NAWC - National Association of Water Companies

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Our Team

Michael Deane Michael Deane
Executive Director

Michael Deane has extensive experience and the unique perspective of having worked in both the public and private water sectors. Before joining the NAWC in 2009, he was Associate Assistant Administrator for Water in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency where he played a key role in developing and implementing national water policy. Prior to this position, he served as Senior Policy Advisor in Infrastructure Finance for the Agency’s Office of Water. Michael began his career in water at the EPA, working on the state revolving fund and public-private partnership programs. Before returning to the EPA in 2006, he served as an executive at several water management
companies, including United Water – and its parent company, Suez – and the U.S.
operations of Vivendi (now Veolia), where he focused on innovative financing and infrastructure policy.  Under his leadership, the association has increased outreach efforts on the regulatory and legislative fronts. Michael has also made educating Americans about the value of water and the challenges facing our nation’s water infrastructure a key priority for the NAWC. With a focus on raising awareness of the benefits offered by NAWC member companies, he is frequently quoted in trade publications as well as national outlets including Bloomberg, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Michael is a sought-after speaker for conferences and events across the country and abroad.

In addition to his role with the NAWC, Michael serves on the Pictet Water Fund Advisory Board, the Board of Directors of the National Council for Public-Private Partnerships, the Executive Committee of AquaFed, the International Federation of Private Water Operators and he is Chair of the Association for the Improvement of American Infrastructure’s water subcommittee.

Originally from Minnesota, Michael holds a master of environmental management degree from Duke University and a bachelor’s in biology and geography from Gustavus Adolphus College.

Michael J. Horner Michael J. Horner
Director of Administration and Membership

Mike Horner has worked for the NAWC for more than 20 years and is our Director of Administration and Membership. Mike has had a variety of duties over the years, ranging from publishing a quarterly magazine and planning events to managing the organization's finances.

Prior to joining the organization, he worked for the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association and Bachner Communications, a public relations firm specializing in association management. Mike is a native of Washington, DC, and a graduate of the University of Virginia. He serves as a Chief Election Officer in Arlington, VA, and is an avid dog owner, softball player and drummer.

Marybeth Leongini
Director of Communications 

Marybeth is responsible for the external positioning and overall communications strategy for NAWC. She brings over fifteen years of experience in marketing and public relations to the team. Throughout her career she has worked on behalf of a wide range of industries including health care, financial services, transportation and manufacturing.

Her most recent position prior to joining NAWC was serving as vice president, communications and marketing for the Consumer Bankers Association where she oversaw all marketing and public relations initiatives. During her tenure with CBA, her media relations efforts centered on proactively positioning and raising the profile of CBA, CBA’s leadership and key events and programs.

She also has the unique experience of having worked on the agency side of the business where she was responsible for developing and implementing strategic communication plans for B2B clients as well as new client acquisition.

Marybeth holds a bachelor's degree from Belmont Abbey College and a master's degree in mass communications/public relations from the University of South Carolina. She currently resides in Alexandria, VA.

Petra Smeltzer Petra Smeltzer
Director of Government Relations

Petra Smeltzer manages all federal level outreach and advocacy on behalf of the private water service industry.  

Petra comes to NAWC with broad-based experience in government affairs having worked on the regulatory and legislative fronts at both the federal and state levels.  She is skilled in the areas of lobbying, strategic planning, policy management, coalition building and developing strategic alliances.  She has a strong background working for trade associations and has represented state government, oil and gas, electricity, electric manufacturing – and now, water.

A few of her past positions include the American Petroleum Institute as a public policy advisor and liaison; Governor Taft’s office (State of Ohio) as a federal liaison managing the governor’s energy and environmental issue portfolio; the Electric Power Supply Association (EPSA) as a Washington representative on environmental affairs; and the National Electrical Manufacturing Association (NEMA) on energy efficiency matters on the federal and state levels. Petra enjoys practicing yoga and speaks German fluently.

Jean Smith Jean Smith
Executive Assistant

Jean Smith is executive assistant to Michael Deane and provides overall office and administrative support to our entire team. Jean has extensive senior management support experience specific to the unique needs of associations, including serving as Senior Coordinator, Communications and Government Relations at the National Association of Manufacturers and as Executive Assistant and Office Manager with the American Public Works Association.

Carlos Villanueva Carlos Villanueva
Manager of Information Technology and Member Services

Carlos Villanueva joined the NAWC in July 1999 and is our Manager of Information Technology and Member Services. Carlos manages all IT-related issues, including the purchasing, upgrading and maintenance of equipment, software and help services. He works directly with active and associate members and is responsible for database and contract management, governance, event marketing, sponsorships,  promotions and billing.

Prior to joining the organization, he worked with a telecommunications consulting firm, developing proposals and directing international trade missions for telecommunications decision-makers. Born in the Dominican Republic and a world-traveler, Carlos graduated from George Mason University with a degree in international relations.

   Grace Soderberg
   Director of State regulatory Relations

   Grace Soderberg directs NAWC’s state regulatory
   strategy and leads the regulatory program
   including outreach to state utility commissions
   across the country. Grace builds and enhances
   constructive relationships across utility sectors to
   facilitate NAWC’s efforts through collaborations
   with association partners. This enhances the NAWC's
   work with the National Association of Regulatory
   Utility Commissioners as well as particular states and
commissions where NAWC can have a direct impact on the regulatory environment
in which its members work every day to deliver sustainable water and wastewater services to customers.

Grace brings a wealth of experience in regulatory policy and rate regulation. Grace comes to NAWC from Pepco Holdings, Inc. where she was Manager of Regulatory Affairs. Prior to PHI, Grace was Director, Energy Supply, at the Edison Electric Institute. She started her career in utility regulation, following a federal judicial clerkship, as Assistant General Counsel at NARUC, where she led their energy and environmental activities.

Grace has over ten years of solid industry experience possessing the “big picture” perspective on critical environmental and energy issues. She has long-standing relationships with key stakeholders to facilitate meaningful collaboration and strategic alliances. Her unique trade association experience representing the collective interests of state commissions and shareholder-owned electric companies in the national policy debate was enhanced by experience analyzing and implementing regulatory strategy within a regulated multistate Fortune 500 combination electric and gas utility.  Grace has a Juris Doctor degree from the Vanderbilt University School of Law. She lives in Garrett Park, Maryland with her husband and young daughter.
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