NRWA Staff

Executive Team

Matt Holmes

Chief Executive Officer

Matt is responsible for personnel management, grant and contract administration, along with multiple other leadership roles. Prior to working at NRWA, Matt served as the Executive Director of the New Mexico Rural Water Association for 13 years. He has extensive experience in mediation, conflict resolution and facilitating community-based planning processes, always placing emphasis on developing local skills and resources instead of relying on outside assistance.


Brian Churchman

Chief Financial Officer

As the Association’s CFO, Brian is responsible for the daily accounting functions of the organization including financial statement preparation, grant administration and financial reporting. Brian attended Oklahoma State University and earned a degree in Accounting in 1990 and became a CPA in 1994. Prior to joining NRWA, Brian served as the CFO of a regional council of governments in Oklahoma for 23 years.

Vern Steel

Chief Operating Officer

Vern Steel is the new Chief Operating Officer for NRWA. He was previously the Deputy CEO for Rural Water Association of Utah for 24 years and has experience in magazine and web site development, association accounting and association management. With a degree in accounting from the University of Idaho, Vern has extensive experience in financial reporting, employee management relationship building, HR management and grant and funding procurement.

Kalli Forshee

Executive Assistant

Kalli graduated from East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication. She began in the communications department in September of 2018, and then transitioned into the Executive Assistant to the CEO. She serves as a liaison to NRWA’s Board of Directors, coordinates outreach and external relations, compiles relevant information and oversees special projects. Kalli is truly passionate about photography and communicating with others.

Federal Programs

Steve Harper

Federal Programs Director

Steve has more than 25 years of experience in different levels of management and industries. He has been involved with the water sector for the past 10 years. Steve got his start with water by running a small rural water system in southwest South Dakota before taking the reigns of the largest rural water system in the state. For the past three and a half years, he was the Executive Director of Colorado Rural Water Association. 


Shannan Walton

Apprenticeship Program Manager

Shannan has been involved in registered apprenticeship for more than 22 years. She has an exceptional resume, working at the state and national level of apprenticeship and training. Shannan joined the NRWA team in 2018 and has been an integral part of workforce development and initiating the NRWA Apprenticeship Program. She provides technical assistance to State Associations, coordinates multiple projects, writes quarterly grant reports, along with a plethora of other duties.


Audrey Whitefeather

EPA Program Manager

Audrey works with the Circuit Rider, Wastewater, Energy Efficiency, and EPA Training programs in grant reporting and data analysis. Audrey’s professional experience includes Grants Compliance, Internal Auditor, Tribal Administration, Tribal Water Systems and Banking. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a minor in Communications from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma. She is a current graduate student of International Relations at the University of Oklahoma.


Rita Clary

Circuit Rider Program Manager

Rita came to NRWA from the Kansas Rural Water Association, where she served for 10 years. She began as an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Circuit Rider and assisted multiple water systems with funding options. She is currently the Program Manager for the USDA Rural Development Circuit Rider Program.


Barbara Merrill

Compliance Officer

Barbara began working for NRWA in 1984 and has had many roles in the association since then. She has worked on multiple projects and programs in her tenure, including the Circuit Rider, Energy Efficiency and Wastewater Programs. Barbara is currently in charge of keeping the Board of Directors up-to-date with current events and information surrounding NRWA.


Kim Vang

Apprenticeship Program Assistant Manager

Kim has been an important and versatile employee at NRWA for 32 years. She assists the Apprenticeship Program Manager with compiling data for reports, planning of training events, keeping records from apprenticeship coordinators, as well as maintains accounting reports and SubAward agreements. She is also the Program Coordinator for the Utility Management Certification Program.

Pam Murawski

Training and Development Specialist

Pam is the Training and Development Specialist for NRWA. She collaborates with subject matter experts to develop online curriculum to support the Apprenticeship Program. She is lifelong educator with a background in Career and Technical Education and Adult Learning. She earned PhD from the University of South Florida, and her research focused on the experiences of women in the water workforce. She comes to NRWA from the Office of Water Programs at Sacramento State.

Resource Development

Anthony Prince

Development Director

Anthony leads the Membership & Communications team, while building and maintaining relationships with all corporate members and sponsors. Anthony is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and worked for 16 years in the financial industry, gaining experience in staff management, employee training, and consumer and commercial lending.


Cheyenne Jones

Public Relations and Communications Manager

Cheyenne graduated from Oklahoma State University with bachelor’s degrees in Agricultural Communications and Animal Science. She grew up with a diverse background, raising cattle her whole life. She joined the NRWA team in 2019, and takes care of the website, printed media, social media accounts, Rural Water Wire, Rural Water magazine, and other marketing duties. She is currently working toward her Master’s Degree in Strategic Communication from the University of Oklahoma. Cheyenne’s expertise is writing, graphic design, and photography, among other skills.

Becca Murray

Conference and Events Manager

Becca has held multiple roles in the NRWA since her start in 1998. She is currently in charge of all meeting and event planning for NRWA. She coordinates the WaterPro Conference, InService Training, Rural Water Rally, along with multiple other meetings throughout the year.


Dena Powell

Meetings Coordinator

Dena has been with the NRWA for 27 years and has played an important role in our success. She currently assists with planning the exhibits and signage for the WaterPro Conference along with helping Becca plan our other Association events throughout the year.

Shelby Young

Membership Specialist

Shelby Young is a Texas Tech University graduate, earning her Bachelor of Science in Plant and Soil Science in 2016 and her Master of Science in Plant and Soil Science in 2019. Young grew up in a rural agricultural community outside of Plainview, Texas and has remained active in agriculture through her graduate research. She has spent the past year conducting research in Australia through the Fulbright Program, working with Australian cotton growers and plant pathologists on cotton disease issues. She is completing her second Master’s in Agribusiness at Texas Tech University and will graduate in December. Shelby will be coordinating directly with our membership and overseeing our Association Management Software.

Technical & Program Support Team


Brad Reed

Program Support Group Manager

Growing up, Brad worked for his local rural water district reading meters, assisting with leak detection and repairs, and various other tasks before attending college and earning a bachelor’s degree at Lubbock Christian University. Brad began work for NRWA in 1999 as a programmer and technical support representative. Now, Brad ensures everything runs smoothly on the technology side and that Program Managers and others have the data and reports they need.


Steve O’Connor

Database Administrator

Steve has been with NRWA for about 11 years. His primary functions within the association are to maintain the functionality of the federal program data collection systems and their software, maintain association hardware, assist with user support for the federal and association systems and assist with federal program database management and reporting.

David Laughlin

Program Analyst

David began his position with NRWA in August of 2019 and assists with monthly and quarterly reporting for all Federal Programs, offering support to the Program Managers. He has previously worked as a Quality Assurance Specialist, a certified ISO 9001:2015 auditor, and a Reporter and Managing Editor. David is excited to utilize his diverse skills and experience to make a worthwhile impact on the water industry.

Amie Booth

Program Analyst

Amie began her position in August of 2019. Her primary responsibility is providing support to the Program Managers. Her team proofreads and edits the monthly significant contacts from the State Association Programs. Amie has a wealth of experience in the nonprofit world, along with having a working knowledge of federal grants, organization and analysis of a variety of data formats.



Bo Baggett

Accounting Director

Bo manages the NRWA accounting department and prepares NRWA’s financial statements and financial grant reports. His duties include oversight of NRWA’s single audit, scholarship program, and accounting for the Water Institute. As a Certified Public Accountant, Bo has 10+ years of experience in tax and payroll accounting.


Jeana Earnhart


Jeana has been with NRWA since 1995 and is responsible for all payments made by NRWA including vendors, board members, and staff travel reimbursements. She also initiates electronic payments of federal program funds to State Affiliates. Jeana is a graduate of East Central University and enjoys traveling and outdoor activities. 


Dennis Novotny

Federal Program Accountant

Dennis oversees State Association’s accounting to NRWA for all federal programs. Dennis also performs payroll and employee benefit coordination for NRWA and Atlantic States Rural Water & Wastewater Association.


Gloria York

Rural Water Loan Fund Administrator

Gloria has been with NRWA since 2015.  Her duties include managing NRWA’s Revolving Loan fund and additional accounting duties within the department. Gloria is a native of Duncan, who graduated from Cameron University with a degree in Business Administration.   

Angie Brantley


Angie began working for NRWA in January of 2020. Angie is no stranger to NRWA, previously holding an accounting position for 13 years. She has taught middle school math at Marlow Public Schools for the last eight and a half years. Angie assists with accounts receivable and other general duties in her new position with the accounting department.

Legislative & Regulatory

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Bill Simpson

Director of Legislative Affairs

Bill began his position with NRWA in 2008 with 19 years of experience in the legislative and executive branches of the government. Bill’s prior experience included serving on the Senate Appropriation Committee for over seven years with positions on the Full Committee and the Subcommittees on Transportation, HUD and Agriculture, Rural Development and Related Agencies. Previous government experience also includes serving in several positions with two previous members of Congress and within the Mississippi Department of Agriculture.


Michael Preston

Legislative Analyst

Michael Preston is a legislative and policy analyst for NRWA and has worked with the Association for over a decade. Michael works within the Halls of Congress and at USDA, EPA and DOL to procure funding for rural and small community water and wastewater systems. He considers the NRWA membership the key to the success of the American economy and vital to public health protection.


Mike Keegan

Regulatory Analyst

Mike Keegan started with NRWA Washington office in 1992 after working for various elected officials in Michigan and the U.S. House of Representatives. Mike works on appropriations, legislative, litigation, and regulatory issues under the direction and tutelage of Bill Simpson. Mike is committed to ensuring that the 1987 Bear Creek, Mississippi, 7 U.S.C. § 1926 ruling remains precedent.

Jennifer Palmiotto

Senior Federal Policy Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Palmiotto began working for NRWA in March 2021 in a new position as Senior Federal Policy Advisor. She acts as a liaison between federal agencies and Rural Water. Jennifer served as the Executive Director of the Granite State Rural Water Association from 2007-2021, successfully leading that association to become a sustainable, trusted, and respected water organization in New Hampshire. Jennifer graduated from Yale University and is a talented watercolor artist.