Water Leadership Institute

The Water Leadership Institute program educates, trains, and provides opportunities that enable developing and emerging leaders to build strong lasting relationships within the water industry.

This intensive program allows participants the opportunity to engage in management training and leadership development through a blended learning approach that includes the examination of complex challenges facing the water and wastewater industries and networking with public and private sector practitioners. Participants will build skills and knowledge needed to affect change within their organizations. Participation in this program is determined by a competitive application process.  

For the first time this year, the WLI will host TWO Cohorts of 42 people each in parallel.  This is in an effort to expand the program after a record breaking number of applications while keeping the cohort size manageable so everyone gets to know each other.  Each will have their own Face to Face workshop in the DC area in May, and with the growing cohorts, increased costs of speakers, and other logisitical items, we are excited to offer sponsorships this year!

New Sponsorship Opportunities for WLI 2024 Listed Below!  Don't miss your chance to help keep the quality of this program high and expand our offerings.

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Support the WLI Today! Use this form to make a tax-deductible individual or corporate donation.  This will help ensure we can keep bringing top presenters to the program. Code of Conduct and Terms


Bianca Pinto, WLI 2023 Alum

The Water Leadership Institute was not only an opportunity for me to grow within my leadership skills but also meet like minded peers from the cohort and steering committee that acted as a source of inspiration and fuel! The topics covered were absolutely relevant to my day to day activities. After graduating from the WLI 2023 cohort, I not only feel better equipped to lead but I also found a community that I can reach out to for feedback and suggestions. Thank you WLI Steering Committee and WEF Staff for putting such great program together. I feel honored to have been part of the WLI 2023 cohort, the GOAT!”

Priya Persaud , WLI 2018 Alum

As one of now 237 WLI alumni of this seven year old program, I believe the 2018 WLI program was successful because of the committee’s active commitment to continuous improvement. Reviewing my experience with fellow members that graduated between one, two and three years ago, the activities that made this program so valuable for me were as a result of feedback from years past, and is a testimony to the dedication of the team to each participant’s success. If you consider applying, discuss the potential this brings to you and to your company with your supervisor and colleagues. The value to those you work with is palpable within a few days of enrollment and you will be able to apply them almost immediately to your daily work life.”

George Kansas, WLI 2023 Alum

I couldn't be happier to be a part of the 2023 cohort! Not only did I learn a lot from the leaders that spoke to us, I learned so much from my fellow classmates and I know that the relationships we all formed will continue to grow over the years. I strongly encourage all water professionals to apply for the program - it will help to make them better leaders and will help grow their professional network. I love knowing that I can call or reach out to any of the other participants and know that they will be there for me, like I would be there for any of them.”

Christel Dyer, WLI 2014 Alum

Being a part of the Water Leadership Institute was an incredible experience.  To have the opportunity to network with other water quality professionals from other parts of the country and beyond was amazing; I have made contacts and friends that I hope to stay in touch with throughout my career.  Also, learning to communicate effectively has already proven to be highly valuable in and outside of the workplace.  Participating in the WLI rejuvenated my excitement for the water quality field…"

Yonas G. Hagos, WLI 2023 Alum

The WLI23 Program surpassed my expectations, offering invaluable leadership insights , diverse perspectives, and supportive cohort ! It transformed me in to a more effective and confident leader. I highly recommend this program to any one seeking personal and professional growth ! Thank you, WLI23 team , for an exceptional experience that truly made a difference in my leadership Journey.”

Chris Tatum, WLI 2022 Alum

The Water Leadership Institute was one of the best opportunities I have had in my career in the field of Water and Wastewater. Connecting with people who face similar issues on a day to day basis, not only with technical related similarities, but with common goals in building strong teams, growth as a leader, and in nurturing and embracing the next generation of the Water Industry as a whole. I learned a great deal about myself, and my leadership style. I feel that I can expand my growth even further and much more rapidly with what I have gained through the WLI."


Robby Jones , WLI 2018 Alum

As an Operator, the WLI has shown me a side of the industry that I was never aware of or ever paid attention too. Working at a treatment plant focused on day to day operations; I was blind to how vast and divers it actually is. The arrangement of students ranged from operators, engineers, suppliers and scientist. The mixture of the groups and interactions really brought everything together and shined a new light on how I view the wastewater industry. It made me even more proud of what I do. The speakers and topics were really great and easy to relate to despite any position you’re in. If there was a part 2 I would be on it in a heartbeat!"

Sean Trainor, WLI 2022 Alum

Participating in the WLI program has been a massive highlight of my professional career to date and is something that I strongly recommend to anyone in the water industry wanting to increase their leadership skills and expand their professional network. The program efficiently presents information with effective presenters and well-designed follow up activities, with a final project that brings the learning topics full circle. The fact that every participant wants to be in the course and is excited to be participating results in the most enthusiastic learning experience that I have ever experienced. Gaining a close-knit group of industry peers from all aspects of the water industry is an additional benefit of being part of the WLI family."

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