Young Professionals Gain Leadership Skills Through YP Summit and WEF Membership

June 28, 2017

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Young professionals participate in discussions with peers during the 2017 Young Professionals Summit in Tampa, Fla. Photo courtesy of Ashley Waldron photography.

Young professionals participate in discussions with peers during the 2017 Young Professionals Summit in Tampa, Fla. Photo courtesy of Ashley Waldron photography.

Every year, the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) and the American Water Works Association (AWWA; Denver) join forces to host the Young Professionals (YP) Summit. During the summit, local and national leaders discuss emerging water sector issues and solutions as well as provide programming to enhance leadership skills.

YP Summit bestows leadership skills

A group of young professionals take a break from networking at the 2017 Young Professionals to get a photo together. Photo courtesy of Ashley Waldron photography.

A group of young professionals take a break from networking at the 2017 Young Professionals Summit to get a photo together. Photo courtesy of Ashley Waldron photography.

The 2017 YP Summit was held in conjunction with the 2017 Utility Management Conference in Tampa, Fla., during February. Participating in both events exceeded Jamie Langer’s expectations. The young professional from the Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association had the opportunity to present during the conference and learn new skills to enhance her career during the summit.

“I left this training with tools to improve myself as a leader as well as how to improve my own young professionals’ organization back home,” Langer said. Read more from Langer about the event in her YP Connections article,An up-close look at the 2017 YP Summit and Utility Management Conference.”

Encouraging YPs to join WEF and participate in 2018 YP Summit

The 2018 YP Summit, scheduled for Feb. 19–20 in San Antonio, Texas, will be held in conjunction with the 2018 Utility Management Conference. Vanessa Borkowski, co-chair of the 2018 YP Summit, encourages future water leaders to attend and to engage with the discussion.

Jenny Hartfelder, Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.) president-elect and vice president of MWH Global (Broomfield, Colo.), gives a presentation during the inaugural New England Water Environment Association (NEWEA) Young Professionals Summit. Photo courtesy of Amanda Lade, NEWEA.

Jenny Hartfelder, Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.) president-elect and vice president of MWH Global (Broomfield, Colo.), gives a presentation during the inaugural New England Water Environment Association (NEWEA) Young Professionals Summit. Photo courtesy of Amanda Lade, NEWEA.

“The YP Summit is intended to invigorate the young leaders of our industry by offering a program that fosters discussions about emerging issues and essential leadership skills,” Borkowski said. “We hope you leave the YP Summit with a refreshed perspective of our industry and feel well-equipped to tackle the challenges of your professional role.”

In addition to attending, young professionals also can volunteer to help plan the program and networking events for the 2018 YP Summit. The event’s planning team seeks volunteers to help with marketing, programming, sponsorship, and other committee efforts. Those interested in volunteering or learning more can contact WEF staff member, Caroline Pakenham, at cpakenham@wef.org.

“The people that we have in WEF and in our Member Associations are incredible assets,” said Haley Falconer, past chair of the Students and Young Professionals Committee and current member of the WEF House of Delegates. Becoming an active WEF member and participating in such events as local or national YP summits can enhance leadership skills, increase knowledge of the various things occurring in the water sector, accelerate career-relevant experience, and open opportunities for the future, she said. Learn more about the benefits of being a member and getting involved from Falconer in WEF’s video.

Students and young professionals can join WEF to take advantage of these opportunities. After joining, members can join such WEF committees as the Students and Young Professionals Committee.

Engaging young professionals on the local-level

WEF speaker of the House of Delegates, Howard Carter (standing left), welcomes YPs to the summit. Photo courtesy of Amanda Lade, NEWEA.

Speaker of the WEF House of Delegates Howard Carter (standing left), welcomes YPs to the summit. Photo courtesy of Amanda Lade, NEWEA.

This year, the New England Water Environment Association (NEWEA) hosted its first YP Summit during its annual conference in January. Read more about the inaugural event in NEWEA member Amanda Lade’s YP Connections article, “New England Young Professionals host their Inaugural YP Summit.”

The Ohio Water Environment Association (OWEA) also hosted a YP Summit on April 26, prior to the WEFMAX conference in Cincinnati. Read more about the event in the YP Connections article, “WEFMAX YP Summit 2017, Cincinnati, Ohio,” by Alicia Adams, chair of the OWEA YP committee.

— Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights

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