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Partnering for Impact Releases Report On Transformational Leadership

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Partnering for Impact Releases Report On Transformational Leadership Staying Above Water

Partnering for Impact Releases Report On Transformational Leadership

Partnering for Impact (PFI) has released, Staying Above Water: Lessons Learned from Water Sector Change Leaders that examines leadership and innovation and that can be downloaded from the PFI website at

Authored by PFI co-Founder, Dr. Eileen O’Neill, the report is based on in-depth individual semi-structured interviews with 11 US public water sector CEOs (see below) that explored transformational leadership practices, career pathways, and leadership resilience. “At PFI, we are confident that the water sector will find the opportunities in the challenges facing our communities now and those looming on the horizon,” said PFI Founder Rick Warner. “PFI also believes strongly that there are skills, equally if not more important than our engineering and scientific capabilities, that will enable us to bring the most innovative and sustainable solutions to bear on interconnected and thorny problems. This project shines a light on some of those attributes.”

“I am indebted to the 11 US public sector CEOs who made the time not just to talk with me but to review their stories and other material and join in some related public conversations. All were not only generous with their time, but extraordinarily gracious in sharing their stories and insights,” said Eileen O’Neill. “Their grace, optimism, and resilience can inspire, encourage and inform leaders at all levels in the profession, who are seeking to innovate.”

The leaders who participated in the project are:

Angela Charles, Director, Charlotte Water, North Carolina

Rudy Chow, General Manager (GM), Washington Aqueduct, Washington DC

Yvonne Forrest, Director, Houston Water, Texas

Ghassan Korban, Executive Director (ED), Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans, Louisiana

Mike Markus, General Manager (GM), Orange County Water Department, California

Raynetta Marshall, General Manager (GM), Underground Infrastructure and Public Assets, City of Tallahassee, Florida (now Chief Operating Officer, JEA, Florida)

Oluwole (OJ) McFoy, General Manager (GM), Buffalo Sewer Authority, New York

Jeff Mosher, Executive Director (ED), Santa Ana, Watershed Project Authority, California

Carla Reid, General Manager/CEO, WSSC Water, Maryland

Kevin Shafer, General Manager (GM), Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, Wisconsin

Diane Taniguchi-Dennis, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Clean Water Services, Oregon

Early reactions from utility leaders to Staying Above Water:

In commenting on the publication, Mike Markus, GM of the OCWD in California, noted, “I encourage others to read Eileen’s perceptive reflections as I have. Wherever you are in your career or in your change journey, there are tips and ideas that can help you along the way.”

Similarly, Rudy Chow, GM of the Washington Aqueduct stated, “I very much enjoyed being a part of this project and having the opportunity to read the final product. The insights and quotes included in the publication can be helpful to leaders at all stages of their careers.”

Feedback from Diane Taniguchi-Dennis, CEO of Clean Water Services in Oregon, included, “I am honored and humbled to be included in this important work, with the personal hope that it will inspire our collective hearts and minds, toward shared and cooperative action as a professional community courageously meeting the challenges of the gnarly times that loom ahead.”

“Being part of this project helped me to reflect on what has allowed me to make a difference through my career and I applaud Eileen and the PFI team for focusing on the human side of innovation. It doesn’t matter if you know the perfect solution to a problem, unless you can bring people with you internally and externally, your great innovation will likely be dead in the water,” noted Kevin Shafer, ED of Milwaukee MSD in Wisconsin.

Claus Homann, Chief Operating Officer of Aarhus Water in Aarhus, Denmark gave the following reaction after reading Staying Above Water, “I highly recommend this original publication that can help stimulate important conversations around culture, values, and leadership. It includes honest and very credible reflections on professional life and leading through change presented in an approachable and empathetic way.”

About Partnering for Impact

Since 2016 Partnering for Impact (PFI) has been convening conversations in the hope of building stronger collaboration within the water sector. Our goal is to help organizations and individuals contribute to sustainability, resiliency, and equity goals, encourage the next generation of professionals, and increase the adoption of innovation. For more information visit

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