AWRA Water Blog

Mentors and Succession Planning

January 2018 President’s Column

Brenda O. Bateman
2018 AWRA President

AT THE BEGINNING of each calendar year, AWRA transitions to a new president, who brings in his or her own perspective and goals. I’m honored to follow in the footsteps of recent past presidents Rafael Frias and Martha Narvaez. As part of their leadership efforts, Martha set about strengthening AWRA’s relationships with its state sections and Rafa focused on building the capacity of AWRA’s technical committees.

My focus during the next year will be to encourage more water professionals to choose AWRA as their professional home. This involves a number of initiatives to welcome and mentor millennials, to provide additional opportunities to publish, participate and lead, and to spend some time focused on succession planning. I want to start my series of president’s messages with a focus on succession planning and a note of goodbye.

Many of us have experienced firsthand the departure of water resources champions in the past 24 months. Among them, we’ve said final farewells to AWRA past presidents Peter E. Black, N. Earl Spangenberg and Ari Michelson. Educators, all of them, they taught and mentored many of AWRA’s current members. In the classroom and in the field, they remained accessible and humor-filled, sharing their knowledge and their love of water resources.

Closer to home (for me), I want to acknowledge and thank a colleague who retired at the end of 2017. Those of you in the groundwater science world may know Karl Wozniak, one of Oregon’s senior hydrogeologists. With 27 years of public service, Karl represented the state on various regional and national technical committees. In addition to conducting field work and analysis, he also wrote many of the programs we use to process, analyze and share groundwater data here in Oregon.

His legacy, however, is the time he took every single day to mentor other scientists, share what he was thinking and learning, and challenge his co-workers to do the same. On occasion, when we couldn’t find our groundwater scientists, they’d be crammed into his cubicle, all 12 of them, perched on the desk, chairs or cabinets, getting the latest impromptu lecture or tutorial from Karl. This tendency and desire to teach is priceless, representing a lifelong commitment to water—both the resource and the profession.

This is one great example of knowledge sharing and one of many approaches I would encourage you to explore inside your own organizations as you go about succession planning. Please contribute your stories about mentors and succession planning by signing in to I know there are more success stories out there!

As we move through the next 12 months, I plan to highlight additional success stories from throughout the profession. One of those will focus on AWRA’s own executive vice president, Ken Reid, who has announced his retirement after 36 years at the helm. His retirement will take effect January 4, 2019.

Over the years, Ken has helped to create a space where AWRA can live up to its mantra of “community, conversations, connections.” With this as part of our tradition, the AWRA Board will now work to identify and recruit a new executive vice president. Stay tuned for more details throughout 2018.

Brenda O. Bateman can be reached at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *