The United States Society on Dams (USSD) is dedicated to advancing the role of dam and levee systems and building the community of practice.  As the United States member of the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD), USSD provides a forum for the exchange of knowledge and experiences and is charged with leading the profession of dam and levee engineering.

USSD is led by a Board of Directors representing all sectors of the industry, including consultants, contractors, owners, and academia.  USSD members are encouraged to actively participate in committees which work to address current technical issues for dam and levee engineering.

President's Message

President’s Message Spring 2022

Thank You, Sharon.

We will soon have to wish our Executive Director Sharon Powers, a sad but grateful farewell. As most of you already know, Sharon will be leaving us in May. With my President’s message for this issue of the Dams & Levees Bulletin I would like to take a little time to publicly thank Sharon for all she has done for the US Society on Dams, and let a few others who’ve worked closely with her share their own thoughts as well. I noted some of her accomplishments in my last message, but many bear repeating. They include:

  • A membership increase of nearly 25%
  • Launching several in person and online education and training programs, including a learning management system on our website
  • Increasing circulation of USSD Dams & Levees Bulletin and monthly e-Newsletter
  • Creating a successful a virtual conference in 2021 with over 470 registered attendees
  • Securing PPP loans in 2020-2021, both forgiven, during the pandemic
  • Helping secure a multi-year grant from FEMA to develop Tailings Dam Guidelines
  • Ushered in USSD’s updated strategic plan to help guide our initiatives and growth over the next five years

There isn’t enough space here to give everyone the opportunity to share their gratitude for Sharon’s hard work and professionalism, so I encourage you to reach out to her directly and thank her on your own.

Denise Bunte-Bisnett, currently USSD’s Immediate Past President and its President from 2019 to 2021, began working with Sharon during a time of great change for the organization. While serving as Secretary Treasurer, Denise led the search that brought Sharon to USSD in 2017 and had this to say after four-plus years of working together. “I had the good fortune of working with Sharon during her tenure as the USSD Executive Director and learned many valuable lessons. Sharon is a professional non-profit Executive Director extraordinaire and took on the challenge of bringing USSD’s organizational structure into the 21st century. Her strong leadership has stood us in good stead for continued growth and relevance despite a two year-long worldwide pandemic. My hope is that her time leading USSD will also stand her in good stead as she looks forward to future career opportunities.”

Dean Durkee, USSD’s president from 2017 to 2019 and during Sharon’s first couple of years with us, echoed Denise’s thoughts, while also noting that bringing an organizational structure to our day-to-day operation was crucial. “Sharon’s strong managerial skills were just what the organization needed to ‘right the ship’ and prepare USSD for significant growth,” Dean said when speaking with me about Sharon. “We’re currently seeing the benefits of that emphasis on our organization,” he continued. “What we have accomplished, a growing and stable organization, has all been built on that foundation.”

Dina Hunt, USSD’s current Secretary/Treasurer, also noted Sharon’s vision and ability to see the bigger picture. “Sharon is a hardworking and strategic leader, who directed the organization through unprecedented times. Her keen ability to stay informed of industry trends has served USSD well; she is leaving the organization financially secure and with the framework for continued growth and success.”

John Wolfhope, USSD’s President from 2015 to 2017 noted Sharon’s adeptness at embracing technology and the new challenges of working in a virtual world. “She brought us into the modern age,” John said during a recent conversation. “She put us on our current path of serving the dam and levee industry that is currently leading us into the future. And she was instrumental in expanding our reach into the interconnected virtual world. At a time when we had lost our annual conference, our main source of income, she quickly began developing training and webinars. Out of that effort the current Education and Training Committee was formed to help continue producing webinars for our members.”

Marty Teal, currently USSD’s Vice President and a board member since 2015, was appreciative of the professionalism that Sharon brought to the job. “Sharon’s experience with running non-profits and corporate governance allowed the board to focus on strategic initiatives. She was able to organize successful conferences (in person and virtual), grow our educational programs, and increase not only membership and revenues but engagement within our society.  I’m grateful for all that she contributed to USSD and wish her the best for the future.”

Sharon’s reach and impact at USSD will be felt for many years. Our society, which is filled with the best and brightest minds in our industry, has grown and prospered under her leadership.

On behalf of all of our members I want to thank you, Sharon, for your all that you’ve done for the US Society on Dams. We are all, and always will be, appreciative of your efforts.


Del Shannon, President
USSD Board of Directors