Positive Wave Award


The September Positive Wave Award winner is Susan Lancho, Senior Manager, External Communications, at Kentucky American Water. Lancho oversees the company’s strategic communications and community outreach, including media relations, corporate philanthropy, and customer communications but her impact extends beyond the confines of her job.

Meriah Osbourne, who works in another department as Supervisor of Customer Advocacy, nominated Susan for recognition because of Susan’s generosity in serving as an informal mentor for people new to the company and to the industry, as well as for her laserlike focus on customers, particularly in underserved rural areas.

“The compassion and consideration that Susan shows our customers extends to her coworkers as well. As a young woman and new to the business, I often seek Susan’s guidance and advice,” said Meriah. “She seems to have an endless supply of patience, wisdom, and kindness. She makes those around her feel welcome, listened-to, and valued. She is so patient, and her plate is full all of the time, but she never makes me feel like I am a burden.”

Not satisfied to simply react to customer inquiries, Susan actively seeks out local organizations who could benefit from the AW Low-Income Assistance program, “H2O Help to Others.” Such programs are especially important in rural areas that may not have a lot of active nonprofits to help funnel those in need to sign up for the grant program. She is always looking to expand the number of nonprofit partner agencies.

It requires a certain amount of initial sign-up paperwork to get enrolled as a community partner so some organizations will say they are not interested, or not interested now. These organizations have very small staffs.

“Whereas some people would be content with the current list of agencies, Susan is constantly reaching out to encourage new community partners to sign up for the H2O Help to Others Program,” said Meriah. “If Susan gets a ‘no’ or a ‘not now,’ she follows up gently and tries to help them with the process. She does not give up because she knows these local organizations are key to helping those in need. When we do add them as an agency, she checks in to see if there is something that can be helped and keeps them updated on changes.”

Susan also is a wonderful volunteer on her own time. She has taken leadership roles in critical community nonprofits. She serves on the board for Women Leading Kentucky, Vice Chair on the board for Lexington Catholic High School and is a board member of the Lexington Public Library Foundation.

Every company would be lucky to have an employee like Susan Lancho!

What does it mean to go above and beyond?

As water industry professionals, our main priority is to ensure we deliver safe, reliable water to our customers. How can someone go above and beyond their duties that fulfill that goal?

Examples could include: 

  • Went out of their way to listen and help a customer
  • Took action to really help their coworkers and make things better for them
  • Persevered to meet a challenging problem in an innovative way that helped the company and/or a customer
  • Demonstrated caring and connection with the communities we serve whether on the job or in their volunteer work
  • Made an effort to do things in a more sustainable way even though it isn’t their job
  • Developed an innovative solution to customer or team challenges
  • Led by example, inspiring leadership
  • Managed a crisis successfully
  • Assisted with COVID-19 relief efforts

Equal Opportunity Recognition

Not everyone has the authority to make the measurable and sizable impacts that are visible to everyone in a company. The criteria for NAWC Positive Wave Award nominees is intentionally designed to recognize those who may be newer to the industry or may be in staff level or field positions. We encourage nominations for candidates of all backgrounds and ranks. This award can provide the third-party recognition that can really boost someone’s spirits and motivation and also show them and the outside world how much they are appreciated.


  • We will be taking nominations every quarter. 
  • Nominations can come from colleagues, supervisors, team members, vendors, partners and other people outside the company.
  • The application is simple to fill out. Don’t worry about being a good writer.
  • A panel of judges from various NAWC member companies will evaluate all of the applications to determine who should be the winner of the Positive Wave Award.
  • Employees of NAWC member companies in good standing are eligible for consideration to win the NAWC Positive Wave Award.

What Do They Win?

  • The knowledge that their actions made a difference and people appreciated it.
  • Recognition in NAWC publications including Week in Water and the CEO letter.
  • Inclusion in NAWC’s social media channel content. Shareable with the world.
  • An award certificate to post proudly on the wall, or on social media.
  • All Positive Wave Award winners will be automatically entered into consideration for the annual Living Water Award given out at the NAWC Annual Water Summit.
For more information, contact Meredith Moore at meredith@nawc.com

Positive Wave Award

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