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Meet the Staff

DEFA's quarterly newsletter, The Resource, is distributed to approximately 11,000 contacts made up of local officials interested in DEFA’s financial assistance programs, prior compliance conference and webinar attendees, local health departments, pretreatment contacts, trade associations, economic development contacts, recycling and litter prevention contacts, Ohio Materials Marketplace members and others who have indicated an interest in DEFA’s programs. Check out the newsletter's home page to download entire issues and see articles on other topics.

Spring 2022

Jessica Dalzell, Environmental Specialist, OCAPP, DEFA

How long have you worked for Ohio EPA?

I joined Ohio EPA in October 2021 as an Environmental Specialist II within the Recycling and Sustainability Unit. I graduated from Bellarmine University with a bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences and Ohio University with a master’s degree in environmental geography.

What excites you the most about the work that you do or your field of study?

I am excited to be working with a team that is as passionate about the environment as I am. Waste diversion, along with general environmental sustainability, has always been an interest of mine, so I feel I am in the perfect place with the Recycling and Sustainability Unit.

Favorite memory or accomplishment with the Agency or related to your field?

One of my favorite accomplishments is having my master’s thesis published in an academic journal. My thesis “Thinking Beyond the Plastic Bag Ban: Reusable Bag Habits and Motivators in Athens, Ohio” was published in the Geographic Bulletin in November of 2020. In the fall of 2021, I gave permission for my work to be used in an environmental sciences textbook. In my opinion, reducing single-use bag waste is an easy fix and I look forward to becoming part of the solution.

What are your favorite things to do outside of work?

I love to spend time outdoors. I enjoy taking my dog for walks, hiking, biking, camping, kayaking, skiing, and snowshoeing. I also love traveling and exploring new places.

Who inspires you?

I am inspired by many people in my life. My dad has always exemplified hard work and perseverance throughout my life, and I am grateful for the work ethic he instilled in me. My mom gave me my drive to succeed as she always expected the best from my brother and me. Recently, my partner has been inspiring me to be kinder, more patient, and more easygoing. He keeps me grounded and maintains a consistent level of calmness in my life.

Florel Fraser, Financial Program Manger, DEFA

How long have you worked for Ohio EPA?

I joined Ohio EPA in August 2021.

What excites you the most about the work that you do or your field of study?

My exposure to public administration began soon after I graduated high school when I took my first job serving the grass root community in which I lived in Jamaica, as secretary to the then Minister of Education. In high school, I organized a community youth club and completed several projects providing social services to the community. We planted trees, erected a bus stop, completed clean-up activities, provided food for the elderly, a safe space for the youths, and were liaisons between the community and the public administrators. I have a master’s degree in public administration. The exciting thing about what I do is the contribution I make by providing information to administrators to assist decision-making processes.

Favorite memory or accomplishment with the Agency or related to your field?

My career in business and public service has seen several accomplishments that make me proud. Here in DEFA, my six-month goal for this position was to learn the PowerBi software. For the most part I did that and was happy when my managers used reports that I provided to present useful information in a webinar.

What are your favorite things to do outside of work?

Evening and weekend walks, good weather permitting! I can do an average of five miles on a weekday evening and average approximately eight to nine miles each day on the weekend. I love volunteering and you can find me during tax season working with the Volunteer Income Tax Preparation (VITA) program to assist preparing taxes for the elderly and other qualified individuals, or at a church making blankets for the homeless. I have two children and two grandchildren, and I never get tired of spending time with them, these days mostly on the phone.

Who inspires you?

Dr. Neville Gallimore was the person who inspired me the most. He caused me to examine myself and helped me to set the pace for being the person I am today. I am especially inspired by individuals who achieve success through hard work despite challenges they face. My favorite quote comes from Charles Lindbergh; “Life is a culmination of the past, an awareness of the present, an indication of a future beyond knowledge, the quality that gives a touch of divinity to matter.”

Winter 2022

Kerri Cheng, Environmental Specialist, DAPC

Kerri joined DEFA in the summer of 2021 in the environmental engineering unit. She graduated from the Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in ecological engineering.

How long have you worked for Ohio EPA?

I was an intern in the Division of Air Pollution Control DAPC in 2016. I returned to Ohio EPA in July 2021 after working in both the Environmental Services and Civil Engineering groups at a consulting firm.

What excites you the most about the work that you do or your field of study?

The impact we can make on not only the environment but people’s quality of life and their outlook on protecting the environment.

Favorite memory or accomplishment with the Agency or related to your field?

I have a lot of little victories I’ve appreciated since entering the workforce, but one of my favorites was producing my first stormwater master plan for an industrial park. The company I had recently joined won one of their largest industrial design projects, so I had to hit the ground running. After weeks spent staring at contour lines, soils maps, and HydroCAD outputs, I finally had one 22”x34” plan sheet with 20+ basins (and functioning outlet structures!) over a nearly 1,000-acre property that would become the basis of design for all the individual parcels.

What are your favorite things to do outside of work?

Trying new restaurants and breweries around Columbus and going to Ohio State football games. I also love just hanging out on the couch with our three dogs after a day of work.

Who inspires you?

My mom and my high school biology teacher. My mom has degrees in biology, chemistry, and science education. I had the privilege of growing up doing science experiments at home and listening to explanations of things like how frogs have three-chambered hearts. I’ve always been grateful to have such a strong female role model in the STEM field. My biology teacher was my first introduction to environmental science and taught me what it really means to think global, act local. He has always been great at showing people how special their “backyard” is and motivating them to protect their local resources via education.

Samira Deeb, Environmental Specialist, OCAPP, DEFA

Samira received a bachelor’s degree in public health, specializing in environmental health, from The Ohio State University, and a master's in public health from Kent State University.

How long have you worked for Ohio EPA?

I joined the Agency unofficially in the winter of 2015 as a public health student working and learning alongside toxicologists in the air toxics unit. I officially joined the Agency as a summer air pollution intern and following my internship, joined the air monitoring unit as an environmental specialist (ES) I. In August 2016, I transitioned to an ES II with Central District Office as an air pollution inspector and permit writer. I joined the Office of Compliance Assistance and Pollution Prevention (OCAPP) team in September 2021, and I am delighted to be part of an enthusiastic and dynamic team!

What excites you the most about the work that you do or your field of study?

My academic training is in public health and environmental health – and I am drawn to the field’s holistic approach to solving complex problems. During my time at the Agency, I have immersed myself in learning all aspects of air pollution – and I take pride in using my air knowledge to assist the regulated community in understanding complex air regulations and adopting pollution prevention measures when possible – that ultimately ensure public health and the environment are protected.

Favorite memory or accomplishment with the Agency or related to your field?

My favorite (and most challenging but rewarding) experience at the agency was working alongside the City of Columbus on a large-scale co-gen sustainability project. The project aimed to use the methane-rich biogas produced by one of Columbus' sewage treatment plants to fuel generators and produce electric power and heat. Instead of flaring the biogas and releasing pollutants into ambient air - the diverted gas is to be used as fuel and sustain the plant operations. The air permitting was complex, but we worked diligently together – and I was able to produce an air permit that met all the project’s goals and clearly identified all applicable rules.

What are your favorite things to do outside of work?

In the spring and summer – it is very likely that you will find me in my backyard digging, planting, and pruning (while listening to music and podcasts way too loudly) – as I aspire to transform the yard into a peaceful and green space to enjoy with friends and family. I have planted lots of native plants and culinary herbs – but my pride and joy are the hardy fig trees! I enjoy traveling and exploring new countries and cultures. On my trip to Columbia, I spent time in the coffee region, learning about coffee farming, and spent time in Medellin, experiencing how creative urban transportation can economically transform rural and urban communities.

Who inspires you?

I am inspired daily in my interactions with colleagues, friends, and family!