Traci Minamide, M.S. ’87, puts her civil/environmental engineering degree from Loyola Marymount University to work in many of her work conversations. “That education allows me to talk about details with the field engineers and build trust and confidence,” says the chief operating officer for the city of Los Angeles’ Sanitation and Environment Department, a department with more than 3,000 employees and $1 billion in annual revenue.
Her job is as vital as it is enormous: to keep the city of Los Angeles’ wastewater systems safe and efficient. The city’s health and welfare depend upon it. The primary responsibility of the department is to collect, clean and recycle solid and liquid waste generated by residential, commercial and industrial users in the city of Los Angeles and surrounding communities. That means that nearly 4 million residents rely on the expertise of Minamide and her employees.
Minamide earned her master’s degree at night while she was working for the Irvine Ranch Water District. The work she did in Professor Joseph Reichenberger’s wastewater class, and the hydraulics work she did in Professor Michael Mulvihill’s class have been invaluable foundations as she has led the city’s innovative approaches to treatment and reclamation.
She points to the advanced water purification facility at Terminal Island and the bioenergy facility at Hyperion as sources of pride in how modern techniques are solving the age-old problem of waste management. Minamide is also concerned with the management of capturing and reusing stormwater to help ease the water challenges of the Los Angeles region.
Minamide has also been a champion of equity in the workplace, seeking to open opportunities for women and ethnic minorities in the engineering fields. While she has in recent years hired more – and more qualified – women in her department, she says there is still work to be done.