Colin Chambers began his journey at Delaware Valley University in 2006 as the Environmental Health and Safety Specialist. Colin is a native to the Southeastern Pennsylvania area and received his bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Lehigh University. Following graduation, he moved to Denver, Colorado to work at the National Water Quality Laboratory. After about a year and a half, Colin decided to move home to be closer to his family. Once back in the area, Colin started working as an environmental consultant for a firm that was directly contracted by the EPA to address issues surrounding Superfund sites and brand new toxic contamination sites.
While working as a consultant, Colin was exposed to the questionable decisions made on behalf of the industries responsible for contaminating the water, air, and soil. This made him wonder whether better policy and better regulation could have prevented some of the mistakes made by property owners or business interest to begin with. During our discussion, Colin mentioned, “I’m sure the people who are responsible for these environmental issues thought it was a great idea to dump all their waste out the back door, it’s cheap! But it ends up costing society a lot of money when the responsible parties are forced to file bankruptcy due to the cost of clean up or, in some cases, disappear altogether.” Colin’s right, at the end of the day the responsible parties aren’t responsible at all, especially when society is left holding a toxic bag that is unexpected, detrimental to our health, and expensive to clean up and dispose of.
Around the same time, he was working as an environmental consultant, Colin intended on continuing his education at the University of Delaware’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy. Unfortunately, Colin’s plans were put on hold due to an administrative error, but not for long. Lucky for DelVal, Colin landed a job as the Risk Manager and Environmental Health and Safety Specialist in 2006. A few years after taking the job, the college launched the first version of the MPP program, known then as the Policy Studies program. Colin took this opportunity to earn a master degree in Policy Studies because it offered a similar curriculum to the program at the University of Delaware.
Although Colin comes from a strong environmental background academically and professionally, the environmental aspect isn’t the only perspective of public policy that interests him. Colin mentioned that as he has grown older and started raising a family, he has been faced with different taxes and the particulars of school districts. Through his experiences as a parent, as a taxpayer, and as a student of public policy, Colin feels that “Whether it’s the local school board, the county government, or the state government, getting some personal insight on how these institutions function has helped me understand that they are all going through a very similar policy-making process. Knowing how public policy is made is a benefit to probably everybody.”
While remaining an employee of DelVal and becoming Risk Manager in 2012, Colin has continued to be a dedicated student for many semesters as he works his way towards his goal. As part of his capstone for the MPP program, Colin is working on a project regarding the transfer of ownership of DelVal’s water supply. Colin is unsure of how the end analysis is going to turn out but he is working with a consultant and the local municipal authority to put a value on the system and take an in-depth look at the costs and benefits to DelVal and to the township to determine what makes the most sense for both groups.
When concluding this interview, I asked Colin about his plans following graduation, “I’m gonna have a beer!” he humorously exclaimed as a smile spread across his face. Also, Colin is looking forward to spending more time with his kids in the evening. On another note, Colin mentioned that he had always thought in the back of his mind that it would be a great thing to either work at the federal or state level for some sort of environmental organization, specifically the EPA or PADEP. All in all, Colin wishes to remain a lifelong learner and has entertained the idea of instructing academic courses for freshman or in the field of environmental science.