Wednesday 9:30 AM
[Presentation PDF]

Room: Capitol I

Interactive Forum on Workforce Development - Strategies, Tools, and Resources You Can Use

Fostering and maintaining a vital workforce is part of the job description of every utility leader. Identifying, capturing, and transferring critical operational knowledge as operators age and retire; recruiting the best candidates to fill impending vacancies; providing existing workers with necessary training on new technology as well as "soft skills" such as teamwork, leadership, and communication - these are challenges that require specific strategies, tools, and resources. This interactive 2-hour session on workforce development will highlight examples of innovative workforce initiatives taking place in Illinois and in utilities in other parts of the country. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss with their peers the specific workforce challenges they are facing and the measures being taken to address them. The take-away goal for participants is that they will be better informed about the available strategies and tools to address their own workforce challenges, and encouraged to make a beginning or to continue the work they have started.

Moderator:  Jerry Bever


Michael E. Canning, P.E. - Independent Consultant
Mike Canning has been a water and wastewater planning consultant for more than 23 years and is currently an independent consultant.  He has had a keen interest in workforce issues for a long time.  Mr. Canning is a member of the AWWA Workforce Strategies Committee and the Knowledge Management Subcommittee, and helped to develop the recent AWWA publication "Knowledge Management for Addressing Workforce Issues,” published in Journal AWWA in August 2011

Kyla Jacobsen - City of Elgin Water Department, Facilitator

Kyla Jacobsen is the Water Director for the City of Elgin.  She has been in the water industry for over 26 years.  She started as a bench chemist in the water quality laboratory, worked as the chief chemist in charge of water quality and eventually became the utility director. 

She has been a member of the American Water Works Association (AWWA) for 25 years.  She has served on several American Water Works Association Research Foundation Project Advisory Committees.  She is the past IL Section AWWA teleconference committee chair.  Past elected positions that she has held for the section are that of District 2 Trustee, section Secretary/Treasurer, Vice-Chair and Chair-Elect and Illinois Section AWWA chair.  She was recently appointed to the national AWWA board of directors as the representative from Illinois.

She is currently the Illinois Section Director to National AWWA.  Previously, she was Co-Chair of the IL Section American Water Works Association OUTREACH committee, trying to raise awareness of the water industry as a viable career option for young people today.  She served on the national American Public Works Association (APWA) "Shaping the World of Public Works" task force.  Also, Kyla serves on the Water Utility Council and the Water Efficiency Committees for ISAWWA.

Kyla currently serves on the curriculum committee for the SMILE group (Supervisory Modules In Leadership Excellence) which is a leadership development effort coordinated between the cities of Elgin, St. Charles and Batavia.  Kyla has created and presented leadership and supervisory modules.

She also serves as a utility designee to the state’s Northeastern Illinois Regional Groundwater Protection Planning Committee (NIRGPPC) which covers 5 counties in Illinois (Kane, Kendall, DuPage, Will and Kankakee).  She is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), American Chemical Society (ACS). 

Her activities outside the office include a position on the Board of Directors for Friends of the Fox River as Treasurer and a position on the Board of Directors for the Elgin Community Network as Treasurer.  She chairs the Church Leadership Council for St. John’s Lutheran Church, after serving on a committee to re-write the constitution and by-laws. 

She has been married to her wonderful and understanding husband, Tom, for 30 years.  They have one son who is who majored in Visual Communications (graphic design) who currently works in that field.  In all her spare time, she enjoys reading, bicycling, working-out, scrapbooking and watching football.

Kyla received her BS in Chemistry from Southern Illinois University, MS in Biochemistry from Northern Illinois University, and a MS in Environmental Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology.


Burr Koepsel, Facilitator