Project Manager, Tighe & Bond; Age 36
A bachelor’s degree in chemistry can lead to an array of careers. When Darleen Buttrick was earning hers at Bucknell University, her research into how tire-wear particles leach harmful substances into the environment piqued something inside her.
“That fueled my fire for taking what I knew about chemistry and getting into the environmental field,” said Buttrick, who enrolled at UMass Amherst for her master’s in environmental engineering. There, she became involved in research in the field of drinking water, “and I haven’t looked back.”
In her 11 years at Tighe & Bond, the region’s largest civil-engineering firm, she has specialized in the water-treatment arena, managing projects for some of the firm’s largest clients, including the recently completed, $3 million ultraviolet disinfection facility for Holyoke Water Works.
It’s important work, she said, even if most people don’t think about it often. “Treatment facilities tend to be out of sight, out of mind, until you see something like what happened in Flint, which brings the reality of drinking water to the forefront.”
In fact, cities face a constant challenge balancing needed infrastructure upgrades with limited funds, she added. “One of the big things I’ve been working on is assisting them with evaluating the condition of their infrastructure and targeting the most critical needs for improvements, and from there coming up with a cost-effective solution to upgrade their facilities.
“I love the feeling that I’m having a positive impact,” she went on. “If we can make water-treatment plan operators’ lives a little less stressful or develop a solution to construct a new system, that’s so satisfying.”
Recently promoted to an associate in Tighe & Bond’s stock-ownership program, Buttrick is excited to be with a rapidly expanding company that has grown from 175 to 275 employees over the past five years. But she’s just as passionate about her volunteer work, which includes wearing many hats at her church, serving on the Aquifer Protection Committee in her hometown of Easthampton, and launching and co-leading a Girl Scout troop in that community.
The Girl Scout work is personal to Buttrick, who recalls being diagnosed with scoliosis at age 9 and wearing a back brace, and struggling to develop friendships — until she became involved in the Pioneer Club, a church-based youth organization. “Those friendships lasted my entire childhood; they were constant friends who were always there,” she said. “I wanted my two girls to have the same chance to build lifelong friendships.”
— Joseph Bednar
Photography by Leah Martin Photography