Fostering informed discussion and leadership in California water
By Jessica Law
Today we write to share a hearty “happy anniversary” shoutout to the Water Education Foundation, a longtime friend of the Water Forum, for their longtime dedication to fostering informed discussion around California water issues.
On Oct. 26, the foundation hosts a reunion to mark the 25th anniversary of its Water Leaders Program.
The Water Forum is proud to have two employees who are alums of the Water Leaders program: Erica Bishop and Ashlee Casey. Water Leaders annually brings together 20 or so early- to mid-career water professionals in a program designed to deepen knowledge on water, enhance leadership skills and help participants take an active, cooperative approach to decision-making.
Ashlee, our senior engineer, was part of the 2018 Water Leaders class while working for her previous employer, a civil engineering consulting firm. She says the experience not only boosted her knowledge about California water, but also broadened her perspective on this complicated subject.
“For me, the biggest thing was just getting to meet other water resources professionals that I wouldn’t have otherwise,” she says. “In getting to know those people from different facets of the water industry in California, I feel like I’m able to understand better where people are coming from in different settings.”
Another benefit of the Water Education Foundation is its many field tours of California’s water landscape. That’s how Erica, our program manager, first got involved with the foundation. Soon after moving to California from Wyoming in 2008, she joined a foundation tour of the Sacramento Valley.
“That really helped orient me toward the resources I was working on,” she says.
Erica was selected for the foundation’s 2019 Water Leaders class.
“It was a great opportunity and a real confidence builder to see myself as a future leader in the industry,” Erica says. “It made me excited to take that step into leadership in my career, which I did when I came to Water Forum.”
A year after that, she was asked to become a board member of the foundation, and gladly accepted.
“The Water Education Foundation is really important because they bring together such broad perspectives, and they don’t exclude anyone,” she says. “So you really get the bigger picture. That’s just such an important niche in our industry and our world. They’re really trying to get all the information out there so folks are educated about this vital resource we all need.”
The Water Leaders reunion will be held the day before the foundation’s Water Summit on Oct. 27, an annual event designed to share the latest information on key issues affecting water in California. The theme of the event, now in its 38th year, is “Rethinking Water in the West.”