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10 Questions With… Elise Oatman

The IGS has a new Secretariat Manager! Last month we said goodbye to Terry-Ann Paulo and hello to Elise Oatman. Terry-Ann had been in the role for four years and is now pursuing interests in local government.

Here, Elise introduces herself to the IGS family and shares her excitement about IGS events in 2021.

Welcome Elise! Please tell us a bit about your role for those unfamiliar with it.

I am the new IGS Secretariat Manager, based out of Austin, Texas, in the USA. I report directly to the IGS Officers and as with previous secretariats, I provide oversight, management, and administration of the IGS to accomplish its strategic goals and objectives.

What are your main tasks?

I am the main point of contact for the membership at large. I assist with account and website access, processing and collecting annual dues, and keeping members informed. I also stay busy with scheduling and preparing for meetings and will help with event planning during the many conferences and workshops put on by the society.

What is your experience with geosynthetics?

I was first introduced to geosynthetics during my coursework in college. I graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Distribution. In school, I learned about a variety of materials used in engineering applications, including geosynthetics.

My first job out of school was with a civil engineering firm in Austin where I worked on a variety of projects including roadways, pipelines, and drainage projects. A few years later I moved to the Dallas area where my career turned to more administrative work. During this time, I gained experience in customer management, customer service, and event planning.

What appealed about working for the IGS? 

When I learned about the opportunity to work for the IGS, I felt like this was a perfect match for my skills and interests. I have the chance to call on my extensive administrative experience, but I also get to return to my original background in engineering.

What does the IGS’s global presence mean to you?

I am very excited about working for an international association. I’ll be able to meet and interact with individuals from all over the world and learn about all the impressive applications of geosynthetics on a global scale. I’ve been fortunate to travel to Europe several times to visit my brother and his family in Austria and look forward to traveling to many other parts of the world representing the IGS.

What are you most looking forward to?

I am really looking forward to being part of moving the IGS mission forward and helping to educate the general public about geosynthetics. I hope to be able to solicit more active involvement from current members and grow the membership base.

What events are you most looking forward to in the IGS calendar for 2021 and beyond?

I’m excited about attending my first regional IGS conferences in 2021. EuroGeo7 is scheduled for May in Warsaw, Poland and GeoAsia7 will be in Taipei, Taiwan, in November. Being able to travel to different parts of the world, meet new people, and discover new cultures is a dream come true for me.

Outside work, what are your hobbies and interests? 

My time is largely dedicated to my family. In May, my husband and I will celebrate 15 years of marriage. We have two children: a daughter, aged nine and a son, aged seven. During the pandemic we’ve spent a lot of quality time together and I’ve gained a new appreciation for our children’s teachers as we navigate virtual schooling! I also enjoy reading and solving crossword puzzles and I recently took up trying to play the piano again.

Tell us something people may not know about you.

For five years I worked at a Spanish immersion school in the Dallas area. I have a love for the Spanish language and my abilities in Spanish grew as I was immersed in the language along with the students. Now that I am no longer surrounded by Spanish daily, I try to continue practicing on my own through Spanish books, music, and Duolingo.

How can members contact you? 

I’d be delighted for members to get in touch directly! They can either reach me through email at, by phone at +1 561-768-9489, or through Skype at IGS Secretariat. I can’t wait to say hello!