinity for cultivating relations; consensus building among diverse individuals; integrity, credibility, and passion for improving volunteer activities and engagement; and willingness and ability to invest the time, talent, and support in WEF committees.

During 2015, the CLC Steering Committee will work to accomplish the following recommendations that were cited in the VoF final report:

  • Develop a consistent committee structure, which includes defined committee leadership roles, a steering committee for leadership and succession planning, and a nomination committee with specific nominating criteria for committee leaders.
  • Implement a committee project-tracking system, so WEF members will be able to see all committee volunteer opportunities.
  • Provide recommendations to WEF on the website through a task force of both CLC and House of Delegates members.

— Janet Hurley Cann, CLC Steering Committee member

Steering Committee Introduced for 2015 Committee Leadership Council

Chairs and vice chairs from all of the Water Environment Federation’s (WEF’s; Alexandria, Va.) committees form a Committee Leadership Council (CLC) that was established to promote communication among WEF’s committees, staff, Board of Trustees, member associations, and House of Delegates. The council is led by the CLC Steering Committee composed of committee chairs and vice chairs and six Community of Practice (CoP) directors. The following members will make up the 2014-2015 Steering Committee:

  • Joan Hawley is the 2012–2015 chair of the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) Committee Leadership Council (CLC). Photo courtesy of Hawley.

    Joan Hawley is the 2012–2015 chair of the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) Committee Leadership Council (CLC). Photo courtesy of Hawley.

    Joan Hawley, 2012–2015 CLC chair, has been president of Superior Engineering LLC (Muskego, Wis.) since 2002 and a WEF member since 1986. In addition to being an active member of Central States Water Environment Association (CSWEA), she served as CLC vice chair from 2009 to 2012 and as a chair of WEF’s Collection Systems Committee from 2012 to 2015.

 

 

 

 

  • John Trofatter is the 2013–2015 CLC vice-chair. Photo courtesy of Oscar Einzig Photography.

    John Trofatter is the 2013–2015 CLC vice chair. Photo courtesy of Oscar Einzig Photography.

    John Trofatter, 2013–2015 CLC vice chair, is director of sales and business development for Duperon Corp. (Saginaw, Mich.). A WEF member since 1989 and a member of both the New England Water Environment Association and New York Water Environment Association, he served as chair of the Operations Challenge Committee from 2010 to 2013 and is long-time member of both WEF’s Operations Challenge and Collection Systems committees.

 

 

  • Barton Jones is immediate-past chair of the CLC. Photo courtesy of Jones.

    Barton Jones is immediate-past chair of the CLC. Photo courtesy of Jones.

    Barton Jones, principal consultant for Barton Jones LLC (Madison, Wis.), will serve as director of WEF’s Watershed and Conveyance Community of Practice. A WEF member since 1982, Jones is immediate-past chair of the CLC, past chair of WEF’s Technical Practice Committee, a past member of the House of Delegates. He was recognized as a WEF Fellow in 2012.

 

 

  • Janet Hurley Cann is a member of the CLC. Photo courtesy of Cann.

    Janet Hurley Cann is a member of the CLC. Photo courtesy of Cann.

    Janet Hurley Cann, project manager at the Spartanburg (S.C.) Sanitary Sewer District, has been a member of the Water Environment Association of South Carolina (WEASC) since 1985 and of WEF since 1987. At WEASC, Cann has served as secretary and president and recently served as chair of the Scholarship Committee. She also represented WEASC as a WEF Delegate and was speaker of the WEF House of Delegates from 2013 to 2014.

 

 

  • Jim Pletl is a member of the CLC. Photo courtesy of Pletl.

    Jim Pletl is a member of the CLC. Photo courtesy of Pletl.

    Jim Pletl, director of the Water Quality department at Hampton Roads Sanitation District (Virginia Beach, Va.), will serve as director for WEF’s Resource Recovery Community. A WEF member since 1990, he has been active on WEF’s Government Affairs Committee. Pletl has served on three federal advisory committees for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and on numerous advisory groups for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

 

 

  • George Martin is a member of the CLC. Photo courtesy of Martin.

    George Martin is a member of the CLC. Photo courtesy of Martin.

    George Martin, general manager of the Greenwood (S.C.) Metropolitan District, will serve as director of WEF’s Operations and Maintenance Community. Since joining WEF in 1982, Martin’s leadership positions within WEF include vice chair and chair of the Collection Systems and WEFTEC Program committees, and member of WEF’s Board of Trustees. In WEASC, he has served as president, vice president, and Voluntary Certification Committee chair.

 

  • Ifetayo Venner is a member of the CLC. Photo courtesy of Venner.

    Ifetayo Venner is a member of the CLC. Photo courtesy of Venner.

    Ifetayo Venner is Wastewater Treatment Practice technical leader for the North American region of ARCADIS (Amsterdam, Netherlands), and will serve as director of the Sustainability Community of Practice. A WEF member since 2005, Venner has served on WEF’s Municipal Resource Recovery Design Committee, Volunteer of the Future Steering Committee, and has chaired the Sustainability Community of Practice.

 

 

  • Keith McCormack is a member of the CLC. Photo courtesy of McCormack.

    Keith McCormack is a member of the CLC. Photo courtesy of McCormack.

    Keith McCormack, vice president of Hubbell Roth & Clark Inc. (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.),will serve as the director of the WEF Programmatic Community. Member of WEF and the Indiana Water Environment Association since 1985, McCormack has been nominated to serve as the CLC vice chair for the 2015–2017 term.

 

 

 

 

  • Jamie Eichenberger is a member of the CLC. Photo courtesy of Eichenberger.

    Jamie Eichenberger is a member of the CLC. Photo courtesy of Eichenberger.

    Jamie Eichenberger, principal engineer for Brown and Caldwell (Walnut Creek, Calif.), will serve as the liaison between the CLC and the House of Delegates. Eichenberger is a past president of the Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association and the current speaker-elect of WEF’s House of Delegates.

 

 

 

 

  • Thomas Kunetz is a member of the CLC. Photo courtesy of Kunetz.

    Thomas Kunetz is a member of the CLC. Photo courtesy of Kunetz.

    Thomas Kunetz, assistant director of engineering for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, is a 2014–2015 member of WEF’s Board of Trustees and currently also a member of WEF’s Municipal Resource Recovery Design Committee. A WEF member since 1992 and a WEF Fellow, he served for 7 years on WEF’s Program Committee and was a member of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize organizing committee in 2011.

 

 

  • Theresa Mixon is WEF staff who serves as committee manager to the CLC and CLC Steering Committee. WEF photo/Mixon.

    Theresa Mixon is WEF staff who serves as committee manager to the CLC and CLC Steering Committee. WEF photo/Mixon.

    Theresa Mixon, WEF staff member since 2005, serves as committee manager to the CLC and CLC Steering Committee. Currently, she works in the Water Science and Engineering Center on committee operational logistics and is responsible for committee membership. She also helped launch the WEF Fellows Program and managed it from 2010 to 2012.

 

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