Women in Water

In honor of International Women’s Day, we are highlighting the many women at Mesa Water who work to ensure our community receives 100% safe, local and reliable water every day!  In the Q&As below, these remarkable professionals share their experiences.

Marice DePasquale, President, Mesa Water Board, 3 ½ years

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How did you get into the water field?

The Division III seat was vacant, resulting in several community leaders reaching out to encourage me to throw my hat in the ring for the seat. My motivation to step up for the seat was driven by a core principle of service and giving back to the community. As the only woman of the 16 candidates, I brought a diverse resume of public affairs, land use, and coalition building to the table. During my career I was no stranger to water having represented water districts and worked on water project across the state. The Board unanimously appointed me to fill the Division III seat in September of 2017. I stood for election in 2018 and received a super majority of votes for the Division III seat.

What excites you the most about the water industry?

Water is life! No industry, from agriculture to manufacturing, would exist without water. In the Golden State water has played a vital and rich role in the state’s history and continues to drive policy, decision making and is tantamount to our quality of life.  As we face climate change, a housing crisis and still have areas of the state where clean, safe, and reliable water is not accessible, we have the ability change that! Being part of the solution is exhilarating.

What would people find surprising about your job?

The role of Director is the ultimate trust of the people we serve and the most direct form of governance. It is more than policy decisions, setting the trajectory of Mesa Water, and being responsible for billions of dollars in infrastructure. The surprising thing about being a Director is when we work with schools and I speak to students, they always say thank you for your time, etc., and what they do not realize is that I get more from them – from their curiosity, their ingenuity, their motivation – and I walk away a little bit wiser and a little bit humbled by just how much they will accomplish.

What is your favorite/most inspirational book, TED Talk or podcast?

I am a huge fan of Good to Great, and firmly believe the book The First 90 days should be read and re-read by every professional at key points in their careers.  However, Simon Sinek’s TED Talk, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” is an inspirational piece for anyone wanting to lead or manage. Traditional leadership and management training do not cut it anymore and certainly do not take in to consideration generational differences, Sinek provides a road map and the tools to accomplish great things. It is worth listening to annually in my opinion.

 

Tracy Manning, Water Operations Manager, 27 years with Mesa Water

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How did you get into the water field?

I was working for an environmental laboratory. I spent three years working in the lab, then another two years performing field sampling and analyses for about a dozen water and wastewater agencies in Orange County and North San Diego County. I had not intended for this to be my career. Drinking water isn’t a well-known career path for most people, but the water 

industry is fascinating and the work is diverse. I have had tremendous opportunities to learn and grow in my time with Mesa Water.

What excites you the most about the water industry?

Water is something that most people don’t think twice about because they turn on the tap and it flows out in a seemingly endless supply. However, it takes a lot of effort to make that happen so seamlessly. From regional water policy to local pump motor maintenance, pipeline repair, and water quality testing it takes the coordinated effort of many disciplines to ensure a safe and plentiful supply of high quality water and I get to be a part of it every day. What’s more exciting than that?

What is the one tool you can’t live without at work?

My cell phone has been critical this last year. Communication and coordination are critical to Water Operations so without face-to-face meetings, group calls, text messages, and e-mails allowed us to continue operating successfully without missing a step.

What is your favorite/most inspirational book, TED Talk or podcast?

When I first started with Mesa Water, I read "Cadillac Desert" in a Water Resources class. While not exactly a historical textbook, it really outlined the entwined connection between the settlement of the west and the development of reliable water supplies. It really opened my eyes to the critical role a plentiful, safe, and local water supply has in sustaining our livelihoods and lifestyle here in Orange County.

How many cups of tap water do you drink a day?

I don’t drink soda so I drink a LOT of tap water - whether at home or out and about. I don’t always hit the recommended goal of eight glasses a day, but I try!

 

Stacy Taylor, Water Policy Manager, 11 years with Mesa Water

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How did you get into the water field?

As principal of Taylor Public Relations, prior to working at Mesa Water District (Mesa Water®), I worked on a water quality outreach project for Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. That project was both interesting and informative—I learned about state and federal requirements for ensuring the safety of tap water and communicating water quality information to the public. Years later, I was thrilled to accept the Communications Manager position at Mesa Water and, since then, I have enjoyed a decade of expanding my water industry knowledge, network and experience, leading up to my current role of advocating on policy issues relevant to Mesa Water and our stakeholders.

What excites you the most about the water industry?

The water industry is dynamic with ever-changing parameters to operate within -- including increased water quality requirements, water supply challenges, and new laws and regulations to comply with -- in addition to external factors outside of our control such as climate and weather, politics and the economy, and now COVID! Most exciting is the opportunity to work with high caliber professionals who use best management practices to improve our water infrastructure in an economical, environmentally-sensitive, transparent and timely manner under the leadership of our elected and appointed representatives who are dedicated the ongoing provision of safe, reliable and affordable drinking water.

What would people find surprising about your job?

People might find it surprising to know about the complexities of policy work which can involve intense time investment, including off hours. Being successful at policy work requires conducting what I call the “5 C’s” of advocacy—collaborating, communicating, coordinating, coalition-building, and consensus-building. Policy work hinges on staying well connected and informed, having both legal and technical support or expertise, and placing people first in terms of prioritizing positive working relationships. Like most professions, policy work can be quite specialized.

What is your favorite/most inspirational book, TED Talk or podcast?

My favorite book is one that I edited, called “On The Floor” by internationally-recognized choreographer, dancer, director and instructor Dennon Rawles from whom I’ve been taking dance classes (up until COVID) for over two decades. The book is for dancers and non-dancers alike…it offers a work process philosophy and effective learning strategies for self-improvement in any situation—arts, academics, business, and life.

How many cups of tap water do you drink a day?

There’s a goal and then there’s reality…I strive for 8 cups of tap water daily but don’t always achieve that (LOL)!

 

Jennifer Reyes, Water Quality Technician I, 1 year with Mesa Water

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How did you get into the water field?

Working in the environmental health field as a health inspector for the County of Orange I was promoted to their water quality program where I became a cross connection specialist.

What excites you the most about the water industry?

The water industry is a growing field that is fluid. In the water quality field, we are always adapting and using new technology to ensure our water supply is safe and reliable. 

What is the one tool you can’t live without at work?

A backflow gauge to measure differential pressure which is used for all testing of backflow prevention devices.

What is your favorite/most inspirational book, TED Talk or podcast?

Book: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert 

How many cups of tap water do you drink a day?

10 cups.