WRA's 40th Annual

Recognition Dinner


September 21, 2023
6:00 – 9:00 PM


The Grand Pavilion
640 Waterworks Dr
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Hosted By:

Water Resources Association of the Delaware River Basin
Board of Directors

A Letter From the Executive Director

Welcome to WRA’s 40th Annual Awards Gala! Thank you for being here to celebrate innovation, excellence, and leadership in water resources.  Tonight, we honor people, projects and organizations making an indelible mark on the health, sustainability and resilience of our watershed and the communities therein.  

The technologies, tools and transformative approaches you will hear about tonight inform and that strengthen our ability to meet critical water resources challenges. Awardees’ encompassments are the result, in part, of teamwork and collaboration across all types of boundaries.  For the individuals we are honoring tonight with the Samuel S. Baxter and Lifetime Achievement awards, their legacies have been wrought over decades, leading teams, challenging preconceived notions, thinking of creative solutions, mentoring, and creating relationships that form the foundation for successful endeavors.  

Tonight, we celebrate people who work diligently outside the spotlight.  This celebration is our opportunity to shine light on the dedication and brilliance that empowers communities to build resiliency to environmental risk, decarbonize power production, drive investment to historically underserved neighborhoods, and create public spaces that both delight and protect us.  These are tools, techniques, and models you can bring to your work, and share with your community.  Tonight we invite you to applaud these extraordinary Awardees, connect with the WRA community, and be inspired by these successes that are part of the story of our watershed. 


Skelly Holmbeck
Executive Director

About The Event

The Water Resources Association of the Delaware River Basin’s Board of Directors welcomes you to our 40th Annual Recognition Dinner! This evening, we honor remarkable leadership, innovation and stewardship in water resources, sustainability and resilience by individuals, environmental organizations, government agencies, and companies from across the Basin.

We invite you to enjoy the champagne bar, Cescaphe’s Schuylkill Punch, and a full mixed beverage selection. Greet friends and colleagues as you sample from our dining options including surf & turf, and a full range of delicious vegan and vegetarian dishes as we toast to a year of innovation and collaboration.

A WRA tradition, the Wine Pull starts when the doors open – stop by and try your luck with our version of the lottery. The Silent Auction is a great way to go home with something fun (and maybe even useful) while simultaneously supporting WRA’s mission to advance science based water management.

Thank you for being here tonight to honor our Awardees, and for all you do to support WRA and the communities and ecosystems throughout the Delaware River Basin.

Event Co-Chairs: 

Kelly Anderson, Philadelphia Water Department, WRA Board
Dennis Palmer, Landis Sewerage Authority, WRA Board

Silent Auction Co-Chairs: 

Andrew Anderson, Philadelphia Water Department, WRA Board 
Matthew Marchisello, Aqua America 
Melissa Marchisello, ERM 

Wine Pull Chairs: 

Caitlin Cavanagh and Ben Deatrich, AECOM

Wine Pull Crew: 

Abdullah Al-Amin, Temple University 


We’re delighted to celebrate with you tonight. Here’s a schedule at-a-glance:

5:00 – 6:00 PM  |  VIP Reception: for awardees, sponsors, board members and event committee members

6:00-7:30 PM  |  Dinner (buffet), open bar

7:15 PM | Silent Auction Closes

7:15 – 8:30PM  |  Awards Ceremony

Welcome: Jennifer Garigliano | WRA Board President 

Awards presented by Skelly Holmbeck | Executive Director and Jen Garigliano | Board President. Award descriptions and biographies can be seen below.

Parks and Places Award:
Presented to: City of Newark- Hillside Park
Accepting: Tim Filasky, PE | Director of Public Works and Water Resources, City of Newark, Delaware, Joe Spadafino | City of Newark Parks Director, Ethan Robinson | Deputy Director of Public Works and Water Resources, City of Newark.
Also on stage:  The Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson, Inc (JMT) Designers: Christopher Brendza, PE | Project Manager and Andrew Mears, PLA | Sr. Landscape Architect

Business and Industry Award:
Presented to: Vicinity Energy
Accepting: Jeannie Morris | Senior Director of Governmental Affairs, Bill DiCroce | CEO/President and Board Chair, and Jessica Hartley | EHS and Green Solutions

Special Recognition Award:
Presented to: The Academy of Natural Sciences
Accepting: Alexis Schulman, PHD | Assistant Research Professor, Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science, Winn Costantini | Environmental Planning and Policy Scientist at the Academy of Natural Sciences, and Lin Perez | Environmental Data Science Section Leader

Government Award:
Presented to: The Philadelphia Water Department
Accepting: Kelly Anderson | Director Office of Watersheds and Julia Rockwell | Climate Change Adaptation Program Manager

Lifetime Achievement Award: 
Presented to: Gary W. Snyder
Presented by: Jane Rowan | Board Member and Past President and Suzanne Newman, Board Member and Co-Chair of WRA’s Young Leaders

Innovation and Collaboration Award – Government Agency:
Presented to: The City of Camden, New Jersey, Camden County and the Camden County Municipal Utilities Athority
Accepting: Maggie McCann Johns | Director, Department of Parks, Camden County, and Oleg Zonis | Deputy Executive Director and Chief Engineer with CCMUA
Remarks by: Steve Tambini | Executive Director DRBC

Innovation and Collaboration Award – Research:
Presented to: Dr. Franco Montalto | Director of Drexel University’s Sustainable Water Resource Engineering 

Dr. Ruth Patrick Excellence in Education Award:
Presented to: The Nurture Nature Center
Accepting: Rachel Hogan Carr | Executive Director

Samuel S. Baxter Memorial Award:
Presented to: Russell J. Furnari | Vice Chair at-large WRA Executive Committee

8:15 – 9:00 PM  |  Coffee & Dessert

Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center will be open 5pm-7pm

Award Recipients

The Water Resources Association of the Delaware River Basin’s 40th Recognition Dinner honors individuals and organizations that have made an indelible mark on the Delaware River Basin and beyond through their vision, innovation and leadership.


City of Newark – Hillside Park

For exemplifying a resilient, community-based approach to overcoming the challenges of water quality and flooding by improving headwater conditions of Silver Brook, a tributary to the upper Christina River.


Vicinity Energy

For designing and implementing an innovative solution for a more sustainable water supply to critical components within the district energy system, providing a continuous, reliable, and low-carbon energy source and playing a significant role in fulfilling the City of Philadelphia’s commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.


The Academy of Natural Sciences

For their continued contributions to the Delaware River Basin with an innovative environmental justice mapping tool developed by scientists from the Academy’s Patrick Center for Environmental Research (PCER) to prioritize green stormwater infrastructure investment within underserved Philadelphia neighborhoods.

Government Award

The Philadelphia Water Department

In recognition of PWD’s highly innovative and forward-looking Climate Change Adaptation Program (CCAP) providing a roadmap for Philadelphia and others to develop an actionable risk-based approach to planning, design, operations, and management of drinking water, stormwater management, and wastewater treatment.


Gary W. Snyder

For a career dedicated to improving water resources in the Greater Philadelphia area through technical expertise, leadership, mentoring and an unflagging commitment to finding solutions through collaboration across sectors, municipalities, and technical disciplines.


The Nurture Nature Center

For outstanding leadership in engaging, educating and empowering communities to prepare for and mitigate climate related risks and promote resilience throughout the Delaware River Basin. 


The City of Camden, New Jersey, Camden County and the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority

For their transformational commitment to clean, accessible and sustainable water resources while building an economically thriving and dynamic waterfront and nurturing a spirit of community to address ongoing water quality and water equity challenges.


Dr. Franco Montalto, Director of Drexel University’s Sustainable Water Resource Engineering

For dedicated leadership to advance cutting edge science and innovative technologies to protect communities from climate related flood risk and to enable historically disadvantaged communities to proactively partner with Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority to improve their neighborhoods.  


Russell J. Furnari 

In recognition of his significant contributions advancing sustainability through his expertise, leadership, and remarkable ability to forge partnerships and promote collaborative solutions to challenges in the water and energy sectors in the Delaware River Basin.

Thanks to Our Generous Sponsors

Annual Platinum sponsor

Platinum SponsorS

Annual Gold Sponsor

Annual Silver Sponsors

Gold Event Sponsors

Silver Event Sponsors

Bronze Event Sponsors

Cocktail Sponsors


Friends of WRA

POST USING #waterislife

Be sure to tag @WRADRB to share your moments and memories

Check back after the event for photography from the evening, captured by Noelle Andrews

Closing Remarks

What WRA Stands For

WRA promotes the science-based management of water resources within the Delaware River Basin to protect all water dependent uses and enhance the long-term sustainability and resiliency of the river system.

WRA Achieves this by:

  • Representing the needs and interests of water users in the Delaware River Basin in multi-stakeholder initiatives and with regulatory agencies
  • Advancing principles of comprehensive water resources planning based on sound science and policy
  • Promoting a balanced approach that recognizes the economic, social, and environmental importance of the Basin ’s water resources.

How WRA Works

WRA serves as a critical resource to its memberswater professionals, water purveyors, and commercial, industrial, and maritime river usersas they collaborate with other stakeholders to maintain the Delaware River as a working river and promote principles of sustainability and resiliency. WRA’s efforts have become even more important recognizing the fiscal challenges faced by regulatory agencies in the region, and the acute need to respond to climate related impacts in a manner that will maintain and expand the multi-dimensional values of the Delaware River watershed.