Introducing the 2019 Water Leaders class!

The Water Leaders Program is one of Water Education Colorado’s (WEco) flagship programs. In the very complex world of Colorado water, the goal of the Water Leaders Program is to equip the next generation of water professionals with the necessary skills to lead the state forward effectively and with confidence.

WEco’s Leadership Programs Manager Stephanie Scott partners with Cheryl Benedict of MORF Consulting to design and deliver Water Leaders every year. Cheryl brings over 28 years of executive coaching experience to the program and works one on one with each of the participants extensively over a period of four months.

Since its inception in 2006, we have trained 159 water professionals through Water Leaders. While the program only 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. “I consider the time spent in Water Leaders to be one of the greatest returns on investment in both my personal and professional life.  I developed lasting deep relationships with my cohort and still today we lean on each other for support, accountability, and career growth,” said Sean Cronin, Executive Director of St. Vrain and Left Hand Water Conservancy District and 2015 Water Leader graduate.

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 2019 class of Water Leaders, who we know will make outstanding contributions to water in Colorado.

Alicia DuPree, Project Engineer, City of Aurora

Ann Bunting, Water System Manager, Town of Crestone

Audrey Butler, Water Resource Specialist, Boulder County Parks & Open Space

Cary Denison, Gunnison Basin Project Manager, Trout Unlimited

Catherine Moravec, Senior Water Conservation Specialist, Colorado Springs Utilities

Holly Loff, Executive Director, Eagle River Watershed Council

Jason Marks, Environmental Planner, Denver Water

Jennifer Petrzelka, Water Resources Operations Manager, City of Greeley

Joe Donnelly, Project Manager, Northern Water

John Ott, General Manager, Animas Water Company

Jonathan Hernandez, Project Manager, Colorado Water Conservation Board

Julie Tinetti, Regulatory Compliance Coordinator, Centennial Water & Sanitation District

Matthew Becker, Principal Research Analyst, Colorado Legislative Council

Michelle Johnson, President & Principal Engineer, Martin & Wood Water Consultants

Mike Willcox, Water Analyst/Coordinator, Anadarko Petroleum

Sonja Chavez, Water Resource Specialist, Colorado River District

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 St. Vrain and Left Hand Water Conservancy District, 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 Tom Ullmann Memorial Scholarship that was created last year in Tom’s honor.

Support also comes from the Colorado Water Conservation Board and from program partners who help keep tuition costs low. Sponsors for the 2019 class so far include the Pueblo Board of Water Works and the Colorado River District. To inquire about sponsorship opportunities, contact

The program this year kicks off April 11-12 in Pueblo. The class will also meet in Redstone, Steamboat Springs, and Denver, with a graduation celebration on August 9 with family, friends and colleagues in Denver.

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