Water Leaders

Water Leaders

Since 1997, the Water Education Foundation has hosted California’s premier water leadership program, the William R. Gianelli Water Leaders Class. The program is aimed at up-and-coming community leaders from diverse backgrounds, including members of minority and ethnic communities, who show a committed interest in water.

In 2022, the Foundation launched the inaugural Colorado River Water Leaders program on the 100th anniversary year of the Colorado River Compact.

While we host the California Water Leader program every year, we organize the Colorado River Water Leaders program biennially. The next cohort will take place in 2024.

Watch this short video made during our 25th anniversary celebration of the Water Leaders program in 2022 to find out what alums say about it.

Both programs are designed for working professionals. Participants deepen their water knowledge, enhance their leadership skills and learn to take an active, cooperative approach to decision-making about water resource issues. The competitive programs draw rising stars from across all interest groups and foster a stronger understanding of the various perspectives on water.

Post Jenn Bowles Kayla Sergent

California Water Leaders
Program Overview

Led by Executive Director Jenn Bowles, the Water Leaders class brings together 20 or so participants in their early to mid-career from across California and various interest groups and professions. The program deepens knowledge on water, enhances individual leadership skills and prepares class members to take an active, cooperative approach to decision-making about water resource issues. Each class member is paired up with a mentor from a leading stakeholder group or who works as a policymaker.

Colorado River Water Leaders
Program Overview

The 2022 Colorado River Water Leaders class at Hoover Dam during our Lower Colorado River Tour.Known for our Water Leaders program in California, we launched a Colorado River Water Leaders program in 2022, the 100th anniversary of the Colorado River Compact and the 25th anniversary of our California Water Leaders program.

The biennial Colorado River Water Leaders program selects rising stars from the Upper and Lower basin states (California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming), tribal nations and eventually will include Mexico. Participants are 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.