Leadership Development

2021 Rural Communities Water Managers Leadership Institute

**The 2021 Leadership Institute application period has closed. Please check back in early 2022 for the next Leadership Institute cohort or contact Manuel Leon at (559) 802-1611 or to be placed on an interest list.**

Community water board members and staff, water leaders, and residents from rural communities are invited to participate in the 2022 Rural Communities Water Managers Leadership Institute. The six-month Leadership Institute consists of trainings, workshops, and educational tours focused on building and maintaining long-term water management expertise in rural communities.

During the program, participants will:

  • Foster relationships through a supportive cohort of water leaders in the Central Valley.
  • Gain valuable information about water management and planning programs and agencies in California.
  • Develop tools and gain resources, including a professional bio and communication materials, to enhance your participation and better represent your community.
  • Participate in a water tour to learn how different water users leverage their resources and work with others to reach sustainability, dependent on public heath guidelines and recommendations.
  • Partner with engineers to identify projects and work on enhancing project development.
  • Practice skills needed to effectively participate in regional/State water management and planning programs.

If you have any questions or to be placed on an interest list, please contact Manuel Leon at (559) 802-1611 or

To date, the Leadership Institute has trained over 95 new water leaders in rural communities from Merced County to Kern County.




2021 Leadership Institute Funders

This Leadership Institute was offered for free to interested participants. Funding for the Institute was provided by the Central Valley Community Foundation and the United States Department of Agriculture. Additional funding for this project has been provided from the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 and through an agreement with the State Department of Water Resources. 



Leadership Development Impact

The issues facing rural disadvantaged communities San Joaquin Valley counties are complex and multifaceted.  Such communities often lack human capacity to effectively lead their communities through issues they face – usually due to lack of training, not lack of heart.

Because it takes leaders from all aspects of the community to effect change that makes a positive impact in neighborhoods, Self-Help Enterprises hosts the Joaquin Valley Rural Community Leadership Institute to address a broad range of community issues. This training experience can sharpen community leaders’ abilities, and provide the tools and techniques to become effective leaders to improve their communities.

The Institute is intended to provide residents from communities throughout the San Joaquin Valley with training sessions that include conflict management and effective communication skills. Workshops also provide guidance on how to manage change and guide their communities through those changes, budgeting, public relations, community resource development and building other skills.

Similarly, Self-Help Enterprises community development staff provide critical technical assistance to local communities, linking the community’s water and sewer needs to funding and technical resources. At the core of this effort is the empowerment of residents to take control of the development of their own community infrastructure needs. Self-Help Enterprises staff support community groups and Boards in forming Districts in assessing the community’s needs to apply for and administer government loans/grants for project financing.

Self-Help Enterprises’ commitment to providing resources and training for individuals builds the capacity for highly effective leadership in communities and at the same time promotes collaborative solutions for improving communities.

“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



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.

Interest Form

Please fill out the form.

Interest Form

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