Colorado River Water Leaders
Get information on the inaugural class and application materials to apply for the 2022 class by Jan. 28
Known for our Water Leaders program in California – now in its 25th year – we are launching an inaugural Colorado River Water Leaders program in 2022, the 100th anniversary of the Colorado River Compact.
The biennial program will select rising stars from the Upper and Lower basins (California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming), and eventually include Mexico. Applicants should be up-and-coming leaders in their early to mid-career at state and federal agencies, including the Bureau of Reclamation, water and irrigation districts, tribal nations, environmental groups, agricultural interests, private companies and non-governmental organizations.
The program’s goal is to build a network of water leaders from diverse backgrounds across the basin who will deepen their knowledge of the iconic Southwestern river, build their leadership skills and learn how to understand other perspectives.
The 2022 program begins with a reception in Las Vegas the evening before our three-day Lower Colorado River Tour, March 16-18, and concludes with our Colorado River Symposium in Santa Fe, Sept. 21-23.
To stay informed on the deadlines, details and virtual Q&A sessions for those considering applying to our inaugural Colorado River Water Leaders program, sign up here for Foundation news announcements.
If you are interested in applying or want to sponsor a candidate from your organization, view this 30-minute virtual Q&A session with Executive Director Jenn Bowles who offered an overview of the program and tips on how to submit a good application.
- Are paired with a mentor who is a leading expert
- Develop a policy paper with their cohort on an assigned topic
- Attend virtual work group meetings with their cohort
- Attend our Lower Colorado River Tour, March 16-18
- Attend our biennial Colorado River Symposium in Santa Fe (Sept. 21-23) to present policy ideas
Acceptance to the program is extremely competitive and requires a commitment of time from those applying and their organizations. Read below to get more details and learn what you need to submit by Jan. 28 to be considered for the inaugural 2022 class.
Who should apply:
The program is geared toward emerging leaders who are between their early to mid-career and are involved in water issues in the Colorado River Basin among the seven states that rely on the river: California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado.
Applicants can work for a state agency involved in water or a federal agency such as the Bureau of Reclamation or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; a nongovernmental organization; a water or irrigation district; tribal nation, or a private company.
Many cohorts in our California program have included lawyers, scientists, engineers, communicators, academics and educational specialists, environmental advocates, farmers, tribal members or those who work for tribes on water issues; planners and legislative aides.
Send any questions to Executive Director Jenn Bowles via email.
Follow these steps to submit your application package by Jan. 28, 2022 at 5 p.m. (Pacific Time):
Step 1: Read the program requirements above and determine if you can meet the time commitment in 2022. In addition, make sure you have the support of your organization to apply.
Step 2: Fill out the online application form here.
Step 3: After filling out the form, submit the following documents in one email to Sarah Angulo at firstname.lastname@example.org:
- A one-page written statement addressed to the selection committee describing why you are interested in participating in the class (make this your best effort).
- Your resume.
- A reference letter addressed to the selection committee from your employer/supervisor that explains their support for the time commitment of the program and why they are supporting you specifically.
- A statement of financial need if you are applying for a scholarship. Please first ask your organization if they can pay the tuition as scholarship funds are limited.
Step 4: Send a nonrefundable application fee of $35:
- Use the credit card authorization form to the left, or at the bottom.
- Or send a check to the attention of the Water Leaders Program at this address: Water Education Foundation, 2151 River Plaza Road, Suite 205, Sacramento, CA 95833
Remember: All items of your application package must be submitted by 5 p.m. (Pacific Time) on Jan. 28, 2022!
What is the total time commitment for the class? Roughly 10-12 days from March through September: This includes a cohort reception in conjunction with our Lower Colorado River Tour (three days), a shadow day and interview with a mentor, two formal virtual workgroup meetings plus informal virtual gatherings to work on a policy paper, and the Foundation’s Colorado River Symposium in Santa Fe (three days).
Will there be an option to attend any of the required events virtually? Workgroup meetings will be held virtually via Zoom. We anticipate all other events to be held in person in 2022. However, that could change depending on the COVID-19 situation and adjustments will be made accordingly.
What is the attendance policy? Water Leaders are expected to attend all meetings and events that are part of the program. Only health emergencies are reason to miss an event.
What is the class topic for the year? The topic is chosen by the Foundation and is announced at the beginning of the program.
What is the class project? The Water Leaders class is tasked with writing a white paper with policy recommendations on an assigned topic and deciding how to present it at our 2022 Colorado River Symposium.
Who are the mentors for the class? Mentors are announced near the beginning of the program. Read examples of past mentors in alumni profiles from our California program.
Do I get to choose my mentor? Mentors are assigned to you by the Foundation. The assignment is designed to allow you to learn about an area of the water world different from your own background or current place of employment. This is an opportunity to broaden your perspective, know another aspect of water resources and further grow your network.
What does my tuition include? Tuition includes registration for the Lower Colorado River Tour and the Colorado River Symposium (including hotels once on the tour or at the symposium. Includes all meals on tour and most meals at the symposium). Transportation to and from the events is not included.
What is the timeline for applications? All application materials and the $35 fee are due on January 28th, 2022, at 5 p.m. (Pacific Time). Candidates can expect to be notified of selection status by the mid-February.
What people say about our California Water Leaders program
“Thank you for leading such an excellent program. I am
grateful to have met so many professionals in the water sector
and to have connected with my mentor. Water Leaders was a
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I will
definitely recommend to others.”
– Vanessa De Anda, Water Resources Planner, Woodard Curran, Class of 2021
“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.”
– Katie Ruby, Brown and Caldwell, Water Resources Engineer, Class of 2020
Our selection committee reviews applications with an eye toward those applicants who have:
- a commitment to understanding water issues and a career in a water-related field;
- a commitment to the community through volunteer activities;
- an interest in seeking leadership roles on public boards and commissions, and/or an interest in opportunities for advancement to key leadership roles within their own organizations.
Tuition for the 2022 class will be $4,500 for the seven-month program. The price includes the cost of the Lower Colorado River Tour and hotels and meals once on the tour; and includes the registration fee, hotel cost and most meals for the Colorado River Symposium in Santa Fe. Travel costs to and from the tour and symposium are not included.
We have a limited amount of scholarship funding. If you are applying for a scholarship, you also must include a statement of financial need as part of your application package.