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A Life Changing Experience

DC Water Apprentice Richard Salmon on the Job
June 27, 2022

By Morris Nuamah, DC Water Office of Marketing and Communications

DC Water is a place where career goals and community engagement intersect, continually. Such is the case for Richard Salmon (Utility Services Worker), who encapsulated the messaging of countless campaigns into one sound bite-worthy proclamation: “Water is life.” He’s right. Salmon was the first graduate of the DC Water Apprenticeship Program, and the District native’s words demonstrate an understanding of the significance of DC Water’s impact on its workforce and the communities it serves. 

Salmon hails from the Brightwood area of Northwest, where he says, “Everyone wanted to work at WASA (now DC Water).” As a child, Salmon was fascinated with trucks. Now, he works on 16,000 lbs. vehicles that require a CDL license to operate. His experience with DC Water started at the satellite office on MLK Avenue and the DC Infrastructure Academy. During this time, Salmon enrolled in a 125-hour green infrastructure course. Upon completion, he met several senior managers and staff members including Linda Fennell and Korey Gray from Compliance and Business Development, and David Gadis, CEO and General Manager of DC Water, at the graduation ceremony. They advised him to consider the Utility Services track in the new Apprenticeship Program.

In the Apprenticeship Program, Salmon spent two years sharpening his skills with 3,000 hours of on-the-job training over two-and-a-half years. Since completion of the program, Salmon has been promoted to Grade 8 Utility Service Worker. The promotion came with a pay boost and more responsibility. The gains were hard won, but worthwhile. 

And Salmon hasn’t slowed down since his apprenticeship success. He’s excited about his future at DC Water, says he has learned many skills, and is now working on obtaining a Class A CDL license. “I want to do an internship, grow with the company, and get into engineering and construction management.” As the father of a growing family, he is also interested in utilizing the benefits DC Water provides to its employees, such as the tuition assistance program. 

Salmon attributes his success to a supportive team and keen long term planning. He advises colleagues not to hesitate to take advantage of the opportunity. “Don’t be afraid to take one step back to take two steps ahead. It’s worth it in the end.” He credits his supervisor, Kevin Jhingory (General Foreman), and Gerald Newsome (Utility Service Lead), with providing career support and advocacy. “Kevin has an open door policy, and Gerald took time to help me build and sharpen skills. They also trust me to take initiative.”

The career development has impacted Salmon’s life in meaningful ways. “I’m able to do what I love and work in the environmental space while giving back to the community.” The influence of leadership and community care is something Salmon takes seriously. He shares these values with his own family and takes pride in the ability to provide agency to his loved ones. He says his family has “room to grow” and that it “raises the bar of expectation,” further enabling him to lead by example. “The DC Water uniform represents accomplishment in the community.” We agree.