Kishia Powell was appointed commissioner of the City of Atlanta Watershed Management Department in June 2016. With expertise in sustainable infrastructure management and utility operations, she has leveraged 22 years of experience in both the public and private sectors to successfully serve municipalities across the United States and London, England. As commissioner, she is responsible for oversight of the department's $644 million annual operating budget, a five-year capital improvement plan of $1.26 billion, including the Water Supply Program and the Clean Water Atlanta consent decree program.
Since her appointment, Powell has worked to set the strategic direction of Watershed Management with a focus on financial resiliency, improving service delivery, infrastructure investment, and workforce development including a partnership with the City of Atlanta's Department of Corrections to reduce recidivism by hiring prerelease nonviolent offenders as watershed trainees. Under her leadership as a designated Global Water Leader, the department was recognized in the inaugural class of Leading Utilities of the World during the Global Water Summit in Madrid, Spain, in April 2017.
Prior to joining the City of Atlanta, Powell served as the Public Works director for the City of Jackson, Mississippi, where she was responsible for developing a programmatic strategy and master plan for Jackson's Municipal Special Sales Tax-funded infrastructure improvements program including the Greening the Gateways initiative, which led to the city's award of a $16.5 million TIGER Grant in October 2015. In 2008, she was appointed bureau head of Water and Wastewater for the City of Baltimore to lead a 1,900-person agency with an annual operating budget of $300 million and a six-year clean-in-place of $2.2 billion serving 1.8 million customers. She was named the 2010 Maryland Water Environment Federation's Water Hero based on her work in Baltimore.
Powell is a member of the Water Environment Federation and the American Water Works Association. She serves on the board of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, including the executive committee as the board secretary, and the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District's Governing Board on behalf of mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the City of Atlanta. 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.