Over the next several months, FracTracker will be featuring our employees in a staff spotlight series. To start things off, learn more about Sam Rubright and how she got started in the fracking world.
Time with FracTracker: 5 ½ years
Nickname: Depends on whom you ask… Sam, Sammi, Ruby, or Ted
Education: Washington & Jefferson College & Pitt Public Health in Pennsylvania
Office Location: Washington, DC
Title: Manager of Communications & Partnerships
What do you actually do in that role?
This title is pretty new for me. Until recently I had more of a catchall title, meaning I could be involved in anything from our mini grants to fieldwork. That’s what being part of a non-profit is all about, however. You gain a ton of experience and skills – and the workload that goes along with them!
Now that I’m in DC and we’ve hired a new staff member, I get to focus more on maintaining our website and overseeing the content that goes onto it, marketing, managing our social media, overseeing FracTracker’s internship program, engaging with the media, writing grant applications, and developing and maintaining relationships with our awesome partners. Every once in a while I get to do some field research, too!
Previous Position and Organization
2009-2012 – Communications Specialist, Center for Healthy Environments and Communities (CHEC, University of Pittsburgh), part of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, PA.
How did you first get involved working on oil and gas issues / fracking?
In 2009 I began working on the original FracTracker concept at CHEC (see above). We started the project because of the influx of calls we were receiving from nearby residents who were concerned about the potential risks of hydraulic fracturing / shale gas drilling in Southwest Pennsylvania. As an academic institution we couldn’t answer their questions without good data, but adequate well pad data and associated environmental health research on unconventional drilling was not available to the public at that point. Due to this data gap, we began collecting and mapping any-and-all oil and gas data and putting the results on FracTracker.org. We later turned the project into a non-profit in 2012.
What is one of the most impactful projects that you have been involved in with FracTracker?
At the risk of sounding like a complete geek, it has been incredible to see the increase in available oil and data since the start of FracTracker. At the beginning, we couldn’t even get access to good data on where the unconventional wells were being drilled or which companies had the worst track records for violations. While we still have to hunt down basic data at times, like where all of the active oil and gas wells are in the US, the shift toward enhanced transparency has been a wonderful thing to both shape and witness.