WELL UnTapped Fellowship Program
Water is one of the most important public policy issues in California and local Latino leaders are now emerging as key contributors in the water policy arena. Ahead of this trend, a group of Latino water experts and community organizers across California came together in 2012 and founded Water Education for Latino Leaders (WELL) with the goal of strengthening the voice of local Latino leaders, ensuring they have context for and participation in water policy decisions.
Latinx and other people of color have been historically locked out of decision-making and leadership roles, particularly on the issue of water policy. Latinos represent nearly 40 percent of California’s population, but only account for 2 percent of elected water officials and water policy professionals. WELL believes that the next generation of leaders should reflect the diversity of California and that they should have the knowledge and expertise about water issues that will make them more effective in leading water policy.
Since WELL’s inception, more than 400 California Latino city council members, mayors, county supervisors, water district directors, and school board members have participated in annual WELL conferences.
Building on its success in water education, WELL launched WELL UnTapped, a selective, six-month program for local elected leaders aimed at helping participants make an impact on California water policy while addressing individual community challenges with water. The UnTapped program creates an opportunity for local leaders to engage with water issues through a comprehensive and active exploration of history, governance, public policy, geography, and economics and their relationship to human rights and climate change.
UnTapped sessions are held at different watersheds throughout California. Session content includes lectures given by water professionals and skill-based exercises that help participants ask better public policy questions and strengthen public speaking and relational skills.
Once fellows graduate from UnTapped, they are inducted into the WELL UnTapped Network (WUN), where they can continue engaging in learning and training opportunities about California water policy.
“WELL UnTapped was the perfect venue for becoming educated on water and for networking with other Latino leaders with the same concerns.”
– Eduardo Martinez, UnTapped Graduate and Council Member, City of Richmond
- Class of 2020
- Class of 2019
- Class of 2017-2018