Cole Blackwell is the General Manager of the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority. Previously, Cole served as the Director of Operations and Assistant General manager from 2017 to 2021, Finance Director from 2012 to 2017 and Wyckoff Assistant Division Manager from 2010 to 2012. Prior to coming to CCMWA, Cole worked in leadership roles with both the City of Canton and Cherokee County Water and Sewage Authority bringing with him over 20 years experience in the utility industry.
Cole received his undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Kennesaw State University, a master’s degree in Accountancy from Southern Polytechnic State University, and is a Certified Public Accountant licensed in the State of Georgia. Additionally, Cole is a Class I Operator licensed in the State of Georgia.
Director of Engineering
Rita joined CCMWA in 2019 as an Engineer, with 11 years of engineering experience within the municipal water and wastewater industry. Prior to CCMWA, she held positions at Cobb County Water System and Jacobs Engineering. Rita oversees the development and implementation of the Capital Improvement Program delivering sustainable infrastructure that meets the needs of the community in the most effective possible manner.
Rita earned her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering degree, specializing in water resources engineering, from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She received the 2013 Georgia Association of Water Professionals Emerging Leadership award and the 2023 Georgia Section of the American Water Works Association William J. Green award. She is a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of Georgia.
Director of Finance
Allison joined CCMWA in 2015 as an Accountant in the Finance Division, bringing 7 years of municipal finance experience from previous positions with the City of Mt. Vernon, IL Police Pension Board, the City of Mt. Vernon, IL, and the City of Powder Springs, GA. In 2017, Allison was promoted to Director of Finance where she oversees the development and management of the annual operating and capital budgets, administers CCMWA’s financial accounting functions, ensure compliance with all financial reporting requirements, and directs the functions of payroll, accounts payable, fixed assets, utility billing, purchasing, and investment portfolio management. The Director of Finance also manages the daily operations of the Finance Division.
In this role, Allison has continued to lead the Finance Division to receive the GFOA Distinguished Budget Award and the GFOA Excellence in Financial Reporting Award, which have been awarded to CCMWA each year since 2013. In 2019, CCMWA received its first special recognition award from GFOA for performance measures presented as part of the 2019 budget document’s divisional goals and objectives. Allison has earned an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois, a master’s degree in Accountancy from Shorter University in Rome, GA and is a Certified Public Accountant licensed in the State of Georgia.
Patrick Henley, SPHR
Director of Human Resources
Patrick Henley joined the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority in 2017 and currently serves as the Director of Human Resources. Prior to working at CCMWA, Patrick worked in HR and Risk Management leadership roles with the City of Marietta / Board of Lights and Water for more than eight years. Additionally, Patrick teaches courses in HR, Business, Leadership/Management, and Technology at the college level.
Patrick earned his undergraduate degree in Psychology from Kennesaw State University, a master’s degree in Business Administration from Troy University, and is currently working on his Doctorate in Business Administration at the Florida Institute of Technology. Patrick holds a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification from HRCI and a Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) from the Society of Human Resources Management.
Director of Information Technology
Lonnie Gilmore joined the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority in January 2013 as the Information Technology Manager. In 2022, Lonnie was promoted to Director of Information Technology where he oversees the IT helpdesk, network management, cybersecurity, physical security of all CCMWA sites, and telecommunications. Prior to working at CCMWA, Lonnie worked with the City of East Point for eight years, including over three years in a leadership role. Additionally, Lonnie worked for the City of College Park and as an IT contractor with the City of Palmetto Police Department.
Lonnie earned his undergraduate degree in Computer Science from Morehouse College, and he received the Certificate of Local Government Management in 2011. He also received the 2017 Employee Spotlight Award from CCMWA.
Director of Operations
Dawn Lei joined the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority in July 2022 and brought with her extensive experience from three large water utilities across the nation: Southern Nevada Water Authority, Golden State Water Company, and City of Tampa Water Department. Dawn is responsible for the Authority's two surface water treatment plants and the supporting divisions: Transmission, Laboratory, and Maintenance. Directed by the General Manager, she works with the other executive team members in CCMWA’s mission of providing safe, sustainable, and reliable drinking water to the region.
Dawn earned her Doctor of Philosophy degree in Environmental Chemistry at Nankai University in China and her Doctor of Environmental Engineering at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of California and Florida.
CCMWA Management Team Contact Information
|Cole E. Blackwell, CPA
|Director of Operations
|Dawn Lei, PhD, P.E.
|Director of Engineering
|Rita Neely, P.E.
|Director of Finance
|Allison Clements, CPA
|Director of Human Resources
|Patrick Henley, SPHR
|Director of Information Technology
|Laboratory Division Manager
|Karen M. Osborne
|Maintenance Division Manager
|Quarles Treatment Division Manager
|Brandon L. Smith
|Transmission Division Manager
|Jacob Wilson, P.E.
|Wyckoff Treatment Division Manager
|Terry L. Wilson
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