Standing at the helm of one of the most important environmental agencies in our region Arletta Scott Williams is celebrating her 20th year as the Executive Director of ALCOSAN while preparing to undertake one of the largest infrastructure projects in recent history in the Pittsburgh region. She, along with her team, are working diligently to complete major changes to a hidden infrastructure system that most people have no idea even exists and yet is essential to ensure the health and prosperity of the Three Rivers region.
At the same time, SWEP Three Rivers is celebrating our first-year anniversary and, while ours is not as an illustrious history, our path has been entwined with ALCOSAN from the outset. It was Arletta who took the chance on us to lead our first “Conversation With…” event in September 2017 (see photos here) where she challenged us to grow as women professionals and work to create a culture where women succeed not only in the workplace but also in life.
Our goal in our first year was to feature women leaders in the Pittsburgh region who are achieving success and breaking through the proverbial glass ceiling. Arletta exemplifies this in every facet of her career. She graduated first in her class from Westinghouse High School and then earned a Bachelor of Science degree in metallurgical engineering and materials science from Carnegie Mellon University. She began her career at ALCOSAN in 1984 as a shift engineer and worked her way up through the ranks to Director of Operations and Maintenance. In 1998, Arletta was appointed as the Executive Director for ALCOSAN, making her the first woman and first African American to serve in this position.
Her team and board members will tell you that is not just her intelligence and work ethic that have made her a success. Rather it is her passion for ensuring that all people have a chance to thrive and grow, along with her commitment to bettering the world around her. Under her guiding hand, ALCOSAN has grown exponentially and now employs more than 400 people. During this time, Arletta saw to it that jobs at ALCOSAN would be open to workers of all backgrounds, starting with entry-level custodial positions all the way up the ranks. Currently, there are seven divisions within ALCOSAN and women lead three of those. The procurement department is managed by a woman who oversees millions of dollars’ worth of contracts every year, and women are the managers in seven departments.
Arletta is a well-known advocate for advancing the mission of ALCOSAN and supporting community initiatives. In 2016, she was recognized by Greater Pittsburgh YWCA with the Racial Justice Award for business and professional services because of her contributions to the community. Another of her passions at ALCOSAN is the Scholastic Outreach Program, which works with local schools each year to teach children about clean water and the role that each of us play to protect our planet.
The annual ALCOSAN Open House is an example of her efforts to teach children the importance of environmental stewardship in a family-friendly atmosphere. This year the Open House, which is the region’s largest environmental festival, is scheduled for Saturday, September 15, from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Joining ALCOSAN in delivering its clean water message, SWEP-Three Rivers is proud to participate with our own demonstration booth where we will feature a hands-on project for school-age children. Join SWEP-Three Rivers as we recognize the important role of ALCOSAN and the leadership of its Executive Director, Arletta Scott Williams, for a fun-filled day for all ages.