Young Professionals WWD 2022: Nadine Robertson, Veolia


From being the first in the immediate family to graduate from college after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina to helping grow and run WEF’s InFLOW program virtually, Nadine Robertson is looking forward to more professional accomplishments in the industry.

Name: Nadine Robertson

Age: 35

Education: AA Process Technology (PTEC), BA Criminal Justice

Company: Veolia North America

Title: Wastewater treatment plant operator IV

What is your greatest personal achievement to date?

Obtained my Class IV operator certification and the Hatfield WEF/LWEA Award for Operator Excellence.

List some of your professional accomplishments.

  • 2018 Louisiana State/AmeriCorps Volunteer Service Champion Winner (1 of 9)
  • 2018 WEFTEC Emerging Water Scholar Award Recipient (1 of 15)
  • 2019 WEFTE Water Leadership Institute Scholarship Recipient
  • WEFTEC Water Leadership Institute Class of 2019 Graduate (1 of 52)
  • 2019 WEF Young Professionals Mid-Year Stepping Stone Recipient (1 of 25)
  • 2020 ACTE National Politics Seminar Louisiana Representative Scholarship Recipient (1 of 3)
  • 2020 Hatfield LWEA/WEF Operator Award Recipient
  • Nominated for the Women in Industry 2020 award
  • 2020 SYPC WEF Rookie of the Year
  • 2020 AWWA Operator One Scholarship Recipient
  • Graduate of the American Geophysical Union’s Emerging Investigators in Geosciences Program 2020
  • Graduate of the ACTE Inclusion, Access, Equity, Diversity mentoring program 2020/21
  • Graduate of the Society of Women Engineers Collegiate Leadership Institute Program 2020/21
  • 2021 WEF Operator Scholarship Recipient (1 of 15)
  • Inducted into Gamma Beta Phi Collegiate Honor Society 2021
  • 2022 National Water Week Policy Fly In Scholarship Recipient (1 of 10)

What was your most memorable project?

I have to say that I helped develop and run the WEF’s InFLOW program virtually in 2020 due to COVID19. This opportunity allowed me to provide information as an alumnus, choose speakers from the Louisiana water industry, offer a virtual plant tour, connect local residents interested in careers in the water with a vast network of individuals, to broaden their knowledge and provide tools for actively and successfully entering the job market.

What were you doing before entering the water industry?

Prior to entering the water industry, I was a contract safety officer (FireWatch/HoleWatch/BottleWatch) and trainee operator in the chemical refinery industry.

What was the biggest lesson you learned when you entered the water industry?

Water is an essential resource that is vital for public health, quality of life and the environment. I also discovered the endless career paths that exist in the water industry. Beyond that, I learned where and what happens to water when you flush the toilet, wash the dishes, do the laundry, take a bath, etc. I have learned to appreciate the things we take for granted, as many third world countries do not have the luxuries of quality water.

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How do you think your generation will influence the water industry?

I expect my generation to improve the overall water treatment process through innovation and technological advancements. As millennials, we are forward thinkers and it’s exciting to see how far the industry has come in terms of water reuse. Organizations are actively improving DE&I within the industry and taking steps to introduce the next generation to careers in water at earlier stages of life to respond to the gray tsunami that is underway.

What are your aspirations for your career in the water industry?

I aspire to work as a wastewater treatment plant manager and obtain a Professional Engineer’s license to provide consultancy, O&M staffing and training services to the environmental industry as a whole.

What extracurricular work activities would you like to be (or are you) involved in?

I am a member of the following associations but would like to be more active in: Operators Without Borders, National Society of Black Engineers, Association for Career and Technical Education, Society of Women Engineers, Urban League and American Water Works Association.

What are your hobbies?

I enjoy playing basketball, listening to music, mentoring young people and participating in community service projects.

What is your hidden talent?

I am a mobile DJ and a self-taught graphic designer. I am a mobile DJ and a self-taught graphic designer.

Tell us a “secret” or something about yourself that no one knows.

I hope to one day make history (to some positive extent). Get your autographs now! lol

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What volunteer work do you do?

I am an active member of the Students and Young Professionals Committee of the Water Environment Federation. I co-chaired the 2021 WEF Emerging Young Professionals Leadership Program, participate annually in WEFTEC Community Service Projects, and serve as YP President for the LWEA Chapter of WEF Member Associations. I also volunteer and hold positions with SWANA, as a regional SYPC liaison and as a non-executive officer for the Louisiana Water, Wastewater and Waste Conference industrial. I also spend a lot of time volunteering for my own 501c3 organization as well as supporting other organizations through various philanthropic and volunteer service projects. These organizations range from the Junior League of Greater New Orleans, the Young Leadership Council, the Harvey Civic Association, the USA Basketball Foundation, and the Jeremiah Group, to name a few.

In what ways are you involved in your local community outside of professional work (organizing fundraisers, facilitating youth groups, etc.)?

I started a grassroots organization (Visionary Philanthropic Media Arts Foundation) in college and became a 501c3 about 7 years ago to give back to the community. Step it up! And Together We Can Make a Difference is the organization’s mantra. My organization uses media and performance art as vehicles for change among young people. We organize back-to-school giveaways, Easter egg hunts, feed the homeless, provide platforms for young people to sing, dance and exhibit visual arts, in addition to providing opportunities excursions, various development workshops, mentoring and much more. Apart from my own organization, I am also a member of the Jeremiah group. A civically engaged group that empowers the community to actively engage and exercise their political rights, register high school students to vote, host health fairs, host candidate forums, and organize various events to give back to the community.

What are your passions?

I am passionate about mentoring, giving back to the community and all things water. I believe that everyone should have access to safe, quality water, regardless of their socio-economic status in the world.

Describe a memorable moment with family or friends.

My fondest memory with my family would have to be the day I graduated from college (University of North Florida) GO OSPREYS! My family traveled from New Orleans to Jacksonville to celebrate and support me on my big day. I was the first member of my immediate family to graduate from college, so it was great to be able to accomplish such a feat after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina. After the ceremony, my whole family traveled to Orlando, Florida for our first-ever family vacation. It was so much fun and I have to add that I was surprised with a brand new car (my very first car) as a graduation gift. So, as you can imagine, I was head over heels excited.

Who has been your biggest personal (or professional) influence and why?

My biggest personal influence would be my mother and my grandmother. They instilled in me the importance of seeking a higher education, having a work ethic, perseverance, faith, humility and morals and basic principles that I use daily.

On a professional level, I must say that my two mentors also influenced me. Mr. Drew Lehman and Ms. Tabitha Robinson. Mr. Drew is a consultant within the water industry whom I met in 2018 and he has been a tremendous support system for me throughout my journey in the water industry. I can call him and chat about literally anything related to career advancement and he has provided me with opportunities to improve various skills.

Whether it’s speaking on panels, conducting research, giving presentations, negotiating salaries, discussing career development opportunities, and more. Tabitha has been a spiritual mentor encouraging me to aim higher despite barriers and roadblocks. She is also someone I can turn to for guidance both personally and professionally and has repeatedly encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone to grow and experience something new. I am grateful to have them all in my life.

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