Janine Burke-Wells (photo courtesy of NEWEA)

Janine Burke-Wells (photo courtesy of NEWEA)

NEBRA Welcomes New Executive Director

Janine Burke-Wells is the new Executive Director of NEBRA. The announcement was made at the beginning of May by NEBRA President Tom Schwartz (Woodard and Curran) after a 5-month search process and interviews with several outstanding, experienced finalists for the position.

Burke-Wells has been Executive Director of the Warwick, RI Sewer Authority since 2008, responsible for daily management of the wastewater system for the second largest city in the state, including a 7.7 MGD treatment facility and associated collection system. She had worked for the Town of West Warwick as Director of Administration/Assistant Superintendent beginning in 1998, and, prior to that, she spent a decade with U. S. EPA Region 1 in Boston. Her long experience in the environmental field, with a focus on wastewater management, is underpinned by a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Rhode Island and a Master’s in Public Administration from Northeastern.

In addition to work experience at the federal and local level, Janine has served in non-profit leadership. She is well-known to NEWEA members, having completed a year as President in January. She is also active in the NEWEA Government Affairs Committee and initiated and organizes the annual Narragansett Bay WPCA annual clean water legislative event, which is in its 8th year.

About biosolids, Janine notes that “it is the second largest expense, after salaries, for the treatment facility I worked at. I have come to see that managing our biosolids in a sustainable way is a fiscal and moral imperative.”  She managed the response and $14 million restoration after the floods of 2010.  As she looks forward to NEBRA’s next five years, Janine notes the importance of “bringing common sense” to the PFAS issues. And, beyond that, she says “I see NEBRA being a leader with respect to alternative or innovative uses of biosolids.”

Schwartz led the Search Committee and relied on diverse input from all Board members. “We were pleased with the very high caliber of the final candidates, and the Board of Directors worked hard on its decision,” said Schwartz. “Janine brings a great combination of industry knowledge, the public/non-profit experience, and an overall attitude and commitment for NEBRA.”

Burke-Wells can be reached at Janine(at)nebiosolids.org.

Ned Beecher, former Executive Director and the one full-time, long-term employee of NEBRA since the organization’s inception in 1997, is becoming Projects Lead and will continue his work on PFAS. Other projects are in the works as well, including data collection on the use, disposal, and regulation of biosolids across the nation, which will update data compiled in a NEBRA-led report published in 2007.