EM Assistant Secretary Anne White, center, gathers with members of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Young Professionals group.
EM Assistant Secretary Anne White, center, gathers with members of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Young Professionals group.

CARLSBAD, N.M. – Members of an ambitious early career group at EM’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) are making strides in their professions and the community.

   They have participated in a technology exchange with workers across the DOE complex, engaged community leaders in a professional growth forum, and collected more than 4,000 pounds of food and raised more than $10,000 for people in need.

   Founded two years ago, the 54-member WIPP Young Professionals group under WIPP management and operations contractor Nuclear Waste Partnership (NWP) takes part in the technology exchanges with employees at the Hanford, Savannah River, Los Alamos, and Oak Ridge sites.

   “The main focus of the events is to share the knowledge and experience gained at each site,” said Forrest Queen, the group’s co-president. “Bringing all of the different sites together helps people see the whole picture of the nuclear waste legacy we are facing.”

   In June, members of the organization had lunch with EM Assistant Secretary Anne White when she visited WIPP for the groundbreaking of new and improved underground ventilation system.

   “It was a pleasant meal paired with good discussions on how we each got to our positions, the struggles we face, and improvements we feel can benefit the complex,” said Queen, an engineer who worked on the underground ventilation system.

Chris Dominguez and Sheree Turner of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Young Professionals group volunteer at a food drive.
Chris Dominguez and Sheree Turner of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Young Professionals group volunteer at a food drive.

   White said she enjoyed hearing ideas and viewpoints from the newest members of WIPP’s workforce and the activities they coordinate to network and give back to the Carlsbad community. She added that Queen and Sheree Turner are doing a great job as co-presidents. 

   Turner, an operations administrative assistant, said the group’s goal is to improve the lives of its members.

   “The point of the group is to better ourselves, and people are never too old or too young to better themselves,” Turner said. “Our mission is to provide young professionals an outlet for professional development, networking, charitable association, and socialization.”

   Earlier this year, members began giving presentations to new hires at WIPP.

   At the professional growth forum, five community leaders including Bruce Covert, NWP president and project manager, and Tammy Reynolds, NWP deputy project manager and chief operating officer, advised members on creating successful career paths.

   At a recent food drive, the organization gathered more than 4,000 pounds of food for Carlsbad’s Battered Families Shelter, Outreach Center, Jonah’s Place, and Isaiah’s Kitchen. NWP matched donations raised as part of the drive for a total of more than $10,000 for the four organizations. The group also has participated in Day of Caring and other events by the United Way of Carlsbad and South Eddy County.

   Social events outside of work include evening gatherings with food and games, hikes, barbecues and community events.