Apply by Monday for California’s Leading Water Leadership Program
Learn how the program played out amid a pandemic, and the strategy for next year's class
Since 1997, we have been running California’s preeminent water leadership program, graduating more than 400 engineers, lawyers, scientists, farmers, environmentalists and others who care deeply about the future of water in our state.
Our Water Leaders program aimed at early to mid-career professionals is second to none, even when the pandemic hit, forcing the 2020 class to meet virtually for much of the year.
“Amid the challenges of this year, participating in the Water Leaders class brought a breath of fresh air and reminded me why I love working in this field,” said Katie Ruby, a water resources engineer with Brown and Caldwell who participated in the 2020 class.
Cora Kammeyer, senior research associate with the Pacific Institute, agreed: “Going through this program has been so valuable and rewarding.”
Apply by Monday (Dec. 21) at 5 p.m. to be considered for the 2021 class. Learn about the requirements and get all the application materials here. The year begins with a mandatory orientation on Feb. 11.
Among other facets of the program, class members are paired with a mentor who is a leader in the water world from the government, urban, agricultural, environmental or private sector, and meet with classmates to develop policy recommendations on an assigned topic. The 2020 topic was Adapting Water Management to Climate Change.
“My experience with the Water Leaders class of 2020 has increased my passion for the societal benefits realized by bringing diverse stakeholders together and improving the collective understanding and empathy of all,” said Carl B. Evers III, vice president of Hancock Natural Resources Group.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, the 2021 class will begin in a virtual format, but will move to in-person meetings in our Sacramento office when it is safe.
The program also includes attending two of our popular water tours.
In 2020, we transitioned to virtual water journeys that were praised by many, including Water Leader class members. Ruby said she was initially skeptical about how the virtual tours would turn out.
“I never should have doubted Jenn, Nick, Liz, and the rest of the (Foundation) team! They adapted amazingly, making the tours as immersive as possible,” Ruby said. “As always, the speakers were engaging and brought a wide variety of perspectives, and it was great to have a live Q&A session after the tour.”
In 2021, the Foundation will hold off on its flagship Bay-Delta tour (a requirement for all Water Leaders) as long as possible with the hope that it can be in person, said Jenn Bowles, the Foundation’s executive director who leads the Water Leaders program.
If the pandemic persists and forces tours to go virtual for the entire year, members of the Water Leaders class will participate in two virtual tours and receive credit for one in-person tour when we can safely conduct them again, Bowles said.
The application for the 2021 Water Leaders carries a $35 nonrefundable fee. Tuition for the year is $4,250. Limited scholarship funding is available, including the John P. Fraser Water Leaders Fellowship for employees of a public member agency of the Association of California Water Agencies.
[If you'd like to watch a video of the Nov. 17 Zoom call with Foundation staff giving tips on applying and other information, please email Liz McAllister.]