Water Innovation
Leadership Development

For emerging leaders in water services management

Full scholarships available for Program Fellows.

Welcome and Congratulations 2021 Program Fellows!

2021 Program Fellows


Applications for the 2021 Cohort are now closed. Information for the 2022 Program will be available starting Summer 2021. Please join our email list for updates.


The Water Innovation Leadership Development (WILD) program is a year-long, cohort-based executive education program designed for rising leaders, especially in small- or mid-sized city/municipal water services management. Through transformative leadership training, the program empowers rising water utility leaders to embrace new practices and implement innovative, equitable solutions to water infrastructure challenges, particularly in circumstances of change.


We seek the entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and innovators who are keen to lead water utilities into the future. Applicants should be current employees of a water service provider (water or wastewater utility; water authority; or water company) in the U.S. We particularly seek emerging leaders in small or mid-sized city/municipal water management.

Benefits of the Program

After completing this leadership program, participants will:

  • –Have improved awareness of new tools and resources for individual leader and team use
  • –Increase their exposure to innovative thinking, risk management and creative problem solving
  • –Improve their capacity to advance equity within water utilities and in community engagement
  • –Explore a personal leadership style, development of goals, and self-awareness
  • –Understand a framework for team building and managing effective teams internal and external to the organization
  • –Join an expanded network of partners and allies across the nation

Upon completing the program, fellows will earn a Certificate of Completion from the Nicholas School of the Environment. 

Program Cost

The total 2021 cost of the yearlong program per student is estimated at $14,000. Due to generous support from our funders, we are able to offer full scholarships to all Program Fellows. Scholarships include the tuition for all sessions, as well as travel and lodging for in-person workshops.

Sessions & Workshops

Time Commitment

Duke University chapel

Fellows join a small cohort of 15 that will learn together over the course of 12 months. The program format follows a hybrid-learning model based on the top-ranked DEL-MEM distance learning program: in-depth campus workshops supported by facilitated online sessions.

–The leadership cohort will meet in person twice, each time for a three-day workshop held on the Duke campus in Durham, NC*.

–Over the year, there will be approximately six online sessions, each lasting one hour. The synchronous online sessions are led by a program leadership facilitator.

–Work between online sessions is expected to be 5-10 hours per month.

Course Format & Projects

All modules (both in-person and online) will rely extensively on peer-to-peer learning, team-based sessions, and building a community of practice. Fellows will each have opportunities to lead and co-lead sessions and be accountable to each other. 

During the workshops at the Duke campus*, fellows will be fully immersed in the fundamentals of leadership through intensive collaborations with course facilitators and the other fellows. Fellows will consult with peers and experts, particularly through workshopping projects or challenges from their own work.

Online group leadership sessions are designed to support fellows on their journey, help them track their skill development, and provide peer and facilitated support and coaching.

Each fellow would also be responsible for completing a solo capstone project, in line with career goals or their current professional or work projects.

2021 Program Dates

Application Deadline: October 15, 2020

2021 Sessions

  • Online Session: February 16, 2021
  • Online Session: March 16, 2021
  • Workshop #1 – Duke Campus: April 23-25, 2020
  • Online Session: June 2021
  • Summer Break: July – August
  • Online Session: September 14, 2021
  • Online Session: October 12, 2021
  • Online Session: November 16, 2021

2022 Sessions

  • Online Session: January 18, 2022
  • Workshop #2 – Duke Campus, Capstone Presentations and Graduation: February 11-13, 2022

Synchronous Schedule

To ensure that Fellows are able to minimize work disruptions, in-person workshops will be held Fridays through Sundays. Online sessions are planned for Tuesday evenings 8:00-9:00 pm Eastern (5:00-6:00 pm Pacific), once a month on the months listed above.



Applicants should be current employees of a water service provider (water authority, water or wastewater utility, or water company) in the U.S. We particularly seek emerging leaders in small or mid-sized city/municipal water management.

Fellows will need to be able to commit to attending the in-person and online sessions. Because fellows will need to take approximately 4 days per year for the in-person workshops (including travel), employers must also demonstrate a commitment to allow the employee to travel and fully engage in the workshops during this time period.

Applications for the 2021 Cohort are now closed. Information for the 2022 Program will be available starting Summer 2021. 

Are you planning to apply? If you are interested in learning more about this program, join our email list for program updates, timely deadline reminders and tips for preparing your application.

Join Email List


If you have questions about the program or the application process, please contact Laura Lipps, Assistant Director of Executive Education, Nicholas School of the Environment, at laura.lipps@duke.edu

We also invite you to join our email list to receive updates, deadline reminders and more information about this program.

*Due to the uncertainties surrounding COVID-19, we plan to hold the first sessions online. We are actively monitoring evolving conditions in concert with Duke leadership and public health authorities; schedule or format is subject to change if necessary for the health and safety of our Fellows and Facilitators. We are mindful of Fellows’ work schedules as well that may be impacted during critical response periods.


The Water Innovation and Leadership Development (WILD) Program is a leadership curriculum developed by Duke University faculty, leadership practitioners and leaders in water utility management. The WILD program is an offering of the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment’s Executive Education program.


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