| Future water utility leaders: This opportunity is for you
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Future water utility leaders: This opportunity is for you

To help prepare the next generation of water utility leaders to address future challenges, the American Water Works Association (AWWA), in collaboration with the WaterNow Alliance, is launching a Transformative Water Leadership Academy this November. The curriculum will include experiential learning, mentorships and locally-relevant capstone projects that address social, environmental, equity, and financial performance.

Transformative Leadership diagramThe leadership program is being funded through a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA established the Innovative Water Infrastructure Workforce Development Grant Program in 2020 to help build the water workforce and connect individuals to career opportunities in drinking water and wastewater utilities, as well as expand public awareness about these career opportunities. 

AWWA was one of 10 grant recipients from around the country and has collaborated with WaterNow Alliance and other partners to develop the leadership curriculum. AWWA’s grant was nearly $300,000. In total, EPA distributed $3.8 million in grants in 2020 and 2021.  

Through a 10-month program, the leadership academy will offer a diverse group of participants a combination of in-person and virtual instruction including instructor-led and group discussions and project/activity implementation. 

Participants will be selected through a process that includes being recommended, and young professionals, operators and other emerging leaders are encouraged to apply. Grant funding will cover the costs for a cohort of 50 participants the first year. AWWA plans to offer the leadership program on an annual basis.

The core concepts of the training are designed to support sustainable communities and affect change. They include:

  • Protecting public health
  • Safeguarding the environment
  • Advancing diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Strengthening public trust
  • Inspiring innovation
  • Thinking globally and acting locally

AWWA experience, future outlook informs training concept

Alane BoydAlane Boyd, retired executive director of AWWA’s Intermountain Section, and Tim Worley, retired executive director of the California-Nevada Section, were instrumental in developing the academy concept based on their extensive experience in working with emerging leaders at the local and regional level.  

“We really hope these leadership concepts can help participants create change, bring more diversity and holistic decision-making into utility leadership, and transform their organizations,” Boyd said. “We hope these future leaders will include the core concepts in making daily and major decisions so as to consider both short-term and long-term priorities.” 

She explained that the core concepts were built off of AWWA’s 2025 Strategic Plan and tie directly to the Association’s new Water 2050 Initiative.

AWWA CEO David LaFrance said that providing this unique learning opportunity for emerging leaders is key to the water community’s success in being prepared for 2050. 

“The Transformative Water Leadership Academy, through its mission of developing leadership skills at the intersection of utility, society, and environment, provides a strong foundation for ensuring the water community’s sustainable and resilient future,” he said. “AWWA’s members have always led the way to a brighter future, and we’re proud to help continue that vision into the future.”

More details about the Transformative Leadership Academy will be shared at ACE22 and in future AWWA member communications. Please direct questions to Teresa Crane, AWWA grants program manager.