Introducing the 2020 Water Leaders Class!

The Water Leaders Program is one of Water Education Colorado’s (WEco) flagship programs and typically runs every year from April to September. As most things in 2020 have been shuffled around a bit, so has the Water Leaders Program. This year’s class has been meeting virtually to get to know each other up until this point, but we are very excited to officially launch the 2020 Water Leaders Program on July 9th and 10th this week!

WEco’s Leadership Programs Manager Stephanie Scott partners with Cheryl Benedict of MORF Consulting to design and deliver the Water Leaders Program every year. In the very complex world of Colorado water the goal of the Water Leaders Program is to positively impact the Colorado water profession by creating a pipeline of dedicated, effective water leaders across diverse fields who exemplify the four quadrants of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social management. Stephanie and Cheryl are the perfect team when it comes to delivering this program. Every year they work very hard to maximize the learning for the individuals in each class.

Since its inception in 2006, WEco has trained 175 water professionals through Water Leaders. While the program only typically lasts for four months, the skills and relationships that are built last a lifetime. Water Leaders alumni continue to use and build upon the training they received, and in some cases still meet on a regular basis with their cohort of trusted peers.

Water Education Colorado defines a leader as someone who is dedicated to advancing the greater good of water in Colorado. A leader recognizes the value of collaboration and respect for others and is open to diverse perspectives.  After an extensive application collection, review, and scoring process, we could not be more excited to introduce the 2020 class of Water Leaders, who we know will make outstanding contributions to water in Colorado. You can read more about them here.

Andrew Straub-Heidke- Water Resources Administrator II, City of Greeley
Bethany Howell- Executive Director, Rio Grande Watershed Conservation & Education Initiative
Carrie Padgett- Principal Engineer, Harris Water Engineer, Inc.
Dan Omasta- Grassroots Coordinator, Colorado Trout Unlimited
Fay Hartman- Conservation Director, Colorado River Basin, American Rivers
Jeff Stahla- Public Information Officer, Northern Water
Jojo La- Endangered Species Policy Specialist, Colorado Water Conservation Board
Jordan Parman- Water Quality Scientist, Metro Wastewater Reclamation District
Kate Ryan- Staff Attorney, Colorado Water Trust
Katie Helm- Conservation and Sustainability Program Manager, City of Fountain
Marina Kopytkovskiy- Project Manager, Parker Water and Sanitation District
Morgan Lynch- PE, CFM, Project Manager, Mile High Flood District
Neil Stewart- Water Resources Engineer, Stantec Consulting
Noah Greenberg- Water Team Lead, SWCA Environmental
Sarah Wheeler- Manager, Environmental Protection Specialist IV, Colorado Department of Health and Environment
Scott Griebling- Senior Water Resources Engineer, Headwaters Corporation

Every year our Water Leaders Program takes a new cohort on a journey of personal and professional development. These participants will undergo extensive self-assessment and coaching to learn how they can build upon their unique strengths to be the most effective leader. They will gain necessary skills to navigate change, be creative problem solvers, approach conflict constructively, communicate more effectively, and build a supportive community of practice in the workplace.

This year we were fortunate to be able to provide full or partial scholarships to some of our participants through generous contributions from Southwestern Water Conservation District, Rio Grande Water Conservation District, San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District, and Conejos Water Conservancy District. Additionally, we are pleased to continue to provide financial support through the Water Leaders Alumni Scholarship Fund, in which graduates of the program support the upcoming class by donating to the fund.

Support also comes from the Colorado Water Conservation Board and from program partners who help keep tuition costs low. Sponsors for the 2020 class so far include Pitkin County Healthy Rivers, Greeley Water, SGM, Colorado River District, and CDM Smith. To inquire about sponsorship opportunities, contact Sami Miller at

The program this year kicks off on June 9th and will be a hybrid of virtual and in-person programs. The class is planning to hold sessions in Redstone, Salida, and Denver after this initial virtual kick-off.

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