CEO Ned Breslin plans to get everyone involved with Water For People’s mission in 2014.
As CEO of Water For People, an international nonprofit, I am constantly looking to move ourselves and the broader water and sanitation sector forward to end a crisis the affects more than 1.8 billion people worldwide. And I am constantly pushing our organization, and the sector, to find the most effective and lasting solutions. This is the goal of Water For People’s Everyone Forever initiative, which seeks to bring access to safe water and sanitation to everyone in target districts, forever.
In 2013, I saw organizations and individuals start to unite under this common vision. The Everyone Forever initiative has gained significant momentum with organizations like the IRC and Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor joining Water For People to not only help us improve, but more importantly to help governments across several countries align their water and sanitation programming and funding for greater impact. We also saw a number of areas, like Chinda (Honduras) and Cuchumuela (Bolivia), reach full water coverage, meaning every person in these districts has access to safe water. This is unheard of in the sector and demonstrates the important progress we’re making.
As I said the first time I spoke with Forefront magazine, I am a hands-off manager. I try to serve as a mentoring coach, trusting my team and allowing them to really get creative. I do not always get this right, but am proud as our team inspires me, identifies new challenges, takes risks for greater impact, monitors our work and pivots to improve. This is what creates a strong organization with the ability to create a movement and change lives.
I now look to 2014 with great enthusiasm. There will be a number of challenges that inspire me to push even harder. The principles that underpin Everyone Forever are starting to build into a larger-sector movement. To succeed, I must continually open to greater collaboration and less “control.” I am constantly caught between the need to broaden this burgeoning movement on the one hand with the reality of maintaining some sense of ourselves as an organization on the other hand—a balance that is not easy and must transcend ego.
I am proud of our work and the courage of our staff. The outcome is clear: a world where international water and sanitation nongovernmental organizations are irrelevant because water flows for everyone forever. Getting there means pushing the edges of current practice, spreading Everyone Forever beyond Water For People, and smiling as other organizations adopt, adapt and improve on this work.
As the movement builds and improves in 2014, I am hopeful that I too can improve as a CEO. It’s not easy to dance between the role of CEO and someone who is also trying to offer something beyond our particular organization, with an eye on sector reform. It’s a fun dance, and I learn new steps everyday. And that is what keeps me inspired for the next year, and beyond.
Ned Breslin is CEO of Water For People and was featured in Issue 1 of Forefront Magazine.