The National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) has announced American Water’s Angelita Fasnacht as the winner of the 2018 NAWC Living Water Awards. The announcement was made earlier this month during the 2018 NAWC Water Summit in San Antonio, Texas, United States (U.S.). The Awards programme, established in 2012, celebrates exemplary water industry professionals who are “living water” through their commitment to quality service.
“Every year, we receive terrific nominations for the Living Water Awards of individuals who are leading the way in the water industry sector. Our winner this year has an incredible story that really captures the very essence of what we are trying to recognise with this award – commitment, leadership and innovation,” said NAWC President and CEO Robert Powelson. “Angelita has literally dedicated her entire life – even at the risk of great personal loss – to finding ways to provide everyone around the world access to safe and reliable water service.”
Fasnacht began her career in the water industry in 1998, working as the head of the water company in the Departmento del Huila, Colombia. During her time in that position, approximately 200 projects were completed and 50,000 people received the benefit of safe, clean and affordable water. In 2000, Fasnacht was kidnapped and held for 32 days by a local terrorist organisation who saw her efforts to provide safe water as a threat to its power. Upon release, she was warned to leave the country, which ultimately brought her to the U.S.
Today, Fasnacht is a Principal Product Manager at American Water. She continues to help her native country through her work as a board member for Global Water Alliance, an organisation that funds safe drinking water projects. She was recently awarded Water for People’s Kenneth J Miller Founders’ Award for her outstanding volunteer service. Every year, the mother of four, Fasnacht takes her children to help with water projects around the world.
“Angelita began working for American Water’s Water Intelligence team just over a year ago and, in a short time, has demonstrated incredible energy, determination, innovation, and leadership in all that she does,” said Dr Ben Stanford, PhD, Senior Director of Water Intelligence at American Water. “Angelita has the ability to connect with people across disciplines and cultures, to empathise with their needs and the needs of the water industry, and to develop innovative ideas that have the potential to significantly improve the water community around us. She sees and connects concepts to create positive outcomes for people, is not afraid of challenges and thrives in a space where innovation is the main driver for what we do.”
As a civil engineer and PhD candidate, Fasnacht is working on an intelligent decision making tool to preserve and predict surface water quality. She is also an adjunct professor at Thomas Jefferson University and Drexel University and a lecturer at University of Pennsylvania. Fasnacht is a member of Engineers Without Borders and a Board Member of the Global Water Alliance.
Fasnacht is the sixth recipient of the Living Water Award. Past recipients include Indiana American Water’s Katherine Jamriska (2017); California Water Service’s Chris Whitley (2016); SUEZ North America’s Elizabeth Watson Keddy (2015); CH2M Hill’s Duyen Tran (2014); and Connecticut Water’s Steve Melanson (2013).