WELL educates local Latino elected officials on California water policies to promote timely and equitable actions that strive to develop a robust economy, healthy communities, and a resilient environment for all Californians.
In 2012, a group of California Latino water experts and community organizers began meeting to create what has become known as WELL, Water Education for Latino Leaders.
The WELL team includes some of the most knowledgeable and respected water experts in California. These Latino water leaders embody California’s future, representing large constituencies and well thought-out perspectives gained from experience at national, state, regional, and local water agencies; environmental justice groups; conservation groups; and local political organizing campaigns. As such, they represent diverse interests and are not monolithic in their approaches.
Now in our seventh year, the group has much to show for itself:
- Seven statewide conferences with over 150 attendees at each event
- Six regional workshops in four different counties throughout California
- Two legislative briefings in partnership with Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon in Sacramento
- Engagement of more than 275 of California’s 400 local elected officials representing Latino constituencies
- Presentation at the White House Water Summit, Working Together to Build a Sustainable Water Future, March 2016
- Convened a panel at the Water Pavilion, an affiliated event of the 2018 Global Climate Summit in San Francisco, CA
Latinos are woefully underrepresented in California’s water policy-making circles. WELL’s goal is to be inclusive and create a “bench” of Latino elected officials who are ready to take the helm and lead California towards a sustainable water future. Therefore, our programs do not require that participants be Latino themselves. We believe that if you represent a Latino community, you are a Latino leader.
Our programs target local elected officials because they have significant water policy responsibilities; additionally, 41 percent of the state legislature is comprised of former local officials, meaning that many of the leaders we train today will be legislators tomorrow.
We have significant challenges on the horizon, such as ensuring the Human Right to Water and managing our limited water resources in the era of climate change. However, we believe that California can rise to the occasion through education, engagement, and action. We are committed to developing the skill sets of local elected leaders because they will be our stewards in the near future. It is important to prepare them now.