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Lessons from the Front Lines

Supporting Water Utilities in Disadvantaged and Underserved Communities

May 11, 2022 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm EDT

The follow-up to our January webinar, “Unlocking Infrastructure Bill Funding.” In this session led by moderator George Hawkins, you received valuable insights from experts who have experience working with the unique water utility challenges disadvantaged and underserved communities face every day.

Did you miss it?

Watch the Webinar recording

In this program, you’ll hear discussions on:

  • Bipartisan Infrastructure (BIL) Funding and how USEPA plans to support implementation;
  • Perspectives from the California SAFER Program and its goal of providing clean, affordable, and accessible drinking water; and
  • Lessons learned on working with underserved communities and the State Revolving Fund (SRF) program, building an asset management program, assisting communities without access to water services, working with small and underserved communities including rural communities, and rural regionalization and getting access to federal funding.

Event Speakers

George Hawkins, Moonshot Missions

George Hawkins launched his innovation-focused enterprise Moonshot Missions after stepping down as CEO of DC Water. George helps agencies adopt strategies to deliver better service at lower cost. George transformed DC Water into an enterprise that embraced innovations from Green Infrastructure to $500 million investment in clean energy and the sector’s first century and environmental impact bonds.

George serves on the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, is an advisor to Xylem, Inc and serves on the Board of the NERC and Quantified Ventures. George has held senior positions in federal, state and city agencies, as well as environmental non-profits. George served as a Senior Lecturer at Princeton University for 18 years.

George is a speaker on water and environmental issues. He is the recipient of many awards, including the AWWA’s Fuller Award for Leadership, Governing Magazine’s Public Official of the Year, WEF Public Official of the Year. DC Water was awarded the US Water Prize in 2016.

He graduated from Princeton University (Summa Cum Laude) and from Harvard Law School (Cum Laude). He is active on Linked In and Twitter (@georgehawkinsdc).

Karen Dettmer, US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA)

Karen Dettmer, Managing Director for Infrastructure Implementation for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water. The Office of Water works to ensure that drinking water is safe, wastewater is safely returned to the environment, and surface waters are properly managed and protected. Prior to joining EPA, Karen served as the Commissioner of Public Works and as Superintendent of Milwaukee Water Works for the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In these roles she has developed and managed large capital projects, and her leadership has been recognized for advancing racial equity. Karen is a licensed Professional Engineer in the state of Wisconsin, and she holds a B.S. in architectural engineering and an M.S. in environmental engineer from Milwaukee School of Engineering.

Joaquin Esquivel, California Water Resources Control Board

Joaquin Esquivel, Chair, California State Water Resources Control Board. E. Joaquin Esquivel was appointed to the State Water Resources Control Board by Governor Jerry Brown in March 2017, designated by Governor Gavin Newsom as Chair in February 2019, and reappointed to the board by Governor Newsom in 2021. Previously, he served as Assistant Secretary for federal water policy at the California Natural Resources Agency in the Governor’s Washington, D.C. office. For more than eight years prior to that, Joaquin worked for U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer of California, most recently as her legislative assistant covering the agriculture, native American, water, oceans, and nutrition portfolios, in addition to being the director of Information and Technology. He was born and raised in California’s Coachella Valley. He holds a BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara in English.

David Zimmer, New Jersey Infrastructure Bank

David Zimmer, serves as the Executive Director of the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank, the State’s lending Authority which partners with the NJDEP and the NJDOT to provide low interest rate loans to government units and authorities for environmental and local transportation infrastructure projects respectively. During his tenure, Mr. Zimmer has focused on introducing several new successful loan programs and worked to overhaul the I-Bank’s credit policy to bring transparency and clarity to borrowers. He has also improved the efficiency and effectiveness of the I-Bank by developing two modern, web-based loan management systems. Mr. Zimmer is a Chartered Financial Analyst and holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in finance from the University of Notre Dame and a Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree from the University of Dayton.

Heather Himmelberger, Southwest Environmental Finance Center at the University of New Mexico

Heather Himmelberger, Director, is a registered professional engineer with over 35 years of experience working with water and wastewater utilities and in the environmental arena. She has worked for the Southwest Environmental Finance Center (EFC) since 1994 and became its Director in 1996. As Director, she has assisted state, local and tribal governments with the broad financial implications of providing water and wastewater services and complying with state and federal regulations. Ms. Himmelberger’s work with water and/or wastewater systems covers all 50 states and all 5 U.S. Territories. This broad, geographic vision provides an excellent understanding of the issues facing all types of systems, but particularly small systems. Her specialties include asset management, water loss, regulatory compliance, funding, collaborations, and technical managerial, and financial capacity development. She provides training and direct technical assistance to water and wastewater utilities of all sizes.

Julie Waechter, DigDeep

Julie Waechter, serves as the Chief Program Officer at DigDeep, an organization which upholds the human right to water and sanitation in disadvantaged communities in the United States. Julie leads strategic planning and implementation of DigDeep’s water, sanitation, and hygiene projects across the US. Through her work, Julie is passionate about promoting human dignity and community thriving by building coalitions, innovating on traditional models, and developing strong leaders. Julie Waechter holds an MA in International Relations from American University, with more than 15 years experience in community development and expanding WASH access in Africa and Asia.

Andy Kricun, Moonshot Missions

Andy Kricun is a Managing Director at Moonshot Missions, a non-profit dedicated to assisting underserved communities with water challenges. Andy has over 35 years of experience in wastewater and biosolids management. He graduated from Princeton University with a degree in chemical engineering and is also a licensed professional civil engineer. Andy also serves on both the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council and the New Jersey Environmental Justice Advisory Council.

Sarah Buck, Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP Inc.)v

Sarah Buck, Senior Director of Programs. Sarah has been with the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) for over three years and has been part of the RCAP family since 2013. She is based in Maine and as the Chief Programs Officer oversees the majority of RCAP’s environmental (water, wastewater, solid waste) and community and economic development programming including fund development and grants management. She is a member of the senior leadership team and has more than 11 years of experience working for water-focused nonprofits.



Dr. Jennifer Palmiotto, National Rural Association (NRWA)

Dr. Jennifer Palmiotto, Senior Federal Policy Advisor, is a creative, results-driven professional with outstanding relationship-building skills. She is valued as a trusted partner by government agencies, nonprofit organizations, decision makers, water system specialists and peers across the nation. Jennifer recently joined National Rural Water Association as Senior Federal Policy Advisor. She looks forward to collaborating with partners and developing practical solutions which can support water and wastewater utilities. Prior to joining NRWA she served as Executive Director of Granite State Rural Water Association for 14 years. In her executive role she demonstrated management, advocacy, marketing, and revenue-generating expertise. Jennifer attended the Yale School of Environment and received her doctorate in ecosystem ecology.

Bill Teichmiller, EJ Water Cooperative

Bill Teichmiller is the CEO of EJ Water Cooperative, Inc., the largest regional water cooperative system in Illinois. EJ Water is a not-for-profit organization with an innovative mission to “Improve the Quality of Life, the Cooperative Way”. EJ Water serves a population of more than 77,000 people, has over 3,000 miles of main, and a service area of over 2,500 square miles in south-central Illinois.

As costs continue to rise, Bill creatively looked for new ways to bring revenue to the not-for-profit to help members maintain affordable water rates. Additionally, Bill is a strong believer in the Cooperative model and that the most efficient way for communities to grow is through partnering to reduce overall costs and invest back into economic development. It is this belief that has not only grown the Co-Op exponentially through Bill’s leadership but also impacted multiple communities and their population growth.

Bill is also a nationally and internationally recognized speaker due to his unique leadership strategies and collaborative way of operating the utility. It is under his leadership that the Co-Op has received multiple awards, become the largest regional water cooperative in Illinois, and been a finalist at the Global Water Awards. Bill has been invited to speak at the White House on the importance of regionalization and the positive impact it has on the rural communities EJ Water serves. EJ Water is honored that the USDA and USEPA value them as leaders of the industry and a utility of tomorrow.


May 11, 2022
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm EDT