Brianna Huber, executive director of Her2O, was the second Quad Cities woman to receive a 2021 Nation of Neighbors empowerment award presented nationwide this fall by Rock Island-based Royal Neighbors of America.
In addition to the award, she received a $10,000 grant for her organization. Nation of Neighbors is a Royal Neighbors philanthropy program that gives financial assistance to nominated individuals who plan to start or expand a business, organization, program, or nonprofit that helps women and/or girls in their community. To date, $2.5 million has been awarded nationwide.
Huber (a 2006 Augustana College alum with a 2012 master’s in health sciences from Western Illinois University) works as the Director of Water Filtration for the City of East Moline, and has also served as chair of the Women in Water Committee for the Illinois Chapter of the American Water Works Association, which she started, according to RNA.
“I did not choose water. It chose me,” she said in a recent issue of The Royal Neighbor. “I needed a change of pace, so I applied on a whim for a chemist and assistant director position of a municipal drinking water treatment plant.”
Soon after starting in her new role, Huber realized the unique and positive impact she and other women could make in the water/wastewater industry, and she quickly became passionate about networking with them, according to the article. She felt called to be active in supporting and lifting up her female water peers around the world.
“Sometimes a dream is not a dream at all. It’s a calling,” she said. “And a calling, backed by purpose, within a passionate person, quite literally can look to outsiders as some sort of delirious obsession,” she added. “Women in water is my calling, my obsession, not my job!”
Huber launched Her2O (a play on the elements that make up water, H2O) in January 2020. Her2O’s mission is to stimulate, elevate, and embolden women’s participation in global water management. Through outreach, education, training, mentoring, advocacy, scholarships, research, and support programming, Her2O is conducting research, raising awareness, creating cultures, removing barriers, creating opportunities, and inspiring the next generation of women in water management.
“We believe that having women involved in water management in every corner of the globe will positively impact our planet, people, and economy,” Huber said. “By equitably involving women in water management, we develop more innovative, more efficient, more financially beneficial, less risky, more timely solutions to global water issues.”
The empowerment grant will help Brianna grow Her2O to benefit women in the water management industry worldwide through outreach, education, scholarships, and research. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to grow my community of women and its resources,” she told RNA. “We will be able to lift up women and societies around the world and further boost the local economies where women are involved.”
The 10 Nation of Neighbors winners this year also included Jodie Barton, executive director of New Kingdom Trailriders in Sherrard, Ill. For more information, visit the Nation of Neighbors site. You can see a complete list of the 2021 award winners HERE.