top of page
Water Treatment Plant.png

Join the
Water Access and Equity Lab


Apply to join the CWSC's Water Access and Equity Lab as a Water Utility Leadership Fellow. Applications are due Friday, February 2, 2024 at 11:59PM ET.



Join the 2nd cohort of emerging water utility leaders who are looking to position themselves to address the deepest challenges facing water access and equity across the United States. We seek innovative, intelligent, creative, engaged, and passionate water utility leaders in the United States to join our one-year non-resident program designed to help them make a critical impact in their utility and community.


Emerging leaders at water utilities are the next generation of leaders who will be responsible for managing aging infrastructure as the impact of climate change grows, costs increase, and more service recipients struggle to afford the growing costs. The Center for Water Security and Cooperation established the Water Access and Equity Lab to create a learning, collaboration and design space where stakeholders–utilities, community action agencies (CAAs), nonprofit organizations, legislators, and households alike–can consider challenges they face in receiving and providing water services and develop responsive solutions. In the Lab, Water Utility Leadership Fellows will explore and engage with these challenges, meet and build relationships with other emerging utility leaders, connect with the community they serve, and lead the development of solutions that can help to address and resolve issues of equity and access.


Future Water Utility Leadership Fellows should be eager to learn, ask questions, challenge assumptions, engage with their communities and the challenges they face, and work together to develop solutions. Learn more below and apply!


As part of this program, Water Utility Leadership Fellows will participate in interactive workshops to learn more about water access and the role of law and policy, meet fellow emerging water utility leaders and experts in the sector, develop new skills, support the completion of the American Water Access Survey (AWAS) in their community, and lead the development of a Water Access and Affordability Plan for their utility.


After participating in this program, participants and their utility will have:

A Tailored Policy: At the conclusion of this project, each utility will have a unique Water

Access and Affordability Policy (WAAP) tailored to the needs and challenges of their utility and

its community, designed by and for the utility and reflecting input from the community.

Tools for the Future: Utilities will have access to tools for tracking and reporting the impact of the Water Access and Affordability Policy during annual reviews.

Skills for the Future: Fellows will be able to understand and apply best practices in achieving greater equitable access to water and more affordable water. Fellows will also develop a stronger connection and network with the community receiving water and wastewater services, as well as the community stakeholders–such as Community Action Agencies–involved in the greater system of water service provision.

Side-by-side coaching: Fellows will receive side-by-side training that sets them up for success in leadership positions, and makes them stand out today.

Peer network: Fellows will participate in convenings across cities that grow their networks, and expose them to alternative experiences, approaches, and perspectives. These networks will serve as a resource and sounding board for them in the future.

Recognition and reputation: Fellows will experience greater recognition, deeper credibility, and a growing network as they work to increase visibility of and responsiveness to equity, access, and affordability challenges.

Greater equity: With the prioritization of equity and access by the utility and adoption of a WAAP, low-income and vulnerable households will be supported and ensured continued access to water.

Read more below and in our two-page brochure.


Applicants must complete an application via a Google Form. Applications must be submitted by Friday, February 2, 2024 at 11:59PM ET.

  1. Basic information about the applicant, sponsor and utility

  2. Brief answers to five questions available here.

  3. Resume

  4. Sponsorship Letter. The Letter of Sponsorship must be completed and signed by an Executive-level sponsor. The sponsor must approve your participation in the Lab. The letter template is available here.

  5. Sponsor Letter of Acknowledgement. The Sponsor must review the Lab Participation Requirements, and acknowledge they have reviewed and will approve the requirements if the sponsored Fellow is accepted into the Fellowship. The letter template is available here.

  6. Fellow Letter of Acknowledgement. The Fellow must review the Lab Participation Requirements, and acknowledge they have reviewed and will approve the requirements if accepted as a Fellow. The letter template is available here.

The application must be submitted via this Google Form.

The (1) Sponsorship Letter, (2) Sponsor Letter of Acknowledgement, and (3) Fellow Letter of Acknowledgement must be emailed to The Subject Line of the email should state: "Fellow Applicant: First Name Last Name".


Each utility cohort will include a Sponsor and up to two (2) emerging leaders who will serve as Water Utility Leadership Fellows (Fellows). Sponsors should hold an Executive-level, decision-making position. Fellows should reflect the diversity of the community served. Individuals who identify as women, BIPOC, and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply. Fellows must be poised for leadership positions in the next 5-10 years. 


The ideal candidates will:

Demonstrate innovative and strategic thinking. Fellows should have a demonstrated track record of innovative thinking that has or would enable a utility to better engage with its service recipients, improve access and equity, and adapt to a changing environment.

Demonstrate an ability to collaborate and spark change. Fellows should have a demonstrated history of working with and motivating stakeholders within and outside of the utility.

Aspire to future leadership. Fellows should want to hold leadership positions within the utility, and be able to demonstrate the steps they are taking to build those qualifications.

Be a full-time member of the staff. Fellows must be employed full-time in a non-consultant role at a water or wastewater utility of any size located in the United States. At this time, applicants must be employed by United States-based utilities. We hope to include non-U.S. utilities in future cohorts.

Reflect the diversity of the community served by the utility. 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, especially within utility leadership, to apply.


Due to generous support from our funders, the cost of this program is at no charge to Water Utility Leadership Fellows. Participation includes training workshops, policy development workshops and meetings, and travel and lodging for one in-person workshop. Fellows will be able to participate in all program activities without any cost to themselves or their utility.


Upon acceptance into the Water Access and Equity Lab as Water Utility Leadership Fellows, Fellows and their sponsor make the following commitments:


  1. Prioritize and promote equity and the achievement of safe, affordable access to water and sanitation. 

  2. Adopt and implement the Water Access and Affordability Policy developed by your emerging leaders and utility leadership in the Lab. This includes:

    • Committing to take the policy through the required channels for approval.

    • Engaging with emerging leaders and CWSC staff to design, develop and write the policy.

    • Engaging with the community served by the utility during the development of the policy, by, for example, inviting public review and comment for a 30 day period, or hosting a public hearing.

    • Tracking implementation of the Policy and reporting results annually.

  3. Approve and support the time commitment required for the selected Emerging Leaders to:

    • Participate in workshops. Emerging leaders will prepare for and participate in up to five planned workshops and peer learning activities, including travel to Washington D.C. for an off-site exchange (date TBD).

    • Support the American Water Access Survey (AWAS). Emerging leaders will work with the CWSC to complete the AWAS by sharing utility data and insights, engaging with other community stakeholders, and analyzing the data and information collected.

    • Develop the Water Access and Affordability Policy. Emerging leaders will design, draft and review the water access and affordability policy, as well as work to coordinate and secure necessary approvals, as feasible.

    • Collaborate. Fellows will build their professional network, including interacting with Fellows from other utilities. Fellows will also design and implement opportunities to engage the community through the AWAS or Policy creation.

    • Track the implementation of the Policy. Emerging leaders will track and analyze the implementation of the Policy.

  4. Identify an Executive-level Sponsor. Fellows must identify a sponsor with the requisite authority to approve the Fellow’s participating in the Lab, and to lead the adoption and implementation of the Water Access and Affordability Policy.


On Monday January 9, 2023 the CWSC hosted an information session on the Water Utility Leadership Fellowship at the Water Access and Equity Lab. Below is a recording of the Zoom session and the PowerPoint presentation.

Information Session PPT available here.

REGISTER your interest
in the 2024 cohort

To receive updates about the Water Access and Equity Lab and when applications for the 2024 Cohort will open, be sure to register here.

bottom of page