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News & Press: Illinois Section AWWA News

Congratulations to Illinois' Own Mike Ramsey

Friday, January 17, 2020   (1 Comments)
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 AWWA Member Spotlight -- Mike Ramsey, Westmont, IL
When Mike Ramsey enrolled at Illinois State University 33 years ago, his career aspirations had nothing to do with water. Fortunately for the many he’s inspired since then, his plans changed.

After completing his sophomore year as an accounting major, Ramsey (pictured right) suddenly became homeless due to unexpected family circumstances. To get back on his Mike Ramseyfeet, he returned as a seasonal worker with the Village of Westmont, Ill. -- a community of 26,000 residents about 30 miles west of Chicago -- where he’d worked the past three summers.

“Through a fluke, there was a guy leaving the public works department around that time and I was able to get on full-time,” Ramsey said. “In 33 years, I went from a seasonal labor employee to director of public works.

The most recent of Ramsey’s long stream of professional accomplishments is launching an Operator in Training program at Westmont High School in January 2019. He collaborated with Darrell King, water production bureau chief with the City of Evanston, Ill., Utilities Department, who started a similar program in 2015.

Mike Ramsey, Yeater and Westmont Mayor Ron GunterUnder Ramsey’s supervision, three students completed a spring semester of online coursework and passed the final. Two of the students were interns with Ramsey’s organization last summer.

This past September, two of the students took the State Certified Water Operator Class D exam. One of them, 18-year-old Justin Yeater, passed, and will receive his license in May 2020. The second student is re-taking the exam this month.

“It’s very exciting for all of us,” said Ramsey, who plans to hire Yeater into a full-time position after he graduates. “I wouldn’t have the ability to do this if AWWA’s Illinois Section hadn’t allowed me to be so involved.”

Ramsey began a new round of the Operator in Training program this semester and looks forward to helping connect more students with the water sector.

“It’s a good idea to think about a career in the water sector and provides a great opportunity for students interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs,” he said. “I really enjoy being able to teach students and make a small difference in their lives.”

Ramsey, an active member of the American Water Works Association (AWWA)’s Illinois Section for 20 years, has served on 12 committees and is a past trustee. He is a 2018 recipient of the George Fuller Award and created the Hydrant Hysteria competition in 2012 before it was introduced Association-wide at AWWA’s Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE) in 2017.

“I am very grateful for the opportunities I was given for training and to lead projects that were really valuable in helping me become a better leader, communicator and educator,” he said. “I’ve met amazing people from all over the world.”

Ramsey is responsible for the operation and maintenance of Westmont’s public-owned infrastructure, including drinking water, streets, fleet services and facilities.

Outside of work, he and his wife, Stacey, have two daughters  – Amanda, 23, and Sarah, 18. Thanks to Amanda’s early interest in history, they have visited the home of every U.S. president. Stacey is the Education Coordinator for AWWA’s Illinois Section.
 reprinted from AWWA Connections - 1-16-20


Patrick Walsh says...
Posted Tuesday, January 21, 2020
WOW! what an aspiring story that I will be sharing with ALL my young operators here at Lake County....What a blessing Hard Work and determination can make...I am truly thankful for this story..Blessings to Mike and His family.

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