“It’s really important that everybody is safe. That they are following protocols and that they feel comfortable asking questions, to let them know that they aren’t in this alone.”
Dale Miller wears his heart on his chest. A virtue and a way of life that he has incorporated into his home and work life at the SFPUC.
“My job is to coach, uplift and inspire people.”
Miller comes from humble beginnings starting his career in wastewater in 1994 as a general laborer. From there, he worked himself up the ranks to the Operations Superintendent at the Oceanside Wastewater Treatment Plant on the Great Highway in San Francisco.
“I believe that great leaders are not formed, they are made. As a young man, I didn’t see what my supervisors saw in me at the time. They kept pushing and encouraging me to continue to work hard. When I became a chief engineer and I had to implement everything I was taught, I finally understood what it meant to be a leader,” said Miller.
Miller says he started to pay it forward, doing what he could to inspire others to reach their full potential. He became a mentor in the apprentice program and to journey level staff.
“People come to my office and I deliberately put the roadmap I took, on the wall to show them there’s no reason you can’t sit in this seat.”
As Miller sets to retire at the end of June, he hopes to share with others that there are no limits to what one can achieve.
“Look inward and see what you can be. I grew up in the streets by the Southeast Wastewater Treatment Plant in the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood of San Francisco. This is what you can have. You are the author of your destiny. Be determined.”
It is that same message he shares with his oldest grandson who is entering his senior year of high school and is being looked at by college basketball teams.
“I give him a lot of advice. I train with him to help him get his body and mind stronger,” he said.
And with that, Miller cannot help but voice what he and his family have had to deal with since the death of George Floyd. Miller does what he does best. He encourages perseverance and determination, and to do so passionately from the heart.
“Hope for change in this world. I look at my family, and all my grandchildren are black. I hate to bring it up but ‘be the change’. Don’t look outwardly. Look for solutions, not just about the problems. Be a part of the solution.”
Miller hopes to inspire others to continue to pay it forward because without the people who believed in him, he wouldn’t be where he is today.