The Ohio Valley members of Women in Maritime Operations (WIMOs) participated in the third annual Living Lands & Waters Ohio River cleanup in Cincinnati over the summer. The 12-member cleanup crew included two employees from Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC), Marine Supply Chain Supervisor Joanna Thompson and Marine Senior Supply Chain Contracts Representative Alice Momenee, who also serves as Executive Vice President of the WIMOs National Board. The volunteers removed more than 2,250 pounds of garbage from the Ohio River, including single-use plastic, a mini deep freezer, barge line, barrels and tires.
“One of the most impactful benefits of WIMOs is the ability for our members to serve our hometown river communities, and our annual clean-up days with Living Lands & Waters are definitely a highlight of our many volunteer opportunities,” said Momenee. “With WIMOs being heavily active in many of the nation’s river cities – be it New Orleans, Houston, Paducah, Louisville, Cincinnati, Catlettsburg, Pittsburgh and others – our women can and do make a strong impact.”
WIMOs started as a ‘back of the napkin’ idea... Organizers never expected to see the exponential growth and enthusiasm that followed.
In 2017, Momenee worked with a group of marine industry peers to form the first chapter of WIMOs, a non-profit organization open to all women working for marine operators, whether on a coastline or inland river market. The organization is dedicated to educating, engaging and elevating women working for maritime operators through sharing knowledge and continuous education.
Since its inception, WIMOs has grown rapidly to more than 450 members from more than 110 companies throughout the U.S. There are chapters in Southern Louisiana, Houston, Paducah, Ohio Valley and the Pacific Northwest. MPC is a founding corporate sponsor of WIMOs, and approximately 15 MPC employees in marine operations in Ohio, Kentucky and Louisiana are members.
“WIMOs started as a ‘back of the napkin’ idea. My counterparts and I noticed that at many industry events and conferences, the few women attending were struggling to feel included or had little to no substantial involvement,” said Momenee. “WIMOs was formed to be a safe and comfortable place where women in the industry could learn from each other and mentor other women, whether on-board or in shoreside operational roles.”
Organizers never expected the exponential growth and enthusiasm from its members that followed. Members now participate in on-site lunch-and-learn events, facility tours, training seminars and networking functions across the U.S. The group has stayed active during the COVID-19 pandemic by hosting online educational events.
“From the onset, MPC Marine management has fully supported and encouraged the formation and growth of WIMOs, immediately understanding the need and benefit for this type of organization in our industry. The strong encouragement from companies like MPC and other maritime operators was critical to the realization of our start-up and its continued success,” Momenee said.
After this latest volunteer activity, the group left feeling connected to their communities, their careers, and each other.
“We know that we are not only important contributors in an industry that is vital to our national economy, but we are making a tangible difference where we work and live,” said Momenee. “Just being together as a group, getting our hands dirty, and helping others is meaningful and keeps our members engaged and motivated to plan the next function.”