Water Innovation
Leadership Development

For emerging leaders in water services management

Full scholarships available for all program fellows.


Water Innovation Leadership Development Program Overview

The Water Innovation Leadership Development (WILD) Program is a cohort-based executive education program designed for rising leaders in water services management. Through transformative leadership training, the program empowers emerging water utility leaders to embrace new practices and implement innovative, equitable solutions to water challenges, particularly in circumstances of change. The program includes in-person and online components.



We seek the entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and innovators who are motivated to lead water utilities into the future. The program particularly targets emerging leaders at water utilities that primarily work with under-resourced communities. Applicants should be currently employed in a non-consultant role at a water service provider (water or wastewater utility; water authority; water association; or water company) in the United States.

Fellows join a small cohort of 15-20 participants that will learn together over the course of the program. Previous cohorts of the program have included fellows from small, medium, and large water utilities across the United States, serving in a range of roles within city and municipal water management. The mix of utility sizes and career roles represented in the WILD program maximizes peer learning and encourages an exchange of diverse ideas and problem-solving strategies between fellows. 

More applicant qualifications are described in the Fellow Selection Criteria section below.  

Meet our 2022-2023 program fellows.

Meet our previous program fellows.

Read Derek Anderson’s short interview about his WILD program experience! 

Listen to Yajaira Morphonios‘ and Patekka Bannister‘s personal accounts of participating in the WILD program on the waterloop podcast.

16 program graduates holding certificate of completion




“The WILD program provided me a unique opportunity to gain knowledge and insight from other water sector utility leaders from across the country. Aside from learning what my peers were doing to solve similar problems, I was able to create connections and expand my professional network with a wonderful group of people.” — Jorge Rodriguez, Deputy Director of Utility Services at Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission 

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 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 frameworks for team building and managing effective teams internal and external to the organization
  • –Join an expanded network of partners and allies across the nation

Fellows will earn a Certificate of Completion from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment upon completing the program.

Learning Topics6 people at a conference table writing on a shared poster document

  • Personal, organizational, and community leadership
  • Leading for innovation
  • Leading for equity and inclusion
  • Change management
  • Communications
  • Fellow-led topics of interest


Program Cost

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

Course Format & Time Commitment

Duke University chapel

The program format follows a hybrid-learning model based on the top-ranked DEL-MEM distance learning program: in-depth workshops supported by facilitated online sessions.

–The 2022-2023 leadership cohort will meet in person at 2 three-day workshops, one at the start and one at the closing of the program. * The first workshop will be held during September 2022 and the second workshop will be held during February 2023 on the Duke University campus in Durham, North Carolina. 

Over the course of the program, there will be approximately five online sessions, each lasting one or two hours (see program dates below). The synchronous online sessions, activities, and coaching will be led by a program leadership facilitator, as well as guest speakers with industry and subject matter expertise. Online group leadership sessions are designed to assist fellows on their journey, help them track their skill development, and provide peer and facilitated support.

Asynchronous work between online sessions is expected to be 5-10 hours per month to advance personal progress on a capstone project and maximize collaboration and networking with the WILD network.


Modules & 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.  two people having conversation sitting at table

Throughout the program, fellows will examine case studies, examples, and tools to immediately apply to challenges within their own careers. Networking and collaborative problem-solving are essential components of the program.  

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


Program Schedule

Synchronous Sessions and Workshops

The program includes two in-person intensive workshops according to the schedule below. In-person sessions will take place from morning to evening, except on the last day of each workshop which will end midday. Arrival travel will need to take place on the day before each workshop and departure travel will take place on the evening of the last day of each workshop. 

Online sessions are planned for Thursday evenings once a month at the times listed below. Note, while almost all online sessions are 1-hour, the November session is a 2-hour session.

Fellows must be able to commit to each of the workshops and online sessions. 

Important Dates

Friday, September 23, 2022 through Sunday, September 25, 2022 – Workshop 1 (Please plan to arrive in Durham, NC on Thursday, September 22, 2022, and plan departure for the evening of Sunday, September 25, 2022.) 

October 6, 2022 @ 8-9pm EST – Online Session (1st Thursday of the month) 

November 3, 2022 @ 7-9pm EST – Online Session (1st Thursday of the month – only 2-hour online session)

December 1, 2022 @ 8-9pm EST – Online Session (1st Thursday of the month)

January 12, 2023 @ 8-9pm EST – Online Session (2nd Thursday of the month)

February 2, 2023 @ 8-9pm EST – Online Session (1st Thursday of the month) 

Friday, February 24 through Sunday, February 26, 2023 – Workshop 2 (Please plan to arrive in Durham, NC on Thursday, February 23, and plan departure for the evening of Sunday, February 26).


Application Deadline

We not accepting applications at this time. Please join our mailing list to receive updates about future opportunities. 

Program Requirements

Fellows must commit to attending the entirety of both 3-day in-person workshops, as well as all of the scheduled online sessions.

Because fellows will need to take approximately 4 business days to attend each of the two in-person workshops (including travel), employers must also demonstrate a commitment to allowing the fellows to travel and fully engage.

For the online sessions, fellows must have access to reliable internet.

Fellow Selection Criteria

–Applicants should be currently employed in a non-consultant role at a water service provider (water authority, water or wastewater utility, water association; or water company) in the United States.

–The WILD program targets emerging and rising leaders at water service providers that primarily work with under-resourced communities. 

–The program is geared to support rising leaders who demonstrate potential and desire to steer and enact “outside the box” solutions to the most pressing issues facing the water services sector today.

–Applicants will be assessed based on their demonstrated evidence and potential for rising leadership within their utility and/or the water utility sector.

–We seek to build a cohort that reflects leaders of diverse geographies, identities, and communities. We strongly encourage women and Black, Indigenous, People of Color, Latino/Hispanic, and other candidates from communities underrepresented in the water sector to apply.

–To foster effective peer-to-peer learning, this program would be most suited to managers in utilities that serve a population of at least 20,000 people.

Meet our previous program fellows.


If you have questions about the program or the application process, please contact our Executive Education team at the Nicholas School of the Environment, at execed@nicholas.duke.edu.

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

*Due to the uncertainties surrounding COVID-19, 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.

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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