Since 1997, the Water Education Foundation has hosted
California’s premier water leadership
program, the William R. Gianelli Water Leaders Class,
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 fosters a stronger understanding of the various
perspectives on water.
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 stakeholder groups. 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.
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
The biennial Colorado River Water Leaders program selects rising
stars from the Upper and Lower basins (California,
Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming) 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