DURHAM, N.C. – Eighteen emerging leaders from water and wastewater utilities across the United States have been selected as 2024 Fellows of the Nicholas School for the Environment at Duke University’s Water Innovation Leadership Development (WILD) Environment+ program. 

Water professionals accepted into the 8-month program are introduced to new approaches and strategies for dealing with 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 will take part in five online sessions and two three-day workshops on Duke’s Durham campus.

These online sessions and in-person workshops will be facilitated by industry experts and leading researchers, with an emphasis on strengthening leadership development for all Fellows. There is also a focus on peer-to-peer learning, says Martin Doyle, Professor of River Systems Science and Policy at the Nicholas School, who serves as faculty lead for 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 15 to 20 Fellows to optimize the learning environment. 

Thanks to generous support from program funders, tuition, travel and lodging costs--valued at about $15,000--are covered for each Fellow. 

The newly selected 2024 Fellows will begin their training in February. They are: 

  • Bethel Abate, Programs Manager, DC Water, Washington DC. 
  • Tirusew Asefa, Systems Decision Support Manager, Tampa Bay Water, Clearwater FL. 
  • Esther Baptiste, Management Professional – Systems Planning, Great Lakes Water Authority, Detroit MI. 
  • Elvy Barton, Water and Forest Sustainability Manager, Salt River Project, Tempe AZ. 
  • William Bulloss, Assistant Director of Strategy, Innovation, and Sustainability, Western Virginia Water Authority, Roanoke VA. 
  • Terence Byrd, Drinking Water Systems Program Manager, JXN Water, Jackson MS. 
  • Indira Gonzales, Section Manager, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, Laurel MD. 
  • Kimberly Gupta, Director of Operations, Portland Water Bureau, Portland OR. 
  • Patrick Jensen, Principal Civil Engineer, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Chicago IL. 
  • Khanh Kim, Managing Engineer, Houston Water Drinking Water Operations, Houston TX. 
  • Rochelle Larson, Principal Engineer, Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority, Alburquerque NM. 
  • Jennifer Lee, Environmental Regulatory Compliance Manager, City of Burlingame, Burlingame CA. 
  • Andre Miller, Utility Engineer/Project Manager Capital Projects, Orange Water and Sewer Authority, Carrboro NC. 
  • Andrew Moore, Director of Plant Operations, Lehigh County Authority, Allentown PA. 
  • April Nabors, Superintendent of Industrial and Commercial Accounts, Birmingham Water Works, Birmingham AL. 
  • Crystal Tulley-Cordova, Principal Hydrologist, Water Resources for the Navajo Nation, Fort Defiance AZ. 
  • Oscar Vasquez, Division Director W&S Operations, Miami-Dade Water and Sewer, Miami FL. 
  • Andrea Yang, Deputy Executive Director, Greater Cincinnati Water Works, Cincinnati OH. 

Participants will complete an individual capstone project toward the end of the course that demonstrates their new skills and knowledge. Program graduates will 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 January 2024. For more information, contact the Environment+ team at dukeenvironplus@duke.edu.