| AWWA Member Spotlight – Nicole Brown, Philadelphia, Pa.
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AWWA Member Spotlight – Nicole Brown, Philadelphia, Pa.

Nicole BrownJob title and employer: Associate Vice President for Water, AECOM

Education/certification: B.S., Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology

Job duties: Manage projects and programs for water clients in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware

How and why did you get into the water sector? In high school I was good in math and science and knew I wanted to do something in engineering that was impactful and made a difference in people’s lives. In college I started in chemical engineering, but it felt too process-oriented for me, so I switched to the civil and environmental engineering program. I went into consulting because the jobs change constantly, and I enjoy the flexibility to work with a lot of different clients and projects.

Nicole in IcelandHow would you describe your involvement with AWWA? I see myself as a change agent, and it’s been rewarding and fulfilling to engage board members, committee members and staff by sharing my stories and creating a network to examine and impact how we in the water sector relate to one another as people. Currently I’m a member of the Manufacturers/Associates Council, and helped establish the new AWWA Innovation Award. Change is necessary for growth, and innovation is about change. It can be difficult to get out of a comfort zone and open up to possibilities. Our sector tends to be traditional, and if we get stuck in that we won’t grow. Innovation is much broader than inventing a widget. We’re trying to encourage others to talk about it in a different way and be more forward thinking in general. (Pictured left, Brown at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland)

Describe your involvement with the Association’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee? My AWWA path is unique in that my first involvement as a volunteer was at the Nicole singing with the group Water Hammernational level with the Diversity & Inclusion Committee. It was a crash course in the governance of the organization, but I had been very involved in diversity and inclusion issues while working at Arcadis to get children of color into STEAM (Science Technology Engineering, Arts and Math) fields. During my two terms I helped revamp the Diversity Award and create D&I-focused content for ACE. Since then I’m encouraged to see that D&I conversations are evolving, and perspectives are changing within the water sector.

What interests do you have outside of work? One of my main interests is singing and I perform with the New Jersey Section’s rock cover band, Water Hammer (pictured right), at most section events. Some may know me as “Nikki the Dragon Slayer.”

Nicole with familyDescribe your family: I have a great blended family (pictured left). My husband, Mitchell Lee, and I were married last year and brought two families together. We have four children ranging in age from 4 to 12, plus a dog and a cat. We all moved in together right before the pandemic and it’s been an amazing crash course in blending a family.  

What would people be surprised to know about you? I went skydiving with AWWA member Aisha Niang, one of my best friends since age 13. It was on my bucket list and we decided to do it on a whim during a trip to Moab, Utah.
(Photos courtesy of Nicole Brown)