An Interview with Matt Howard, The Water Council’s new Director of Alliance for Water Stewardship-North America

M Howard Headshot 3 2013What past experiences drew you to The Water Council and your current role as the Director of Alliance for Water Stewardship-North America?
My background in economics led me into the nascent field of sustainability early on in my career. My particular area of expertise focused on sustainability as a competitive advantage for businesses. As a result, I have been developing and managing sustainability programs at the national and local level for 10 years.

When I moved to Milwaukee to accept the job as the City’s Sustainability Director, I was privileged to work with Mayor Barrett on Great Lakes issues through his involvement in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative. Leading the effort to develop the City’s sustainability plan (ReFresh Milwaukee which has a focus area on water) and my publication of North America’s first urban water system benchmarking report (Milwaukee’s Sustainable Municipal Water Management report) solidified my desire to move in a direction that would allow me to professionally devote my efforts to water stewardship and sustainability. I had always been impressed with The Water Council and its determination to establish Milwaukee as site of the world’s leading water cluster. When I learned that The Water Council was signing an exclusive partnership agreement with the international Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) to be their North American headquarters, I knew I had to be a part of it.

What are you most looking forward to working on at The Water Council?
I’m excited to be part of the all-star team Dean and the Board have put together. For me, being part of something at its conception with the AWS-North America is an amazing opportunity. But more importantly, knowing I have The Water Council team to fall back on for support gives me the confidence to go out there and try new things. This is an amazing time to be in the Global Water Center. Imagining what AWS, The Water Council and the Milwaukee region will be like in 5-10 years is very exciting to me.

What would you like to accomplish in your new role?
First and foremost, build a credible, robust North American marketplace and system to support the AWS International Water Stewardship Standard. As a result, AWS-North America will hopefully be put on a growth trajectory similar to the U.S. Green Building Council in its early history. Second, develop new water stewardship and sustainability programs for The Water Council that improve the competitiveness of U.S. businesses while enhancing the sustainability of our freshwater resources. Third, be trusted by business as the choice resource for water stewardship

Who do you most look forward to engaging with (members, businesses, etc.)?
I’m eager to engage businesses that are seeking to enhance their water stewardship efforts. As we see in California and other water stressed regions of the United States, businesses must move quickly to mitigate their water-related risks but also invest in their communities and the health of local watersheds. We see the positive economic implications (as well as social and environmental) of this type of corporate water stewardship right here in Milwaukee with the tremendous success of the Menomonee Valley redevelopment.

I’m also excited to learn about and advocate for all the great things Water Council members are doing, dreaming and inventing. I know their products and services will reinforce the mission of the Alliance for Water Stewardship-North America. There’s so much happening at the Global Water Center the world has yet to know. I look forward to being a part of that story!

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About The Water Council

The Water Council, the only organization of its kind in the United States, was established in 2009 by Milwaukee-area businesses, education and government leaders. With more than 150 water technology companies in the Milwaukee area, the region’s water industry is a $10.5 billion dollar market and accounts for four percent of the world’s total water business. The non-profit organization is linking together global water technology companies, innovative water entrepreneurs, acclaimed academic research programs and, most importantly, some of the nation’s brightest and most energetic professionals. The Water Council is capturing the attention of the world and transforming the Milwaukee region into a World Water Hub for freshwater research, economic development and education. The Water Council is located in the Global Water Center at 247 W. Freshwater Way, Suite 500, Milwaukee, WI 53204.
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