Experience in WEF’s Water Leadership Institute Prepares Highlights Editor for the Future

November 30, 2015

Featured, Participate

Jennifer Fulcher, 2015 graduate of WEF’s Water Leadership Institute

Photo courtesy of Oscar & Associates.

Photo courtesy of Oscar & Associates.


Jennifer Fulcher is editor of the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) member newsletter, WEF Highlights. She has been coach and coaches’ chair for the 2014 and 2015 U.S. Stockholm Junior Water Prize competitions and co-chair of WEF Eco.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Policy from the University of Maryland (College Park) in 2005, Fulcher worked as reporter at the Loudoun Times Mirror (Leesburg, Va.). She also worked as writer for Earth Day Network (Washington, D.C.) and technical writer-editor at the Louis Berger (Morristown, N.J.) before starting at WEF in 2008.

With increasing frequency, employees interested in leadership positions hear about the importance of cultivating “soft skills,” such as the ability to communicate effectively and build teams. Now that I am a 2015 graduate of the Water Leadership Institute (WLI), I can tell you that this Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) program offers a way to further develop these skills.

As editor of WEF Highlights, I spent the first 3 years of the program, which launched in 2012, writing about it. I described the components of WLI, interviewed participants, attended each of the graduation ceremonies held during WEFTEC®, and, most importantly, talked to coworkers, both on- and off-the-record, about their experiences participating. Each year WEF sponsors the participation of one or two staff members in WLI.

Armed with all the information I collected, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. So I decided to throw my hat in the ring. In early March, I received notice that I was selected to participate along with another WEF employee and 35 other water sector leaders.

Overall, I learned that the amount of knowledge gained from WLI directly correlates to the amount of effort you’re willing to put into the program. Personally, WLI offered a wealth of opportunities that I think will benefit my career. Learning about my own leadership skills, my own communication style, different types of leaders and personalities in the workplace, ways to build effective teams, and having the opportunity to apply these lessons during the two-part project made participating an enriching experience. Networking with other classmates and building lasting friendships also proved invaluable.

This year’s program consisted of four webcasts and two in-person sessions — one 2-day workshop held in June at the WEF headquarters, and another 1-day session held Sept. 27 during WEFTEC 2015 in Chicago. The webcasts provided information about WEF and WLI, current trends in the water sector, and leadership recommendations by WLI leaders and alumni. The in-person sessions provided extensive insight into communication skills and leadership strategies as well as opportunities to network with other WLI participants.

From left, Jennifer Fulcher receives her Water Leadership Institute graduation plaque during WEFTEC 2015 from Paul Bowen, 2015–2016 Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.) president. Photo courtesy of Oscar & Associates.

From left, Jennifer Fulcher receives her Water Leadership Institute graduation plaque during WEFTEC 2015 from Paul Bowen, 2015–2016 Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.) president. Photo courtesy of Oscar & Associates.

Participants were tasked with reading the book, Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow, by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie, and taking Clifton StrengthsFinder® assessment in the Gallup Strengths Center. The book and corresponding assessment help you identify your top five leadership skills, understand elements of these skills, and use these skills to maximize performance in your career.

Assigned to one of the five seven-member groups, we worked together on producing an outline and interim paper as well as a final paper and oral presentation. Strategies to accomplish these tasks were left up to each group. My group participated in weekly conference calls July through September.

The experience provided insight into how our leadership skills come into play in a team environment. We were able to see the differences in the product a well-balanced team provides compared to the product of an unbalanced team. WLI provided education on leadership while enabling participants to immediately put this knowledge to the test and gain insight from it. The combination was extremely enlightening and unlike any other educational experience I’ve had.

The 2015 Water Leadership Institute graduates and mentors include, front row from left, Jennifer Minton, Chandra Baker, Laura Porter, Sarah Courtright, Rebecca Holgate, Angie Price, Andrea Long, Amanda Spalding, and Cristina Ahmadpour; middle row from left, Jeff Skinner, Renee Kayal, Brandy Nussbaurm, J. Anthony Aruldoss, Nathan Davis, Nitin Katiyar, Sarah Lothman, Adam Link, Lauren Roth Venu, Fulcher, Laurie Brenner, and Marisa Tricas; back row from left Mark McKinney, Rob Bernardi, Cara Wilson, David Hatch, Kody Tompkins, Jeremy Lynn, John Palenchar, and Pierre Cayatte; and not pictured, Shannon Lambert, Joshua Mahan, Laurlei McVey, Lora Reed, William Rodriguez, Michael Roth, and Michael Simpson. Photo courtesy of Oscar & Associates.

The 2015 Water Leadership Institute graduates and mentors include, front row from left, Jennifer Minton, Chandra Baker, Laura Porter, Sarah Courtright, Rebecca Holgate, Angie Price, Andrea Long, Amanda Spalding, and Cristina Ahmadpour; middle row from left, Jeff Skinner, Renee Kayal, Brandy Nussbaurm, J. Anthony Aruldoss, Nathan Davis, Nitin Katiyar, Sarah Lothman, Adam Link, Lauren Roth Venu, Fulcher, Laurie Brenner, and Marisa Tricas; back row from left Mark McKinney, Rob Bernardi, Cara Wilson, David Hatch, Kody Tompkins, Jeremy Lynn, John Palenchar, and Pierre Cayatte; and not pictured, Shannon Lambert, Joshua Mahan, Laurlei McVey, Lora Reed, William Rodriguez, Michael Roth, and Michael Simpson. Photo courtesy of Oscar & Associates.

“The Water Leadership Institute program is aimed at educating, training, and providing opportunities that enable developing and emerging leaders to build strong, lasting relationships within the water industry,” according to the WLI website.

Personal experience shows me that WLI more than achieves its mission. I highly recommend that those willing to put the work in and wanting to learn about themselves and others, and gain skills that can advance their careers should submit their applications to participate today.

— Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights

Apply Now To Participate in the 2016 Water Leadership Institute

The Water Leadership Institute of the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) now is accepting applications for the 2016 program.

The program is designed to encourage innovation, entrepreneurship, and professional commitment from future leaders of the water quality sector. Developed and operated by WEF, it helps participants develop new skills and knowledge through a curriculum delivered by expert instructors from various public and private organizations. In addition, it provides participants with the opportunity to network and build lasting relationships with others in the sector.

All water-sector professionals are encouraged to apply. Submit applications by Jan. 31.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this!
, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.