PREVIOUS BAYWORK WIT SPOTLIGHT RECIPIENTS 

Baywork recognizes women doing outstanding work in their fields.

Our committee is passionate about our mission and meets monthly to work on initiatives that support, recognize, and create more interest for women in our field.  If you are interested in learning more about the BAYWORK’s Women and Trades Committee and want to join in on the excitement, email WIT@baywork.org.

Veronica Sepulveda, District Secretary, Contra Costa Water District

Veronica serves as the District Secretary for CCWD, and she was nominated by her peers and the members of BAYWORK for her commitment to service and passion for women in the water and trades. Veronica is being recognized for her leadership in CCWD employee resource group called, Women LEAD. 

BAYWORK proudly honors Women Making Waves and their Commitment to Water

Veronica is the District Secretary for the Contra Costa Water District where her primary responsibilities are to support the Board of Directors by managing their calendars, correspondence, travel arrangements and compensations for all the meetings they attend to represent the District; prepare and distribute the Board meeting agendas to allow the public access to information of upcoming projects, decisions, and rate changes; clerk the Board meetings; and serve as the District’s records keeper. 

Length of time at your agency, and also in your career:

I have worked for CCWD for 1 year and 8 months. However, I have worked in local government for 16 years with a primary focus in recreation and public information. 

List of Certifications (or technical training needed to do your work): 

Bachelor’s in Communications – Public Affairs 

Masters of Public Administration – Urban Government 

Certified Board Secretary 

Certified Municipal Clerk Certification – In progress 

What interested you to pursue a career in the field?

My mother attended a trade school and used the secretarial skills she learned to serve her municipality for 36 years. Watching her dedication to public service instilled a passion in me that I could not ignore. For the past 16 years, I have worked for three cities and now a water district where my role is to ensure the public has information to the main thing that keeps us alive…water. 

What is your philosophy about women in water/trades? 

Take every opportunity that is presented to you! No matter how minor or terrifying the decision may be, if it is something you are passionate about, don’t let the door close before you have an opportunity to see where it leads you.  


Sarah Bogner, Manager of Health and Safety, Contra Costa Water District

Sarah has served Contra Costa Water District for 7 years as the Manager of Health and Safety. She has been in the water utility industry for 15 years. 

She was nominated by her peers and the members of BAYWORK for her commitment to service and passion for women in the water and trades. 

BAYWORK proudly honors Women Leading the Way: Women in Leadership Roles

Sarah Bogner is the Manager of Health and Safety at Contra Costa Water District and is responsible for the environmental compliance and occupational health/safety programs for CCWD’s employees. 

Length of time at your agency, and also in your career:

At CCWD for 7.5 years. In water for 15 years and safety for 18 years. 

List of Certifications (or technical training needed to do your work): 

Certified Safety Professional (CSP). CDPH Lead Inspector/Assessor, Asbestos Building Inspector, Distribution Operator 1 (D1). 

What interested you to pursue a career in the field?

I had no idea what the safety profession was, or that it even existed, until I went to a hazardous waste emergency response (HAZWOPER) class for a job at age 21. It hooked me! Environmental health and safety involves science, problem-solving, psychology, sociology, and the need to work with and understand many trades. There’s both office work and lots of field work – you can decide how to approach the profession and build the career and the day-to-day schedule you want. There’s always a new challenge, and in the end, the goal is to make my coworker’s jobs a little safer each day. I want to make sure they have the tools, resources, knowledge, and support needed to be able to adapt and respond to changing job conditions in the field. Sometimes that can be a challenge! I really enjoy working through those challenges as a team.  

What is your philosophy about women in water/trades? 

Be yourself. I got a lot of bad advice early in my career to try to change myself to fit the culture or the work, especially as one of the only women at most job sites or in meetings. Once I got frustrated and tired of that and started being my goofy-but-also-technical self, my career blossomed and I found workplaces and coworkers that embraced me. 


Negin Tootian, Plant Operator III, Union Sanitary District  

Negin has served Union Sanitary District over a year and a half, and has 6 years of industry experience. 

She was nominated by her peers and the members of BAYWORK for her commitment to service and passion for women in the water and trades. 

BAYWORK proudly honors Women Operators, Mechanics, Technicians, and in other Trades.

Valerie Pryor is the General Manager of Zone 7 Water Agency which provides wholesale water supply and flood protection.

Length of time at your agency, and also in your career:

Worked for the District a one year and eight month, and total of 6 years in the industry. 

List of Certifications (or technical training needed to do your work): 

I currently hold a Wastewater grade 3 certificate through the state to do my job. I also am certified for forklift, scissor lift and boom lift operations, CPR and first aid, as well as confined space entry. Additionally, I also hold a T1 certification for drinking water but that is not directly required for my position. 

What interested you to pursue a career in the field?

I was drawn to this field because it was something I never really thought about, I saw so much potential to grow and learn that it excited me. 

If you can provide one piece of advice for women entering the field, what would it be? 

My advice to women entering the field is to not be intimidated to get as involved as you can get! This industry has exposed me to so many skills and subjects that I would never have encountered in my old career. I have grown and learned so many life skills that have helped me navigate my everyday life outside of work. The growth, stability and sense of community that exists in this field makes me proud to continue to be an operator and search for innovative solutions to treat wastewater and protect our public at the same time! 


Valerie Pryor, General Manager Zone 7 Water Agency

Valerie, serves as the General Manager at Zone 7 Water Agency and has been in the water utility industry for over 20 years.

She was nominated by her peers and the members of BAYWORK for her commitment to service and passion for women in the water and trades.

BAYWORK proudly honors Women Leading the Way: Women in leadership roles.

Valerie Pryor is the General Manager of Zone 7 Water Agency which provides wholesale water supply and flood protection.

Length of time at your agency, and also in your career:

5 years at Zone 7 Water Agency and over 20 years in the water utility industry.

What interested you to pursue a career in the field?

A general interest in infrastructure.

What is your philosophy about women in water/trades?

Be curious!


Michiko Mares, Engineering Manager of Construction East Bay Municipal Utility District

Michiko, who has served East Bay MUD for over 17 years, and was nominated by her peers and the members of BAYWORK for her commitment to service and passion for women in the water and trades.

Michiko M. Mares, Engineering Manager of Construction responsible for delivering the District’s $1B water capital improvement program over the next 5-years.

BAYWORK proudly honors Women Leading the Way: Women in leadership roles, serving on boards or representing them.

Length of time at your agency, and also in your career:

17-years at EBMUD and 27-year career. Registered Civil Engineer.

What interested you to pursue a career in the field?

I did not choose my career, my career chose me! While attending community college in South Phoenix enrolled in below college level algebra, a professor recognized my aptitude for math. As a contemporary of Jaime Escalante, my professor selected myself and a few other students to tutor our peers in algebra so all of the students would pass intermediate algebra. As a result, the college level algebra course was offered the following semester and subsequently calculus, physics, chemistry, etc. This was the beginning of a STEM program before the STEM acronym was introduced. At one point in the program, our mentor lined us up and told each one of us whether we would be engineers, secondary teachers, or professors based on our aptitude and disposition. He told me that I would be an engineer. I had no idea what an engineer was or what I would be learning/doing. Every day, I am appreciative that I had a mentor that recognized my potential and challenged me to do more than I ever imagined I could!

What is your philosophy about women in water/trades?

Find your people! To succeed, you need allies at all levels, lifting you up, cheering you on, and pulling you up.


Kait Knight, Public Information Officer & Board Secretary Diablo Water District

Kait, who has served Diablo Water District for 5 years, was nominated by her peers and the members of BAYWORK for her commitment to service and passion for women in the water and trades.

BAYWORK proudly honors Women Leading the Way: Women in leadership roles, serving on boards or representing them.

Kait is the Public Information Officer (PIO) and Board Secretary for Diablo Water District, whose primary responsibility is to outreach to the Oakley and surrounding communities and facilitating conservation efforts.

Length of time at your agency, and also in your career:

Worked for the District a total of five years.

List of Certifications (or technical training needed to do your work):

Certified Board Secretary

What interested you to pursue a career in the field?

I love working in the community that I live in. Helping and teaching others is a great passion of mine. I love that I am part of an agency so focused on being leaders in our industry.

What is your philosophy about women in water/trades?

I think women bring such a value to the trades. To have more women working in the trades would create better diversity of thought. Women bring a totally different skill and mindset to the table, and I think that more women in the trades would really expand the industry beyond what we can currently imagine.


Shrimathi Balasubramanian, Sanitary Engineer Capital Improvement Program, Environmental Services

Shrimathi, from the City of San Jose, was nominated by her peers and the members of BAYWORK for her commitment to service and passion for women in the trades.

BAYWORK proudly honors “Empowering Women, Inspiring Change: Recognizing the Pioneers of Today and Tomorrow. A tribute to Women’s History Month.

Shrimathi has been with the City of San Jose for 4 years. With a total of 7 years in her career, she started with her first internship while in college and later worked through internships/fellowships with agencies such as Valley Water and San Matero County Public Works.

Responsibilities: 

“I help in the development and delivery of multiple capital infrastructure improvement projects ranging from design through construction and commissioning. This involves supporting project management activities such as negotiating, preparing and managing consultant agreements and construction contracts; collecting and analysis of field data and preparing recommendations; interfacing with the public, consultants, contractors, other City departments, and other agencies; assembling plans and specifications, preparing engineer’s estimates and bidding documents; soliciting bids, award contracts, administering the contract; budget and schedule tracking, etc.”

What interested you to pursue a career in the field?

“I got inspiration from my dad who used to be a Civil Engineer back in my home country of India. Growing up, I used to accompany my dad to construction sites and have been awestruck about how things are being built and enjoyed observing things in action from a distance. Eventually graduated with a Civil engineering bachelor’s degree in India, immigrated to the US in 2014, and pursued master’s degree in Civil & Environmental engineering at SJSU, and received my first internship opportunity. That is how I got into the industry here.”

If you can provide one piece of advice for women entering the field, what would it be? 

“As a woman, who is usually considered a minority in the construction industry, my one piece of advice would be: Don’t shy away from any opportunities that come your way, be it big or small. Build confidence, break free from stereotypes, be yourself, and try to empower other women.”


Our committee is passionate about our mission and meets monthly to work on initiatives that support, recognize, and create more interest for women in our field.  If you are interested in learning more about the BAYWORK’s Women and Trades Committee and want to join in on the excitement, email WIT@baywork.org.


Ingrid Bella, Employment Services Manager

Ingrid Bella, from Valley Water, was nominated by the members of BAYWORK for her commitment to service and passion for women in the trades.

Most recently, she hosted a learning session at the training buffet titled, Aspire. Diversify. Empower. Lead – Creating Career Pathways with Valley Water’s Next-Gen Workforce Development Program.

Ingrid currently oversees benefits & wellness, recruitment, workforce development, next generation workforce development, and technical training. She also works on special and complex projects including classification and compensation in addition to supporting my team. She has worked at Valley Water since 2004 and became involved with BAYWORK in 2010 where she had the honor of serving as the President for 4 years.

Certifications and Skills: 

Ingrid has a certification from World at Work for Compensation and the University of Santa Cruz certification in Training and Development.

What interested you to pursue a career in the field?

“I’m a first generation American; my parents are from Central America and did not have a college education – all they knew was to tell me to go to college because they knew it was key to achieving the American dream. While in college, I had a part-time receptionist job in a biotech company which reported into HR. They would give me little projects to work on while I covered the switchboard. I started enjoying the work and was curious how to become an HR professional. In my Junior year I changed my major, but it was the best decision I made. During the summers I would get to work in the HR office full time, and it really helped to be able to apply what I was learning on the job to my studies until I graduated. I got hooked and just wanted to keep growing in this field. Three years later, I decided to earn my Master’s degree in HR and Organizational development from the University of San Francisco.”

If you can provide one piece of advice for women entering the field, what would it be? 

“Whatever career you decide to embark on, make sure it is something you like to do. Every job has its good, bad, and ugly. Make sure the good outweighs the ugly.”


Deina Aly, Associate Engineer Managing Wastewater Capital Improvement Projects

Deina Aly, from the City of San Jose, was nominated by her peers and the members of BAYWORK for her commitment to service and passion for women in the trades.

BAYWORK proudly honors “Empowering Women, Inspiring Change: Recognizing the Pioneers of Today and Tomorrow.” A tribute to Women’s History Month.

Deina Aly has been with the City of San Jose for 4 and half years. With a total of 9 years in her career, between oil and gas operations and process optimization, wastewater research and development and capital projects delivery.

Certifications and Skills: 

Licensed Professional Chemical Engineer – State of California (PE)
Project Management Professional- (PMP)

What interested you to pursue a career in the field?

“I have always been fascinated with Engineering field, specifically wastewater treatment industry. It’s very rewarding to see your job’s positive impact on the environment, health, and quality of life of your generation and generations to come.

Growing up, I was told that these industries are not a good fit for a woman, and that I should focus on starting a family. I broke the bias and became the first female engineer in my family. For the past 9 years, I have been growing both my family and my career. I am a proud wife, mom of 3, a masters degree holder and a professional Engineer/ Project Manager.”

If you can provide one piece of advice for women entering the field, what would it be? 

“Surround yourself with people who support your dreams. Success looks different for each one of us, embrace your journey and know that women and mothers belong in all careers.”


Dawn Benson, Executive Assistant II to the Customer and Community Services Director

Dawn Benson, from EBMUD, was nominated by the members of BAYWORK for her commitment to service and passion for women in the trades.

Most recently, she hosted a learning session at the training buffet titled, A Conversation with two EBMUD Executive Assistants on the Administrative Profession.

With over 45 years of experience and 23 of them at EBMUD her responsibilities include supporting to the director and managers, with executive level support on board documents, customer correspondence, special projects, customer assistance, and business continuity. I manage the department budget and financial tracking, and staffing requests.

She is also working to bring same training to the BAYWORK and develop networks within EBMUD and BAYWORK administrative support together to provide tools, support and professional and technical trainings along with mentoring and career development.

Certifications and Skills: 

Dawn holds many certifications in specialized training and continuing education. She has an extensive list of resources she can share for those interested in pursuing a similar career.

What interested you to pursue a career in the field?

“I enjoyed being part of the behind the scenes of the front lines of running a company – being involved in the many facets of a business and/or water agency’s operation and success both as a team and individual. Making a difference in my community and world are important as we influence and learn from those in the past through the present. Being part of the solution!”

If What is your primary philosophy about women in the trades? 

“Women bring unique and empowering dimensions of harmony, knowledge and strength into the workplace. The skills, acumen and determination help to make the workplace more innovative and synergistic that leads to success.”

If you can provide one piece of advice for women entering the field, what would it be? 

“Find a mentor, be disciplined and practice.”


Angela Andrews,
Capital Portfolio Manager

Angela Andrews, from West County Wastewater, was nominated by her peers and the members of BAYWORK for her commitment to service and passion for women in the trades.

Angela Andrews has been with West County Wastewater for 3 years, and 14 years in Development. Her primary responsibility is to manage the delivery of projects in the Capital Program. Projects include sewer infrastructure, plant process, and facility upgrades.

BAYWORK proudly honors the Resilience and Excellence of Women of Color in Water: A tribute During Black History Month.

Certifications and Skills: 

Project Management Professional Certification- (PMP)

What interested you to pursue a career in the field?

“In my career I have always worked in areas I am passionate about which is work that helps the community. West County Wastewater gives me the opportunity to work in community development, environmental justice, and reducing the impacts of climate change.”

If you can provide one piece of advice for women entering the field, what would it be? 

“Someone told me to remember to enjoy every stage in your life. What you are doing now will serve you in your future. Soon you will start to see a pattern of what interest you but also shows your value to the organizations you work for and what you bring to the table when there are opportunities you would like to pursue.”


Sunny Williams,
Senior Management Analyst

Sunny Williams, from Valley Water, with over 30 years of industry experience, was nominated by the members of BAYWORK for her commitment to service and passion for women in the trades.

Most recently, she hosted a learning session at the training buffet that encouraged others to identify the benefits of starting a women-centric employee resource group at their agencies.

Certifications and Skills: 

I perform environmental planning work and have a B.S. in Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning from UC Davis. I’m a licensed Certified Arborist. It’s not required in this position, but it is helpful.

What interested you to pursue a career in the field?

“To protect and provide environments for our natural flora and fauna, and the ecosystems they need to thrive.”

If you can provide one piece of advice for women entering the field, what would it be? 

“Find other women who work in the field that you are or want to work in. When I first became a Certified Arborist and attended continuing education workshops, there would be a line in the men’s restroom and we women just walked directly into ours. While that was a welcome and elating experience, there just weren’t women arborists. Now, there’s a line for the restroom AND women are now more equal in attendance. Progress.

Being the lone or rare woman in a work environment can be lonely, frustrating, and difficult. Find male allies who you work with. Find other women who also work in your field to talk about your challenges and to support one another.

While there may always be someone who questions why you want to work (or live) as you do, you have just as much ‘right’ as anyone else to be there. And know that there are other women, trying to do the same thing as you.”


Victoria Garcia, Associate Water Resources Specialist

Victoria Garcia, from Valley Water, was nominated by the members of BAYWORK for her commitment to service and passion for women in the trades.

Most recently, she hosted a learning session at the training buffet that encouraged others to identify the benefits of starting a women-centric employee resource group at their agencies.

As the Associate Water Resources Specialist in the Groundwater Management Unit, Victoria’s primary responsibilities include managing multiple groundwater quality monitoring programs, implementing special groundwater studies, and conducting water quality numerical modeling and analysis. She also is the founder of the Women of Water, a Valley Water Employee Resource Group.

Certifications and Skills: 

B.S. in Geology, Groundwater Geochemistry certification.

What interested you to pursue a career in the field?

“I’ve always been passionate about the complex intricates of water resources. Growing up in an area where drinking water wasn’t safe to drink, led me to wanting to make a difference in my community in the future.”

If you can provide one piece of advice for women entering the field, what would it be? 

“My advice for women entering trade work is, don’t doubt yourself and know that you are more than capable to do this job! One statistic that has been restated many times and still amazes me is, men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them. You can, and will, do the job well. Go for it!”


Mera Burton, Education Outreach Program Manager

Mera Burton, from Valley Water, was nominated by the members of BAYWORK for her commitment to service and passion for women in the trades.

Most recently, she hosted a learning session at the training buffet titled, Aspire. Diversify. Empower. Lead – Creating Career Pathways with Valley Water’s Next-Gen Workforce Development Program.

As the Valley Water Education Outreach Program Manager, Mera has more than 15 years of experience working in educational leadership and has served as a STEM educator and project manager for NASA’s education programs as lead Professional Development Instructor. At Valley Water for 4.5 years, Mera leads a team that provides opportunities for K-12 learners and educators to engage in STEM educational programs through unique content, as well as teaching hands-on activities to various audiences via distance learning.

Certifications and Skills: 

Master’s degree from Santa Clara University in teaching STEM curriculum development and instruction.

What interested you to pursue a career in the field?

“My passion for promoting education advancements and career engagement led me to pursue a career in the water industry. I aim to increasing diversity for Valley Water’s next generation of workforce through the development of a high school internship program for students in Santa Clara County. As a former classroom educator, I understand the importance and impact of being the agency lead for the Valley Water, BAYWORK & Ignited high school teacher externship programs and hope to inspire educators to join the water workforce.”

If you can provide one piece of advice for women entering the field, what would it be? 

“Professional educators are needed in the water industry because we have the unique ability to connect with a wide variety of audiences and translate difficult subject matters to every-day learners. There are also many opportunities for advancement and public service leadership.”


Tyrese Powell-Slotterbeck,

Reclamation Plant Operator II 
To serve, operate and maintain Ralph W. Chapman Water Recycling Facility to provide exceptional reclaimed water for the District’s customers in Chula Vista.

Tyrese was nominated by her peers for her commitment to service and passion for women in the trades. Most recently, she joined a women’s panel hosted by Baywork and CWEA, discussing the barriers for women in water. 

She joined the water industry in 2014 and has served as an Operator at Otay Water since September 2018. 

Certifications and Skills: 

CA Wastewater Operator Grade 3, and a 1-year internship 

If you can provide one piece of advice for women entering the field, what would it be? 

“I would advise women to be consistent, flexible, and to never give up. I have days when I think to myself, Why am I’m here? I should give up. This isn’t for me. I’m physically not strong enough for this job. And there were moments I gave up and other moments I excelled. Strength comes in many ways and as women in this industry, we must choose to be strong.” 

What interested you to pursue a career in the field? 

“At first, I was reluctant to start a career in the field. Once I gave it a try, I realized that there’s more to operations. My father is also a wastewater operator and he encouraged me to become one. With time I recognized that operations is where I wanted to be.”


Our committee is passionate about our mission and meets monthly to work on initiatives that support, recognize, and create more interest for women in our field.  If you are interested in learning more about the BAYWORK’s Women and Trades Committee and want to join in on the excitement, email WIT@baywork.org.

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