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

View past spotlights: 20212020, 2019, 2018.

Winter 2023 Spotlight

Shonnie Cline
Communication and Management Strategist
Corona Environmental Consulting, LLC

I have been working in the water sector for over 20 years. It has been an amazing career and I have been fortunate to have stellar mentors and connections with brilliant professionals. I like to say that all my best knowledge has come from someone else – and that is entirely true. One of the best bits of advice I ever got came early in my career from the late Paul Grundemann who served as the Director of Operations for Centennial Water and Sanitation in Colorado. Paul’s advice was simple. “The water sector is small. Always remember that the entry level person you are directing today may become your director tomorrow.” In other words, no matter how much you know or what title you may hold, people will likely not regard you as much for your expertise and knowledge as they do for you make them feel. And you never know who you will be working for in the future. As I look back on my career, I can definitely say that I did not always do as good as I should have in how I worked with others. Especially early on in my career when I was so eager to demonstrate all I thought I was capable of. Thankfully, the older I have gotten the more I realize that my knowledge and ability means nothing if I don’t haven’t the trust and respect of others. Every single person you meet has the potential to teach you something. I have learned so much from people older than me, as well as the folks in my age group who have walked along side me throughout my career. It is important to note however that the younger people who are just starting their careers have taught me just as much as those who have been at it for a very long time. In them I see hope and willingness to learn. I see possibility and excitement, which are things that seem harder to grab ahold of the older we get. The one thing that has been a constant in both young and old that I remember most is how they have made me feel. Your success in the water sector, or any career, may ultimately become less about your skills, knowledge, and ability to get the job done than it is about how you leave people feeling when you exit the room. I have learned that what you say about people when they are not in the room will be remembered and can impact your career for better or worse. Your words and attitude about others can create either an atmosphere of collaboration or one of competition. Your uplifting words can be a person’s elevator to the penthouse, or with just single snarky comment you can take someone to the basement. Every single day, you get to decide. My best advice – be the person who helps others to soar. Trust me when I say, your life will be better when you are cheering for others success. In the end, your success is about more than your income or title. When it's all said and done, you likely find that your connection with others will either be your greatest strength, or your greatest weakness. You decide.

Spring 2022 Spotlight

Felicia James, Asset Management Lead
Carollo Engineers, Inc.

Being a member of AWWA has been an important part of my career from my first job after graduation in the mid-1990’s through today. Connecting with a community of peers outside of work provided me insight into the diverse aspects of our water industry from the perspectives of new entrants to 40-year career living legends. I particularly appreciate that no matter where my career has taken me, there has been a local AWWA section to be a part of. In addition to these connections, the knowledge exchange that happens whether at monthly guest-speaker events, conferences, or meet-and-greets early on my career path provided valuable examples of what it means to collectively contribute to and promote the work we do to deliver sustainable safe drinking water.

This past year, I transitioned from being not only a member, attendee, and occasional presenter, to stepping into a volunteer role at the CA-NV section. Serving as the inaugural chair of our section’s Inclusion and Diversity Committee is truly a rewarding experience. Over the past year, I’ve experienced up close the strength, commitment and value of the many volunteers that work both “on stage” and even more so behind the scenes for the many events and activities that helped me grow professionally over the years.

If I could meet the younger me at one of these events (whether in-person or virtually), I would encourage her not to wait and go ahead and take a step behind the curtain into one of the many volunteer opportunities that exist. I know that just as I learned (and am still learning) from those with more experience than me, I also learn a great deal from those with fewer years in the industry. An easy way to start is by checking out one of the many section committees and joining: Org Chart with Committee List . The experience is priceless!