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ECS Employee Involved with International Development Program

The beginning lines of Joanna Vivanco’s resume reads, “Joanna Vivanco is an Environmental Project Manager and Scientist in the Chantilly, Virginia office of ECS Mid-Atlantic, LLC. Her responsibilities include management, design and field investigations, field and laboratory work for environmental projects, and client development.”

That falls so far short of describing Joanna.

The things that make Joanna a truly extraordinary person occur, for the most part, outside her work at ECS Mid-Atlantic. It’s always interesting to discover the things that motivate people. What are their passions? What interests them? What drives them to do the things they do?

Unlike many people we know, in Joanna’s case, it doesn’t seem to be money, fame or power. She is driven to help people, and in a very tangible way. She wants them to have access to clean drinking water.

Most Americans take this for granted. We walk to the nearest kitchen sink, turn the handle, and voilà– fresh water runs from the faucet – and it will run as long as the spigot is left open. We take the availability of potable water so for granted that we don’t even think about a world in which it’s simply not there. But Joanna has.

Joanna’s involvement in this program may have been sheer luck...or perhaps it was fate – a confluence of universal forces. After she came to the United States from her native Venezuela, Joanna attended George Mason University (GMU) in Fairfax, Virginia and earned her Master’s degree in Civil and Infrastructure Engineering. The year after Joanna graduated, the Volgenau School of Engineering at GMU started an International Engineering Program (now Engineers for International Development [EfID]) to provide drinking water to a community in Peru. Joanna heard about the program and immediately wanted to be a part of it. She jumped in with both feet - attending bi-weekly meetings to learn about the project and to get to know the students. The students organized themselves into groups to develop and execute the program. They were all involved with fundraising, project design and execution. Joanna organized a World Water Day fundraising event that involved the GMU and Hispanic communities. The fundraising event was supported by students, the Hispanic media and community, and the Consul of Peru.

Ms. Vivanco traveled to San Isidro, Peru in the summer of 2011with the students and the other engineering professionals who had joined EfID and worked side-by-side with the team to implement the first project. “I was so happy that the volunteers – the students, the GMU faculty, and the professional engineers who are part of this program – were willing to share their time and energy strictly for the satisfaction of knowing that people, especially children, benefit from their hard work and dedication,” she said. “I was especially excited that the students were willing to help communities in developing countries.”

2011 was just the first such effort. Joanna has remained engaged in the program since that time. She currently serves on the Executive Board of Directors for the EfID. The group continues to find and facilitate projects to improve conditions in developing nations. As the group’s website says, “Founded in September 2011 as a Recognized Student Organization at GMU, Mason EfID has accomplished significant work in Honduras, the Peruvian Andes, and the Amazon addressing small communities' concerns over water shortages, clean water access, sanitation, and hygiene. Our mission is to always work alongside and teach the community, not just build and leave.”

For more information about this ongoing program, visit: https://sites.google.com/site/eidmason/home

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