DebbieFrancoheadshot

Debbie Franco

Managing Director

Water Solutions Network

Nominated Chook-Chook Hillman (2021)

Water Solutions Network

Debbie Franco is Managing Director of the Water Solutions Network. The Network provides an intensive cohort-based learning experience designed to expand and diversify the community of water leaders crossing boundaries, connecting resources, and choosing bold action while collaboratively working toward equitable and sustainable water stewardship.

Before joining the Water Solutions Network, Debbie spent 10 years in the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, ultimately serving as the Senior Advisor on Water and Rural Affairs. In that role, she was known for her commitment to collaboration across agencies, and between agencies and stakeholders. Debbie served on Governor Brown’s Drought Task Force as the Local Drought Liaison, focusing on local government and local agency assistance and household water supply shortages. She served on the Forest Management Task Force that spanned the Brown and Newsom administrations, leading the Rural Economic Development Steering Committee/Wood Utilization Work Group. Debbie also participated in and contributed to the development of California’s historic Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Debbie got her start in the water sector at the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water (EJCW), where she first became known as a coalition builder and collaborator. In partnership with the Planning and Conservation League, EJCW co-founded the California Water Summit, a gathering designed to build alliances across sectors on progressive water policies. The state’s groundbreaking Human Right to Water bill emerged at a Summit gathering, and Debbie shepherded the campaign until she joined the Governor’s Office.

Debbie sits on the Board of Directors for the California Water Data Consortium and the Advisory Council for the Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center. She was the inaugural recipient of the Debbie Davis Graduate Student Award, a recognition named in her honor (maiden name) and still awarded by the UC Irvine Associated Graduate Students. She also received the Planning and Conservation League’s Environmental Justice Advocate of the Year Award in 2010. Debbie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from UC Davis and a Master of Arts degree in Social Ecology from UC Irvine.