Women’s Equality Day celebrates women gaining the right to vote in 1920, and since that time, women have made so many strides across the country and in business. We are proud of the strong force of women in our American Water team. Across the country, our female employees are invaluable to fulfilling our everyday commitment to provide safe and reliable water and wastewater service to every one of our customers. While we recognize their contributions all year long, we want to take this special moment to spotlight some employees making an exceptional difference. These women are living examples of what American Water values most – dedication to our diverse communities.
Engaging in the local community.
In her role as a Project Engineer at California American Water, Central Division in Pacific Grove, Alissa has led an effort to use data gathered through well and tank monitoring systems to prioritize repairs. Working with team members from operations and engineering, Alissa makes data-based decisions on where proactive maintenance projects are needed most, improving the reliability of the water system for the communities we serve.
But, her service doesn’t end when she leaves the office. During her time in the Peace Corps in South America, Alissa learned to immerse herself in the local community and engage in public service. So, for the past year and a half, she has served on the City Council of Seaside, the second-largest City in California American Water’s local service territory. She is the only woman on the five-member council.
Embracing diversity in our supplier community.
In her role as Senior Diversity Program Lead, Sharon Manker manages American Water’s national supplier diversity program strategy for regulated state operations. She helps bring value to American Water by providing access and opportunity to a diverse community of suppliers. One of her many achievements was co-chairing an inaugural Supplier Diversity Summit for the company featuring women-, veteran-, and minority-owned suppliers.
Beyond her work in the office, Sharon is a member of the ISM-Philadelphia’s Supplier Diversity Outreach events committee and NMSDC Utility Industry Group’s prime supplier committee. Sharon is also a corporate volunteer for United Way Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow and a board member for Healthy Newsworks, all while mentoring local diverse businesses on corporate engagement.
Sharon has been featured in Minority Business News (MBN) USA Magazine 2019 All‐Stars of Supplier Diversity; nominated for the Philadelphia Inquirer Diversity & Inclusion Award and received the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) America’s Top Corporations for Women’s Business Enterprises (WBEs) award.
Facilitating inclusion in our leadership community.
In just two years at American Water, Padma Paan has made a large impact. In 2019, the engineering manager was one of only 54 individuals accepted into the Water Environment Federation’s (WEF) Water Leadership Institute (WLI) – an intensive, global program developed for emerging water industry leaders.
Chosen after a competitive application process, Padma said, “The work water industry experts do around the globe is so important to public health. It was exciting to learn from people with different backgrounds and experiences, and to share my knowledge.”
Connecting with the industry community.
In her 22-year career in the water industry, Dorothy Rader (Senior Superintendent, Northern Division, Kentucky American Water) has been recognized as a champion of water and environmental stewardship, as well as a role model for women in the water industry.
The marvel of Dorothy is her commitment to the industry, far beyond her daily work at American Water. Along with being a board member of Bluegrass Greensource and an avid supporter of Women Leading Kentucky, she created a strong connection with the American Water Works Association. A longtime member, Dorothy has served as both board member and chair of the Kentucky/Tennessee Section of AWWA. In 2018, the section presented her with the George Warren Fuller Award – the highest individual honor bestowed on industry professionals by AWWA that recognizes distinguished service and commitment to the advancement of water treatment and delivery. Dorothy is also a member of AWWA Water Buffaloes, a group of individuals that ride their motorcycles to bring awareness to water issues around the world and raise money for Water for People.
Promoting safety for our employee community.
As President of New York American Water, Lynda DiMenna guides the entire business to support its effort in continuing safe, reliable water service and executing quality customer service – no matter the circumstances.
When New York American Water’s service areas were impacted early and significantly during the COVID-19 public health emergency, Lynda mobilized all aspects of the business to identify employees’ roles in emergency response activities, including securing supplies and managing resources, executing policies and directives to help provide for the safety of our employees and customers, and communicating with our customers. Lynda pushed out regular updates to New York American Water employees and encouraged new ways of engaging virtually. Because of her input, New York American Water has experienced little impact to its workforce from COVID-19.
In addition, Lynda does not miss a chance to engage with customers and public officials, continuing these duties both in person and virtually through livestream events during the pandemic.
Strengthening the American Water community.
Although Nora Cobb, Water Quality and Environmental Compliance Specialist for Illinois American Water, started her career in the water industry nearly 20 years ago, her story starts long before that. In the 1930s, Nora’s great uncle Henry Sharp joined the American Water team at our Metro East Water Treatment Plant. Henry’s daughter, Ruth, and her husband, Warren Lawrence, worked for Illinois American Water during the 1950s, 60s and 70s. The third generation came to the company when Nora’s brother Norman, a Granite City laborer, was hired in 1981. After Nora joined the company, her son Adam was brought on to the same Metro East location as his great-great uncle, almost nine decades later.
For Nora, working at American Water is more than a job – it’s family and that attitude is reflected in her everyday work to protect the quality of our water. “Growing up with family working for the water company, we didn’t take safe drinking water for granted. I think that’s why I have a passion for water quality and the communities we [serve]. Some may say water flows through my family’s veins,” says Nora.
Nora’s granddaughter wants to be a scientist and hopes to be the fifth generation to work at Illinois American Water. Nora said, “We take great pride in what we do and our family legacy at American Water. I would love to see another female family member make their mark in the water industry.”
These incredible women bring so much to the American Water table. Their dedication to community is critical in our commitment to Keep Life Flowing and we are beyond fortunate to have them on our team.