Internet of Water Executive Director

Durham, NC, US

In the United States, water data have been collected by hundreds of federal, state, and local agencies for decades, yet we are still unable to answer fundamental questions about our water systems in a timely way: How much water is there? What is its quality? How is it used? Because the data have been collected by different agencies, for different purposes, at different scales, and are scattered across multiple platforms with different standards, they are rarely used beyond their original purpose. The Internet of Water (IoW) is a bold vision to improve water data infrastructure and fundamentally transform water management. Today, “Internet of Water” describes a federation of data producers, hubs, and users, currently in its unstructured infancy, which without direction is unlikely to evolve into a form or function that would actually affect water sustainability in a reasonable time frame.
The lack of structure, direction, and attention points to the need for a governance organization whose primary mission is to facilitate the sharing and integration of data between producers, users, and hubs – that is, to implement and advance the IoW. The Executive Director will play a lead role in managing IoW activities such as coordinating efforts between data hubs, articulating a clear vision for policies and procedures to share data, providing technical and non-technical resources for data producers and hubs, and demonstrating the value of integrating water data and capturing that value to ensure the IoW can become self-sustained.
The Executive Director provides vision, coherence, and leadership to the Internet of Water (IoW). The Executive Director is responsible for the initial launch of the IoW over a 3-year period. The IoW will initially be housed at the Nicholas Institute at Duke University with the goal of transitioning to a different, or standalone, organization in the third year. The Director will manage a full time staff of 2-3 persons, 50% of the Senior Water Policy Associate at the Nicholas Institute, and university students if applicable. The IoW project will be supported by the Nicholas Institute Grant Manager and the Development Team. This person will work with the Advisory Group to oversee the administration, strategic planning, and implementation of the IoW. Other duties include developing a business strategy, marketing, advocacy and outreach. The director will report to the Chair of the Advisory Group, who will be housed at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions (NI) at Duke University. The Executive Director will also be housed at the Nicholas Institute in Durham, NC with the expectation that he/she must be able to travel, particularly to Washington D.C. This position has an initial term-limit of three years with the potential for continuity based on the performance and sustainability of the project.

General Responsibilities

(1) Leadership, strategic planning, and management (50%)
          a. Work with the Chair of the Advisory Group (during start-up – 3 year period) to develop a strategic plan and more clearly define the IoW, including the roles and functions of this start-up team.
          b. Lead the implementation of the IoW in a manner that supports and guides the IoW mission.
          c. Identify and assess internal and external issues that affect the organization and communicate these effectively to the Advisory Group and the Nicholas Institute IoW team. This includes:
              i. Reporting to and working closely with the Advisory Group to seek their involvement in policy decisions, fundraising, and implementation of the IoW.
             ii. Organizing and overseeing regular convening’s of the Advisory Group.
         d. Serve as the main point of contact and spokesperson for the IoW, including communication with IoW members, the media, and general public.
         e. The IoW has received three years of philanthropic funding. The Executive Director will work along with staff to articulate the value proposition for water data, facilitate pilot studies demonstrating the value of water data, and develop a business model to achieve long-term viability for the IoW and hubs.
(2) Operational planning and management (20%)
         a. Develop an operational plan which incorporates goals and objectives that work towards the strategic vision of the IoW.
         b. Oversee the efficient and effective day-to-day operation of the IoW. This includes:
              i. Establishing employment and administrative policies and procedures for day-to-day operations.
             ii. Supervising and collaborating with IoW staff (3 and part of Nicholas Institute staff time).
         c. Hiring, or contracting with, competent, qualified staff and work to retain those staff. 
         d. Ensure that the operation of the IoW meets the expectations of the Advisory Group and IoW constituents (data producers, hubs, and users).
(3) Planning and management (20%)
          a. Ensure the integrity of the IoW, including consistent quality of finance and administration, fundraising, communications, and systems; recommend timelines and resources needed to achieve the strategic goals. This includes:
              i. Planning and operation of annual budget.
          b. Ensure effective systems to track progress, regularly evaluate IoW components and measure success that can be effectively communicated to the Advisory Group, funders, and other constituents.
(4) Communications / Advocacy (10%)
          a. Responsible for building and maintaining good collaborative relationships with federal, state, and local government agencies. Grow stakeholder base.
          b. Communicate with stakeholders to keep them informed of the IoW and to identify changes in the communities served by the IoW.
          c. Raise the visibility of the IoW, through development of a media and communications strategy, build-out of a professional website, and deepening external relations with the goal of creating a stronger brand.
          d. Oversee marketing and other communication efforts.
          e. Enhance the IoW’s image by being active and visible in water data provider and user communities (creating communities of practice or engaging in existing communities) and by working closely with a variety of data producers, hubs, and users to enhance the IoW.

Professional Qualifications

  • Master degree or higher in a related field
Knowledge, skills and abilities
  • Extensive knowledge around water resources (ideally with regards to water budgets – quantity, quality, and law) and/or data management or analytics
  • Significant experience building network-based organizations or coalitions
  • Experience working with local, state, and/or federal government agencies
  • Experience designing and leading a process requiring collaboration and coordination amongst parties with diverse backgrounds and desired outcomes
  • Strong communication skills
  • Strong ability to articulate and implement a vision

Application Materials

Please apply via Academic Jobs Online at
  1. A cover letter expressing your interest in developing and growing the Internet of Water (1-2 pages)
  2. Curriculum Vitae / Resume
  3. Statement of qualifications with regards to (1) relevant water experience, (2) relevant data experience, and (3) experience with leading a start-up organization or small task force (1-2 pages)
  4. The names and contact information of at least 3 references will be requested at the time of in-person interviews.
Salary is commensurate with experience and negotiated with final candidates.
The intent of this job description is to provide a representation of the types and level of duties and responsibilities that will be required of positions given this title. It shall not be construed as a declaration of all specific duties and responsibilities of the particular position, as employees may be directed to perform job-related tasks other than those specifically presented in this description.
Duke University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer committed to providing employment opportunity without regard to an individual’s age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status. Duke also makes good faith efforts to recruit, hire, and promote qualified women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, and veterans.