DMIC Members

Meet the members of AWWA's Diversity & Member Inclusion Committee


Uma Sankar Vempati, Chair
Water/Wastewater Practice Builder, Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc.

What are you doing to make sure everyone feels included in AWWA?
I strongly believe that “inclusion” is the activity and “diversity” is the result. Without “inclusion”, we cannot achieve, value, and celebrate “diversity”. We must perform right activities to obtain the result that we want. So, over the years, I have learned to focus on two activities in anticipation of “diversity” results that I envision. First, if I find a new member or someone that is not engaged and/or involved in AWWA, I find various open opportunities for them and ask them to come along with me to the meetings. Second, I challenge and give power to the new/young members to contribute towards major decision-making. By showing the members that I (we) truly trust and respect their opinions will certainly jumpstart their involvement in AWWA and our water community. A fresh pair of eyes or an opinion might even open our eyes to better ideas, too!


AWWA Diversity & Inclusion Committee Members

Shannon Abbott
Water Utility Manager, City of Calgary

Best reason to work in water?
We know many of our customers take water service for granted, and so do we! We don’t even think about it because it’s always there when we need it. So one day I decided to count the times I interacted with my water service in a single day while working from home. The final tally? Fourty-six!...I can’t imagine another service that has this level of impact in people’s lives every single day, it’s pretty rewarding to be a small part of that.

Aidan Cecchetti
Water Resource Control Engineer at State Water Resources Control Board; Ph.D.

Aidan Cecchetti is a field operations engineer in the San Francisco District of the California State Water Resources Control Board's Division of Drinking Water (State Board). In his current position, Aidan works with public water systems to ensure compliance with state and regional drinking water regulations and has also been actively involved in the State Board's Racial Equity Initiative. Before joining the State Board, Aidan received a B.S. in Environmental Engineering from the University of New Hampshire, as well as an M.S. and a Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from University of California, Berkeley. During graduate school, Aidan studied the fate and transport of wastewater-derived nitrogen in nature-based treatment systems. While studying at Berkeley, Aidan was a recipient of a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and was also a co-recipient of various regional awards related to environmental research and restoration. Aidan lives in Oakland, CA with his husband, Michael and their beloved cat. He enjoys most activities that involve getting out in nature, such as scuba diving and hiking, as well as playing piano, traveling to places both new and familiar, and trying new foods."

Alex ChenAlex Chen
Director of Drinking Water and Utility O&M for Seattle Public Utilities

Why did you volunteer for AWWA’s DMIC?
It’s important to the City of Seattle that Race and Social Justice principles be embedded into the work we do as part of our community. The City’s values include “equity, inclusion, learning, accountability, and stewardship.”

As part of a City department, Seattle Public Utilities seeks to embed these values into our work - and extend those values to the organizations we are affiliated with, including AWWA.

Donnell Duncan
Assoc. VP, Arcadis

Why did you volunteer for AWWA’s DMIC?  
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion issues are personal to me and the DMIC has been integral to our industry's approach to addressing them. 

While serving as the Diversity Committee Chair of the Georgia Section of AWWA I tapped into the resources provided by the DMIC to provide a framework for our operations. 

Hence, once I rolled off the local committee I jumped at the opportunity to serve on a national level and do the same for others. One thing I have learned through my experience in this area is that these types of issues never just work themselves out. It takes people like me putting in the work to move the needle and leave a lasting, positive impact. 

Dedra Ecklund
Associate, Senior Project Manager, Lockwood Andrews & Newnam, Inc.

Dedra has focused on the management and design of water and wastewater systems for public entities throughout her career after graduating from Texas A&M University in Biological Systems and Agricultural Engineering.

She has designed projects ranging in construction cost from $150,000 to $200 million for several cities/entities in Texas, including Houston, Missouri City, Pearland, Kendleton, Harris County, and The Woodlands. She has been involved in all project phases from preliminary engineering through construction.

Her design experience includes small diameter water lines, wastewater collection system design and rehabilitation, lift stations, land development, civil site, and drainage and detention facilities. She has also designed and managed ground storage tanks, elevated storage tank rehabilitation, large diameter water lines, and wastewater treatment plant expansions and rehabilitation. She uses her expertise to train and mentor engineers-in-training at LAN and encourage them to achieve a career path with varied project experience. She currently serves as the chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee for Texas AWWA.

Here is the quote for “Why did you volunteer for AWWA’s DMIC?”
I originally got involved with Diversity & Inclusion after attending the D&I sessions at the Texas Water conference. After that initial exposure I became passionate about continually learning, actively supporting, and participating in diversity and inclusion initiatives first at the state and then at the national level. Through volunteering for AWWA’s DMIC, I hope to promote the value of diversity within the water industry and broaden my experiences by learning from others.

Brianna Huber
Executive Director at Her2O™ and Chemist at City of East Moline

What’s the best reason to work in water? 
I’m sure many would say the best reason to work in water is that you know you are providing a truly valued service or that life cannot exist without water. 

Both legit reasons, but for me, the best reason to work in water is that I work alongside people who are unlike myself. I am familiar with being the odd ball out, as it seems I have been in that position my entire life.

And career-wise the water industry fits that bill for me. Working alongside people who are unlike myself gives me the greatest opportunity to both grow as a professional and leave my mark.

Amanda Jones
Project Manager, Tucson Water
Founder Womxn in Water

Amanda Jones has nine years of experience in the water industry and is currently at Tucson Water on their Digital Utility Analysis team. She is a Trustee-at-Large on the AZWater board, Secretary for the AWWA Customer Service Committee, active on the UMC Young Professionals Summit programming committee, co-chairs the Water For People golf event in the Arizona section, is the 2020 AZWater Young Professional of the Year, created a Womxn in Water professional development group, is a member of the 2021 Duke University Water Innovation and Leadership Development Program and was named one of AWWA’s 2021 5 under 35 Outstanding Young Professionals. Amanda has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Arizona, and in her spare time, she loves to sing, work out and listen to podcasts.

SapnaMulkiSapna Mulki
Principal, Water Savvy Solutions

Why did you volunteer for AWWA’s DMIC?   
I have found a home in the water industry and I have great respect for our water warriors. We have so much to offer our communities including clean drinking water! 

I want us to continue staying relevant in an ever-changing society and the only way we can do that is to truly recognize and embrace the diversity that is all around us. Water is the issue of the future and when the world turns to look at us I want them to see an inclusive community that they could see themselves belonging to.   

Chi Ho ShamChi Ho Sham
Vice President and Chief Scientist for ERG
Immediate AWWA Past President



Roderick Sherman
Senior Superintendent, Kentucky American Water

Why did you volunteer for the DMIC? 
I absolutely love the water industry. I was introduced to it over 5 years ago by a Navy Vet who said I should look into the field. Since then, I haven’t looked back. When I reflect on my introduction to my profession, I immediately recognized that it was through referral, which brought me into the industry I am so passionate about. 

I joined DMIC to introduce as many people as possible, over a broad spectrum, to the industry. There are so many people who don’t realize this industry is their calling, simply because they were not introduced to it. DMIC gives me a platform to help ensure companies understand the importance of recruiting the best talent possible and to seek candidates from untraditional talent pools. Thus creating the finest water professionals who will create the most innovative ways to best serve their communities. 

Michelle Stockness
Senior Civil Engineer, Barr Engineering Co.

Why did you volunteer for AWWA’s DMIC?  
I think this is some of the most important work that we can do for AWWA now.


Lisa Stone
Chief People and Inclusion Officer & Executive Vice President, DC Water

What are you doing to make sure everyone feels included in AWWA?
My desire is to continue to facilitate an environment where all voices are heard and acknowledge. People feel they can contribute and be their personal best when they are able to bring their authentic selves to an organization.

One of my favorite inclusion quotes is: "Diversity is being invited to the party; Inclusion is being asked to dance." -Verna Myers, Diversity and Inclusion expert

Todd Swingle
Executive Director, Toho Water Authority



Hayley Williams
Training Specialist, Charlotte Water

What’s the best reason to work in water?
Water is life! We are working to preserve and protect a most valuable resource. Those who work in water understand this and take their jobs very seriously, knowing that they are actually saving lives. It is a front line of its own that often gets taken for granted.

AWWA Staff Members of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee

Susan Franceschi

Nancy Sullivan

Mary Svoboda