By Alvin Pilobello, Incoming Chair, WEF SYPC 2017-2019
Michelle Hatcher has fearlessly led of our WEF Students and Young Professionals Committee (SYPC) as Chair since 2015. As she receives the Outstanding Young Professional award at WEFTEC 2017 in Chicago, IL, while also moving into the Past-Chair role, Michelle leaves a legacy of empowering the emerging leaders of our water environment industry to reach their career potential, and making a lasting impact on the future of our industry.
As Chair, Michelle has actively mentored, led, and supported the many volunteers that lead our various programs, ranging from student-focused initiatives (Design Competitions, Student Chapters, Career Fairs, etc.), professional development-focused (YP Summits, Midyear Springboard), communications (YP Communications newsletter), and social change (Community Service Project, Water Palooza).
As her Vice-Chair, I have watched Michelle advocate passionately for the value and challenges faced by young professionals, while also tirelessly balancing her career evolution in becoming Director of a water utility, with her growing responsibilities as a new parent (twins!).
Prior to taking on the roles of SYPC Vice-Chair and then Chair, Michelle led members of our Student Design Competition sub-committee for many years. Recognizing its impact on college students, Michelle helped grow the competition to 2 themed tracks with more than 15 schools competing annually at WEFTEC. On a local level, Michelle is also active in her WEF Member Association of Kentucky/Tennessee.
While I am proud of her exemplary WEF and industry accomplishments, and fortunate to call her a friend, perhaps what I am most grateful for is Michelle’s warmth and compassion. Michelle has been the smiling face, humour, and heart of our Committee for many years, and how she welcomes and interacts with students and young professionals into our SYPC fold has nurtured an inspiring feeling of community and camaraderie.
My favourite memory of Michelle will always be our WEF delegation trip to Munich’s IFAT Conference in June 2016. We represented WEF and our SYPC among 135,000 other international delegates. Michelle braved and soldiered through countless meetings, conference halls, and tours while pregnant with twins, due the following month.
Michelle has been a role model, not only for myself, but also for countless others on our Committee and the industry as a whole. As she is presented with the Outstanding Young Professional award at WEFTEC 2017, it is but a small token of gratitude and recognition of how much she has, so far, contributed to the up and coming generation of water environment young professionals.
Thank you, Michelle, for all you have done, and will continue to do in Water! I am excited to follow your legacy, and pay it forward to our growing number of SYPC members.