DURHAM, N.C. – Eighteen emerging leaders from water and wastewater utilities across the United States have been selected as 2022-23 Fellows of Duke University’s Water Innovation Leadership Development (WILD) executive education program.

Utility managers accepted into the program are faced with multiple challenges, including improving water equity and affordability, developing solutions to aging infrastructure and revenue shortfalls, and creating community resiliency to the impacts of climate change. The WILD program’s goal is to provide these leaders with training and resources to embrace new practices and implement innovative solutions to these and other pressing issues.

During the 2022-23 program, which will run from September to February, Fellows will take part in two three-day workshops at Duke’s campus in Durham, N.C., and engage in monthly group leadership sessions to help them track their skill development, delve into special topics, and receive support and coaching. The hybrid format allows them to participate in intensive programming and networking with minimal disruptions to their professional and personal lives.

Industry experts and leading researchers will facilitate the sessions for Fellows, but peer-to-peer learning is a staple of the program, said Martin Doyle, professor of river systems science and policy at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, who is WILD’s faculty lead.

“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.

Each Fellow will be responsible for conducting a solo capstone project in line with their career goals or current professional projects. While individual projects may extend past the end of the program, the cohort will serve as an active part in the success of each Fellow’s capstone. The capstones will act as case studies for Fellows to learn from one another and as a vessel for individuals to practice networking and collaborative problem-solving.

Enrollment in the program is limited to 18 Fellows to optimize the learning environment. Acceptance into WILD is highly competitive.

Due to generous support from program funders, full scholarships are offered to all Fellows in the 2022-2023 cohort. Scholarships include the tuition for all sessions, as well as all travel and lodging costs for in-person workshops. Fellows will be able to participate in all program activities without cost to themselves or their utility.

The newly selected 2022-23 Fellows are:

  • Andrea Suárez Abastida, director of public utilities, NMB Water, North Miami Beach, Fla.
  • Tim Alston, process control engineer, Gary Sanitary District, Gary, Ind.
  • Cathleen (Cathie) Chavez-Morris, utility services manager, Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, San Gabriel, Calif.
  • Suzanne DeLorenzo, director of water quality, San Jose Water Company, San Jose, Calif.
  • David L. Fielder II, project manager, Detroit Water and Sewage Department, Detroit, Mich.
  • Karla G. Camou Guerra, water reclamation superintendent, City of Glendale, Glendale, Ariz.
  • Brianna Huber, director of water filtration, City of East Moline, East Moline, Ill.
  • Jeanne Jensen, capital supervisor for water, wastewater, stormwater, and reclaimed water utilities, Town of Gilbert, Gilbert, Ariz.
  • Wayne Jernberg, water system manager, City of Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • Tricia Kilgore, director of technology and innovation, Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority, Okatie, S.C.
  • Y. Mwende Lefler, principal civil engineer, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Chicago, Ill.
  • Lianette (Lia) Leon, asset manager, City of Baytown, Baytown, Texas
  • Matt Magruder, chief research officer, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, Milwaukee, Wis.
  • Reina A. Segura, supervising engineer, Water & Sewer Department, Trenton Water Works, City of Trenton, Trenton, N.J.
  • Roderick (RJ) Sherman, customer accounts manager, Kentucky American Water, Lexington, Ky.
  • Satish Tripathi, managing engineer, Water Infrastructure Planning, Houston Water, City of Houston, Houston, Texas
  • Racquel Vaske, assistant general manager, Saint Paul Regional Water Services, Saint Paul, Minn.
  • Ronnie Versher Jr., director of community benefits program, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, San Francisco, Calif.

Program 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.