Leadership Development

2024  Rural Communities Water Managers Leadership Institute

Water leaders, community residents, water agency staff and board members are invited to participate in the 2024 Community Engagement Leadership Institute hosted by Self-Help Enterprises. The six-month institute consists of classroom presentations, interactive dialogue, activity-based learning, and a two-day water tour in the Madera County area. This Institute creates the space to develop relationships between residents and agency staff, gain perspective on the needs of all water users, and lay foundations for the hard work required to address realistic and equitable water management for everyone.

This year’s version of Leadership Institute offers rural community leaders and water management staff a unique opportunity to talk with, listen to, and learn from one another.

This will be a space where participants learn about:
• Central Valley water: where it comes from, where it goes, and how it is used.
• Rural community voices: challenges and potential solutions.
• Synergy: how communities, counties, environment, agriculture, and regional water supply managers can collaborate toward sustainable solutions for the Central Valley.

There is no charge for participation.
Stipends are available to rural community participants.


For More Information, please contact Adriana Becerra at mobile (559) 909-8068 or at or Sue Ruiz at (559) 802-1687 or

Para ver toda la información de esta página en español haga clic aquí

Para obtener más información en español, póngase en contacto con: Adriana Becerra at (559)909-8068 or at

Community Engagement Leadership Institute 2024 Programming
There is no charge for participation.
Stipends are available to rural community participants.


Because space is limited and the Institute is free, we ask for your commitment to fully participate in each session.
Please review the schedule to make sure it works with your other commitments.

2024 Program Dates:

Session 1: Water Leaders Kick-Off                      March 16, 2024

Session 2: Water 101                                              April 19, 2024

Session 3: Spring Water Tour                                  May 17, 2024

Session 4: Working Together                        September 13, 2024

Session 5: Fall Water Tour                                  October 19, 2024

Session 6: Next Steps & Graduation!             November 16, 2024

All sessions are from 9:30am – 3:30pm / Water Tours are from 8:00am – 5pm
This institute is open to all – please note all sessions will take place in the Madera/Merced Area
APPLY HERE: 2024 CELI Application – Google Forms

“My overall experience was very enriching. I learned the importance of leadership and community outreach and about those who need this resource the most. I loved the group dynamics that taught us to put what we learned into practice.”
~ Keila Davila

More on the Leadership Institute:

Self-Help Enterprises is a nationally recognized community development organization and respected Technical Assistance provider, having served rural communities in the San Joaquin Valley since 1965. At the core of this Leadership Institute effort is the empowerment of residents to take control in the development of their own community infrastructure needs. Leadership Institute was intended to address the complex and multifaceted issues facing rural communities at the source. Self-Help Enterprises believes no one knows a community better than the residents who live there.

To accomplish this, Self-Help Enterprises trains and supports community leaders to secure resources and guide development to meet community water needs. This way, residents move to the forefront to ensure collaborative solutions for their community needs.

This Community Engagement Leadership Institute provides training for San Joaquin Valley community residents, including basic hydrology, water policy, state and local agency knowledge, community resource development, and effective communication skills. To better collaborate with local water management agencies, participants are provided soft skills training such as public relations, consensus building, and conflict resolution. Increased knowledge will empower participants to engage in local water management decision-making.

The years institute focuses on relationship-building between communities and agencies. The result will be solid and long-lasting connections to bridge the gap and provide effective solutions to sustainable Central Valley water needs.

Are you in?



Leadership Development Impact

Highlights from past Leadership Institutes:

  • — 2019: 13 Participants
  • — 2020: 38 Participants
  • — 2021: 16 Participants
  • — 2022: 16 Participants
  • — 2023: 39 Participants

Building on a decade of training, over 150 rural community leaders from all over the San Joaquin Valley have participated in the program since its inception. The Leadership Institute will once again teach participants tools, techniques, and strategies to impact positive change in their communities.

New this year, Self-Help invites and encourages GSA staff, county staff, environmental group members, and agriculture representatives to genuinely engage rural community leaders in the water management efforts required by SGMA, multi-land repurposing (MLRP) efforts, and by most funders of water management projects.


2024 Leadership Institute Funders

This Leadership Institute was offered for free to interested participants. Funding for the Institute was provided by the USDA, Rural Development, Kaiser Permanente, NeighborWorks, and The Campbell Foundation.



Why should I consider becoming a leader in my community? 

Community leaders make a difference in our communities and play a pivotal role in helping improve the well-being of residents.

How does the community benefit from engaged residents?

Engaged residents identify community needs and enables communities to realize their vision for a vibrant, welcoming place for all to call home.

How does Self-Help Enterprises assist with the training of water and sewer boards?

Self-Help Enterprises works to educate residents about the roles and responsibilities of a board and set the ground work for boards to function effectively.

 Interest Form

If you are interested in information about future leadership development trainings, please complete the interest form. A Self-Help Enterprises staff member will contact you. Link to apply to this institute: Community Engagement Leadership Institute 2024 Application (

Interest Form

Please fill out the form.

Interest Form

Healthy Homes and Communities



Building homes that are energy efficient, use fewer resources, and are affordable.

Community Building

Community Building

Empowering people to become leaders in their community.

Health & Wellness

Health & Wellness

Creating and supporting efforts to promote healthy homes and communities.