CA-NV AWWA recognizes the accomplishments and contributions of the following individuals to the water industry and CA-NV AWWA.

View past spotlights: 2020, 2019, 2018.

Spring 2021 Spotlight

Debra Kaye, President / Principal-in-Charge
V&A Consulting Engineers, Inc.

I have spent my entire 36 year career working in the water industry, holding positions as a customer service rep, meter reader, water plant operator, foreman, design engineer, planning engineer, O&M Manager, General Manager and currently CEO and owner of an engineering firm.  I was introduced to AWWA by Chet Auckly while I was working as a water plant operator in the early 1990’s.  I was working full time at the plant and also going to school full time pursuing my civil engineering degree when Chet asked me to write an article about my experience starting up a brand new 80 MGD conventional water treatment plant.  He proceeded to submit my article as an abstract for a presentation at a conference, which was accepted, and my journey with CA-NV AWWA began!

After that first conference, I got involved with several committees and coordinated a few workshops-I absolutely loved meeting other water professionals and sharing ideas and experiences.  I was very focused on Operator initiatives and served as the Operator Certification Administrator for the State of Nevada for many years and helped craft new legislation around Operator certification in the State.

I also volunteered to be the Local Arrangements Committee Chair for a conference in Reno, NV, which paved the path for an opportunity to serve on the CA-NV AWWA Board of Directors as the Conference Director in the late 1990’s.  Serving in this role taught me negotiating skills, diplomacy, and leadership skills that ultimately led me to the position as Chair of the Section in 2005-2006.  This experience was followed by serving as a Director on the Association Board and being elected to serve as a Vice President of AWWA in 2009-2011, which allowed me to travel all over North America to visit different Sections.  

I returned to the CA-NV AWWA Board as the Certification Director in 2015 and had the wonderful experience of collaborating with our colleagues at CWEA in the creation of the Section’s new AWT Certification Program.  A strange twist of fate landed me back on the Association’s Board of Directors in 2018 as the CA-NV Director and I will be finishing my term in June of 2021. 

My involvement in AWWA has spanned nearly 30 years and the benefits I have received both personally and professionally are immeasurable.  Get involved and volunteer – you will create lifelong friendships and develop skills that will help you advance your career!  And more importantly, you are giving back to an industry that plays such a vital role in protecting public health.

Winter 2020-21 Spotlight

Michael Malone, Water Director
City of Vallejo Water Department

My association with AWWA began in 1989 after my promotion at San Jose Water Company.  That first introduction was watching the team prepare to compete in the tapping competition. While in Sacramento I was pleased to support the Department of Utilities sending their first women’s team to the Tapping Competition, “Meter Madness and Hydrant Hysteria.” 

Over the years I’ve been fortunate to share information as a presenter and gain useful information by attending sessions at the local and national events. AWWA has provided a platform for me to encourage others to submit presentation ideas and share their experiences with our colleagues in the industry.  

I also found that spending time checking various exhibits provided insights on changing technologies from meters, advancements in meter reading, CMMS/asset management software to better hand tools - just to name a few. These take-a-ways helped keep my approaches current, and support my teams in efficiency and effectiveness.  

An article in the Journal on performance indexing started me on a path of performance measurement and challenging myself and organizations I’ve worked in to always seek ways to improve delivery of services to our customers and the communities we serve. 

Student Spotlight

Catherine Morales-Sandoval
UC Davis - AWWA Student Chapter Vice President (2020-21)

I joined the CA-NV Section at the start of my junior year after participating in a group project, which focused on creating a video informing 6-12th graders about the importance of water. My engagement with this project connected me to the AWWA Chapter at UC Davis since several members who participated in the project were also involved in AWWA.
As a junior, I participated in informational sessions and site visits that were hosted by the student chapter. In my 4th year, I became more engaged with my chapter by joining the board as president 2019-2020. As a board member, I have been introduced to many opportunities available in the water industry. I met many professionals and connected with many undergraduate and graduate students interested in water quality and water management. These connections along with my involvement in AWWA inspired me to pursue a graduate degree in civil and environmental engineering which I then applied for and was then accepted at UC Davis to start my master’s degree in January 2021. I continued to stay involved with the AWWA Student Chapter Board as vice-president for 2020-2021.
As I wrapped up my undergraduate degree, I took advantage of the opportunities available to grow as an engineer in the water industry. I attended the virtual AFC in October and the information sessions hosted by my student chapter. With events being virtual, it was easier for me to take advantage of the multitude of opportunities since most events were also recorded and I did not have to worry about the logistics of attending an event. I also participated in the WE Build Water Tower Competition, which was a fun experience. It was nice to do something hands-on and design a water tower. I am very excited and stunned that I won the individual student category. I look forward to attending the 2021 YP Summit in Atlanta!