Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Education, Community Engagement, and Government Affairs, Phila Water Department
Posted by Philadelphia Water Department on September 8, 2020
The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) serves the City of Philadelphia by providing integrated water, wastewater, and stormwater services. The Department’s primary mission is to plan for, operate, and maintain both the infrastructure and the organization necessary to purvey high quality drinking water, to provide an adequate and reliable water supply for all household, commercial, and community needs, and to sustain and enhance the region’s watersheds and quality of life by managing wastewater and stormwater effectively. In fulfilling its mission, the Department seeks to be customer-focused, delivering services in a fair, equitable, and cost-effective manner, with a commitment to public involvement. More than 2,000 people work around the clock at the Philadelphia Water Department to make sure that a safe, high-quality supply of water is always on tap, that stormwater drains away safety and effectively, and that our rivers and streams become cleaner with each passing year.
Having already served the City for nearly two centuries, the Department’s commitment for the future includes an active role in the economic development of Greater Philadelphia and a legacy of environmental stewardship and a vision to become a model 21st century utility.
As a division of PWD, Public Affairs plans, develops, and implements diversified programs designed to inform and serve water, wastewater and stormwater customers and the public and to increase PWD’s credibility and accessibility. Work is carried out through an integrated team of unit managers and staff engaged in six key functional areas including an emergency and billing customer contact center, media and digital communications, creative design/production, education, community engagement, and government affairs.
Public Affairs is charged with convening and facilitating a variety of internal and external committees and task forces that serve to improve internal and public facing communications with the goals of improving customer service and engagement, improving policies that impact the department’s customers and ensuring that the PWD meets its environmental obligations under regulatory requirements in the areas of partner collaborations, public engagement, and education
The Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Education, Community Engagement, and Government Affairs reports directly to the Deputy Commissioner of Communications and Engagement within PWD’s Public Affairs division. The Assistant Deputy Commissioner is responsible for providing strategic direction and management of three Public Affairs units: Education; Community Engagement; and Government Affairs.
The Education unit within PWD Public Affairs is responsible for carrying out public education programs, targeting various audiences including school children, neighborhood groups, and individual water customers. Programs range from tours of PWD facilities to participation in community events. The Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center, housed in the historic Fairmount Water Works next to the Fairmount Dam on the Schuylkill River, serves as PWD’s environmental education center to teach people of all ages how to be better stewards of our shared water resources, and collaborates with partners to install an appreciation for the connections between daily life and the natural environment. The Interpretive Center works closely with the School District of Philadelphia and has developed the “Understanding the Urban Watershed” curriculum for grades 6-8, which is used in schools throughout Philadelphia.
The Community Engagement unit builds public support for PWD’s infrastructure investments and keeps nearby neighbors and community organizations informed about long-term, high-impact capital improvements and water/sewer emergency projects. The team works in coordination with partner municipal and private agencies on strategic engagement and communications through multiple means including:
- Community meetings
- Virtual meetings
- Special events
- Partnership building with local organizations
- Capacity building of local leaders
- Fact sheets; briefing papers; website project pages
- Direct mail
- Social media
- Public art and performance
- Government Affairs and Strategic Partnerships
The Government Affairs and Strategic Partnerships unit plans and executes a comprehensive, proactive government affairs strategy that advances PWD’s mission, interest, and goals with local, regional, state, and federal elected officials. With support from staff, the Assistant Deputy Commissioner will act as PWD’s principal liaison to elected officials at all levels.
Notable tasks of the Government Affairs and Strategic Partnerships unit include:
- Legislation Tracking – manage a standardized process for tracking legislation from Philadelphia City Council, as well as State and Federal legislation relevant to PWD, sharing information with PWD units, and assembling and sharing feedback in a timely manner.
- Legislation Development – work with PWD units to develop legislation to meet PWD’s operational needs, including operating budget approval, bond authorization, transfer ordinances, and sewer construction approvals.
- City Council Engagement – create an engagement plan consisting of in-person meetings, topical briefing documents, and regular communications.
- Constituent Issues – work with PWD units to address constituent issues raised by the Mayor’s Office, City Councilmembers, and Council staffers.
- Strategic Partnerships – leverage PWD’s role as a collaborator in regional initiatives and programs to support regulatory compliance and regional clean water goals.
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