DMIC Members

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

Donnell Duncan, Chair
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. 

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AWWA Diversity & Inclusion Committee Members

shannon abbottShannon 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.


Denita BonhartDenita Bonhart
Manager of Special Projects, Cleveland Division of Water.

Denita Bonhart has 25 years of experience in city government. Her entry into the water industry began in 2009 when she joined the Cleveland Department of Public Utilities as a project manager on the Director’s staff. In this role, she provided leadership to employee change management teams to improve customer service, coordinated the department’s reorganization efforts, as well as developed and assessed key performance metrics. Currently Denita is the Manager of Special Projects for Cleveland Division of Water. Her work includes organizational development, workforce strategies, fiscal monitoring, process improvement initiatives and coordinating profession development opportunities for water employees. Denita is a past chair of the Ohio Section Diversity & Inclusion Committee and has served as member of the Ohio Section Governing Board (2020-2024) representing the Northeast District.

Denita is a native of Memphis, TN and is the proud parent of Joseph and Ashley Bonhart. Her utility experience has come full circle as her favorite uncle retired from Memphis Light, Gas and Water. Denita lives in Cleveland where she enjoys exploring the city’s culture, attending CAVS games, hanging out with her dog, Memphis and supporting all things downtown. Her other hobbies include travel, poker, golf, and volunteering to support local charities.

Why did you volunteer for AWWA’s DMIC?
As a passionate advocate for the importance of diversity and inclusion, I believe that AWWA's DMIC plays a crucial role in fostering a culture of belonging and inclusivity within the organization. As a member of the Ohio Section Governing Board, I know that the DMIC is a valuable resource to sections and their DEI efforts.

My interests include providing opportunities for underrepresented groups to participate in section leadership, committees and working groups. I would also like to develop strategies and initiatives to increase supplier diversity for the water industry; helping to grow small and minority businesses. I'm excited to be a part of this committee and work together with fellow members to make a positive difference!


aidan CecchettiAidan 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."


Alando ChappelAlando Chappel
Senior Project Manager, City of East Lansing

What are you doing to make sure everyone feels included in AWWA?
By creating an environment built on respect and integrity and by building a culture of belonging. By applying these processes, we will accomplish Inclusiveness actively inviting the contribution of all people.


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.


dedra ecklundDedra Ecklund
Team Leader, 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.

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.


sheryl hopkinsSheryl Hopkins
Vice President of Human Resources, Badger Meter

Education:
Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resource Management from University of Wisconsin Whitewater
Master’s Degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

Why did you volunteer for AWWA’s DMIC?
I have over 35 years of human resource management experience ranging over a broad spectrum of industries including manufacturing, professional services and health care.

At Badger Meter, I am the Vice President of Human Resources responsible for over 2,300 global employees. Our DEI team is passionate about ensuring our global people practices provide an opportunity where every employee can grow and thrive.

We partner with local grade schools, trade schools and colleges to introduce the importance of the water industry and highlight the opportunities that are available to everyone to make an impact. There is nothing greater than seeing a young person excited about what we do and opening their eyes to the possibilities of a career in the water industry! Educating people about the importance of the world’s most precious resource is something I take very seriously and taking this approach more broadly to the water industry is a passion of mine. Joining the DMIC committee is a tremendous opportunity to make this passion a reality on a broader scale.


Brianna Huber
Director of Water Filtration, 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 jonesAmanda 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
Senior Water Policy Analyst, Environmental Policy Innovation Center

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.     


roderick shermanRoderick 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. 


hayley williamsHayley 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
  • Margaret Valuman
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