DURHAM, N.C. – Sixteen rising leaders from water and wastewater utilities across the United States have graduated from Duke University’s Water Innovation Leadership Development (WILD) executive education program.

The WILD program introduces mid-career water and wastewater managers to new approaches and resources for dealing with some of the most pressing issues facing the water services sector today, from workforce development and inadequate water infrastructure to climate impacts and equitable access to clean water.

Over the course of the program, WILD Fellows take part in six online sessions and two intensive three-day workshops at Duke’s campus in Durham, N.C. Industry experts and leading researchers facilitate the sessions and workshops and provide coaching to Fellows, but there’s also a big emphasis on peer-to-peer learning, said Martin Doyle, professor of river systems science and policy at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, who serves as faculty lead on WILD.

“The idea is to help emerging leaders build a network of peers they can brainstorm with and seek advice from, even long after the program ends,” Doyle said.

Thanks to generous support from program funders, tuition, travel and lodging costs, which otherwise would be valued at about $14,000, are covered for each Fellow.

The 16 new WILD graduates are:

  • Kelly Anderson, watershed protection programs manager, Philadelphia Water Department, Philadelphia, Penn.
  • Marisela Aranguiz-Cueto, deputy director for planning, regulatory compliance and capital infrastructure, Water and Sewer Department, Miami-Dade County, Miami, Fla.
  • Nafissa Bizo, water utility manager, Philadelphia Water Department, Philadelphia, Penn.
  • Lorenzo D. Freeman, watershed manager II (industrial pretreatment coordinator), Department of Watershed Management, City of Atlanta, Atlanta, Ga.
  • Jim Hauth, public works superintendent - utilities, Public Works Department, City of Columbia Heights, Columbia Heights, Minn.
  • Joseph Lapastora, director of operations, Northern Moraine Wastewater Reclamation District, Island Lake, Ill.
  • Aubrey Lofton, planning & resource management director, Union County Water, Monroe, N.C.
  • Laurelei McVey, public works director, City of Meridian, Meridian, Idaho.
  • Palencia Mobley, previously served as deputy director and chief engineer, Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, City of Detroit, Detroit, Mich.
  • Leslie Moening, lead program manager, Greater Cincinnati Water Works, Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • Rosaleen B. Nogle, principal sanitary engineer, Buffalo Sewer Authority, Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Sherri Peterson, revenue programs manager, Bureau of Environmental Services, City of Portland, Portland, Ore.
  • Tina Pham, senior civil engineer, Public Works Department, City of San Mateo, San Mateo, Calif.
  • Jenny Puffer, director of water distribution, Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines, Iowa.
  • Iulia Siemen, water division manager, Orange County Utilities, Orlando, Fla.
  • Jamie Sweet, assistant engineer, East Bay Municipal Utility District, Oakland, Calif.

All 16 graduates completed solo capstone projects that showcased how they used their new skills and knowledge in a current work or professional project or to help advance their individual career goals.

WILD graduates earn a non-credit-bearing Certificate of Completion from Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

For more information, contact Emily Bilcik, executive education program coordinator, at emily.bilcik@duke.edu.