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Martha A. Madden
mMadden Associates, LLC

Tell us about the company you work for.

I started mMadden Associates in 2004 so that I could offer my 30 years of environmental expertise and management and leadership skills to the academic sector, corporations, and collaborative efforts within communities. mMadden's mission is to help these organizations and entities solve complex management, security, academic and environmental problems. My goal with mMadden Associates is to partner with companies who want to change the future. I have offices in New Orleans, LA and Washington, DC.

Describe in plain English what your job entails. What issues and challenges do you work with on a daily basis? What aspects of this work interests you the most?

I do business development for small and medium size companies with the goal of taking them to the next level. I work with a diverse portfolio of companies by choice, but primarily organizations that are concerned with environmental and energy issues and homeland security.

My main interest is interacting with executive management and/or business owners who are trying to bring their organizations' goals to fruition, especially through acquisition. It excites me to see those efforts and goals succeed—to enable someone else to be successful. It's the old analogy of when you're climbing the ladder, reach behind and pull someone else up to the next step. It gives me great pleasure to help others up the ladder.

What did you study in college or university? Did your educational background help you find this job? Are there any courses that you wish you had taken while in university?

I come from a family of educators—my grandmother received her college degree in 1894 and went on to serve as a school principal. Education has always been at the forefront of my life—even today. If you're not learning, what's the point? I graduated from Southern Methodist University with a BS in Mathematics and continued at SMU with a Master's Degree in Education, specializing in Counseling, and followed that with Advanced Studies at Stanford University's Graduate School of Education. I received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Northwestern State University of Louisiana.

I'm a firm believer that everything on your path leads you to your next step. One of my first jobs was Dean of Personnel for Dean of Women at Northeast Louisiana University. It was great to be in a position to help guide other young people along their educational path.

I always loved anthropology, so I wish I had undergone more studies in that area. Of course, I would have loved to have taken classes in sustainability, but unfortunately, that subject wasn't talked about let alone offered when I was in school!

If you could fundamentally change how we as a society use energy and treat the environment, how would you do it? Does it need to be changed at all?

I would put more emphasis on renewable energy and bringing awareness to all sectors of our communities. Awareness and education are the keys to facilitating change. Back in the late ‘80s while I was Secretary of Louisiana's Department of Environmental Quality, I saw a need for more education and helped write three volumes of environmental educational materials. As a result, we were awarded the National Wildlife Award in Louisiana for Educational Material.

Around the same time, there was a huge barge —the Mobro 4000—filled with garbage and medical waste coming from New York and it was headed straight for Louisiana. I was determined not to let it land on our shores so I got a judgment and insisted that the trash head elsewhere. Somewhere along the line, that barge became national news and Johnny Carson (anyone remember him?!), started talking about it during his nightly monologue. Somehow his people got in touch with me, and lo and behold I was being interviewed via phone on the Johnny Carson show.

Talk about shedding light on a subject—all of a sudden Louisiana and some stubborn woman who didn't want trash on her shores were in the national spotlight. And, I got the last word by saying, "Louisiana is not a dumping ground for garbage!” The National USEPA Solid waste rules were written as a result of what we did on this matter.

Why did you join WCEE, and what do you want to achieve by being part of the WCEE community?

I joined WCEE because I agreed with its mission—"to provide nonpartisan, policy neutral forums on energy and environmental issues and to foster the professional development of our members. We do this by providing educational and networking opportunities in an open, cooperative and supportive environment.” My entire career has been devoted to educating and mentoring students and young professionals. Having traveled to over 70 countries, I've had the honor of working with young people all over the world, letting them know what's out there, and encouraging them to expand beyond their back doors. I was Dean of Students for Semester at Sea in the early ‘70s and since then have gone aboard and lectured on the environmental issues down the Amazon and all over.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Even though I have no plans to retire, I'm very aware of the concerns and struggles people go through as they transition into that next chapter of their lives. I was so aware of it, that I wrote a book on the subject, "Wake Up, It's Gap-Time.” I wanted to help others—and anyone really—in that retirement phase of their lives come to terms with what they really want out of life and that it's never too late to pursue a passion, go back to school, get involved in their community, etc. My primary focus in life has always been the relentless pursuit of fun, and you can find fun at any age.

Member Spotlight views are the personal views of the WCEE member and do not necessarily represent the views of WCEE.

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