Supporting Stronger – and more Representative – Water Leaders

Posted on July 25, 2022

Group of diverse professionals on panel

This database of training opportunities was shared with us by our friends at the Environmental Policy Innovation Center.

Check out this new database containing over 100 training opportunities for water leaders, run and administered by a range of organizations.

Need: Support and Training for Water Leaders

Water utilities often do not resemble the water customers they serve. Utility leadership, including appointed and elected officials and general managers, are more likely to be older, white, and male compared to their customers. There is ample research to suggest that in racially diverse and highly educated cities, the composition of elected officials does not adequately reflect the gender and racial diversity of the municipality (see results from a national survey as well as data from diverse regions such as Bay Area, California). A pilot study of 50 nationally representative water utilities led by EPIC found women in 31% of decision-making roles; a smaller 11% of the leadership positions were filled by people of color.

There are currently many barriers to a more diverse, representative, and sustained water sector: election turnover; inadequate compensation and benefits; chronically understaffed and under-resourced work environments; and lack of training, professional development, and leadership opportunities and networks. Like any field, ensuring existing water leaders have the necessary support and training is one way to support more diverse and representative leaders, and over the long run, ensure richer relationships with the communities they serve. Water sector employees, officials, and leaders often need training not only within but also outside of their technical capacities, in areas like management and communications, and don’t always know where to turn for such resources.

EPIC’s Response: A One-Stop Shop for Leadership and Professional Development Opportunities

One way that the water sector can retain and strengthen leadership is through management and other training, peer networks, awards, and other professional development opportunities. EPIC has put together a dashboard of programs run and administered by various organizations, including trade associations, nonprofit groups, and professional societies. While most are open to all, some are restricted based on age, gender, race, location, employer type, etc. They all have varying deadlines. Information about these programs are scattered through the internet and they often fail to reach the water sector leaders, officials, and employees they are designed for. We put them all together in one database.

We have generated a repository of national and state-based training and leadership programs as well as awards and recognition in the water sector, in the user-friendly interface below. This will allow any water sector professional to identify programs they are eligible for through a few clicks. We believe that having a publicly available and user-friendly database of such programs is an essential element of ensuring the water workforce is trained, recognized, and ready to lead the next generation of utilities, advocacy organizations, and government agencies.

If you have any suggestions on how we can improve this database, add to or change the existing entries, or if you found it helpful in your own search, please be sure to let us know!

See the full database of training opportunities.

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