After conducting a nationwide search and reviewing more than 30 candidates, I am happy to report that the best candidate for the top position was already part of the HRWC team. Today, HRWC is proud to announce that Rebecca Esselman has been named HRWC executive director.

Rebecca Esselman
Rebecca Esselman, HRWC’s new Executive Director. (photo by D. Brown)

Rebecca spent the past seven years as a watershed planner for HRWC and served as the interim executive director after Laura Rubin resigned the post in April to lead the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition.

I am also happy to report that HRWC has been nurturing a strong internal environment, one that challenges staff members and provides room for advancement. We ran a search process that was truly nationwide and rigorous, and we attracted a good number of exceptional candidates. After thorough and careful deliberation, we concluded that none stood out as strongly as Rebecca. She is a smart leader and a fierce advocate for the Huron River. She has the right skill set, professional work experience, and temperament for the challenges we confront, and she has earned the respect and full support of the HRWC staff. With PFAS, climate change, and other forces now threatening the health of the River, Rebecca is the right person for the job.

She has 18 years of experience in water resource management and river protection. In her seven years with the Huron River Watershed Council, she has led the organization’s climate adaptation efforts, implementing projects that prepare the river, as well as cities and towns, for a changing climate. She is a skilled facilitator, successfully bringing together diverse constituents to make progress on some of the most pressing issues facing our freshwater resources.

A Dexter resident, Esselman works at the state and regional level to increase the impact of HRWC’s work and strengthen clean water protection efforts throughout the Great Lakes region. Prior to joining HRWC, Rebecca spent 10 years with the Nature Conservancy. She holds a Master of Science in Conservation Ecology from the University of Georgia, where she focused on watershed issues, and a Bachelor of Science in Botany from Michigan State University.

Richard K. Norton, HRWC Board Chair