Camden-based American Water announced that Susan Story, current president and CEO, will retire April 1, 2020. She will be succeeded by Walter Lynch, currently chief operating officer of the largest publicly traded U.S. water and wastewater utility company.
“Being CEO of this great company has been a dream come true for me this past six years,” Story said. “We know that what we do, delivering the critical health need of clean and safe water and water services, is truly a noble calling, and not just a job. Most importantly, I get the privilege and honor of working with incredibly talented and dedicated co-workers—my heroes—every day.
“After 38 years of working in the utility business, I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every part of this journey—and completing it at American Water in a few months will be a perfect way to finish. After April 1, I look forward to continuing to participate in business through my board work, spending more time with my family, and becoming more involved in charitable efforts that are very dear to me such as education initiatives for young people in economically distressed communities.”
Lynch, who will assume the president and CEO role on April 1 following Story’s retirement, started his career with the company in 2001. He has served as COO since 2008 with responsibility for a large part of the company.
“At her first board meeting as CEO in 2014, Susan shared that she believed we should immediately address succession planning,” said Karl Kurz, chairman of the American Water board of directors. “Of course, as a board we knew this was critical, and we appreciate that she has so openly supported these efforts with the board throughout her tenure.
“She has too many accomplishments to list, but I would note that American Water became the first and continues to be the only water utility to become part of the S&P 500, the Dow Jones Utility Average, and the Philadelphia Utilities Index during her CEO tenure. Additionally, our five-year total shareholder return through the 3rd quarter of this year is 186% compared to 67% for the S&P 500, and our dividend growth CAGR over the past five years is 10.4%. And she did it while always living up to the company’s strong values.
“Walter is an exceptional choice for CEO and as a board we have full confidence that he will continue our record of strong industry leadership and financial performance,” Kurz continued. “He knows the company, our employees, regulators and communities, and has played a key role in our successes over the past decade.”
“It has been an absolute honor to work with Susan over the past six years,” said Lynch. “She cares deeply about our employees, our customers, our communities and our shareholders. With Susan at the helm, American Water is now part of the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index, the NAACP’s Inaugural Equity Inclusion and Empowerment Index, a Best for Vets employer, Military Friendly Spouse Employer, and the Disability Equality Index with a perfect 100% score. Most importantly to her and all of us is the top priority she has put on employee safety, with a 60% reduction in overall employee injuries over the past five years and a 82% reduction in serious injuries since she became CEO. Both the leadership team and I are deeply committed to continuing all of these efforts, as our company values will not change.
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