“We managed to eliminate the requirement that all certified labs be managed by someone with a bachelor’s degree, and got the addition of CWEA certification to count,” she says. “And we reduced the number of times per year that labs will be required to conduct and file a blind sample study from two to one.”
Not only does Mindy Boele successfully manage the wastewater and drinking water laboratory at the City of Vacaville, she is championing the cause for labs across California as they oppose the adoption of new NELAC Institute 2016 lab accreditation standard.
“The standard is overly burdensome and will cause a loss of jobs due to the expense of implementing it,” says Sara Burke, chair of the CWEA Lab Committee, who nominated Mindy as an Emerging Leader. “The lab community owes a debt to Mindy for sticking up for us in an unprecedented time of need.”
Boele has worked tirelessly on the accreditation issue, attending meetings and communicating the results with her laboratory colleagues throughout California.
Even though adoption of the standard appears imminent, Boele claims at least two victories, especially for the many small labs staffed by one person, or even a part-timer. “We managed to eliminate the requirement that all certified labs be managed by someone with a bachelor’s degree, and got the addition of CWEA certification to count,” she says. “And we reduced the number of times per year that labs will be required to conduct and file a blind sample study from two to one.” She estimates that could save an individual lab as much as $5,000 a year—a large expense for small labs.
“We have also been able to obtain 58 other small modifications in the language that will help municipal and utility labs,” she says.
Boele graduated from the University of California-Davis and worked in a quality assurance lab for Shell Oil before returning to UC Davis to manage the school’s water environmental lab. She joined the Vacaville staff five and a half years ago.
“I had no clue what this field contained when I started,” she says. Today, she manages a staff of seven full-time lab technicians, plus two college interns, and her lab performs both wastewater and drinking water testing.
She is active in a number of organizations, including the Redwood Empire Section LabCommittee, which she chairs; the Central Valley and Bay Area Clean Water Agencies; and theCWEA state lab committee, where she is a vice chair.
She says her involvement in lab organizations is made possible by her staff, who step up when she’s away at meetings. “I don’t have to worry,” she says. “They cover and know what needs to be done.” She says the key to successful management is acknowledging and appreciating what members of her staff do for the organization. “They’re great people,” she says. “My role is to give them the support they need to get their jobs done.”