Printer-friendly version Print this page

Susan B. Welt Shearer, M.S., M.P.H., P.E.

Senior Sanitary Engineer;

Center for Environmental Health, New York State Department of Health

Troy, New York 12180-2216

Biography:

Susan B. Welt Shearer currently serves as a Senior Sanitary Engineer for the New York

State Department of Health's Bureau of Environmental Exposure Investigation within the

Center for Environmental Health where she has been employed for three years. Her daily

leadership responsibilities include overseeing the investigation, remediation, and

collaboration of multiple agencies and stakeholders with Section staff during

environmental clean-ups of hazardous waste sites. In this position, Ms. Shearer is also

actively involved in emergency public health preparedness and health and safety

activities where she coordinates, develops, and implements training of multi-agency

response protocols for all-hazard public health emergencies and OSHA HAZWOPER

Annual 8-Hour Refresher Courses, respectively. She is also a member of two inter- and

intra-agency task forces associated with women's issues and soil vapor intrusion (SVI).

As her roles and responsibilities involve collaboration of stakeholders, Susan believes in

continuous improvement and developing a competent well-equipped work force who are

able to effectively communicate in all situations. Susan also believes in practicing an

open-door style of management that encourages communication, shared ideas, and

continuous growth through positive personal and programmatic development.

Ms. Shearer has a dual baccalaureate degree in Agricultural and Biological Engineering

and Geological Engineering and a Master of Science in Agricultural and Biological

Engineering from Cornell University. In order to better understand how the environment

affects human health and thus why remedial efforts are needed, she received her Master

of Public Health degree from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and

Dentistry. Susan is also a Professional Engineer licensed in the State of New York.

Prior to working with the state, Susan was an engineer for different private environmental

consulting firms where she designed and managed environmental clean-ups, with a

specialty in manufactured gas plants (MGPs). She also developed and led a companywide

service area to evaluate and address the potential for SVI to affect indoor air quality

in buildings throughout the country and internationally. Susan has multiple publications

associated with her MGP-related research and SVI-related experience. This education,

research, and hands on experience brought Susan a whole new perspective and

understanding of how important effective communication was to meet all stakeholders

objectives while protecting public health.

LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES:

Through the EPHLI fellowship experience, I have done a great deal of self-reflection

enabling me to grow both personally and professionally. Understanding the basis of

systems thinking and associated archetypes, as well as the process of action learning has

enabled me to better assess how to address and effectively communicate through different

situations. Discussing the results of the Myers-Briggs, Skillscope Feedback, and Change

Style Indicator reports with my co-fellows, mentors, coaches within the EPHLI program,

as well as those at work and home has enabled me to better understand why and how I

communicate and can be perceived. Understanding that the role of a leader is not just to

lead, but it is also to delegate and to proactively promote coordination, collaboration, and

communication among all the stakeholders. At times there may be friction during this

process, but a good leader can enable and empower the interested parties to understand

the root cause of the friction and constructively work together to achieve all goals and

implement a mutually beneficial solution.

Thus, these tools of self-reflection and understanding the role of a leader, in conjunction

with implementing a systems thinking approach, has enabled me to be a better colleague,

supervisor, partner and, more importantly, leader. Because of this experience, I have

received positive feedback and established a better working relationship with my

colleagues.