June 2020                                                          Issue #119
Section Chair Ronda Farmer
New Section Board Takes Office
A Statement from Your Section Board of Trustees
Submit Your Abstracts for Boise
2020 Leadership Symposium Postponed to 2021
Job Postings
Mark Your Calendars

Section Conference  
Boise, ID
May 5-7, 2021
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Wow this is not the circumstance as to which I had envisioned giving this speech. I never even imagined being Chair of our Section and especially not during an international pandemic. Many thanks to all of you who believed in me and voted for me. I am truly humbled. I also want to thank my employer Spanaway Water Company. Without the support of my managers and utility board I would not have this wonderful opportunity to be your Section Chair.

I started my journey with AWWA twelve years ago. Like many of you I was invited to attend a meeting and I was asked to do something. Since it is my nature to always want to help (and I might have been volunteered to do so anyway) I eagerly said, "Yes of course". I think that most of us are the same otherwise why would we join such an organization? We all want to help.

Helping others is what this Section has been built on. Without help from our membership we would not be able to put on trainings, conferences, networking events or fundraisers. Through helping others, we grow, learn and build relationships. Relationships are where we get to influence, impact and change people's lives. Change being the opportune word in that last sentence.

Change is something that many fear. I say embrace the change for without change we do not grow. Grow as an individual and as a Section. Our Section has seen much change in the last few years. Change in our meeting format. Change in our budget process. Change to our mission and vision. Change in our conference. Change in committees by way of moving to divisions. Change in the faces that represent you. I know that many of you have had difficulty in this process, as have I, but remind yourself why you joined the association and why you decided to get involved. What did it look like when you joined? Did you not get involved because you thought that you could make a difference? Were you one of those many faces that helped shape this Section? Did you also bring change and diversity when you got involved? What will the next generation of our membership look like? Will they also bring new diverse thoughts and faces to our beloved Section? Our Section will continue to change and adapt because it is vibrant and energetic, and continually evolving to meet the needs of an everchanging membership.

So, it is with those thoughts in mind that I share my goals for my short time as your chair of the Pacific Northwest Section of AWWA.
  • I would like us to embrace the mission of the Associations Diversity and Member Inclusion Committee. Their mission is creating a diverse membership and establishing an organizational environment that recognizes, encourages, celebrates, and effectively utilizes each individual member's talents.
    • To do this I would like to create a subcommittee under our Membership Engagement Committee to implement our Sections Vision by utilizing and optimizing the talents, experiences and passions of our members. To do this we need to create an environment free of negativity and bias. As I mentioned earlier, change is constant, and we should focus on it positively. Our AWWA membership includes more than operators and engineers. I will ask this subcommittee to focus on adding managers, diversity professionals and human resource professionals to our Section. Diversity as an essential component of the growth, structure, and continued success of any organization. Diversity should be an inherent trait of our membership which brings a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, values, and beliefs as assets.
I know this won't be easy, change never is, but our very own Kari Duncan said it best in her January 2015 Journal article on Workforce Diversity, "Any time there is a group of people with different backgrounds and outlooks in the room, there can be disagreement and controversy. However, this is the very reason that diversity in a work group produces superior results. As long as the team can learn to respect one another's differences, the new ideas that come out of a diverse group can help solve problems, create a better design, and produce a better product."
  • My second goal is to have our Budget and Finance committee focus not only on this year's remaining budget but look ahead to next year's budget. The cancelation of our 2020 conference has certainly impacted our finances and goals for the coming year but it will also impact future Section Boards and their budgets. I will be challenging the Finance Committee to bring forth a conservative budget that will protect our sections fiduciary responsibility to our membership not only now but for the future. To that end we are going to need your assistance. Once this pandemic plays itself out, I would ask that we work with our committees to provide alternative training formats to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our membership. We have operators that need CEUs. I ask that we use the CEU approved sessions from the cancelled Spokane Conference. We need to get this great training to our members. I also ask our membership to attend the Section Conference in Boise next year, May 5-7. If we all attend next year's conference it will go a long way to getting us back to "normal". Boise has a convention center and hotels that could accommodate all of our 2,500 section members.
I know that this is a hard period of time that we are going through. The impacts of COVID-19 are far reaching. I have been truly saddened by all that we are missing. On personal levels weddings, birthdays, graduation, proms, family vacations and saying final goodbyes to cherished loved ones through funeral and memorial services have all gone by the wayside. On a professional level, meetings, conferences, networking events, trainings and just going into the office and interacting with your co-workers on a daily basis are being missed. These things are taking a toll on all of us and weighing heavily on our emotions and mental health. We can get through this together. I ask that we all remain strong and dedicated to our core values of protecting public health and continue to be there for each other as a water community. So, it is with that I say to you all stay healthy, wash your hands and please be good to people!

While the formality of the transition from outgoing Board of Trustees to the incoming Board of Trustees was lost due to the cancellation of the Spokane Conference, like our Section Committee leadership, your new Board of Trustees has taken office and will serve until next years Section Conference in Boise. Your current Board of Trustees can be found on our website with their contact information. 

This years new Trustee's include: 

John Roth - Section Chair Elect
Cheryl Capron - Washington Trustee, Water Science Division
Karen Kelley - Oregon/Idaho Trustee, Internal Communications Division
Doug Schlepp - At Large Trustee, Utility Operations Division

We know many of you have felt uneasy and over whelmed the past few months. We are faced with uncertainties that quite frankly none of us have all the answers for. Now we are faced with such a great tragedy of the death of George Floyd followed by protests and violence in our nation. As we look for education and guidance we would like to share with you our associations message of hope as we are after all one AWWA.

 " On behalf of the Minnesota AWWA Board, our Diversity and Membership Inclusion Committee, and all of the American Water Works Association (AWWA), we want to acknowledge the tragedy of George Floyd's death and the protests that have been happening all over Minnesota and throughout our communities. We realize this is a significant event in Minnesota, throughout North America and beyond, and this injustice affects us all deeply. AWWA is committed to public health, safety and welfare, and these core principles extend beyond just drinking water and to the health and wellbeing of the communities we serve. We know many of our members are tired and anxious in this time of compounded crisis, and we offer our support and compassion to you. AWWA is committed to engaging our workforce to promote principles of diversity and inclusion to better reflect the communities we serve. We welcome your thoughts on what we can do together to help heal division and work toward a more just society, in the water profession and in our communities. Take care and stay safe."

In the coming months you will see messages coming out from our new membership diversity group. We believe that by working together to create a section where we not only welcome members from all backgrounds of our industry but also foster an environment free of negativity and bias that we truly can make a difference.  

Now is the time to submit your abstract for next years Section Conference in Boise!  

Check out the Program Committee webpage for all the details


Our 2nd Annual Leadership Symposium has been postponed to 2021. Mark your calendars for August 26, 2021 in Salem. 


See you in Salem next year! 

  • General Manager
  • Finance Director
  • Water Meter Mechanic
  • Utility Worker
  • Wastewater Utility Worker II
  • Facility Operator Grade 1-3
  • Water / Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators
  • General Manager / District Engineer
  • Project Engineer
  • Associate Engineer
  • Pump Station Operator
  • Maintenance Worker II
  • Project Manager - Engineer: Wastewater
  • Wastewater Storm Water Specialist
  • Water and Hydroelectric Services Director
  • Facility Operator
  • Field Technician Lead
  • Engineer II - Capital Projects
See the Jobs Listing Page on our website  for more information or how to apply for any of the above listed jobs. 
That's it for this month! Please send your news or information for inclusion in the July edition to the  Section office.  

Kyle Kihs
Executive Director