Clean Water 50 Stories: Kate Koeze
In honor of Clean Water Action's 50th birthday, we are lifting up voices and stories in the Clean Water movement through #CleanWater50Stories. Our story is the story of everyday people who have used their power to make a difference to create a healthier and greener future for all. Meet Clean Water Action alumni, member, volunteer, donor, and Chairperson of our Board of Directors, Kate Koeze!
What's Your Connection to Clean Water?
I went to work for the Washington, D.C. canvass in the fall of 1983. I got on staff and cross-trained in the Boston office before the end of the year. I moved up from canvasser to trainer and eventually field manager. I stayed at Clean Water for two and a half years doing a number of different jobs. I was founder David Zwick's assistant, I managed special fundraising events, worked several elections, I help input election data into our new computer, and I ended up as the canvass administrator. I will always be grateful for the commitment to water protection, environmental justice, and staff training that Clean Water has. I learned skills I still use today.
I stayed in touch with people at Clean Water and twenty years after I left, I joined the Clean Water Fund board and later the Clean Water Action board. I now am the chairperson of Clean Water Action.
What's Your Favorite Clean Water Action Memory or Story?
There are a million stories. I have heard it said that people come for the issues, but stay for the people. In the Washington. D.C. canvass, we had a weekly award for the canvasser who had had a notable week that was called, "The Naked Mole Rat" award. Naked mole rats are real furless mammals who live underground in a bee-hive-like society which is to say that they are weird. I think that was the point of the award. I can't remember how we decided who got the award every Friday, I think it was given to the canvasser with the best crazy thing that they had experienced.
Why Do You Care About Clean Water?
Clean Water has been at the forefront of environmental advocacy for 50 years. There are lots of groups that do good work on the environment, but Clean Water is the only national and state-level group who connects real people who are affected by environmental harm to the people in charge of that harm every single day, keeping them accountable.
What's Exciting for Clean Water Now & for the Future?
I think we are on the brink of a new era of environmental justice and Clean Water has the experience, connections, and tools to be a leader in that era.
50 Years of Action for Clean Water is Worth Celebrating! Share your own Clean Water Story, join us for our national virtual anniversary celebration and wine tasting on October 19th, 2022 here, and support our work for the next 50 years of protecting clean water here.