Sheyda EsnaashariDrinking Water Program Director

Sheyda Esnaashari

Chicago, Illinois

Sheyda grew up in the land of 10,000 lakes near the source of the Mississippi River – Saint Paul, MN. Freshwater has been a part of her life for as long as she can remember and being close to it always makes her feel at home.

Based in Chicago, IL, Sheyda has built her career around social justice and the advancement of equitable policies and practices. Previously with the Alliance for the Great Lakes, Sheyda focused on policy and advocacy efforts to protect the lakes from Asian carp, reduce runoff pollution to western Lake Erie and define and build the organization’s shift toward protecting access to clean, safe, and affordable drinking water in the region for all people. Prior to her work on water, Sheyda worked as a policy research and evaluation professional, advancing and advocating for effective social policies and programs. Her projects have included efforts to improve early childhood education outcomes in Kisumu, Kenya, advancing community health benefits for immigrant populations in Minneapolis, MN, and improving federal pesticide monitoring practices in the US food supply. Sheyda brings both broad policy expertise and strong alliance-building experience to her work at River Network, having previously developed successful, diverse partnerships across local communities, academic institutions, and nonprofit organizations ranging in scope from the local to international levels throughout her career.

Sheyda received her B.A. from the University of Minnesota in Global Studies and Human Rights and has an M.A. in Public Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Sheyda is passionate about human rights and social justice, and views the Great Lakes and surrounding tributaries as a vital resource that should be accessible to all communities in the region. Sheyda’s work at River Network is driven by the belief that the health of our region’s fresh water is vital to the well-being of its surrounding communities.