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News & Press: Illinois Section AWWA News

ISAWWA Seeking Applications for Executive Director

Wednesday, October 2, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Laurie Dougherty
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ISAWWA Seeks an Executive Director


Illinois Section American Water Works (ISAWWA) undertakes an executive search for a facilitative and experienced professional to help lead this highly resourceful and respected association, with an eye to keeping it relevant and growing.


Illinois Section AWWA provides resources for the management and advocacy of safe and sustainable water. It is a "total water" resource - from stormwater to potable water to wastewater, and is known as one of the model state water associations nationally. Established in 1909, the ISAWWA currently represents over 1,770 water utilities of all sizes. ISAWWA members are administrators, utility operators, professional engineers, contractors, manufacturers, scientists, academics, health professionals, regulators, and interested individuals. ISAWWA is a Section of the American Water Works Association that serves the water industry in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

ISAWWA is proactive in advancing the technology, science, management, education, conservation, and government policies relative to the stewardship of water. It hosts a large, well-attended annual conference, called WATERCON, and over 100 timely and cost effective trainings, as well as mini-conferences, free webinars, e-learning technical sessions, and a resourceful website. ISAWWA educates the general public on the essential functions and importance of the water industry, the water cycle and water treatment, and promotes career paths in the water industry.  It plays the important function of monitoring water industry standards and regulations for members.  Networking is important to members and a variety of opportunities support this benefit: member can provide and/or attend training, volunteer, serve in governance, and attend social events.

ISAWWA has an annual operating budget of $750k and has both a strong balance sheet and net positive year-end revenue statements. It is governed by a 16-member board of directors representing the field, with a clearly defined leadership structure and 23 active, decision-making, member-led committees.  ISAWWA employs three full time and two part time staff who work in a casual work environment.


The Opportunity

In addition to managing ISAWWA’s strong educational offerings and being vigilant to its relevance to the ‘total water’ approach, the next Executive Director will be responsible for overseeing and directing the following ongoing programs and new initiatives:

  • Continue to be attentive to the membership: keep programming relevant and practical; recognize and honor members; and stay vigilant on ways to grow
  • Broaden ISAWWA offering to include needed, viable programs in wastewater and stormwater
  • Enhance the culture of engagement: offer opportunities for members to volunteer; generate active participation from the committee chairs; and continue to actively engage all members in committees
  • Develop strategies to engage young members who are challenged to engage due to work demands and lessened workplace support
  • Stay current with water industry regulations, maintaining channels of communication with regulatory agencies (i.e. IEPA, IDPH, IDNR, etc.)
  • Undertake aggressive public outreach, underlining the importance of the water industry to daily public life
  • Encourage careers in the water industry; reach out to and engage young people in new ways
  • Grow a culture that enhances diversity and inclusion
  • Grow the Mentorship and Internship Programs: utilize seasoned members and retirees as mentors
  • Strengthen ISAWWA’s advocacy with IEPA/IDPH and legislative groups
  • Strengthen relationships across the industry: with other AWWA sections and with adjacent industry professionals such as planners, finance directors, scientists, etc.
  • Create a strategy for succession of volunteer leaders


ISAWWA is seeking an experienced nonprofit leader who can champion a strong, well developed organization and its many volunteers.

Ideal applicants will have:

  • An outgoing personality and facilitative nature
  • An understanding of the unique issues inherent in working with volunteers, and the experience of navigating the roles of motivator, champion, guide and accountability master
  • Working knowledge of the water industry is a plus, but not a requirement. Proven ability to grow and support the mission enthusiastically is a must.
  •  Experience managing events, conferences and/or trainings, large and small
  • Experience in working effectively and collaboratively with a wide range of people and organizations, including engineers, scientists, government officials, policy makers and individuals invested in clean water
  • A passion to work hard as a self-starter
  • Excellent communication skills: writing, presentation, verbal and listening
  •   At least five years of demonstrated leadership experience, with confidence to motivate, supervise, and guide professional and administrative staff, some of whom work remotely
  • Experience in guiding an organization based on the trends and changes in the industry, with an eye to creative approaches to change
  • An understanding of sound nonprofit business principles and demonstrated financial acumen.
  • Experience working with a board or advisory board
  • Proven examples of acting with integrity and transparency
  • Technology skills, such as leading virtual meetings, design and web software, and spreadsheets

Application Guidelines

Candidates must include a resume and a cover letter that describes how their qualifications and experience match the needs and mission of ISAWWA, along with salary requirements. Applications will be accepted until the position has been filled. Send required document to:

Salary is commensurate with experience and within the framework of the organization’s annual operating budget. ISAWWA is an Equal Employment Opportunity employer and actively seeks a diverse pool of candidates. 

This executive search is being conducted by Transition Consultant Nancy Jackson. All submissions will be acknowledged and are confidential, and any questions must be submitted to Nancy at:


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