The William R. Gianelli Water Leaders Class is a one-year program that identifies up-and-coming community leaders from diverse backgrounds, including members of minority and ethnic communities, and educates them about water issues.
The program enhances individual leadership skills and prepares participants to take an active, cooperative approach to decision-making about water resource issues. Leading stakeholders and top policymakers serve as mentors to class members.
The program began in 1997 and we are particularly proud that several of our “Water Leaders” have gone on to achieve top positions at the state Legislature, government agencies, nonprofit organizations and leading private companies involved in water.
William R. “Bill” Gianelli served as Assistant Secretary for the Army in charge of the Corps of Engineers from 1981 to 1984 and Director of the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) from 1967 to 1973 during major construction on the State Water Project. He began his career with DWR in 1946 and continues as a Consulting Civil Engineer. He is past president of the Water Education Foundation. He resides in Monterey, California.
Criteria for Acceptance
Commitment to understanding water issues;
Commitment to the community through volunteer activities;
Interest in seeking leadership roles on public boards and commissions, and/or
Potential or existing opportunities for advancement to key leadership roles within their own organizations
Designed as a program for working professionals in early- to mid-career, participation involves a time commitment from both the class member and the employer. Class members are required to:
Attend a special one-day class orientation in January;
Attend two Foundation water tours (tours are two or three days);
Attend the Foundation’s one-day Executive Briefing in March and participate in the Water Leaders auction;
Spend a day “shadowing” a major water leader (from government, urban, agriculture, environmental organization, private businesses, or public interest group);
Interview the water leader about an issue selected for the class;
Attend special work-group meetings to develop a class PowerPoint presentation and written report about the assigned water topic;
Attend the Foundation’s Winter Board of Directors’ meeting to make a presentation.
Tuition is $3,950 for the year-long program, which helps to cover attendance at Foundation events. Each year, some scholarship funding is available, including the William R. “Bill” Gianelli fund. To contribute to the Water Leaders Class, contact Beth Stern.
Contact Kasey Chong for any questions about the Water Leaders Program or scholarships opportunities.
What was your job when you were in the water leaders class? Associate Attorney for Somach Simmons & Dunn
What does your job focus on these days?
I’m the senior attorney in the department that handles the natural resources and environmental issues for our members across California with respect to water, land use, endangered species and air quality. As a practical matter, though, 70 percent of my work is water-related.