DURHAM, N.C. – Eighteen emerging leaders from water and wastewater utilities across the United States have been selected as 2022 Fellows of Duke University’s Water Innovation Leadership Development (WILD) executive education program.

Managers accepted into the yearlong program are introduced to new approaches and resources for dealing with some of the most pressing issues facing the water services sector today, from funding shortfalls and aging infrastructure to climate impacts and uncertain population trends.

Over the course of the year, Fellows take part in six online sessions and two 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.

Fellows represent a wide range of utility sizes, from those serving communities as small as 15,000 people to utilities serving several million.

Annual enrollment in the program is limited to between 15 to 20 Fellows to optimize the learning environment.

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 newly selected 2022 Fellows will begin their training in February. They are:

  • Kelly Anderson, watershed protection programs manager, Philadelphia Water Department, Philadelphia, Penn.
  • Marisela Aranguiz, 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.
  • Cathleen Chavez-Morris, environmental supervisor in water conservation policy, Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Lorenzo D. Freeman, senior watershed manager of the industrial pretreatment program, 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, staff engineer, Northern Moraine Wastewater Reclamation District, Island Lake, Ill.
  • Aubrey Lofton, planning & resource management director, Union County Public Works, Monroe, N.C.
  • Laurelei McVey, public works director, City of Meridian, Meridian, Idaho.
  • Palencia Mobley, deputy director and chief engineer, 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.
  • Daniel Ramirez-Cisneros, water utility manager, Fiscal Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
  • Iulia Siemen, water division manager, Orange County Utilities, Orlando, Fla.
  • Jamie Sweet, assistant engineer, East Bay Municipal Utility District, Oakland, Calif.

Toward the end of the program, participants are expected to complete a solo capstone project that showcases how they are using their new skills and knowledge in a current work or professional project or to help advance their individual career goals.

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

Applications for the next WILD cohort will open in spring 2022. For more information, contact Emily Bilcik, executive education program coordinator, at emily.bilcik@duke.edu.