Celebrating Barbara Cook’s Term as NEWWA President

Celebrating Barbara Cook’s Term as President of the New England Water Works Association

Barbara Cook, PE

Barbara Cook, PE

Weston & Sampson is proud to celebrate the end of our President Barbara Cook’s term as President of the New England Water Works Association (NEWWA). Barbara’s term as NEWWA President will officially end at their 139th Annual Conference which will be held virtually from September 21-23, 2020.

Barbara is only the second woman from Weston & Sampson to have served as the President of a professional organization (Cheri Ruane served as President of the Boston Society of Landscape Architects from 2014-2019) and is just the latest in a long line of company Presidents to have also served as NEWWA President. Dating back to the early 20th century, two of our founders, Robert Spurr Weston (1929-1930) and George Sampson (1938-1939), each served as NEWWA President, and two other past Weston & Sampson Presidents, George Bogren (1957-1958) and Leo Peters (1989-1990), also served as NEWWA President.

It’s probably not too much of a stretch to say that the last year has been one of the more challenging years in NEWWA’s long history. The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on everything from meeting schedules to planning and training sessions and so many other things that NEWWA members depend on. Despite that, Barbara has risen to each and every challenge and met them head on by using the power of the team to make decisions and stay on the leading edge in solid and dependable decision making. One example is that Barbara worked with the NEWWA staff and Board of Directors in deciding to cancel their annual spring conference scheduled for early April, just after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. She, the staff, and Board took everything they were seeing into account, including the health and welfare of their membership, to make an appropriate decision even though there would be financial impacts for NEWWA.

Looking back at Barbara’s 30+ year career in water treatment and supply throughout New England, she can certainly be considered an example of what a true water supply professional can and should be. When she began her career with Weston & Sampson as a summer student intern in 1983, the firm was just 40 people all in one office in downtown Boston. It was here she began cutting her teeth on whatever project work that her bosses could throw at her using each one to build her expertise, sharpen her skills, and broaden her professional network. Over the years, she has worked on:

  • pilot testing
  • drinking water quality
  • meter system evaluations and replacements
  • vulnerability assessments and emergency response plans
  • well pump station improvements
  • pump station designs
  • contaminant treatment demonstration testing
  • water filtration facilities
  • disinfection byproduct evaluations
  • water system master plans and upgrades
  • distribution system evaluations
  • corrosion control

And so much more…

Active in NEWWA since 1985, Barbara previously served on the NEWWA Board of Directors for six years prior to becoming President. She served as chair of the Sponsor Services Committee, Corrosion Control Committee, Networking Committee, and the Emergency Preparedness Committee and has been a member of the Sustainability Committee. Barbara is also a member of the Massachusetts Water Works Association (MWWA), the Plymouth County Water Works Association (PCWWA), and the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) and served on the Board of Water Commissioners in Newburyport, Massachusetts for 12 years.

Instrumental in the development and success of Weston & Sampson’s Water Practice, it goes without saying that Barbara has and still serves as a mentor for younger people, especially women, throughout the drinking water and engineering industry, never mind at Weston & Sampson itself. She has overseen a recent surge in women being hired and advanced at Weston & Sampson and is a strong advocate of such hiring in the industry.

Erica Lotz, the incoming President-Elect of NEWWA, has this to say about Barbara:

“I met Barbara early in my career…At the time there were not many senior women in my organization for me to look up to as a role model for how to be a female leader. Luckily, I found that with my participation in NEWWA, working with Barbara on committee efforts, I was able to see that a female leader didn’t need to be tough to be strong and could also be fun and relatable at the same time.  Having interactions with Barbara in those early years provided me with a role model for female leadership with a style that was complementary to my skills and I have been lucky enough to continue working closely with her in recent years on the NEWWA Board of Directors.”

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