As a student at Middle Tennessee State University, she had taken a co-op position as a lab technician at the Murfreesboro Water Resources Department. “I never looked back,” she says, reflecting on how fortunate she was when her role grew into a full-time job during the 2008 recession. She excelled quickly: After four years in the lab, she moved to the operating side of the department. Then, she became an assistant manager to the plant. After a decade at Murfreesboro, she accepted a new job at Huntsville Utilities in Alabama, where she currently works as the water supply manager.
Having multiple facilities, Huntsville Utilities has both challenged and enlightened Alison. Consumers do not have a lot of options when it comes to public water systems. Because of this, Alison takes her job of ensuring the community has knowledgeable and skilled operators to maintain such a critical service very seriously. Since the manager in her old department served on the WPI board and the regulating agency (ADEM) uses WPI’s testing services, Alison had grown familiar with the organization’s mission and values. And as a professional operator herself, Alison saw an opportunity to fully understand the certification process by joining WPI in 2017.
Now serving as current chair for the board of directors, Alison believes her time with WPI has strengthened her role in the water and wastewater industry in several ways. Namely, she has seen the work that goes into creating and perfecting valid standardized exams. “[Now] I can be a resource to those getting ready to go through the exam process,” she emphasizes. She has expanded her perspective on the importance of credentialing, and this has allowed her to advocate for a higher-quality testing process.
Furthermore, Alison trusts that advocating for both education and funding on the federal level will help the industry thrive during a time of aging infrastructure, regulatory changes, and emerging technologies. She also points out the importance of boosting recruitment efforts. “We fly under the radar until there is a problem,” she states. “We need to find a way to be more visible and attractive to recruit into this industry.” Luckily, her time as chair has solidified Alison’s hope for future professional enrollment in the water and wastewater industry. When WPI was rebranded from ABC (Associated Boards of Certification), she got to witness a healthy revitalization within the organization. “There are many initiatives that came with rebranding, and I am certain [they] will succeed in their efforts. I look forward to what the future holds for WPI.”