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River Network Announces the Inaugural Emerging Leader Award Winner

May 28, 2019 [Boulder, Colo.] – River Network is delighted to recognize the inaugural recipient of the Emerging Leader Award, Kevin Jeffery. The new Emerging Leader Award recognizes someone early in their professional career who deserves attention for their work at the intersection of water and equity. This award was inspired by former River Network board member Leslie Lowe, who was a strident supporter of investing in and recognizing new and younger voices and perspectives in the water arena. 

Kevin Jeffery, a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, is using his innovative spirit and community-driven values to shift the collective framework around public freshwater spaces. A student of landscape architecture, Jeffery is the creator of the Blue Index project and a burgeoning force in the water world. Blue Index, a participatory research project, strives to measure emotional responses to water in the community and will be used to inform Planet Texas 2050 Bridging Barriers Initiative. Data from the Blue Index project will help Austin and other cities create more holistic programs that treat waterways as fundamental assets that reduce stress and support healthy communities. 

“Kevin has the rare ability to create community wherever he goes”, says Jessica Wilson, Education Manager in the Watershed Protection Department of the City of Austin. “In a world that desperately needs personal connections, Kevin has a way of connecting people to their communities and those communities to nature.” Before returning to school, Jeffery worked in water management in Washington D.C. for public, private and commercial entities. He plans to return to the public sector upon graduation. 

The Emerging Leader Award, in addition to River Heroes and Compton Awards, will be presented on June 22nd at River Rally (Cleveland, Ohio, June 21-24, 2019), the annual gathering of river conservationists and water advocates hosted by River Network.  

For more about the Emerging Leader Award at River Rally, visit

About River Network 

River Network ( the foremost nonprofit connecting more than 6,000 nonprofits, agencies, businesses, and communities for greater local impact and healthier rivers across the U.S. River Network envisions a future of clean and ample water for people and nature, where local caretakers are well-equipped, effective, and courageous champions for our rivers. 

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