Chair's Message


I would like to begin this evening by extending my gratitude for Randy Black’s guidance over the last year.  Randy’s passion for member recruitment and the need to address workforce placement issues posed by retirement of baby boomers in our industry led to the development and implementation of his 20/20 Vision Initiative.  Randy strategically partnered with the Young Professionals and Membership Committees on this key initiative.  He remains committed to the success of his vision and will continue to lead this effort as Past Chair.  The Pacific Northwest Section appreciates your hard work and commitment.  We thank you for your vision, continued dedication to growing our membership, and overall guidance of the Section over the last year. 

It is an honor to be on this stage this evening surrounded by peers and colleagues, friends and family.  We’ve come together in Boise this week to celebrate the water industry.  The Pacific Northwest Section’s Annual Conference provides a platform for our members to share the challenges they encounter and to discover and discuss the technologies and research available to help them better deal with those challenges.  As water professionals, we share the common goal of protecting public health by providing safe, reliable drinking water to our communities.  The drinking water industry has had an increasing presence in the news this year in light of the Flint, Michigan Lead crisis.  This tragedy reminds us that our communities rely on our judgment, professionalism, and most importantly our transparency in delivering this essential service.  We are, indeed, first and foremost, stewards of public health and we must not forget this in carrying out our everyday routines.

In preparation for my role as Chair, I have spent some time walking down memory lane reminiscing on my journey to this stage tonight.  I started my career in the water industry in 2004 and my first assignment was enhancing the City of Salem’s water conservation program.  A consultant working on Salem’s Water Management and Conservation Plan suggested I become involved with the PNWS Water Conservation Committee to engage with other water conservation professionals.    I attended my first committee meeting in 2005.  And that is how my PNWS story began.  The Pacific Northwest Section, its past and present leadership, and its members have played a vital role in my personal and professional development over the last 11 years.  And for that, I extend my deepest gratitude.

Tonight, I am excited to share with you my plan for the next 12 months.

This fall, I will be sending PNWS members a survey focusing on the value of membership.  I personally invite each of you to take a few moments and complete the survey.  I am looking for member feedback, both positive and constructive to gain insight on the following topics:

  • Are we, as leaders of our Section, meeting the needs of our membership. 
    • Are we effectively communicating with our members?
    • Are our members familiar with our strategic goals?
    • Are we successfully engaging new members? 
    • What hinders our members from becoming more involved?
    • and finally, an avenue for members to share new ideas and thoughts for our Section.


In addition to the member survey, the Board will be doing some self-evaluation at the Summer Board Retreat.   As we all know, the only thing constant in life is change.  It is essential that we as the PNWS leadership ensure that we are meeting the changing needs of our members and the industry we serve. We must remain open to any new ideas or suggestions.  We are an organization that runs deep with history, traditions, and processes.  I would like to share the following story with you from

Zig Ziglar often tells the story of the time he won a prized country ham in a sales contest.

When he got home, he handed the beautiful ham to his wife, Jean. She immediately cut the end off the ham and placed it in a pan.

Zig asked his wife, "Why did you cut the end off my prized ham?"

"Well, that's how you bake them," Jean responded. "That's how my mama cooked a ham."

"Why did your mama do it that way?"

"I'm not sure," Jean said. "Let's call Mama and ask her."

So Zig and Jean called Mama. "Well, my mama always did it that way," she said.

So Zig and Jean called Granny.

"Granny," Jean asked, "why do you always cut the end off the ham? Zig says I shouldn't do it that way. Mom says she cut the ham because you always cut the ham. I did it because she did it. Nobody knows why we do this. So why did you cut the end off the ham?"

"Well," Granny responded, "I don't know why you two did it, but my pan was too short!"

This story reminds us that it is important to understand why we do what we do and not fall victim to “but that’s the way we’ve always done it” mentality.    It is essential to the health of our Section, that we evaluate and understand our traditions to determine if they still make sense for our Section and they continue to provide value to the members that we serve today. 

My second goal focuses on succession planning.  By the Fall and Winter Board meetings,  I am requesting Section Committees and Subsections to prepare, if not already existing, a succession plan.  Our Section currently has 31 committees and 12 subsections with AWWA members that have stepped into leadership roles to ensure the continuing success of what we do.  Those officers/directors/chairs put forth a tremendous effort to sustain the momentum of success year after year.  Succession planning allows incoming Chairs and Officers to participate and “shadow” the existing leadership.  It allows them to become familiar with their upcoming roles and responsibilities to ensure a smooth transition.  Succession planning is also vital in maintaining the future of committees and subsections by continuously bringing in new ideas, skill sets, and vision.  It permits those officers who have served to move into Past Chair/President roles and pursue other volunteer activities within our Section.  

My final goal over the next year is to evaluate how we can better engage our membership and encourage them to take the next step and begin volunteering.  Our industry is diverse and ranges from folks in the field using equipment to dig a trench to the Public Officials that determine and implement policy.  Just as there is a place for you in our industry, there is a place for you and your unique skill set in our Section.   I want you to think back about how you evolved from being an AWWA member to an AWWA volunteer.   I imagine that many of you, just like me, became involved at the persistence of a peer, college, or boss.   I challenge each of you to reach out and encourage those around you to become actively involved.    For me, PNWS is about the people, the community, the networking, the friendships, the professional relationships.  It’s about growing professionally/personally.  It’s about giving back and getting involved.

Thank you for spending your evening with us tonight.  I would like to invite you to join me at the incoming Chair reception in the Grove Hotel immediately following the banquet. 

I look forward to seeing all of you in Kennewick next year.  Thank you Boise for an amazing conference!   The 2016 PNWS AWWA Spring Conference has officially closed.