Name: Chris Brossia
Office: Loveland, CO
Practice Area: Health and Safety
About me in 140 characters
I am passionate about environmental health, safety and sustainability. I enjoy volunteer work, fly fishing, ice hockey and spending time with my family.
What area(s) of health and safety are you most interested in? Why?
Most of all, I enjoy problem-solving and building relationships with people. I truly enjoy all aspects of environmental, health, safety and sustainability and I have experience in all of those areas. I’m also a science-based person and I think those fundamentals are very important. I’ve been very blessed in my career.
When I was an undergrad, I started as an “undecided” major because I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to do. In my sophomore year, I thought I had found a home in the Environmental Science program. Ironically, the Environmental “science” program wasn’t really about science--rather, it was about politics and activism. (I think I was in the Environmental Science program for all of three days.) But, that experience helped me to find the Environmental Health program which had the science-based underpinnings that I was looking for--I really enjoy industrial hygiene and ergonomics, and some of my specialty areas include toxicology and pharmaceutical containment validation.
If someone at a party asks what you do, how do you respond?
I need to work on this. I usually tell them that I do “environmental, health and safety work.” But if that doesn’t work I have to resort to saying something like “OSHA and EPA stuff,” and, by that point, people usually don’t ask anything else. At one of my previous organizations, the CEO would randomly walk up to people on campus and ask them what they did for the company, so everyone had a 15 second “elevator speech” cued up.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I probably wanted to be many things including a professional baseball (Reds) player and a football (Steelers) player. I used to spend hours in the backyard pretending to be every hitter in the Reds line-up from Johnny Bench to Dave Concepcion. From a working world standpoint, I wanted to be a marine biologist primarily because I was fascinated with sharks.
What was your first job?
My first job was mowing lawns and doing odd jobs around my hometown in Ohio. I was also a construction laborer, helping with new home construction and remodels.
My first career-related job was two successive internships at Brush Wellman. A day or two before I was supposed to start my summer internship at an environmental remediation company, they notified me that their business outlook had changed and my internship was cancelled. So, I called my college advisor in a panic to see if there were other options. I needed the internship for college credit and also needed a paying job for the summer. My advisor said something along the lines of “well….I could probably get you a job at Brush Wellman but I’ll be honest, the student who was there last year didn’t have anything good to say about it.”
Brush was a large beryllium foundry and I got to work on every part of the process from the incoming beryl ore, to the beryllium metal (powder) operations, to arc furnaces and the making of alloys in the form of ingots, rods, tubes, you name it. They had a very mature industrial hygiene program and some great mentors and role models on site. It turned out to be a defining experience in my career--I was completely hooked on EHS and specifically industrial hygiene. The previous student had just had a bad experience because he was lazy.
If you had one month off, where would you go or what would you do?
I would serve and volunteer--the only question is where. I went to Mississippi three times to rebuild homes after Hurricane Katrina. I’ve also done a lot of work in various roles (family selection, committee member, job site construction team lead) over the years locally with Loveland Habitat For Humanity (LHFH) and I served on the Board of Directors at Habitat for a few years.
Internationally, I served in an orphanage in Costa Rica and did a Habitat home-building trip to Nicaragua. It’s funny because when I tell people about some of my trips they would ask “wait a minute…. you are spending your own money to go where? To do what? That doesn’t sound like a vacation.” But on these trips, I’ve never felt more strongly that I was in the right place, doing the right things, and that singular focus and the sheer simplicity of it brings me a lot of joy.
I also have a list of rivers that I would love to fish someday.