Orange County Water Division Manager Earns Prestigious Fellowship
Eighteen emerging leaders from water and wastewater utilities across the United States have been selected to join Duke University’s Water Innovation Leadership Development (WILD) executive education program, including Iulia Siemen, water division manager at Orange County Utilities.
Managers accepted into the yearlong program will be introduced to new approaches and resources for dealing with some of the most pressing issues facing the water services sector today, from funding shortfalls and aging infrastructure to climate impacts and uncertain population trends. Over the course of a year, Fellows will take part in six online sessions and two three-day workshops at Duke’s campus in Durham, N.C.
“I’m sort of new to the industry, and you forge relationships through conferences and workshops, so this is a great opportunity for me to do that,” Siemen said of the Fellowship. “It’s an opportunity to learn how to take this industry to the next level, from where we’re heading to how we get there.”
Siemen started at Orange County in August 2020 after working for 14 years at Anheuser-Busch and its SeaWorld parks as assistant water division manager. She came to United States from Romania after high school in 1996 and received her Chemical Engineering degree from University of Florida in 2002. From there she got an internship with Anheuser-Busch, where, among other things, she made beer as the first female production manager at the company’s Jacksonville brewery.
She credits her diverse background with helping to secure the Fellowship.
“When I came to Orange County, my manager saw this as a huge advantage because I didn’t have tunnel vision, and I brought different perspectives to the job,” said Siemen. “With this Fellowship, I get to take what I learn and apply it to what I’m doing at the County in the best possible way, without preconceived notions.”
Thanks to generous support from program funders, tuition, travel and lodging costs (valued at about $14,000) are covered for each Fellow. Toward the end of the program, participants are expected to complete a solo capstone project that showcases how they are using their new skills and knowledge in a current work or professional project or to help advance their individual career goals. Program graduates earn a Certificate of Completion from Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.
“I’m excited to learn and bring ideas to the table in my job here,” she asserted. “For example, Orange County is diverse, so how do we customize our service to the smaller entities within the county and serve them? I’m very interested in learning how you approach a more customized way of serving the entire community.”