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Elizabeth L. Haven ’72

Class of 1972
Elizabeth L. Haven ’72 was a “sandwich” Friends student, between brother Ken Haven ’70 and sister Julie Haven Malloy ’80.  At Friends, Liz was active in student government and was Senior Class President. She received the Bush Award and was a National Merit Scholar.  After majoring in Geology at Harvard University, Liz graduated in 1976 and left for California, becoming the first female oilfield engineer for the Schlumberger Company.  In 1980, Liz completed her M.S. degree in Engineering Geology from Stanford University. Also in 1980, she married fellow geologist Rick Humphreys, with whom she raised two daughters, now grown.  Liz led a variety of water quality programs for California’s state government, culminating in the Deputy Director position charged with transferring the Safe Drinking Water Program in order to address the need for safe and affordable drinking water for disadvantaged communities. Now retired, Liz and her husband live in Windsor, California and enjoy hiking and camping with their dog in the beautiful countryside and beaches of Sonoma County.
Tell us about your career in water quality.

After a few years working in the private sector as a geologist and teaching geology at the local university, I eventually found a way to put my passion for the environment to work. Joining the California agency responsible for water quality protection (the State Water Resources Control Board) allowed me to work on a variety of environmental programs as my career advanced.  Geology is critically important to groundwater cleanup and other environmental programs such as the landfill program and the underground storage tank program, where I served as Program Manager.  I also served as Assistant Deputy Director for the state’s surface water programs and eventually was named Deputy Director leading our agency’s financial assistance division. Then came the highlight of my career -- the opportunity to lead my agency’s efforts towards safe and affordable drinking water for disadvantaged communities. This required extensive work with the Legislature to develop and pass the necessary legislative reforms. My Friends education served me well since the following were all required:  science/technical expertise, writing skills, and policy understanding. 

What was your experience working for state government?

Although any government job can be a challenge due to the inevitable bureaucracy, it also can be immensely fulfilling.  The California state government has a track record for making significant policy advances, including in the environmental space. Since state agencies have the authority to write rules and regulations (and work with the Legislature to pass new bills), government work offers a unique opportunity to make meaningful changes to worthwhile causes like environmental protection and safe and affordable drinking water for disadvantaged communities.

What career advice would you give to students interested in Geology and Earth Science?

Expand your horizons and do not limit yourself. In my Junior year at Friends, our English teacher (Bill Bickley) suggested I apply for a volunteer summer program with the Student Conservation Service. Even though I was a bookworm and not outdoorsy, our school’s participation in the early years of Earth Day had piqued my interest in the environment.  At this summer program, we constructed and maintained trails and buildings in the Olympic National Park and then were rewarded with a week of backpacking adventures.  Completely outside of my usual comfort zone and activities, I realized that I loved the outdoors and that preserving the environment was a cause I cared deeply about. 

What volunteer work have you done lately?

After our recent move to Sonoma County, I began volunteering regularly with the Redwood Empire Food Bank, which provides food to distribution centers throughout Northern California.  With inflation impacting so many families, the need now is greater than ever.


What are your favorite WFS memories?

There are really too many to mention, but I will say that I made plenty of wonderful new memories at my class’s recent 50th Reunion.  Activities included the kickoff luncheon, where I reconnected with dear friend Kazu Watenabe Imai of Japan; fun times with classmates at Homecoming Day; an in-depth tour of the Robotics Lab (most impressive!); and a wonderful evening Class reception where we were joined by our beloved former teacher, “Miss” Valerie Biden. I loved reconnecting with all my classmates!
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