Former Journalist Named to Head Water Education Foundation
Jennifer Bowles Replaces Longtime Executive Director Rita Schmidt Sudman
Jennifer Bowles, a former award-winning journalist who covered Western water issues and became a communications strategist for a major California law firm known for its water law practice, has been named as Executive Director of the Water Education Foundation.
Effective March 27, Bowles will replace longtime Executive Director Rita Schmidt Sudman, who is retiring after 34 years of heading the highly regarded nonprofit organization that raises awareness of water issues in California and the Southwest.
In addition to hiring Bowles, the Foundation’s Board of Directors promoted Sue McClurg to Deputy Executive Director in recognition of her value to the Foundation and 20-plus years of dedicated service.
A retirement party for Sudman is being held March 26 in Sacramento at the Vizcaya Inn.
“Rita is leaving the Foundation in a solid financial position. Her dedication, energy and creativity have helped make the organization an internationally recognized force in water education and the Board is confident that Jennifer’s background in marketing and journalism will help grow the Foundation and maintain its high level of integrity,” said Bill Mills, president of the Foundation’s Board of Directors and former general manager of the Orange County Water District.
Under Sudman’s leadership, the Foundation has become a leading organization for water education. It is known for its flagship publication, the bimonthly Western Water magazine, water tours, school programs, conferences examining key water issues and Emmy-winning public television documentaries.
“I’m thrilled that Jennifer is taking over the reins. She is a competent journalist who will continue our tradition of being fair to all sides of the issue,” Sudman said. “Just as I brought new outreach such as public television programs to the Foundation, Jennifer is skilled at social networking and will find ways to use the Internet and other resources to reach out to the entire world.”
“The Foundation’s efforts to educate and broaden understanding of water issues through impartial dissemination was very attractive to me as a former journalist,” Bowles said. “I can’t think of a more interesting and challenging year to join the Foundation with the drought that has placed a spotlight on water issues in California and the need for conservation.”
After graduating from the University of Southern California, Bowles began her journalism career as a reporter and later an editor at The Associated Press in the Los Angeles bureau during the 1990s. She attended a yearlong Scripps Fellowship at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she studied water and environmental law and policy. In 1999, she became the environmental reporter at The Press-Enterprise, garnering awards for her coverage of water issues in California. Among other topics, she wrote about the Salton Sea restoration, groundwater contamination, water recycling, the Delta and State Water Project, issues among Western states and Mexico with the lower Colorado River, and water rights issues along the Santa Ana River.
She joined Best Best & Krieger in 2008 where she worked as a writer and communications strategist with some of the state’s leading water law attorneys, including Eric Garner, who co-authored California Water.