Get SWEPt away!
Participating in professional groups can be beneficial is so many ways – both personally and professionally. Being in the environmental consulting business, there is one professional group that really stands out – The Society of Women Environmental Professionals (SWEP). SWEP is a national non-profit professional association of women involved or interested in environmental law, science, business, and policy. Members include attorneys, consulting scientists and engineers, non-profit organizations, students, educators, government employees, and the regulated community.
The purpose of National SWEP is to support the goals of the existing SWEP chapters across the country and encourage the establishment of new SWEP chapters in other communities. SWEP’s goals include encouragement of education and professional development, exchange of substantive information and work experiences, networking, and public service.
Environmental Standards and its staff members have been involved with the organization and participated in SWEP events for many years, and two employees are members of the board. There are chapters throughout the United States, but since our headquarters is in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, we are members of the Philadelphia Chapter. The Philadelphia Chapter serves as a resource for members in the Philadelphia region, providing opportunities for professional development through educational programming, social events, mentoring, and public service.
Senior Technical Chemist, Ammie Martin, joined SWEP in 2013 and has been a board member since 2019. In addition to kicking butt here on her job at Environmental Standards, she is also the Chair of one SWEP committee and Co-Chair of two others. One might wonder how she does it all, but anyone who knows Ammie, knows that she is pretty amazing.
One thing that is unique to the Philadelphia Chapter, is the annual Touchstone Awards event, which started in 1997. Nominations are submitted and one outstanding woman in the environmental industry is honored at the event. The website states, “Touchstone Award recipients are distinguished by their professional commitment, leadership, and achievement from all areas of environmental practice, including government, private industry, and non-profit sectors. Like the touchstone, these women set a standard for quality and excellence. Their commitment, leadership, and achievements have distinguished them and SWEP is proud to honor them.”
Ammie was Co-Chair of the Touchstones Awards Committee this year and she said that she is really looking forward to “being back in person and celebrating such exceptional women.” This year, the Touchstone Award will honor Eileen Snyder with Alpha Analytical. Ammie mentioned that they always receive such great nominations each year for the award, but she was not surprised that Eileen was selected. “She has been very involved in SWEP over the years, is quite knowledgeable in the industry on numerous important topics, mentors and supports young women entering the industry, and is just a super nice person.”
One of the most notable advantages to belonging to a SWEP chapter is the ability to network. “Since most of my work is not local, it has given me the opportunity to build a local network,” said Ammie.
Ammie knows that companies can also reap the benefits of employees being members. “Being a member of SWEP gives their employees a chance to participate in social and technical events that are relevant to the industry and the immediate area, and a chance to work on their networking skills and to actually build a local professional network.”
Men are welcome too! Ammie added some clarification on that point, “The bylaws were written that only women could serve on the Board of Directors. So, we welcome anyone (regardless of gender) as members, volunteers, and attendees to any event. Our focus is to provide ‘opportunities for professional development through educational programming, social events, mentoring, and public service.’ We find that women and those identifying as women, even in 2022, need these opportunities to grow in their professional career more than men.”