As our first full year with an expanded Board of Directors comes to a close (we went from three Board members to nine last year), several changes are occurring. New Board members have not been seated yet, so I do not want to let anything slip, but I will mention that two former Board members have assumed different roles within ASSIST. Nolanda Hatcher Bearden is our Legal Counsel and Louie Lin is our Educational Liaison, which will be important as we forge ahead with our relationship with the Pontica Universidad Catolica Ecuador Sede en Esmeraldas (PUCESE).
I have been told on numerous occasions by people very close to me that the message of ASSIST gets lost. I am not a marketing guy; however, as an engineer, I recognized my deficiency and, with the pro bono assistance of my friend, Brett Slater of Slater’s Garage Ads & Audio and his colleague, Erin Foglietta of Hemlock Hill Design, we are re-branding ASSIST. Erin is working on the new ASSIST logo, which we hope to unveil shortly. Brett is working on converting the website to something a bit more 21st Century.
More importantly, we realized that everything that ASSIST is doing revolves around water. The work with Rotary International to provide sand filtration kits: providing water. The work with PUCESE to prevent pollution from artisan gold mines: cleaning water. The work with the Pinchot Institute for Conservation to reforest the Choco: saving water. The work with farmers to identify sustainable energy sources to drive pumps: utilizing water. Enveloping all of these projects is the need to develop economic opportunities that will enable financial sustainability for communities to whom we are providing, cleaning, saving, and utilizing water.
Last week I was in Washington, D.C. to help the EPA review some grant proposals for a sustainability program. I had the chance to meet with my old boss, Dan Singer, who is now retired from practicing law but goes into the office just about every day. He started at Fried Frank Harris Shriver and Kampleman in 1958 (my mother started working for him in 1959) and still has the energy of a new law school graduate. Most of his time is spent either working toward fundraising for one of the two charities in which he is involved – one is environmentally related and the other assists at-risk mothers with pre-natal care, midwifery, and day care – or working on his book about his role in the civil rights movement in Mississippi in the 1960s. Before that, I had visited the office of my elected official, Rep. Annie McLane Kuster (New Hampshire – Second District), as well as my childhood friend, Rep. David Cicilline (Rhode Island – First District).
Between these meetings, I walked from Capitol Hill to the law office near the White House. I crossed over the Mall and passed by the Air and Space Museum, which I had never visited. I did not have much time but I did go to see the Wright Flyer, the original plane that Orville and Wilbur crafted and flew at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17, 1903. That is the actual plane pictured to the left. I thought about how many times the Wright brothers tried and tried again to get their plane off the ground. Initiative. Hard work. Dedication. Support from friends and family.
I wondered where ASSIST will be in ten, twenty, fifty years. Later that day, I boarded my flight back home, one hundred and ten years after the Wright Flyer made its historical first flight.
Paul Indeglia, Ph.D., P.E.
Agency for Sustainable Systems in Science and Technology