Orange County Branch Newsletter
Younger Member Forum
YMF - The Incredible Journey of Orange County YMF
By: Remi Candaele, PE
Yet another amazing milestone in the history of the Orange County Younger Member Forum (OC YMF)… Earlier this month, our group was recognized by Society and the ASCE Executive Director Thomas Smith as the Outstanding 2016 Young Member Group (Large Group).
I like to assimilate our YMF environment to that of a leadership accelerator, or incubator given the extensive soft infrastructure provided by ASCE and OC Branch. Each individual contributor to this award, who are recognized below, has seen exponential advancement in both leadership and soft skills over the years of involvement. OC YMF forms the ideal cluster of younger leaders to expand on effective communication, creative thinking, adaptability, collaboration, and time management, to only cite a few skillsets. We truly believe that getting involved and supporting our local community establishes the framework to develop innovative, productive, and respected leaders.
The recognition letter from Director Thomas Smith gives a special mention to our outreach efforts and community service. While promoting diversity through planning and participating to diverse events was a strategic objective for Fiscal Year 2014-2015, we strive to better understand our society and serve our local communities as professional civil engineers. Two events particularly stood stand out in terms of outreach. The Holocaust Memorial Presentation offered by survivor Henry Oster was described by many as the best ASCE event they have ever attended. The presence and leadership of women in civil engineering was further encouraged by hosting a highly-praised Women in Engineering Panel. The professional panel discussion was selected as a Best Practice by ASCE.
One of our proudest achievements in outreach is our precollege outreach (K-12) program. In the past year, Orange County YMF hosted or presented close to 20 K-12 Outreach events with an emphasis on teaming with non-profit organizations aiming to encourage students to pursue higher education. Our K-12 Committee has significantly grown through collaboration with OC Branch, partnering with school districts in Orange County, and developing effective methods to reach out to potential future civil engineers. These efforts of the K-12 Committee are being recognized by other organizations and teachers in Orange County. Our K-12 chairs were selected as keynote speakers at the Girls Engineering Day by Women in Transportation Society, State Leadership Conference by the Anaheim Unified School District, and the California STEM Symposium by State teachers.
This award is the fruit of innumerable hours of dedicated service, but remains relative to the eager friendships our group has built. As you encounter the honorees, please join me in congratulating them for their contributions. First and foremost, none of this would have been possible without:
- Roxanne Follis, our loyal Vice-President who led to the successful delivery of more than 100 events. Roxanne belongs to this small circle of the rising women leaders;
- Karmel Ongawan and Oscar Rivera, who steered the programmatic changes in communication and finances that helped our group streamline its operations;
- My predecessors Gidti Ludesirishoti and Ravi Shah who laid the path to success and mentored a generation of young leaders. Ravi’s contributions were recognized by Society, as he is the recipient of the 2016 Edmund Friedman Award.
All the board members:
- Our Internal Activities Committee spearheaded by Nestor Godinez and Amanda Heise. Nestor will serve as our upcoming 2016-17 President;
- Our Webmaster Elizabeth Ruedas, who led the complete renovation of our new website. Elizabeth serves as our Secretary for Fiscal Year 2015-16. Elizabeth was joined in the Communication Committee by our Communication Chair, Llanet Gomez, and our Historian, Daniela Malott;
- Our K-12 Outreach Committee composed of Amy Choi, Eric Walker, and Isamar Escobar. Eric also fostered the University Outreach Committee, as described below;
- Our University Outreach Committee led by Naveed Kharrat, as Student Activities Coordinator, and supported by Isamar Escobar (UCI), Ryan Hankes (CUSF), and Jacob Heinrich (CSULB);
- Our External Activities Committee with Jerusalem Verano;
- Our Programs Committee chaired by Gyan Sinha. Marcela Opie served as our ASCE- Speaker Series Chair. Gyssela Quinabo worked with Elizabeth to deliver the Women in Engineering Panel;
- Our Community Service Committee led by Izzy Loh;
- Our Fundraising Committee chaired by Anirudh Vermula;
- Our PE Review Committee led by Krista Kausen;
- Our Mentorship Program Committee chaired by Trent Casillas and Michael Pierce. Trent and Michael presented the Best Practice to the other YMFs of the West Region at WRYMC in Alaska ;
- Our Government Affairs Committee composed of Ravi Shah, Andrew Easterling, Per Tvedt, Isamar Escobar, and John Hamilton;
- Our ASCE Institute Liaisons Amber Shah (CI), Taki Chrysovergis (GI), and Mujahid Chandoo (EWRI).
In addition, we also praise OC Branch (Gary Gilbert, Steven King, Josue Vaglienty), the LA Section (Ken Rosenfield, John Rogers, Kathereen Shinkai), the LA Section YMFs (Jane Horvath, Mark Swanson, Kyle Anderson, Brad Rahrer, and Augustin Lee), and CYM for their continuous support.
A final note goes to our respective employers, friends, families. Your exceptional support helps us foster the next generation of leaders in our industry.
I feel truly honored to have served as President of a team of such talented and dedicated friends. The incredible journey gave me a sense of fulfillment as I have grown as a professional, a friend, and a husband. I look forward to witness what our promising, yet spectacular, younger generations are incubating.