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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Water Bureau

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Women in Water: Ann Levy, Environmental Program Manager

The Portland Water Bureau continues to celebrate Women’s History Month by shining a spotlight on the women of the Water Bureau who have made a mark on their chosen profession through hard work and talent.

Let’s meet Ann Levy, a program manager in our Water Quality division.

Ann Levy
Environmental Program Manager at the Portland Water Bureau

What is your role at the Water Bureau?

I am an Environmental Program Manager in Water Quality. For the last five years I have managed the bureau’s compliance with the Bull Run Treatment Variance.  I have a small team of talented scientists that focus on environmental monitoring and watershed protection activities related to the Oregon Health Authority’s requirements.

Describe your typical day for us. What does that look like?

A typical day will start with checking in with my team regarding the status of our compliance samples, which are the bread and butter of our program. So far in 2017, my days mostly entail following up on the recent Cryptosporidium detections. We are investigating the Bull Run watershed for Crypto sources and planning next steps. I work closely with a variety of stakeholders in the Water Bureau including staff in our Resource Protection, Engineering, Treatment Operations, and Public Information departments to provide the latest technical information and data.

How has your experience been at the Water Bureau?

It’s been a great experience, ever since I was hired as an Environmental Technician I back in 2005.  I’ve had a chance to work on a variety of programs within Water Quality over the years which has kept me challenged and engaged.  I’m grateful to have had so many people at the bureau help me grow professionally.

What does it mean to be a woman in a field where women have been historically underrepresented?

It makes me feel proud. I am reminded that my grandmother actually got her B.S. in chemistry back in the day but never had a chance to use her degree. She might have been the only woman in her degree program. She ended up working in a factory to support the war instead.  I’m sure she’d be proud of me for having a career in science.

Which women have served as your professional role models or mentors?

At the Water Bureau I must give a shout out to Yone Akagi and Briggy Thomas who have always been there for me. It’s important to surround yourself with supportive people who challenge you to step outside your comfort zone but who will also have your back.

Outside of the Water Bureau, the role models I always think of include “the Janes” – Jane Goodall and Jane Lubchenco.  I had the honor of hearing both of them speak while I was a student at the University of Portland. Most people know about Jane Goodall and her trailblazing career and accomplishments.  Jane Lubchenco is a distinguished environmental scientist at Oregon State University and served as the Administrator of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  She inspired me with her practical advice about being a woman in the sciences.

What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in your field?

I would really encourage her to join the environmental science field. It’s always interesting, challenging, and rewarding. Find an area to specialize that you enjoy and connect with a good advising professor. You don’t have to pay to go to graduate school; they should be paying you to be there!  Spend lots of time in the field and the lab. Be open to opportunities as they present themselves. Be patient and put in your time at “the bottom.”  That’s where you build your discipline and work ethic.

Describe something about your life outside of work.

To balance out all my time in the technical realm, I love to spend time enjoying the arts: going to musicals, plays, live music, art museums, and reading novels.