Owner Award 2022

2022 Thomas "Tommy" Rawls Distinguished Owner Award

The Thomas "Tommy" Rawls Distinguished Owner Award is given annually to an individual who has demonstrated leadership in the advancement of effective design-build practices and in the promotion of design-build as a project delivery method of choice. The award is named in honor of Tommy Rawls (1967 - 2021). Tommy personified the ultimate design-builder by always applying best practices to enhance success in all of his undertakings. He was a leader in the truest sense and used his strengths as a team and relationship builder, collaborator, problem solver, educator, encourager, cheerleader, salesman, and best and trusted friend to organize and guide his teams to successful outcomes. 

In his role as a project manager on complex wastewater, water and transportation projects, Tommy always searched for better ways. He learned all he could about design-build as he got actively engaged in DBIA at national, regional and chapter levels.


Debbie Daugherty was instrumental in bringing design-build to Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU). Early in her private-sector career, she had gained experience with design-build projects. Upon joining GRU she supervised treatment plant and linear piping projects that were undertaken as design-bid-build projects. She found that construction was difficult without early contractor input and the results were often modified by end users. As her career progressed and she assumed leadership roles at GRU, Debbie began encouraging the utility to rethink how capital improvement projects were being delivered. She planted the seed for more effective and efficient delivery methods.

In 2017 GRU began to develop its largest wastewater project to date, the Main Street WRF Capacity and Renewal Upgrade. Debbie knew they would need a different delivery approach to successfully accomplish a project of its magnitude and complexity. That's when she became a champion of design-build. She reached out to other industry design-builders and became involved with DBIA. In 2018 she earned her Assoc. DBIA and encouraged and supported others within GRU to become certified. GRU has now embarked on its second progressive design-build project to accomplish an innovative beneficial reuse project, the GRU Groundwater Recharge Wetland Park.