Events / Penn Alumni Water Forum Speaker Spotlight

Penn Alumni Water Forum Speaker Spotlight

February 17, 2023
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Equity and Public Service at the Chicago Department of Water Management


You’re invited to Penn Alumni Water Forum’s Speaker Spotlight, a special edition of our monthly PAWF meeting where we’ll hear from speaker Andrea Cheng, Commissioner of the City of Chicago Department of Water Management, and moderator Neal Jain, (ENG99, WH99, WG06), President of the Penn Club of Chicago and Director at SPINS, LLC. 


What do you think of when you think of careers in public service? Of working for city government? Most likely, stereotypical images are conjured of mundane, monotonous work.


But at Chicago Water, like many water utilities, nothing could be farther from reality. Public sector projects have huge impacts on the everyday life of residents. Chicago Water serves 5.3 million people (almost half the state of Illinois) with the world’s largest conventional water treatment plant, 4,300 miles of water main, and 4,600 miles of sewer main. And some of the world’s most innovative engineering has come out of public service projects– including reversing the Chicago river to protect water quality and building a water intake tunnel miles offshore only two years after the conclusion of the Civil War.


That innovation continues today with the challenge of replacing almost 400,000 lead service lines while focusing on equity. Creativity is key in trying to solve funding challenges and build a workforce necessary to continue equitable innovation in the future.


Date: Friday, February 17th 

Time: 12pm -1pm EST 




About the Speakers: 

Andrea R. Holthouse Cheng (formerly Putz), P.E., Ph.D. is the Commissioner for the City of Chicago Department of Water Management where she spends her days working on her passions – drinking water quality, lead corrosion, public health, and water meters. A licensed Professional Engineer and a Class A Public Water Supply Operator in the State of Illinois, she has been with the Department since 2004.


Andrea is responsible for ensuring drinking water safety throughout the Chicago system. Published over 40 times in peer reviewed journals, Andrea has a BS in Civil (Environmental) Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her MS and Ph.D. in Civil (Environmental) Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.


Neal Jain is a Director at SPINS, LLC, the leading provider of retail consumer insights, analytics and consulting for the Natural, Organic and Specialty Products Industry. Appealing to his entrepreneurial side, he is turning custom analytics into scalable software for his clients. Prior to SPINS, Mr. Jain was a member of the leadership team for Panera Bread’s Catering business responsible for a variety of financial, technology and operational initiatives. His previous professional experience spans consumer/luxury products, telecommunications and technology investment banking. In addition, Mr. Jain currently serves as the President of the Penn Club of Chicago. He earned his MBA in Strategic Management and Marketing from The Wharton School, his BS in Finance and Strategic Management and his BAS in Systems Science as part of the Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology from the University of Pennsylvania.