Event Cover Image
Event Image
The Leadership Academy, an exciting VA AWWA | VWEA initiative, is an opportunity for industry professionals of all ages and experience levels to develop leadership skills. Topics include moral and ethical leadership, emotional intelligence, people styles, project management, and more. To cultivate an intimate learning and networking environment, the Academy accepts a limited number of participants. 
Applications Due June 19, 2024 
The Leadership Academy is a year-long course that kicks off at WaterJAM each year. The course entails:
  • Kickoff session at WaterJAM 2024 (Wednesday, September 11).
  • Four (4) all-day in-person workshops.
    • Three (3) held at central or rotating locations across Virginia.
    • Final workshop and Graduation at WaterJAM 2025.
  • Four (4) 2-hour virtual skills strengthening sessions.
  • VA AWWA or VWEA Committee Participation.
    • Participants will join a committee and help plan an event or get involved in committee activities.
Program Cost and Inclusions
  • The VA AWWA/VWEA Leadership Academy requires a fee of $825 per participant.
  • This cost includes: Kickoff at WaterJAM 2024, four (4) virtual sessions, four (4) in-person workshops including breakfast, snacks, and lunch, along with WaterJAM 2025 Registration.
  • Program costs do not include transportation costs, lodging expenses, or WaterJAM 2024 registration costs.
    • Participants may attend the Kickoff at WaterJAM 2024 without registering for WaterJAM 2024.
  • Accepted candidates will return to this page to pay in full before Kickoff at WaterJAM 2024.
Program Requirements 
  • Attendance is required at all workshops to be eligible for graduation. A single absence may be permitted pending advance approval.
  • Active water / wastewater professional within the Commonwealth of Virginia.
  • Experience in other industries may be considered coupled with a required minimum of one year of professional experience within the water and wastewater industry.
  • Ability to travel to and from WaterJAM and all in-person workshops.
Application Documents 
  • Leadership Academy Membership application document.
  • Letter of Support from applicant’s supervisor indicating sponsoring organization will permit attendance at all events including Kickoff, every workshop, and Graduation.
  • Up-to-date resume.
  • Confirmation of existing VWEA or VA AWWA Membership or pledge to join either association upon acceptance into the Leadership Academy. We will ask for this information in the application form.
  • Once you have all of your documents ready, submit them using this form:
    You will receive an email after July 22 notifying you of your acceptance status.
Do you have questions about the Leadership Academy?
Reach out to Chelsea Bajek (baj001@henrico.us)
More Resources
Click here to learn more about the Leadership Academy Committee which sponsors this program or to view the activities of the current cohort.
Here is what past participants have said about the Leadership Academy: 
“This program has equipped me with valuable tools to tackle challenges that arise in leadership roles. Throughout the course, I've learned how to recognize the importance of empathy and effective communication, as well as how to foster strong relationships and build cohesive teams. The knowledge and skills I acquired during the Leadership Academy have not only enhanced my professional capabilities but have also had a profound impact on my personal growth." 
–Tyriek Bayne (Utilities Engineer, Henrico County Department of Public Utilities)- Class of 2023
"My year in VWEA/AWWA Leadership Academy challenged me to discover and hone my professional leadership style. I enjoyed the training classes, travelling across Virginia, and attending Water Jam for the first time. I made connections with other water sector professionals and now serve on committees and subcommittees with them. I am grateful for these opportunities and encourage everyone interested in elevating their leadership skills to apply for Leadership Academy."
-Lisa Workman (Laboratory Coordinator, Water Quality, Western Virginia Water Authority)- Class of 2023
"The Leadership Academy was truly impactful, offering insights into leadership that not only influenced my professional life but also significantly shaped my personal growth journey. One highlight was discovering the concept of "Crucial Conversations," which transformed how I communicate, empowering me to navigate difficult discussions with empathy, mend relationships, and cultivate meaningful connections. I also appreciate the opportunity to connect with a diverse group of peers, each contributing a wealth of knowledge and showcasing unique working styles. Together, we are building a supportive network that extends even beyond the conclusion of the program."
-Ha Dao (Project Engineer, CHA Consulting)- Class of 2022
“In preparing for a recent interview, I reflected on some of my most rewarding professional accomplishments, and being accepted into the inaugural class of the VA AWWA/VWEA Leadership Academy is definitely one of them. Learning the different facets of leadership has been motivating as I have found that I have been able to quickly apply these new techniques to my workplace. During my time throughout the course, I was able to secure a leadership position within my organization as this program has given me the confidence and the tools to be able to become a successful leader.”
-Angela Kilgore (Pretreatment and Pollution Prevention Supervising Specialist, HRSD)- Inaugural Class
“The Leadership Academy provides the opportunity to learn from and work alongside the rising leaders of the water quality field.  Through this experience, I was able to expand my knowledge of emotional intelligence and transformational leadership, which are the foundation of successful leaders around the world. I look forward to applying that knowledge both in my personal life and professionally at the Western Virginia Water Authority as I prepare myself to be a leader in the water quality field. I highly recommend that anyone who is interested in elevating his or her leadership skills to apply as a student of the Leadership Academy!”  
-Lacy Burnette (Environmental Programs Specialist, Western Virginia Water Authority)- Inaugural Class


Chelsea Bajek


Rebecca Currall
Cynthia Barnes