DWSD Deputy Director Palencia Mobley, P.E. selected as one of 18 emerging leaders for Duke University executive program

DETROIT – Eighteen emerging leaders from water and wastewater utilities across the United States have been selected as 2022 Fellows of Duke University’s Water Innovation Leadership Development (WILD) executive education program. Detroit resident and DWSD Deputy Director & Chief Engineer Palencia Mobley, P.E., has been chosen for the 2022 cohort. 

Managers accepted into the yearlong program are 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 the year, Fellows take part in six online sessions and two three-day workshops at Duke’s campus in Durham, N.C.

“I am honored to have been nominated and chosen for the Duke University executive program,” said Mobley. “I plan to share the lessons with my colleagues as we work together to continue to upgrade the water and sewer systems and address climate resiliency here in Detroit.”

Industry experts and leading researchers facilitate the sessions and workshops and provide coaching to Fellows, but there’s also a big emphasis on peer-to-peer learning, said Martin Doyle, professor of river systems science and policy at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, who serves as faculty lead on WILD.

“The idea is to help emerging leaders build a network of peers they can brainstorm with and seek advice from, even long after the program ends,” Doyle said.

Fellows represent a wide range of utility sizes, from those serving communities as small as 15,000 people to utilities serving several million. Annual enrollment in the program is limited to between 15 to 20 Fellows to optimize the learning environment. Thanks to generous support from program funders, tuition, travel and lodging costs, which otherwise would be valued at about $14,000, are covered for each Fellow.

The newly selected 2022 Fellows will begin their training in February 2022. 
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 non-credit-bearing Certificate of Completion from Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

Mobley has been with DWSD since she was appointed by Mayor Mike Duggan in October 2015 and confirmed by the Board of Water Commissioners in January 2016. She was previously an engineering consultant, and is a graduate of Wayne State University and the University of Michigan. At DWSD, Mobley has spearheaded a data-driven condition assessment approach to a new $500M Capital Improvement Program that was launched in 2019, among many other accomplishments.

About the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department
The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) delivers clean water and collects sanitary sewage and stormwater from more than 230,000 accounts, representing a residential population of nearly 700,000. DWSD’s water system consists of more than 2,700 miles of water main and 29,000-plus fire hydrants, and the combined sewer collection system has nearly 3,000 miles of sewer piping, more than 90,000 catch basins and 16 green stormwater infrastructure projects within the city of Detroit. Since June 2019, DWSD has committed $100 million per year to begin to address the aging infrastructure, including replacing lead service lines. To learn more about DWSD or to request water services, make payments, apply for affordability programs, or report water or sewer emergencies, call DWSD Customer Service at 313-267-8000, use the Improve Detroit mobile app, or visit www.detroitmi.gov/dwsd.