Kishia L. Powell
City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management
Kishia L. Powell serves as Commissioner of the Department of Watershed Management for the City of Atlanta, Georgia. With expertise in sustainable water infrastructure management she has leveraged 18 years of experience in both the public and private sectors to successfully serve municipalities across the United States and London, England. She previously served as Director of Public Works for the City of Jackson, MS where she led the effort to develop a comprehensive capital improvement program and get a 20-year infrastructure improvement program underway using a municipal special option sales tax including efforts to restore city streets under an initiative called Operation Orange Cone and assisting in the process to secure $16.5M in TIGER grant funds under an initiative she conceived called “Greening the Gateways”. Additionally she provided oversight for implementation of wastewater Consent Decree program requirements and the City’s $90M water infrastructure improvement program. As Commissioner of Atlanta’s DWM, she is leading efforts to ramp up a five-year capital program estimated at over $1B including the $300M Water Supply Program which will expand the City of Atlanta’s water reserves from less than a week to 30 days or more. Her Watershed Management team is managing continued investments in the separate sanitary sewer system improvements under an extended consent decree, major investments in the RM Clayton wastewater reclamation facility, and implementation of a water distribution system asset management program. Leveraging experience in the Chesapeake Bay region, as well as local partnerships she will support her team in executing measures under the City’s Green Infrastructure Action Plan.
Her career in the water industry spans 18 years in both the public and private sector where she developed expertise in program management, operation and maintenance and asset management. In 2008 she was appointed Bureau Head of Water and Wastewater for the City of Baltimore to lead a 1900 person agency with an annual operating budget of $300M and a six-year CIP of $2.2B serving 1.8M customers. Based upon her work in Baltimore she was named the 2010 Maryland Water Environment Federation’s Water Hero. Ms. Powell’s private sector experience includes time spent as business development lead for an international firm to market services for stormwater program management and other support services in the Chesapeake Bay region to municipalities faced with Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and State watershed implementation plans implementation. Her role grew to supporting east coast water sector business development and national asset management efforts. Her early career includes wet weather program management experience as first an associate engineer, then Lead Senior Engineer to Deputy Program Manager. In London, England Ms. Powell served as lead senior engineer for design-build flooding alleviation studies.
She is a member of the Water Environment Federation, American Water Works Association and the National forum for Black Public Administrators. She was most recently elected to serve on the Board of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, and will be serving on the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District’s Governing Board on behalf of the City of Atlanta. Ms. Powell is a licensed Professional Engineer in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia and she holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Morgan State University’s Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. School of Engineering. Throughout her career she has maintained a strong sense of ethics and has distinguished herself as a leader, blending global reach, local knowledge, strategic thinking, and technical excellence to deliver solutions that create, enhance and sustain the built, natural and social environments.