Who's Who at BPA: Bethany Dittmar Sowinski
Bethany Dittmar Sowinski is the Director of Conference Education at Building Performance Association (BPA), where she has worked since 2011. She is responsible for the coordination and development of conference agendas, presenter communication, continuing education accreditation, and on-site volunteer activities. Prior to BPA, Bethany worked in real estate, land conservation, sustainability research, and event planning. She has a B.A. in German from Bowdoin College and received a post-graduate Fulbright grant to teach English in northern Germany. She later earned her MBA in Sustainability from Duquesne University where she became passionate about reducing company and building energy usage and improving energy efficiency.
1) What do you enjoy the most about your role at BPA?
As the industry continues to evolve and grow, so does my role at BPA. I enjoy the diversity that this brings, as well as the people I work with day in and day out. In organizing the agenda and coordinating with presenters, program committees, and volunteers, I get to work with the brightest people in our industry, who are always eager to share their knowledge and experience with others to help them improve their daily work. I’ve always been amazed at how eager folks in the home performance and weatherization industries are to share their time and expertise in order to help educate others, which in turn, makes the industry stronger. It’s what gives this industry heart and makes it so special and unique.
While there’s a lot going on at each conference ̶ from last minute changes, signage, and AV set up ̶ seeing all of the pieces come together after months of planning (or in the case of the national conference, over a year) is incredibly rewarding. Of course, coming to work every day to great co-workers makes the job that much more enjoyable!
2) What is your proudest accomplishment at BPA?
As we transitioned from ACI to HPC to BPA, there were a number of changes to staff and our operations. Through the merger though, we’ve become a stronger and more dynamic team and are better poised to work within the industry. While it’s been challenging at times, we’ve worked hard at rethinking our methods, which has created better collaboration and synergy within the team. As staff, we’ve continued to try different approaches and processes - while not recreating the wheel and using our 30-year conference history as a pillar. Some things work, some don’t, but I’m proud to be part of team open to new challenges - able to handle our largest National Conference ever with poise and determination!
3) What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Even though my body reminds me pretty much every day that I’m no longer in high school, I continue to play in soccer, kickball and ultimate Frisbee leagues, as well as run, hike and bike. As a sports fan, I’m also the organizer of our office sports pools, from March Madness to Super Bowl pools (even though I’m not a much of a gambler).
While I have no aspirations to qualify for Boston (like one of our impressive co-workers), I’ve been a solid middle-of-the-pack runner at a handful of marathons and half-marathons ̶ and even managed to win my age group at the Pittsburgh Adventure triathlon. As Nate Natale can also appreciate, developing a race training regimen is surprising similar to planning a conference: develop and keep to a schedule, add some hard work and sweat, ask for help and support when you need it, and end with a pretty worthwhile and rewarding goal.
4) Tell us a fun fact about yourself we may not know.
I grew up in New Jersey but moved to Pittsburgh from Wyoming eight years ago. The three areas of the country are pretty different, but each is unique and pretty underrated. Pittsburgh has been getting more attention in the news recently- for good reasons. The city has made a remarkable transition from steel town to tech city, with impressive sustainability goals. I feel lucky and proud to have been here to witness the shift, especially as our organization begins to work more with local city partners to encourage energy efficiency.
I’m also recently engaged and look forward to a new chapter (and another event to plan).