Tata & Howard’s James J. Courchaine Receives WEF Fellow Award

MARLBOROUGH, MA – Tata & Howard is pleased to announce that James J. Courchaine, Vice President and National Director of Business Practices at Tata & Howard, Inc., has been recognized as a 2018 Water Environment Federation (WEF) Fellow for his distinguished accomplishments and professional achievements in the global water environment.

2018 WEF Fellow Award

The WEF Fellows Program recognizes the expertise and professional achievements of members who have practiced in WEF service areas including design, education, operations, regulation, research, utility management and leadership.

Jim Courchaine has had a highly distinguished career with more than 47 years’ experience in the water quality environment and a long-term dedicated service for WEF and its member associations.  Jim was nominated for this award by colleagues around the country and was chosen for his professional achievements by a selection committee with final approval by the WEF Board of Trustees.

“He exemplifies the ideals of a WEF Fellow and is exceptionally deserving of this recognition,” stated Rajendra P. Bhattarai, P.E., DEE, WEF Fellow, in his letter of recommendation to the WEF selection committee. “He has an unfailing passion for furthering the advancement of the water quality profession and has worked tirelessly to help numerous water quality professionals throughout his long and illustrious career.”

“Jim’s vast knowledge and expertise is well-known in the water environment,” said Karen L. Gracey, P.E., Co-President at Tata & Howard, Inc. “He brings a unique perspective to the work we do and through his leadership, he has fostered enduring relationships with our clients. This recognition is well-deserved.”

Jenna Rzasa (l), Jim Courchaine (c), and Karen Gracey (r) at WEFTEC 2018 in New Orleans

T&H Co-Presidents Karen L. Gracey, P.E., and Jenna W. Rzasa, P.E., attended the WEF Awards and Presidential Celebration ceremony honoring Jim and all the WEF recognition recipients at WEFTEC 2018. WEFTEC is the largest conference and water quality exhibition of its kind in North America and offers water quality education and training.

For more information about the WEF Fellows Program, please visit:  https://www.wef.org/membership/awards-recognition/wef-fellows-program/

Tata & Howard Announces Four Scholarship Winners

Donald J. Tata Engineering Scholarship Awarded to Marlborough and Natick High School Seniors

Tata & Howard announced it’s 2018 Donald J. Tata Engineering Scholarship winners.  Graduating seniors from Marlborough High School, Igor De Moraes and Amanda Vilensky; and seniors from Natick High School, Kevin Zheng and Rebecca McCue, each received the $1,000 scholarship sponsored by Tata & Howard and the Tata family.

Donald J. Tata Scholarship Winner
Karen Gracey and Jenna Rzasa present Kevin Zheng with his scholarship check.

This annual scholarship was instituted in memory of Donald J. Tata, P.E., co-founder and former CEO of Tata & Howard, Inc., who passed away in March of 2017. The scholarship which is valued at $1,000, is presented to a graduating Marlborough High School senior who is attending a four-year college or university to pursue a degree in engineering. This year for the first time, the scholarship was expanded to include Natick High School graduates, Mr. Tata’s hometown for over 30-years.

“We had several well qualified applicants for the Donald J. Tata Engineering Scholarship and it was challenging to make our final decisions,” said Jenna W. Rzasa, P.E., Co-President of Tata & Howard. “Don would be pleased to see so many smart and well-rounded students interested in a career in engineering.”

Natick High School Scholarship Recipients

Kevin Zheng, an AP Scholar with Distinction, graduated from Natick High School with highest honors and participated in numerous unique extracurricular activities. One notable activity was to create the largest Stick Bomb with a group of friends, that was ultimately held by the Guinness Book World Records. He facilitated engineering and computer science activities to thousands of daily visitors at the Museum of Science in Boston and was recognized by both houses in the Massachusetts State Legislator on the topic of Saving Energy. Mr. Zheng plans to attend Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts, majoring in computer engineering.

A member of the National Honor Society, Rebecca McCue also excelled at tennis and volleyball. She was a member of the Key Club, who volunteered at several community service projects, which included building projects for disadvantaged Appalachian families in West Virginia. Ms. McCue participated in Physics for Engineers, a year-long course for seniors, that are self-motivated and have a strong background in math and science.  She plans to study Environmental Engineering.

Marlborough High School Scholarship Recipients

Amanda Vilensky, a member of both the National Honor and the National Art Honor Societies, is an accomplished student and artist. Through her work with the Environmental Club at school, she developed a passion for engineering and its problem-solving methodology for critical ecological issues. Ms. Vilensky plans to attend the University of Vermont to further her education in Environmental Engineering.

Fluent in both English and Portuguese, Igor De Moraes is a member of the National Honor Society and a STEMbassador, who mentored other students in Math and Science. A curiosity in renewable energy encouraged him to hypothetically experiment with piezoelectric tiles for the school’s gymnasium to produce electricity. Mr. De Moraes is a gifted athlete, excelling in football, track, and competed in Ping Pong competitions. He was also an officer in the Latin Club. Studying Mechanical Engineering, Mr. De Moraes will attend Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the fall.

“We are all impressed with the academic achievements and ambitious goals from these talented students,” stated Karen L. Gracey, P.E., Co-President of Tata & Howard. “As future engineers, it is so exciting to imagine what these promising young individuals will accomplish in their careers.”

Tata & Howard donates over $6,000 to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Company matches employee-owners’ gifts to support Massachusetts-based cancer research center

karen gracey jenna rzasa
Tata & Howard Co-Presidents Jenna Rzasa and Karen Gracey

Tata & Howard recently raised $6,650 for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) in Boston, MA. Employee-owners donated $3,325 and the company provided a 100% match.

“Philanthropy has always been an important part of the Tata & Howard philosophy,” stated Karen L. Gracey, P.E., Co-President of Tata & Howard. “Because cancer has had such a profound impact on all of us at here at Tata & Howard, we felt called to support the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the life-saving research and treatments they provide to our local community.”

Enhancing the company’s support of DFCI, Tata & Howard Marketing Communications Manager Heidi White raised $4,290 for DFCI through their Run Any Race program in September, and Assistant Project Engineer Molly Coughlin is once again running the Boston Marathon to raise funds for Dana-Farber in 2018. Her personal goal is $15,000 after raising $9,400 in 2017.

“Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is the authoritative global leader in cancer research, and we are so fortunate to have this amazing organization right here in Massachusetts,” stated White. “I feel honored to run for Dana-Farber and am so incredibly proud of the Tata & Howard team’s unflagging support for cancer research and other philanthropic initiatives.”

To support DFCI and the life-saving research and treatment options they provide, please visit www.danafarbergiving.org.



Tata & Howard Celebrates Working Moms This Mother’s Day

Some of Tata & Howard’s working moms

Far more men than women traditionally pursue careers in STEM — science, technology, engineering, and math — and the field of engineering has long been male-dominated. In the early 1980s, only about 5% of engineers in the United States were women, and while that number has improved slightly, it still has a long way to go. Currently, about 14% of engineers and about 18% of engineering college students are women. And, according to the United States Census, those female engineers earn approximately 83% of what their male counterparts earn.

Not so at Tata & Howard. Since the firm’s inception in 1992, Tata & Howard has recognized and rewarded the value of female engineers. Nearly half of the firm’s initial 20 hires were female, and that trend has continued. Today, 34% of our engineering force is female, and about 20% of our total staff are working moms, including our two Co-Presidents, Karen Gracey, P.E. and Jenna Rzasa, P.E. In addition, we place great value on our support staff, many of whom are working moms. This Mother’s Day, we’d like to introduce you to our amazing working moms.

Christine Beliveau, Environmental Specialist, has been with the firm since 2012. Chrissie provides full administrative support to the Environmental Group as well as assists with a variety of other administrative and marketing functions. Chrissie is known throughout the company as the go-to person for any and all things Microsoft Word, and she maintains our company’s resume and project database. When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband, adult daughter, and young grandson.

Justine Carroll, P.E., Project Manager, has been with the firm since she graduated from Tufts University with a Masters of Science in Environmental and Water Resource Engineering in 2006. Justine serves as Team Leader for the Hydraulics Group and has expertise in hydraulic modeling. She is certified in WaterGEMS and InfoWater modeling software and holds training certifications in ESRI – ArcGIS Desktop II and III. Even though she is a busy working mom, Justine still finds time to spend with her young daughter and to volunteer as a swim coach for Special Olympics.

Amanda Cavaliere, Project Manager, has been with the firm since 2003, and serves as Team Leader for the Water System Improvements Group. She has specialized expertise in water and wastewater system designs as well as experience with site remediation and surveying. When she isn’t managing projects, she enjoys spending time with her son and daughter.

Karen Gracey, P.E., one of our two Co-Presidents, has been with the firm since graduating from the University of Vermont in 1998. She has specialized expertise in water system design, having completed over 25 hydraulic models and holding certifications in both WaterGems and InfoWater software. She also has extensive experience managing the firm’s Business Development activities. Even though she has a lot on her plate running the firm alongside Jenna Rzasa, she still finds time to bring her daughter to gymnastics and to spend time at the Cape with her family.

Patricia Kelliher, Project Engineer, has been with the firm since she graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 2010. At that time, Trish was splitting her time between Tata & Howard and the New England Patriots, for whom she was a cheerleader. Since then, she has retired from cheering, gotten married, and had a daughter, who keeps her on her toes when she isn’t designing water mains.

Maria Maynard, Manager of Human Resources, has been with the firm since 2008, and is responsible for all of our recruiting efforts and employee benefits. With over 65 employees, Tata & Howard keeps her very busy — as do her teenaged sons! Maria is an avid CrossFitter, and enjoys running alongside her beloved Pitbull mix, Ruby.

Carmen Perkins, Senior Administrative Assistant, has been with the firm for 11 years. She handles not only administrative tasks, but also helps out the accounting department. If there is ever a question where something can be found, ordered, invoiced, or mailed, Carmen has the answer! In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her two adult daughters.

Jenna Rzasa, P.E., our other Co-President, has been with the firm since she graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1997 and has specialized expertise in water system design. She is also a financial guru who manages Tata & Howard’s financials and accounting. When she isn’t busy running the business alongside Karen, she can be found watching her son’s track meets or running a few miles herself.

Allison Shivers, P.E., Project Engineer, joined the firm just a few months ago, and is already an invaluable member of the team. She has targeted expertise in wastewater system design, and she splits her time between our Lakeville and Marlborough offices. When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters.

Evelyn Sistak, Administrative Assistant, joined the firm in 2016. Originally from Florida, she is still getting used to the temperamental New England weather. Evelyn handles all things administrative, and is always willing to lend a helping hand whenever she is asked. When she isn’t at work, Evelyn enjoys spending time with her young daughter, who loves everything pink and purple.

Mary Vermes, Senior Staff Accountant, has been with the firm since 2010 and handles all aspects of the firm’s accounting. She is an integral part of the inner workings of the firm, and if it’s accounting-related, Mary will have the answer! When she isn’t crunching numbers, she is getting ready to welcome her first grandchild.

Heidi White, Marketing Communications Manager, has been with the firm since 2012 and handles the firm’s marketing activities. When she isn’t busy preparing proposals or writing blogs like this one, she enjoys kickboxing and spending time with her husband, two young adult sons, and three Yorkshire Terriers. She is also an avid runner who has run to raise money for the Jimmy Fund for the past six years.

Donald Tata, Founder and CEO of Tata & Howard, Passes Away

donald tata
Donald J. Tata, P.E.

The Tata & Howard family is mourning the loss of the company’s co-founder and CEO, Donald J. Tata, P.E., 63. Mr. Tata died at home on March 25, 2017 after a valiant battle with cancer.

Tata & Howard Senior Vice President and co-founder Paul B. Howard, P.E. said, “Don was an incredible person, a brilliant engineer, and a lifelong friend. He dedicated his talents and drive to Tata & Howard for the past 25 years, and his presence is already greatly missed. His determination, integrity, passion for excellence, and commitment to the firm will continue to inspire all of us at Tata & Howard.  On behalf of the entire Tata & Howard team, we send our deepest sympathies to his wife, their two children, and three grandchildren.”

Don Tata founded Tata & Howard in 1992, and he served as President until last November when the company’s Board of Directors named Karen L. Gracey, P.E. and Jenna W. Rzasa, P.E. as Co-Presidents, and Tata as CEO. Under his leadership, Tata & Howard has grown to a nearly 70-person firm with nine offices in seven states, with recent expansion into Ontario, Canada. In 2014, the firm converted to a 100% employee-owned company and has embraced the positivity of ESOP culture. Don was instrumental in determining the firm’s core values of integrity, efficiency, client satisfaction, positive attitude, and teamwork, which the company has upheld throughout its 25 years in business. Don was also a true philanthropist and generously supported the many causes to which Tata & Howard donated, including Water For People, the Navajo Water Project, and the Jimmy Fund. While he dedicated much of his life to the firm he founded, Don always made time for his family and the various activities they enjoyed together.

He earned his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Massachusetts, and his Master of Science in Environmental Engineering from Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts. He held professional engineer licenses in Arizona, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Texas, and Vermont.  Don received the William H. McGuiness award from Massachusetts Water Works Association for his knowledge, contributions, and accomplishments in the water works industry as well as outstanding service to the Association.

Gracey and Rzasa will jointly oversee daily operations and corporate strategy, and will continue to lead the organization with the same core values and excellence established by Mr. Tata. The firm has also appointed Kenneth M. Fischer, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, to the Board of Directors.

Tata & Howard Announces Leadership Changes


Karen L. Gracey, P.E., and Jenna W. Rzasa, P.E., have been named co-presidents of Tata & Howard
Karen L. Gracey, P.E., and Jenna W. Rzasa, P.E., have been named co-presidents of Tata & Howard

Tata & Howard, Inc. has named Karen L. Gracey, P.E., and Jenna W. Rzasa, P.E., current vice presidents, as co-presidents of the firm.  Current president Donald J. Tata, P.E., was appointed Chief Executive Officer and will be working in a reduced capacity while he focuses on his battle with cancer, with which he was diagnosed this fall. Gracey and Rzasa will be working closely with the firm’s senior leadership team to successfully run Tata & Howard in Tata’s absence. The appointments are effective immediately.

“Tata & Howard’s succession plan has been firmly in place since the company became a 100% ESOP in 2014,” stated Mr. Tata. “Karen and Jenna have taken on increasing responsibility in both operational and client-facing aspects of the company over the past few years, and I have absolute confidence in their combined ability to continue to successfully implement our strategic plan while adhering to our core values and furthering our shared mission of providing unsurpassed solutions in the water environment.”

As part of the company’s comprehensive leadership and transition planning, Gracey and Rzasa, who have been with the firm since 1998 and 1997 respectively, have been slated to assume leadership of the company for several years. They were named to the board of directors in 2013 and have headed up the firm’s business development and financial operations since that time. The company noted that while Tata’s illness has expedited their appointments to co-president, Gracey and Rzasa are well positioned to seamlessly assume their new roles.

“Tata & Howard’s strategic plan is centered on sustainable growth through innovation, efficiency, teamwork, and uncompromising integrity, and we — including not just Jenna and myself, but the whole Tata & Howard team — have already assumed full ownership of the company’s vision and values,” added Ms. Gracey. “The firm will be in excellent hands while Don focuses on returning to full health.”

Senior Vice President and firm co-founder Paul B. Howard, P.E., remains actively involved in managing all technical aspects of the firm, and Vice Presidents Patrick S. O’Neale, P.E., and Steven J. Landry, P.E., will continue to provide strategic and operational support to Gracey and Rzasa.

Tata was diagnosed with cancer in August of 2016, and made the announcement to employee-owners in early September. Tata & Howard stated that while it is still too soon to know the timing of his return on a full-time basis, Tata is aggressively fighting the disease with the help of the world-renowned Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA.

Congratulations to our Newest Vice Presidents!

Karen L. Gracey, P.E., and Jenna W. Rzasa, P.E., have both been promoted to Vice President and elected to the Board of Directors

KarenGraceyKaren has been with the firm for over 15 years, managing hydraulic analyses, asset management studies, and water system design projects. She has managed and provided technical reviews on many of the firm’s Capital Efficiency Plans™. Additionally, she serves as Manager of Business Development for the firm. Karen’s role in client development and managing high profile clients has been key to the success of the firm.



JennaRzasaJenna joined the firm over 16 years ago. She serves as manager on water system design projects as well as firm-wide Manager of Project Finance, and has served as manager of our New Hampshire operations. Jenna has been instrumental in developing and maintaining clients in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.