Iowa Women Gather for Water

posted on Monday, November 19, 2018 in Water and Land News

With advocates and partners from across public, private and nonprofit sectors, the Iowa Environmental Council helped to organize the 2nd annual Women for Water gathering on Friday, November 16 in Des Moines.  

Women for Water began in 2016 with a vision to unite women as change leaders for water quality. The group strives to empower Iowa women to support clean water through their personal, shared stories and connections. By helping to facilitate an annual event, as well as networking events across the state, Women for Water works to expand Iowa's community of water quality advocates.

More than one hundred women from across the state came together at the organization's 2nd annual gathering last week, which included panel conversations on advocacy and education, presentations, activities and honored Iowa "Women Who Lead." The agenda offered a number of ways for women to engage and discuss their experiences with water, including interactive art. 

First-time attendee Haley Boyd said the event offered a unique opportunity to connect. "You don't often see a lot of spaces for only women to discuss an important issue like clean water, and the Women for Water Gathering brought together women of all ages and interests to find common ground. I enjoyed meeting new people and finding what we shared in common - a deep love for Iowa's water."

Boyd recalled one of her most memorable sessions - a panel of Iowa educators who shared how organizations can aid in educating students about environmental issues. The panelists pointed out that developing engaging, hands-on curriculums can be challenging and non-profits can be a great help by reaching out and teaching educators about topics related to water and environmental sciences. The educators can then more confidently develop memorable programs to teach students inside and outside of the classroom. 

The final presenter of the afternoon delivered an important story about women and water from halfway around the world. Dr. Brinda Narasimhamoorthy is an Associate Director at Des Moines-based Kemin Industries, and is a native of India. She shared how a lack of clean water and lack of access to clean water in India is a huge socio-economic barrier, especially for women because they spend much of their time focused on collecting water.

Other honored presenters included:

  • Marji Guyler-Alaniz , President & Founder, FarmHer
  • Sharon Gaul, Bee Branch Health Homes Resiliency Coordinator, City of Dubuque
  • Melissa Miller, Iowa Water Center
  • Sarah Wessling, 2010 National Teacher of the Year, Johnston, IA
  • Catherine Lyons, Teacher, Des Moines Public Schools
  • Annette Purdy, Teacher, Winterset High School
  • Keri Van Zante, Director, Jasper County Conservation
  • Vanessa Fixmer-Oraiz, Director of Community & Environmental Planning, Iowa Valley RC&D
  • Linda Shenk, Associate Professor, Iowa State University
  • Tammie Krausman, REAP Coordinator, Iowa Department of Natural Resources
  • Representative Jane Bloomingdale, Iowa House District 51
  • Krystin Delagardelle Shelley, School Board Vice Chair, Des Moines Public Schools
  • Katie Rock, Center for Rural Affairs
  • and Judy Downs, Executive Director, Emerge Iowa.

To learn more about Women for Water, visit