YP Committee Members

Young Professionals Committee Members

The Young Professionals Committee is committed to actively pursuing the advancement of students and younger professionals in the water industry by outreaching to local sections to promote younger members to take an active role in the Association.

Meet the Committee Vice Chairs

Jeff Blakely

YP Committee Chair

Jeff Blakely
Job: Senior Sales Engineer
Employer: American Cast Iron Pipe Co.
Years in Water: 8

Why I Work in Water: A family friend was the local utility operator and introduced me to an industry that, much like most of the public, I took for granted. Throughout my career, I have gained a strong appreciation for the people and processes that allow for the quality of life citizens of the U.S. enjoy. The AWWA has allowed me to get more involved in protecting what is truly “The World’s Most Important Resource.”

Jihyon Im

YP Committee Vice Chair


Job: Environmental Engineer
Employer: CDM Smith
Years in Water: 4

Why I Work in Water: I've always wanted to work in water because of its importance as a valuable resource in our everyday life and the engineering challenges that come with it. I truly appreciate how water professionals very practice issues all over the world, working with people as well as working for people. Also, I was lucky enough to develop so many relationships with some amazing mentors, colleagues, and friends. There’s no doubt in my mind that working in the water industry is all about the people!


Meet the Committee Members

Pooja Chari

Photo of Pooja Chari

Job: Water and Wastewater Engineer
Employer: Fishbeck
Years in Water: 3

Why I Work in Water: Traveling to and from my undergraduate college in India, I used to cross a river, and every morning the river would be extremely polluted with trash and oil. The view used to upset me a lot. The polluted creek made me realize that I wanted to give back to the community by becoming an Environmental Engineer. This led me to being a Water and Wastewater Engineer. I absolutely love my job and it gives me the satisfaction that in some small way, I get to make a difference.

Rebecca Hamel

Rebecca Hamel Job: Water Quality Supervisor
Employer: Gilbert, Arizona
Years in Water: 6

Why I work in Water: When I think of water, I always think of the photograph, “The Blue Marble” taken by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft looking back on earth on their way to the moon. When I see that picture, I see more than just our planet and our home… I see water. I see oceans and lakes and ice and clouds, and I realize that our water is not going anywhere. The water that we have is the water that we’ve always had and always will have, and that makes it so precious. I’m excited to be a part of preserving our most vital resource.

Ryan Hanson

Job: Graduate Engineer
Employer: Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc. (SEH)
Years in Water: 3

Why I Work in Water: As a child, I was always drawn to the outdoors. My love of the environment grew as I got older and started to look at college tracks. It was pretty evident to anyone that knows me that I fit the mold of having an "engineer" brain. It only made sense to put two and two together. 

As I started my Civil Engineering education, I didn't expect to end up in the water industry. However, during my time at the University of North Dakota, several professors motivated me to pursue the Water field. 

With the goal to leave my stamp on my community and the world we all live in, I truly believe that the Water industry is a fantastic avenue to do so. As I  have progressed in my career, I have found it inspiring to work with people who are as passionate about this precious resources that we all take for granted as I am.

Stephanie Hubli

Job: Engineer
Employer: Woodard & Curran
Years in Water: 3 

Why I Work in Water: The need for clean water is universal and consistent. We are accustomed to daily lives that use mass amounts of water and expect that when we turn on the tap it will flow. My awareness of the infrastructure and resources required to bring clean water to my tap was extremely limited before I joined the water industry. 

Now I feel like I am finally behind-the-scenes of a movie that I’ve watched dozens of times. It is my purpose to open the curtains to let others in. 

Water is truly the most precious resource on the planet, and we must educate the communities around us to value water as such so that we may preserve it for generations to come.

Pranjali Kumar

Job: Water/Wastewater Engineer
Employer: Carollo Engineers
Years in Water: 5

Why I Work in Water: Water is finite. And precious. I work in the water industry because I am passionate about the importance of access to clean water. 

As a society, we tend to take water for granted: turn the tap on and voila! There is value in having conversations with people about why water is so important to our livelihood and success. I think the best way to influence people to conserve water is to become a knowledgeable voice. This is why I’m building a career in the water industry, and look forward to a future where water gets the respect it deserves.

Renee Lanza

Renee LanzaJob: Project Engineer & Associate Principal
Employer: Woodard & Curran
Years in Water: 7

Why I Work in Water: After taking an environmental science course in high school, I looked at undergraduate programs specifically with the intention to pursue water/wastewater. From my first day working in the industry, I’ve never looked back.

Water is something that impacts everyone, and getting to work in the industry is really rewarding. You can feel the passion from everyone in the water industry and its infectious. It’s a great feeling to know how many people are benefitting from the work we do to provide clean, safe drinking water.

Larry Latour

Latour Photo Job: Project Engineer
Employer: Hazen & Sawyer
Years in Water: 6 

Why I Work in Water: L’eau est la vie, water is life. 

I chose the water industry to make a difference in the world’s most precious resource. 

The passion of everyone I meet in this industry makes me proud to have chosen this career.

Brian Van Nortwick

Photo of Brian Van Nortwick

Job: Environmental Engineer
Employer: CDM Smith
Years in Water: 7

Why I Work in Water: By the end of my first summer internship working in water resources, I knew I wanted to be a water resources engineer and help protect the world's most precious resource. Having grown up in coastal New Jersey by a river and the ocean, I've always been attracted to water so it just seemed like a natural fit. 

The work we do as water professionals is so frequently taken for granted but is so vital to the communities we serve. Through my involvement with AWWA, I have met some of the most incredible people who share my passion for water. It is incredibly rewarding to know that with that shared passion, we can make a real difference and help provide our communities with safe drinking water – the most essential resource for life.

Dan Portlock

Job: Project Engineer
Employer: Moore Engineering
Years in Water:  7

Why I Work in Water: I have always wanted to work in the water industry, growing up I was introduced to water projects that helped people in need. 

I was involved in several small projects that helped communities disinfect water that didn’t have access to treatment systems. That is what really got me interested in the field. 

As I progress through my career in water I will know that I have made a difference in many people’s lives.

Jordan Walker, P.E

Jordan Walker
Job: Project Engineer
Employer: Kimley-Horn and Associates
Years in Water: 8

Why I Work in Water: I’ve always been drawn to the water. From an early age, you could find me anywhere from surfing in the ocean to building mini steam-powered boats. My first set of mentors had a similar passion for water that drew me into the industry. I love going to work every day knowing that I get to tackle tough technical problems, design new infrastructure, plan for future growth, and restore broken systems. I believe in what we do, making clean water.

Wendi Wilkes

Job: Manager of Regulatory and Legislative Affairs
Employer: The Association of State Drinking Water Administrators
Years in Water: 7 years

Why I work in Water: I studied Geography in college and knew that a career in an environmental field was what I wanted, but I was lucky to find the water sector. 

I love that I get to work at the nexus of public health and environmental protection, at the center of policy and application, at the intersection of state and federal government. 

While the incredible work we collectively do is vital to everyday life, it’s the people that I get to work alongside that keep me invested in this sector. Every day is a great day when you work in water!

Meet the Board Representatives

Elizabeth Carter, P.E., PMP 


Vice-President (2019-2021)
American Water Works Association
Years in Water: 30+ 

Why I Work in Water: I came to water because I'm passionate about environmental protection and I recognized the importance of water early on in life.  I stayed in water because of the great people that I've worked with along the way, that and because water treatment and quality is such a challenge.

Chi Ho Sham


Job: Vice President and Chief Scientist
Employer: Eastern Research Group, Inc.
Years in Water: 30 

Why I Work in Water: While growing up in Hong Kong, drinking water was a part of our daily conversations because of issues related to both water availability and water quality. “A day without water” and “boil water orders” were routine occurrences during my childhood. 

My early experiences with these drinking water challenges certainly had something to do with making me the “water nerd” I am today. I ended up working on my doctoral dissertation on modeling rainfall and runoff relationships for a bunch of drinking water reservoirs in Hong Kong in the 1980s. Since 1990s, I have worked on a broad range of drinking water and water quality issues. 

I love working in drinking water because people in drinking water are welcoming, caring, and want to make a difference.