FLEX Feature: Northbridge Environmental with Sarah Merkel

Tell us about Northbridge Environmental.
Northbridge Environmental Management Consultants is headquartered in the Boston area, but has remote workers located all over the country (including me!). Northbridge has contracts with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state environmental agencies in about 20 states. We support EPA and state agencies in implementing the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund programs, which are financing programs to help cities and towns construct infrastructure for wastewater, drinking water, stormwater and other water quality projects.

What is your role at Northbridge?
I’ve been with Northbridge for 16 years and am a Senior Associate. My role includes traveling around the country to train EPA and state agency staff on how to run the State Revolving Fund programs. We also work directly with state agencies to help them run their infrastructure financing programs more efficiently and market them more effectively. We are always working on a wide variety of different projects, which keeps the job interesting.

What is your favorite part about working for this organization?
The job requires us to be knowledgeable in a wide variety of subject areas, including environmental regulations, engineering, construction, municipal finance, water quality science and federal policy. It is a very complex area to work in, which also makes it interesting and engaging. Everyone on my 6-person team has been with the company between 8-30 years; we all enjoy the work and enjoy working together.

What would surprise people about this organization?
My team used to work together in an office in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC, but everyone now works remotely in different parts of the country. We have no “home base” but are in constant contact through online chats and video calls and see each other in person at events a few times each year.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about Northbridge?
I’ve been working for Northbridge remotely for 13 years, which allowed my husband and me to move back to Venango County. Back then it was more of a novelty to work remotely, but now it has become so common. There are so many opportunities to work for interesting companies or state and federal agencies while staying close to home — we are not limited by geography anymore!

This article was published in the Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange’s (FLEX) January 2023 edition of the FLEX Your Ideas (FYI) Newsletter.

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