Missouri Section Receives Education Award for Young Professionals Leadership Series

As our global workforce shifts and changes begin to take place at the local level, there is a need to prepare our future leaders. From cultivating their leadership presence to focusing in on conflict resolution and managing a dynamic workforce, the Illinois and Missouri Sections of the American Water Works Association assisted their members in developing key essential skills.

The Illinois and Missouri Section staff brainstormed ideas for providing leadership training to both Sections. The goal was to have professional experts share their expertise, while making it economical for members to participate. By working together, the Sections were able to split costs and promote to a greater audience.

The Young Professional Committees of both Sections were involved with the program.  Melissa Peterein (MO) and Lauren Schuld (IL) were the Young Professional Committee Chairs involved. The committees provided key input on topics, dates, and pricing structure. They were also involved in promoting the event to their professional networks. Young Professionals from both Sections moderated the five-part series.

The project was first discussed in Spring 2021 and the series kicked off in October 2021 and concluded in December 2021. Members from the various Sections participated in a 5-week virtual series on Leadership for young professionals. A Section volunteer introduced the speaker and provided perspective on why this leadership topic was chosen. 75 minutes was devoted to the leadership topic by a nationally-known expert.

ACE22 Education Award

Topics included:

  • Leadership in the Water and Wastewater Industry (Randy Moore, Director (MO), John Van Arsdel, Director (IL), Carolyn Grieves, Past Chair (IL), and Elizabeth Robertson, Young Professional and Audit Committee Chair (MO).
  • Anti-Average Leadership (Sarah Bohnenkamp)
  • Time Management (Jason Womack)
  • Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace (Charlotte Westerhaus – Renfrow)
  • Effective Communication and Public Speaking (Rhett Laubach)


The first challenge was finding a price point that met our members' budgets. Each Section contracted with two of the four national speakers so that our costs were evenly split. The Missouri Section offered a scholarship to their members that increased our participation. 

The second challenge was that the Missouri Section's primacy agency did not approve the content for CEUs, which may have affected the number of members who participated.


Educational SessionAttendance
Leadership in the Water and Wastewater Industry Panel Discussion (kick-off) 61
The Five Misconceptions Most People Have About Giving Presentations 30
Anti-Average Leadership 33
Lead Yourself First 28
Courageous Conversations: Confrontation Without Conflict 20

We surveyed all attendees in December and asked them to rate the sessions they attended and the overall series. On a scale of 1-100, we received an average of 88 for "I would recommend this series to a colleague." On a scale of 1-100, we received an average of 92 for "I would recommend the Sections host a leadership series again."

The principal benefit of this series was that it provided our members the opportunity to increase their leadership skills. With the silver tsunami and retirements, our Sections want to ensure that our members are prepared and ready for leadership roles in our industry. A few of our members used this as an opportunity to provide staff development for their team. 

For more information on this leadership series, contact the staff of the Missouri or Illinois Sections:

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Official Press Release

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