Aqua continues to highlight each of our eight states for a month at a time. Throughout July, our focus has been on sharing all about Aqua Ohio. One way we’re sharing our story, is by sharing our employees’ stories.
When Aqua Ohio Area Manager Jennifer Johnson was preparing to graduate from Youngstown State University in the spring of 1998, she wasn’t expecting her first job to be with a water utility.
“When I was first hired by Aqua Ohio in the spring of my senior year of college, I used to think that I just had a job with a utility company,” said Johnson. “Now, after many years in the field and holding different positions within Aqua, I consider myself a utility professional.”
Johnson started as communications coordinator for Aqua Ohio in 1998 and held the position for seven years. But the desire to explore beyond eastern Ohio was strong and she moved with her family (husband Kevin and son, Kevin Jr.) to Columbus. For five years she was the director of human resources at a law firm before she felt the pull to move back home.
Johnson and her family moved back to her hometown of Lowellville, Ohio in 2010 when she began her second position at Aqua as Ohio’s Customer Field Services Manager. In 2015, Johnson became the area manager for the Struthers Division at Aqua Ohio, her current position today.
As area manager, Johnson is responsible for the overall management and operations of the water and wastewater facilities within her division, including operational efficiency, financial viability, quality customer service, employee engagement, regulatory compliance, and community relationships.
Johnson’s first two years as area manager have been busy and productive. Not only did Aqua purchase land and break ground on a new building in Struthers, but Johnson hired and on-boarded 11 new employees and negotiated a five-year rate plan with 10 municipal authorities in the Struthers Division service territory.
As one of the few female area managers, Johnson is well aware that she is in a traditionally male profession and role. She is grateful to be surrounded by a very supportive group of colleagues and division team at Aqua.
“The overwhelming majority of feedback I receive in the community is very supportive, especially from other women,” said Johnson. “As a female in a traditionally male role, I feel pride and a responsibility to be a role model for young girls; to show them women can do anything.”
While Johnson’s work life is demanding, she is appreciative to have time to take part in another passion – giving back.
“I was very fortunate during my early years at Aqua to have the opportunity to be involved in local community organizations,” said Johnson. “Now, as an area manager, I am able to direct my community involvement and Aqua’s philanthropic support to local community events and organizations that directly benefit our customer base. The Struthers Division is very visible in the community and we go beyond ‘writing a check.’”
Johnson serves on the Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley Community Leadership Council and serves as co-chair of Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley Breakfast with Santa event, which raises more than $10,000 each year for the hospital. The hospital services the Struthers service territory and Johnson believes it’s important to give back to such a prominent hospital that provides such a vital service to the community.
Johnson also serves as president of the Rotary Club of Struthers, chairperson of the Lowellville Schools Foundation and is a member of the Youngstown Business Incubator Women’s Entrepreneurship Program Steering Committee.
“This job has showed me that it is possible to have a family, successful career and time to give back,” said Johnson. “I am thankful to work for Aqua, a company that believes in supporting a work-life balance, which allows me to grow in my career and support community efforts that I am passionate about.”