New York 2021 Water Affordability Academy

In partnership with:     The Water Center at Penn


This 5-part series covers:

  1. Water Affordability 101: Introductions and the basics of water affordability.
  2. Operational efficiencies: Explore options through technology, data use and management, and investments (such as lights, efficiency pumps, and more) that reduce operational costs.
  3. Rates & Customer programs: Explore potential water rate and billing options that best fit your city’s needs, and the possibility of implementing a customer assistance program.
  4. Community Engagement & Communications: Identify the best methods and tools to establish positive and transparent relationships with your community, and leave with the best path forward to improve engagement. 
  5. Implementing Your Utility’s Plan: Identify your path forward, including ways that we can continue to support your work.

View Full Agenda

While this series is likely more beneficial for public water utilities or city water policy leaders who manage about 10,000 household connections or more, we welcome leaders from smaller public utilities as well. Spots are limited. Not sure if you qualify? Please contact us.

Before registering, each utility should designate one point of contact to participate in the entire workshop series. The person attending should be in a position to lead and manage any affordability planning, however you may invite additional staff to join you for all or part of it as it makes sense.

Contact us:

Emily Miota, Mayors Innovation Project (, 608.263.7958)
Erica DePalma, Water Center at Penn (, 203-640-8631)

I participated in a previous Academy. Can I attend again?

While we have made several updates and revisions to our curriculum, this Academy is exclusively for New York state utilities. We invite everyone else to join the ongoing Community of Practice. Learn more here.

Our city/utility would like to register several people. Can we do that?

Yes, we encourage it! However, we ask each utility to designate one point of contact to participate in the entire workshop series. The person attending should be in a position to lead and manage any affordability planning, however you may invite additional staff to join you for all or part of it as it makes sense.

What does this cost?

The Academy is free for New York state city/utilities that have an interest in making/keeping water affordable. This work is generously funded by the Park Foundation.

Utility Innovators

Joanne Dahme
Senior Advisor, The Water Center at Penn
Joanne most recently served as the Philadelphia Water Department’s Deputy Commissioner for Communications and Engagement. Joanne was responsible for the planning, development, and implementation of programs designed to inform water, wastewater, and stormwater customers. Joanne was dedicated to serving the public and increasing PWD’s credibility and accessibility of services.

George Hawkins
Esq., Former General Manager, DC Water
George served as CEO/General Manager of DC Water for 11 years. Since then, he founded Moonshot LLC /Moonshot Missions to help agencies identify and adopt strategies to deliver better service and lower costs. George is accomplished in transforming DC Water into an innovative enterprise by tripling its investment in clean water, being the first to issue a century bond and environmental impact bond, and spearheaded programs to support low-income customers.

Andrew Kricun
Former Executive Director, Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority & Senior Advisor, The Water Center at Penn
Andrew currently works with the Water Center at the University of Pennsylvania on various projects related to the Delaware River watershed. Prior to that, he served as Executive Director and Chief Engineer of the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority.

Oluwole A. (OJ) McFoy
General Manager, Buffalo Sewer Authority
OJ is a passionate public servant and water sector executive with over two decades of leadership in advancing innovative strategies, delivering large scale multi-million dollar comprehensive plans and capital projects, and expanding equitable public health policies. McFoy earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from Clarkson University and a Certificate in Executive Management from the University at Buffalo. He is also a licensed Professional Engineer registered in the State of New York. Since 2007, McFoy has served as Chairman of the Buffalo Water Board, championing regional water quality initiatives and overseeing a recently negotiated $75M 10-year public-private partnership to provide reliable and professional delivery of drinking water for the City. In his role, McFoy has initiated major programs such as Replace Old Lead Lines (ROLL) to combat lead poisoning, and the City’s Residential Affordable Water Program – focused on ensuring that water services are equitably delivered and are affordable for all residents.

Omar Nazem
Treasurer, NYC Water Board
Mr. Nazem was appointed Treasurer in March 2016. Prior to joining DEP, Mr. Nazem worked in the investment management industry, most recently at Exium Partners, Coller Capital, and J.P. Morgan Asset Management. Mr. Nazem is a graduate of Harvard University and is a CFA charterholder.

Howard Neukrug
Former Commissioner, Philadelphia Water & Executive Director, The Water Center at Penn
Howard Neukrug is the former Commissioner and CEO of Philadelphia Water, where he was responsible for all aspects of utility operations, environmental compliance, engineering, financing, budgeting, capital and strategic planning, customer service, human resources, and legal and policy decisions for its drinking water/wastewater/stormwater system serving 2.3 million people. At Penn, he is the director of the Water Center and teaching courses on the water industry and the role of water in urban sustainability and resiliency. He is also a Principal with CASE Environmental, LLC, where he provides consulting services to cities and utilities in urban planning, systems design, sustainability, organizational development, strategic planning and trends and innovations in the global water industry.


Karl Russek
Director of Programs and Applied Research, The Water Center at Penn
Karl Russek has over 25 years of experience in the areas of legacy pollutants, natural resources damage assessment, emerging environmental risks, industry/regulatory interface, and stakeholder management in the United States and globally. He holds a Master of Science degree in Environmental Quality Science from the University of Alaska where he focused assessment and restoration of freshwater systems. He most recently founded and managed the international environmental business for a leading global insurer.

This work is generously funded by the Park Foundation.