Monday, August 12, 2019

#SheCanSTEM: Meet Juanita Ford

MLGW has 2770 employees; 752 (27%) are women. Of the 752 women, 143 (19%) hold STEM positions. On the second Tuesday of every month, we will introduce you to a different woman working in STEM at MLGW.

Juanita Ford grew up in Walls, Mississippi. She graduated from Horn Lake High School and later Christian Brothers University with a Bachelors of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering and a Masters of Education in Instructional Design

She started at MLGW in 2003 as an Environmental Engineer in the Environmental Affairs Department. She was responsible for the environmental compliance for the Division

Currently Juanita is the Acting Supervisor of Water Operations (in the Water Engineering and Operations group). Along with her team, she is responsible for the operation and maintenance of MLGW's 10 water pumping stations, 20+ water booster stations, 16 water overhead storage tanks, 190+ wells and all the necessary equipment to treat the drinking water within each water pumping station.

We asked Juanita a few questions to get to know her better.

What's interesting or cool about what you do?

I get to see our drinking water from the ground and prepare it for customer consumption. Most customers never think about what it takes to get drinking water from the aquifer to their homes. In Water Operations, I am able to see and improve this process every day.

Why would you encourage girls to pursue STEM careers?

Because why not?  The STEM industry needs more diversity and female perspectives. 

What advice would you give your younger self?

Two things -- 1) Get comfortable being uncomfortable and 2) ask questions until you understand -- it is very likely that some guy in the room has the same questions.

Did you miss our other installments of #SheCanSTEM? Meet Arnisa Davis, Kelsey Seiter, Debra Higgins, Kerry Roy and Cynthia Jones.

Monday, July 8, 2019

#SheCanSTEM: Meet Cynthia Jones

MLGW has 2770 employees; 752 (27%) are women. Of the 752 women, 143 (19%) hold STEM positions. On the second Tuesday of every month, we will introduce you to a different woman working in STEM at MLGW.

Cynthia Jones is MLGW’s Manager of Client Services. Her STEM journey began after winning a mathematics competition from a national mathematics journal.  Although she majored in math and science in high school, she became hooked on technology after taking a programming class in college and continued on that path to become a technology project manager.

We asked Cynthia a few questions to get to know her better.

What do you do in your current position?

As the Manager of Client Services, I manage a team of Business Account Executives who serve as the liaison between the Information Technology Division and the MLGW Senior Leadership team.  Client Services is the advocacy arm with the primary goal of expediting resolutions to business needs.

Have you held other STEM positions within the company?

Previously, as Supervisor of Data Analytics and Software Integration, I was responsible for managing a team of web and mobile software developers, a team responsible for business intelligence, and a team of software specialist who purchased third party software for various departments at MLGW. 

What's interesting or cool about what you do?

I am exposed to many emerging technologies so I get to sample a vast array of technologies and how they would benefit our customers.

Why would you encourage girls to pursue STEM careers?

When I first started in this field, there were very few women in the industry so opportunities for upward mobility were a major challenge.  However, once the glass ceiling was broken, I began to see several women excel and more importantly, have input into the direction of technology.  Although statistically the numbers still indicate a gap, we can continue to make gains in the STEM field and be an influential force.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would advise my younger self to remain true to my passion.  I originally started my college career in technology but felt out-of-place since there were few females in my major.  I changed my major and pursued what I thought was a more "acceptable" profession.  However, I quickly became bored with the lack of challenge and returned to my first love, technology. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

MLGW employee administers CPR, saves a life

At least three to five times a week, for the past 20 years, David Leake, Hickory Hill Service Center Garage, takes a nightly jog. Usually his evening run is uneventful, until one warm Sunday night in May when Leake drove to the Old Hernando High School football field in Hernando, Miss.

As he prepared for his run, he saw a woman trying to coax a man from the ground to her car. He watched for a moment, assessed the situation and decided to see what was wrong.

When he approached the duo, the man was struggling to breathe.

“She was trying to get him in the car and drive him to the hospital. His chest wasn’t moving and he seemed to be getting worse the longer we waited. I thought, ‘I have to do something,’ ” Leake said.
Leake asked the woman to call 911 and began chest compressions. On the second set of compressions, Leake said the barely conscious man seemed to go into shock.

“He was shaking real bad. I put a sweater under his head and he went limp. On the third compression, he came back and grabbed my hand tight. He stayed conscious until first responders got there. I was glad to see the guy was going to make it,” Leake said.

Leake has worked for MLGW for 20 years, but the encounter in May was the first time he has ever used CPR. The married father of two and grandfather of five, said he was surprised by the way everything played out.

For instance, he almost didn’t go jogging that night. On that particular evening, the field was emptier than usual and he had just learned CPR two weeks prior during a MLGW training class.

“When the guy passed out, I thought he was going to die. I couldn’t believe that what I was doing actually worked. It was surprising to me that he came back,” Leake said. “To know that he has a second chance at life feels good. A lot of things go through your head when something like this happens. God gave him a second chance.”

Leake said it was a great feeling to know that something he learned at work, saved someone in the community.
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