Translate: English Spanish Vietnamese

Behind the Tap Spotlight: Risk Management Director Karen Riser

 Meet CCWA Risk Management Director Karen Riser. Karen has the complex job of managing CCWA’s property and casualty insurance program, overseeing the procurements process in reference to quotes/ bids and CCWA’s Warehouse, ensuring compliance with established policies in the CCWA Law and Policy Manual and Georgia Public Works Law or any special funding such as GEFA loans and 319 grants, and integrating CCWA’s Small Local Business Enterprise (SLBE) Program into the procurement process.

woman sitting at a desk

Risk Management Director Karen Riser

With the property and casualty insurance program the most common issues are vehicle accidents both damage and injuries to the other party, stormwater flooding and sinkholes, non-employee injuries from stepping in a meter box or manhole to slipping in one of our parking lots, customer sewer backups in their home, damage to CCWA property from mechanical failure and contract disputes. These issues involve working closely with staff from many departments. “I appreciate staff being proactive and bringing issues (or potential issues) up as soon as they become aware of the issues or situation.”

She also reviews service agreements and contracts for the purchase of goods and services for CCWA departments to mitigate the authority’s risk and yet meet the department’s need. She monitors and implements changes in Georgia law as it relates to Public Works and procurement standards. She works as a liaison with external legal staff on a variety of topics, most commonly contract review, procurement disputes, lawsuits and legal opinions.

Karen has gained unparalleled knowledge about many aspects of CCWA’s operations over the course of her 23+ years career. This variety is one of the aspects the enjoys most about her job.

“Every week seems to bring on new challenges, questions or concerns that need to be evaluated and a plan of action created to address the situation.” She adds. “I also enjoy working with all the various departments and many staff to educate them (I like staff to understand the “why”) and assist in providing solid advice to handle any situations that arise.”

She works to standardize processes and CCWA bid documents for both internal led and engineer led procurements including the SLBE component. “I work closely with Program Management & Engineering staff as they have the bulk of the large construction bids, some of which are designed internally (such as pipeline replacement projects) and other projects designed by one of our five external, On-Demand engineering firms that are currently under contract with CCWA,” she adds. “The objective is to mitigate CCWA’s risk yet have a fair and transparent procurement process for all our contractors, consultants, vendors and suppliers all while complying with CCWA policies and Georgia law.”

Karen serves as CCWA Ambassador volunteering at CCWA’s signature events like Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day and Wetlands & Watershed Festival. She also serves on CCWA’s COVID-19 Task Force that was formed in March 2020 by General Manager H. Bernard Franks and still meets to determine safety protocols and other actions needed while navigating the pandemic. “I feel like we have lost some collaboration by not being in the office together. We have been resilient and adapted to teleworking which has allowed the work to continue. We have had to move to virtual pre-bid meetings and bid openings. The fatigue of virtual meetings is real.”

Karen’s work brings many challenges. When asked about the biggest she faces, she mentioned her upcoming retirement in April 2022. “With my upcoming retirement, the biggest challenge is leaving CCWA in a good place with a well-trained staff and documentation to carry on. The other item would be to modernize our business processes to become more efficient and effective when it comes to procurement.” #waterprofessional