Water Leadership Institute Participation Leads to Self-Awareness and Professional Development

October 28, 2014

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Kelsey Hurst, 2014 graduate of WEF’s  Water Leadership Institute

Photo courtesy of Kelsey Hurst.

Photo courtesy of Kelsey Hurst.


 

Kelsey Hurst began working at the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) as awards program coordinator in 2008. She is currently the program administrator for WEF’s Member Association Engagement department. Hurst earned undergraduate degrees in both Political Science and Criminal Justice from Widener University (Chester, Pa.) in 2008.

As the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) staff who manages WEF’s awards program and serves as the liaison to the WEF House of Delegates, I work with WEF members and volunteers on a daily basis. When I initially heard about the Water Leadership Institute (WLI), it appealed to me as a way to interact with members in a completely different setting. I was ecstatic when I received an email in March stating that I had been accepted as a member of the WLI Class of 2014.

With our graduation scheduled to take place 6 months later at WEFTEC® 2014, things with the WLI got underway quickly. In the beginning of the session, we read the book Strengths Based Leadership – Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie. Once we finished this book, each participant was required to take a Strengths Finder quiz, which identified and defined our top five talent themes. Ultimately, the themes that were defined after taking this quiz determined the teammates that we would work with throughout the summer for our final project.

Beginning in April, we participated in a monthly webcast training focused on a topic or issue that is important within the water and wastewater sectors. While many of the participants obtained Continuing Education Units from these webcasts, I was able to learn more about the issues that members are grappling with every day.

One of the most fascinating webcasts, “Integrated Water Management in New Orleans – Momentum and Challenges,” focused on the water issues currently facing the city of New Orleans. The first time I traveled to New Orleans was for WEFTEC in 2010. I’ve learned a lot about the unique history of this city, but until this webcast, I did not understand the extent of the water challenges New Orleans has faced. Throughout my time working at WEF, and most recently participating in the WLI, one thing has been made abundantly clear: Water truly is a precious resource that needs to be respected.

From left, Kelsey Hurst receives her Water Leadership Institute graduation plaque during WEFTEC 2014 from Sandra Ralston, 2013–2014 Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.) president. Photo courtesy of Oscar Einzig Photography.

From left, Kelsey Hurst receives her Water Leadership Institute graduation plaque during WEFTEC 2014 from Sandra Ralston, 2013–2014 Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.) president. Photo courtesy of Oscar Einzig Photography.

My absolute favorite part of the WLI was a 2-day, in-person session held at WEF’s headquarters. During this session, we listened to several speakers and had the opportunity to network with the other members of this year’s WLI class. It was a great opportunity to learn more about myself and my personality style during the interactive presentation, “Communicating with Impact,” by Linda Kelly, senior director of development with WEF. These lessons already have been beneficial while I work with others in a professional environment. The session speaker that inspired me the most was George Hawkins, general manager of DC Water (Washington, D.C.). Hawkins was a dynamic speaker with a diverse background and truly left me inspired to begin conquering goals I set for myself as a professional.

Kelsey Hurst, third from left, stands with fellow 2014 graduates who worked with her on the final team project. Photo courtesy of Oscar Einzig Photography.

Kelsey Hurst, fourth from left, stands with fellow 2014 graduates who worked with her on the final team project. Photo courtesy of Oscar Einzig Photography.

Since our final project teams had been announced before the session, it ended up being a great opportunity to meet one of my group members in person. My team consisted of five members from across the country, from New Jersey to California. While I enjoyed working with and getting to know my team members, we faced hurdles along the way. We found it difficult to depend on meeting via conference calls or using Web cams instead of sitting down together in person. Even though one of our group members had family and work obligations that got in the way of helping to complete the final project, I am proud to say that my team powered through, and we were all in attendance at WEFTEC for our final presentation.

I am very happy that I was able to participate in and become a graduating member of the WLI Class of 2014. I look forward to keeping in touch with my group members and my fellow classmates. I strongly encourage anyone thinking about applying for the WLI to do so — it’s a great way to network with people with whom you may not otherwise have the opportunity to interact.

Kelsey Hurst, 2014 graduate of WEF’s Water Leadership Institute

Apply Now To Participate in the 2015 Water Leadership Institute

Water Leadership Institute LogoThe Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) Water Leadership Institute now is accepting applications for those interested in participating in the 2015 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.

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