Kentucky American announced Tuesday it has named its first female president in the company's history.
Cheryl Norton, vice president of operations for fellow American Water subsidiary Illinois American Water, will assume her new role Jan. 10.
"Lexington is such a beautiful area," she said. "It seemed like such a perfect fit for me and my family."
She takes the responsibilities of Nick Rowe, who has led Kentucky American since 2004 and has been senior vice president for American Water's Eastern Division, which includes operations in more than a half-dozen states. Rowe will now focus exclusively on that senior oversight role, the company said in a statement, and he will remain based in Lexington.
In a statement, Rowe emphasized Norton's experience in the water utility industry, which dates to 1988, when she was hired to work as a research technician in American Water's national laboratory in Illinois. She was named the lab's director in 2000 and then joined Illinois American Water in 2007.
"I look forward to the new leadership and contributions she will bring to Kentucky American Water, the communities we serve and the commonwealth," he said.
Norton said the promotion will allow her to "use what I've learned at Illinois American as vice president of operations and apply it to the entire Kentucky American business as a whole."
"It gives me a chance to do more external things and really help build relationships in Lexington," she said.
Norton's educational background includes a bachelor's degree in biology and a master's degree in environmental studies from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. She was honored by the American Water Works Association in 1992 for research work on drinking-water disinfection, according to Kentucky American.