MDAQMD inspector honored with prestigious award

By Staff Reports

(Victorville) — The Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District’s (MDAQMD) team now includes a statewide award-winning inspector in Air Quality Specialist II Catherine Tran.

Tran received the 2020 Rodney Swartzendruber Award from the Enforcement Managers Committee of the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association (CAPCOA) during a recent presentation at MDAQMD’s Victorville headquarters. Tran was among three inspectors among California’s 35 air districts who received the award. The honor recognizes inspectors who consistently demonstrate outstanding performance and who make significant contributions that benefit air pollution control efforts in an exemplary way.

Tran has been an inspector with MDAQMD since September 2012 and promoted to her current position in 2019. Since coming on board, she’s played an integral role in local air pollution control. Thorough and detailed, she never leaves a rock unturned or question unanswered, says Sarah Strout, MDAQMD Compliance Supervisor. This trait was particularly noteworthy during a 2018 inspection at a local facility where Tran identified multiple deficiencies equating to 25 notices of violation and the highest penalty to date for MDAQMD. Two years later, Tran continues in her follow-up, working collaboratively with the facility as they continue their efforts to achieve and maintain compliance. Her dedication and persistence will ensure the facility reaches 100-percent compliance in the near future.

“Cat does her ‘inspector’ job every day, but whenever needed, she’s quick to help out anyone else,” says Strout, who nominated Tran for the award. “She always goes above and beyond. Those in the office and out in the field all feel her passion.”

She’s also helped educating young local residents on several occasions, donning a coverall suit and representing cilia in our lungs while students throw ping pong balls at her — teaching them about particulate matter pollution in the process.

 “Cat is an important member of our compliance team, and her attitude and dedication are unmatched,” said MDAQMD Executive Director and Air Pollution Control Officer Brad Poiriez. “It’s clear that she loves her job. Her level of enthusiasm can elevate the morale of not only our entire staff, but our permit holders that she interacts with as well.”

The Rodney Swartzendruber Outstanding Inspector Award Program was created in honor of Swartzendruber, a San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District inspector who was killed in an automobile accident while on duty. All 35 California air districts are invited to submit one nomination per year for the award, according to Emmanuel Sanchez, APC Division Manager for Imperial County Air Pollution Control District. In addition to Tran, this year’s recipients include Vince Landi of San Diego County Air Pollution Control District and George Lamont of South Coast Air Quality Management District.

“Being an inspector is not easy by any means, and yet Ms. Catherine Tran continues to excel in her duties and demonstrate her commitment to improving air quality in her community and region,” said Sanchez, who chairs CAPCOA’s Enforcement Managers Committee. “We would like to remind Ms. Tran that her hard work and dedication do not go unnoticed and the CAPCOA Enforcement Managers commend her for it.”

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