Gina Miranda (she/they) is an emerging young professional in the world of underground storage tanks (UST). Having graduated in 2020 with a degree in public health from the University of Rhode Island, they are now the project manager on the tanks subcommittee with the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO).
Founded in 1974, ASTSWMO focuses on enhancing and promoting effective State and Territorial programs to affect relevant national policies for waste and materials management, environmentally sustainable practices, and environmental restoration. Through technical assistance, workgroups, trainings, and forums, ASTSWMO fosters information exchange through all 50 States, 5 Territories, and the District of Columbia.
Q: Could you tell us about yourself, your background, and the work you do?
A: I’m from Rhode Island and come from a Cape Verdean family, which are islands off the west coast of Africa. I’m also a first-generation American. I studied public health at the University of Rhode Island and had an internship with the University of Michigan focusing on environmental public health, which sparked my interest in the field. After graduating in May 2020, I took a job at my university and later moved to D.C. to explore environmental public health opportunities. There, I found my current role as the Program Manager for the tanks subcommittee within a ASTSWMO. I manage communications, projects, information sharing, and act as a point of contact for members, the board of directors, and the EPA Office of Underground Storage Tanks. I enjoy the people and culture of the organization, as well as being a problem solver and applying my public health knowledge to the tanks world. The challenges and importance of the work keep me motivated as an environmental public health advocate.
Q: Can you provide more details about your role and what you enjoy the most?
A: As the Program Manager for the tanks subcommittee, I oversee four task forces with a total of 42 volunteer members, one from each EPA region. I manage communications, ongoing and new projects, information sharing, and coordinate with the board of directors, members, and the EPA Office of Underground Storage Tanks. I enjoy the people I work with and the dedication and passion they bring to their work. The culture and environment are inspiring. I also enjoy being a problem solver and finding ways to apply my public health knowledge to the tanks world. The challenges that arise in this role make it fulfilling, and the overall importance of the work we do as environmental public health advocates keeps me motivated.
Q: If you could sum up your work experience so far, how would you describe it?
A: It’s complex issues and multifaceted solutions. I love being a problem solver, so it’s right up my alley.
Q: What advice would you give to someone interested in joining the industry or learning more about it?
A: Ask every single question you have and be proactive in seeking information. Watch videos, read articles, and take advantage of training opportunities. If possible, go on site visits to gain a deeper understanding. Dive into the industry because it’s always changing, and the more you immerse yourself, the more you’ll learn.
Q: What would you like to see as a future focus for the tank subcommittees?
A: I believe it would be beneficial to focus on engaging and encouraging the younger workforce to get involved in environmental public health, specifically within tanks. As the industry faces potential labor and workforce challenges with retiring professionals, it’s important to attract and retain younger generations to keep the industry thriving. Promoting the industry through platforms like LinkedIn and exploring innovative approaches can help attract and involve younger professionals in the tanks world.
More information about ASTSWMO can be found on their website https://astswmo.org/.