| AWWA Member Spotlight – Kay Sanborn, Louisville, Ky.
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AWWA Member Spotlight – Kay Sanborn, Louisville, Ky.

Kay Sanborn with granddaughter HazelJob title: Executive Director, AWWA Kentucky/Tennessee Section

Education: B.S., Civil Engineering, Tennessee Technological University; Licensed Professional Engineer

How did you get involved in the water sector? While in college, I chose to focus on the environmental side of civil engineering because it interested me more than the transportation, structures and planning areas. I spent 20 years as a consulting engineer with firms in Nashville, Tenn., and Louisville, Ky., before becoming the section executive director in 2002. (Pictured right, Kay with granddaughter, Hazel)

As a consultant, I concentrated on drinking water/wastewater treatment and design. I also worked with major food, textile and dairy company clients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including well-known brands like Mrs. Smith’s Pies and Godiva Chocolates, to treat their heavy industrial wastewater and bring them into compliance with stringent regulations.

How did you get involved with AWWA? As a young engineer, using AWWA standards was important for my design projects. I first became very involved with the Kentucky-Tennessee Water Environment Association (KY-TN WEA), which at that time held a joint annual conference with the AWWA KY/TN Section. 

Kay Sanborn receiving Fuller awardWhat led to your work as an AWWA section executive director? When I decided to leave the consulting world, I wanted to stay connected with the water associations I’d been involved with over the years. When the AWWA KY/TN Section executive director position was advertised I immediately applied, although I didn’t have prior association management experience. Luckily for me, the section’s board of trustees were more interested in my relationships with many of the section members in Kentucky and Tennessee. 

Describe your involvement with AWWA section training programs: Since I’ve been with the section over the past 19 years, I’ve been involved with all training programs offered by the section, as well as Association training programs offered through the section. These include teleconferences, AWWA Training-in-a-Box, Vulnerability Assessments, and the current grant training programs. I have also served as a local host for AWWA events held in Louisville and Nashville. Both the Association and section training programs offer tremendous value to our shared members because they are created and presented by the top experts in our field. (Pictured above, Kay receiving George Fuller award)

Kay Sanborn with familyAs a recipient of the George Warren Fuller award from the KY/TN Section, why would you encourage AWWA members to get involved with the section? If I had not been so heavily involved with the KY/TN Section, as well as the KY-TN WEA, I would not have had access to the education that furthered my career through attending our local annual conferences and other training events. I formed relationships with so many of my peers, which were instrumental in providing me job leads and a whole heck of a lot of friends who are just as passionate about the value of water as I am!

Please describe your family and other interests: I enjoy traveling, fashion and style, trying new restaurants, attending artisan festivals, cuddling with Ruby, our Cavapoo dog, and, of course, spending time with my family! I have been married to my husband, Garrett, for 39 years. We have a daughter and a son who are both married, an adorable almost one-year-old Kay Sanborn with her first car, a Gremlingranddaughter, Hazel, and another grandchild due in April. I’m really digging this grandmother gig! (Pictured left, Kay with family)

What would people be surprised to learn about you? I’ve always had an interest in cars. My dad taught me to drive when I was 11 years old, even though I couldn’t get my license until I was 16. I’m not sure why he thought it might take five years for me to learn! I can drive a manual as well as an automatic, and even a three-speed on the column. My first car was a Gremlin (pictured right), but hey, it was new and provided the means for me to go places! All the cars my husband and I have purchased have been thoroughly researched, test-driven, and given that certain wow factor seal of approval by me!