Racial Social Justice Subcommittee Goals

Last month we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a holiday commemorating the legacy of Dr. King, one of the most influential changemakers in modern history. Dr. King’s influence withstands the test of time and continues to motivate change around the world (the Netherlands, Toronto and Ottawa, Canada and Hiroshima, Japan hold events or days dedicated to MLK). As the National Constitution Center states, “Today, the King holiday serves multiple purposes: It honors the total legacy of King; focuses on the issue of civil rights; highlights the use of nonviolence to promote change; and calls people into public service.” These purposes are integral to PNCWA’s dedication to the water industry. In 2020, PNCWA started the Racial and Social Justice (RSJ) Subcommittee to the Member Services Committee (MSC) to promote diversity and racial and social justice amongst membership.    

The subcommittee is pursuing 5 main goals. The goals and progress to date include: 

  1. Focus on furthering the membership’s education on RSJ issues by providing an optional book club and quarterly LinkedIn posts with articles and additional resources related to RSJ. Status: The RSJ Subcommittee has provided members with regular LinkedIn posts recognizing diverse cultures, holidays, ethnicities, and racial and social backgrounds. These include: Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Latinx/Hispanic History Month, and Pride Month. These posts provide PNCWA membership with interesting and relevant information about diverse people, stories, perspectives, and backgrounds in the water industry.   

  1. Engage and collaborate with other organizations and groups that are leaders in this effort to leverage ongoing studies, share ideas, and further community engagement. Status: RSJ Subcommittee partnered with the Stormwater Committee to engage in a river clean-up at the 2022 PNCWA Annual Conference in Spokane, WA. In partnership with the Riverkeeper, the event garnered a high level of membership support, cleaning up trash along the Spokane River and learning about indigenous roots of the region.  

  1. Partner with MSC and the Students and Young Professionals (S&YP) committees to focus on outreach to underrepresented communities and to provide mentorship opportunities. RSJ has collaborated with Scholarship Committee, MSC, and the S&YP committees to “apply an RSJ lens” to their efforts. This collaboration has led to identifying opportunities like expanding inclusivity in PNCWA scholarship application process and awards, brainstorming ways to increase diversity and inclusion within PNCWA annual conference attendance and S&YP events.  

  1. In the long-term, the subcommittee will take on a project that provides resources and leadership opportunities for impacted communities to improve their water/wastewater systems Status: this long-term project is a future goal for RSJ. In these early years of its existence, RSJ is building momentum through delivering on its internal-PNCWA membership goals. RSJ is participating in quarterly calls with the larger Water Environment Federation (WEF) and member associations community on resources, challenges, and discussion of developing programs and initiatives to engage members and local communities at large. 

  1. Partner with the Government Affairs Committee (GAC) to potentially influence legislation. The RSJ Subcommittee has a GAC Liaison (Susan Schlangen) who participates in the GAC and provides an RSJ perspective when needed along with identifying opportunities for RSJ support in water industry/environmental justice policymaking. 

If you are interested in learning more or have questions, please contact Shelby Smith (RSJ Subcommittee Chair) at [email protected]


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