Oktoberfest — Time for Celebration and Change

Eleanor Allen
3 min readOct 3, 2021



On September 30th we finished our 2021 fiscal year at Water For People . It was an incredible year with many significant accomplishments, including:

·Successfully completing our 2017–2021 Strategic Plan. We blew past our impact goal of 4 million people by reaching 4.67 million people with lasting quality water services.

4.67M is our 2021 Impact Population — number of people with quality lasting water services.

· Hitting our all-time record for revenue by raising $23 million.

· Launching an historic alliance with IRC to deliver a shared ambitious and audacious Destination 2030 Strategy with impact goals at the local (20 million people), national (200 million people), and global levels.

· Restructuring our Global Programs team to align with our Destination 2030 Strategy.

· Winning new institutional funding grants that gave us a big step forward with bilateral funders and diversified our portfolio.

· Adding representatives from Latin America, Africa, and India to our leadership team to truly be a Global Leadership Team.

It would have been a lot of work to achieve the above under “normal” circumstances. These are not normal times. COVID lingers on, as do virtual and hybrid work environments. We are all tired. To show gratitude to our employees for their continued dedication and commitment to our our mission, and to acknowledge the unprecedented level of burnout, we will kick-off our new fiscal year with a Rest Week mid-October. This means we will be closed for business for the entire week. No emails to colleagues are allowed! Hikes, massages, sleeping in, and other self-indulgent activities are encouraged 😊.


What is in store for 2022? Personally, I feel like Vianne from the movie Chocolat — the north wind is blowing, and it is time for me to move on as CEO. I announced my transition plan to all employees on September 30th. It was quite an emotional experience for me. The overarching question was “Why leave now, when things are so good?” That is precisely why. Yes, it takes courage to leave a job I love when the going is good. The organization is strong, successful, and stable. Therefore, it is an excellent time for a new CEO to step in and lead Water For People to deliver Destination 2030.

I am so proud of what we have accomplished, together, in my 6+ years at the helm. The board of directors has been very supportive of my desire to move on and even asked me to transition to the board as interim chair to continue support the organization and minimize disruption during the change in leadership. I am delighted and honored to do this as I love Water For People and want all the best for the organization. I will continue as CEO until the new CEO is on board. One of the hardest parts of leaving will be no longer having the privilege of working with all of my incredible and inspiring colleagues around the world on a daily basis. They have made me a better leader and person.

What will I do next? I honestly don’t know. This may be the first time in my life that I do not have a plan. This is very un-Eleanor like, yet exciting and suspenseful. My head is calm and my heart is full. I’ll see which way the north wind blows and where I end up. Stay tuned for more news!

Cherry Creek Reservoir — my neighborhood park

“There is a future version of me who is proud I was strong enough.” unknown



Eleanor Allen

CEO of @WaterForPeople. Passionate about making the world a better place. It all starts with water! @EleanorH2O TEDx: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--uWCAOehO