As I sat outside in pouring rain and 55-degree weather at my daughter’s soccer game in early June, I found myself reminiscing about the beautiful summer weather we had for the Annual Meeting. The weather was not the only spectacular part of the week. The Meet & Greet on Monday evening was well-attended, providing a great opportunity for networking with old and new friends. Congratulations to the cornhole champions, Adam Luthin and Jon Butt, who have bragging rights for the next year. The keynote speaker, Fire Chief Matthew Love, provided a perfect start to the meeting, getting everyone moving to the music and inspiring action in all present. The attendance at the business meeting was phenomenal, likely an order of magnitude greater than at any other business meeting in the last decade. The technical sessions were once again of the highest quality. I received feedback that the organization of the PFAS technical session panel was impressive and “better than at WEFTEC.” Thank you to Liz Kramer, the Local Arrangements Committee, Colin Fitzgerald, and the Technical Program Committee for all your hard work in making this meeting outstanding.
During the keynote session at the Annual Meeting, President Tracy Hodel challenged members to meet three new people during the meeting, and she led us in a networking activity during the association luncheon. Through her efforts, I met Rob Bredeson and Persephone Ma, who are introduced in the member profiles published in the upcoming issue of Central States Water. I was so inspired by what they shared with me that I wanted to share their stories with you all. They are both enacting the mission of CSWEA, fostering water quality awareness by exchanging knowledge and experiences.
During my remarks at the awards banquet, I shared a little about how I got started in the water industry and my own journey with CSWEA. My interest in water quality was sparked by my high school chemistry teacher who reported on a local chemical company for polluting the river. After being just an attendee at CSWEA events for several years after college, Dean Wiebenga suggested that I join the Illinois Section Biosolids Committee. I’m very grateful to Dean. Because he approached me, I went from being an observer to being an active member of CSWEA. In line with the Annual Meeting’s theme of Inspiring Action, I issued a challenge at the awards banquet to be an inspiration to others like my teacher was to me: Spark interest in the water industry; organize plant tours for local schools or scout troops; get more involved in CSWEA; judge the Water’s Worth It Essay Contest or the Midwest Student Design Competition; follow up with the new contacts you made through Tracy’s challenge; be like Dean and encourage other members to join a committee; or volunteer rather than waiting like I did for someone to ask you to become active in CSWEA.
Thank you for the trust you have placed in me to lead this association for the 2023-2024 period. Thank you to Tracy Hodel, Jane Carlson, Troy Larson, and the rest of the Executive Committee. It has been a pleasure working with and learning from you over the past two years. Thank you to Mohammed and Amy Haque for your continued dedication and leadership. I’m excited to see what we collectively accomplish in the next year.
The Central States Exchange (CSX) will be held at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells on July 20-21, 2023. I intend to engage members in setting this year’s goals for the Association. All members are welcome at CSX, regardless of how active you currently are in CSWEA.
Wherever you are while reading this, please pause for a moment of silence in honor of Rusty Schroedel who passed away on May 28, 2023. This past Annual Meeting was the first one that Rusty missed since 1976. In addition to serving in numerous positions for CSWEA, he was the association’s self-appointed historian, a teacher, a comedian, a mentor, a friend, and an inspiration. He will be sorely missed and fondly remembered.
About the Author
Amy Underwood has been a member of WEF since 1999. She has served CSWEA on the Executive Committee as First Vice President (2022-2023), and Second Vice President (2021-2022), the General Awards Committee, the Local Arrangements Committee (2018 and Chair in 2021) and the Illinois Section Biosolids Committee (2012-2015). Amy holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Michigan State University (1996) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1999), respectively. She is a licensed professional engineer in the State of Illinois. After20 years of planning, designing, and constructing wastewater treatment facilities as a consulting engineer, Amy transitioned to the public sector. She has been the General Manager of the Downers Grove Sanitary District since 2020. Amy serves as a member at large on the Executive Committee of the Illinois Association of Wastewater Agencies and as the Vice President of the DuPage River Salt Creek Workgroup.