WOMEN IN WASTEWATER

At West County Wastewater, inclusion, diversity and equality are at the heart of our operations. We believe our community will thrive best when the people who live here are treated fairly and equitably. We aim to support inclusiveness and advocate for human rights however we can, including by supporting women in the water and wastewater world.

Continue reading to learn more about WCW Women in Wastewater, as well as career and educational opportunities.

ANGELA ANDREWS

Capital Portfolio Manager

Motivated by the desire to create a better world for her young daughter and inspired by the fight for equality, Angela Andrews is dedicated to service and doing what’s best for the community. Her passion for helping others extends to her role as Capital Portfolio Manager at West County Wastewater (WCW) and to her position as the first Black woman councilmember for the City of Hayward.

With a graduate degree in urban planning, Andrews was surprised to find herself working in construction facility development. The project and construction management skills she learned there easily translate to her current work at WCW, where she has her “boots on the ground” every day.

Andrews manages maintenance and upgrades to the pipes, pumps, lift stations, Water Quality and Resource Recovery Plant, and other equipment to ensure that wastewater is safely transferred, reducing emergencies and protecting public health.

“Equity in water, our most important resource, is vital,” Andrews said. “With the current water crisis, we are seeing how it is going to be even more crucial to have access to clean water. How water is treated and making sure infrastructure is current and updated both play a role in keeping water, our community and the environment safe.”

Andrews regularly interacts with city planners, general contractors, engineers and designers, positions she says are historically male-dominated jobs and illustrate the lack of representation in the industry. That lack of representation drives her to make change in her community, fight against inequalities and pave the way for her 2-year-old daughter.

Before being elected to the Hayward City Council in November 2020, Andrews served on the Hayward Planning Commission, the Keep Hayward Clean and Green Task Force and the Downtown Streets Team – Hayward Advisory Council. She also volunteers to read in local elementary classrooms, showing girls the opportunities that exist for them, and spends time mentoring other women.

“If there’s a position you want, go for it. Every position that women take is an opportunity for the next person who wants to come along and do the same thing,” she said. “I would love to see more representation in the field, more women working in all aspects of construction and actually working in the trade.”

Andrews praises WCW for its commitment to supporting professional growth of its employees and dedication to cultivating a diverse workplace. She is optimistic for a future for her daughter and other women that is inclusive – with no more “firsts.”

“I want to show her that she can be whoever she wants to be and do whatever she wants to do, if she puts her mind to it,” Andrews said. “I hope she sees that nothing stopped her mother from doing what she wanted to do – that I became the first person but won’t be the last. I am hopeful that it becomes common knowledge that anyone can be anything – that there is equal access and equity in our world.”

CHERYL SUDDUTH

President, Board of Directors

From a young age, West County Wastewater (WCW) Board President Cheryl Sudduth was aware of privilege, inequality and the socio-economic systems that hold people back no matter how hard they work.

Today, her passion for equity stems from the idea that not everyone has the same quality of life, including access to essential services. As a biologist, environmentalist, mother and advocate for equality, Sudduth is dedicated to racial and environmental justice.

For her, it’s not about having a seat at the table – it’s about building the table and inviting other women and people of color to join. “Do not wait to be invited,” she said. “Be willing to fight for the next person who is coming behind you. It’s not about you. It’s also about the process; it’s about serving and making it easier for the next person.”

In addition to clearing a path for those following behind her, Sudduth is adamant about being a voice for the community. She is proud to serve WCW as the only second woman president at a time when the organization also has its first female general manager and general counsel. Serving on the WCW Board is about communication, collaboration, cooperation, commitment, coordination, and compromise – all traits that she says are essential for an effective leader and colleague.

Sudduth sees her role at WCW as ensuring everyone has access to affordable wastewater services and supporting the mission and vision of the organization.

“It is our job to reflect the voices of local residents and ensure we are acting in the best interest of public health,” she said. “This doesn’t always mean we agree either with one another or necessarily with what the community wants. It means we are going to do what is best for the community by tending to its needs and protecting the people who live here.”

With a 25-year career filled with people questioning her knowledge and ability to do the job, Sudduth has faced many challenges as a Black, Latina, Indigenous, Muslim woman who uses forearm crutches to walk. She is committed to demanding respect, not just as a person filling a position, but as a human being, and doing the work it takes to fight for a future of equality, diversity, justice, access, and inclusiveness.

“I am very proud of everything that I am, including my disAbility,” she said. “I’m not willing to dim myself or to not be authentic because someone else is uncomfortable.”

Sudduth, who once ran for Congress, is currently a Contracts Services Manager at AC Transit. She is active in the community, aiming to bring more diversity to the working world and encouraging women and youth empowerment. She volunteers with local girls in a STEM program, serves on many boards and steering committees that advance human rights, environmental justice, changes to our criminal legal system, and regularly mentors youth and young adults.

“I tell them to take a chance, to go after something they’re passionate about,” she said. “There are only two things that can happen: you’re successful, or you’re not successful yet. We don’t fail; we’re just not successful yet.”

CAREER AND EDUCATION RESOURCES

West County Wastewater is dedicated to growing the number of women in wastewater-related positions. Over the last few years, we have increased our workforce of women from 12 to 20, with seven of the 20 in leadership roles. We currently employ three female plant operators – an industry anomaly!

Click here to learn more about careers and education at WCW and in the industry.

“WCW has been instrumental in my career growth. I’ve never worked at an organization that encourages so much professional development, not just in technical skills, but soft ones as well. They really care about what I want to do here. I really value that. You spend a lot of time where you work, so I appreciate that they want their employees to be fulfilled, professionally and personally.”

Angela Andrews, Capital Portfolio Manager