Why? What? How?
I help purpose-driven organizations succeed so that people, communities, and ecosystems can thrive and prosper. I am passionate about improving the human condition through environmental stewardship, social justice, and organizational excellence. I am a writer, strategist, advisor, facilitator, teacher, board member and water geek. I am also working hard to be an active anti-racist.
Through my firm Seventh Ward Strategies, LLC, I provide consulting services to public, private, and non-profit organizations. I bring my deep operations, management, talent development, governance and communications experience to bear on each assignment, bringing multiple stakeholders together to find common ground in solving complex challenges.
My consulting practice is focused on harnessing the power of values-based leadership, strategic communications, and effective teams to foster sustainable business growth, promote equity, and implement innovative yet practical solutions to critical civic challenges. My areas of focus include: water, environmental stewardship, corporate citizenship, sustainability, social justice, impact investment, community empowerment, ESG, and capacity-building.
In April 2022, I published a novel called The Italian Prisoner, set in New Orleans' Sicilian community during World War II. For more on that project, please visit www.elisamariesperanza.com.
These are the fundamental values I draw from the core of my humanity. I don’t always succeed, but I always try to use these principles to guide my decisions.
Respect. Connecting my actions to the hearts and souls of other human beings, my community, and the planet. Listening, learning, and considering responses with intention.
Integrity. Doing the right thing, always—especially when nobody is watching. Walking the talk.
Service. Using my skills for good, in service to others through empowerment and capacity-building.
Justice. Acknowledging systemic racism and working to dismantle systems of oppression. Decolonizing my own life and supporting those working for social, economic, and environmental justice—including abolition and reparations.
Hope. Maintaining optimism in the face of despair. Channeling grief, outrage, and discouragement into action for positive change, rooted in love.
Northeast Power Coordinating Council, Inc.
Northeast Power Coordinating Council, Inc. (NPCC), is responsible for promoting and enhancing the reliability of the international, interconnected bulk power system in Northeastern North America through the development of Regional Reliability Standards and compliance assessment and enforcement of continent-wide and Regional Reliability Standards, coordination of system planning, design and operations, and assessment of reliability, and the establishment of Regionally-specific criteria, and monitoring and enforcement of compliance with such criteria for the State of New York, the six New England states, Ontario, Québec, and the Maritime provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Director and chair of the Governance/Renumeration/ESG of the Board of Directors for H2O Innovation, a publicly-traded company headquartered in Quebec City, Canada. H2O designs and provides integrated water treatment solutions, specialty chemicals, and operations & maintenance services for municipal, industrial, energy and natural resources end-users.
Harris & Associates
Independent Director on the Board of Harris & Associates, a 100% employee-owned company focused on helping communities solve today's complex challenges in planning, financing, environmental compliance, civil engineering, and construction management. The company's offices and project sites span the West Coast in California and Washington with a staff of over 200 employee-owners serving clients in the municipal, water, transportation, and education markets.
University of Colorado at Boulder
Member of the team, led by Dr. Richard Kuchenrither, that developed the Water Engineering and Management certificate program at CU-Boulder. The course helps graduate-level civil engineering and distance learning students prepare for a career in the water industry, and includes topics such as: governance, leadership, ethics, finance, communications and management.
Vista Ridge O&M Budget Panel
San Antonio Water System
Member of a three-person expert panel established to review and approve the operations and maintenance budget for the largest P3 water project in North America. The Vista Ridge project includes a 142-mile large diameter pipeline, and is the largest non-Edwards Aquifer supply developed in the city's history, providing up to 50,000 acre feet/year of Carrizo/Simsboro Aquifer groundwater.
Water Foresight Podcast, April 2021
In this third episode of the Water Foresight Podcast, guest Elisa Speranza of Seventh Ward Strategies explores the "social" aspect of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) commitments by organizations and the future impact on water.
New England Water Environment Association Women in Water Forum, February 2021
This forum, which took place as part of NEWEA's 2021 Annual Conference & Exhibit, commemorated the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, highlighting progress achieved during that time and identifying the barriers to equitable access to voting that persisted, specifically for women of color. Panelists discussed strategies for supporting women working in the water industry and improving diverse representation in water industry leadership. Great resources here.
I'm a native Bostonian, transplanted to New Orleans in 2002. I spent 15 years with the Fortune 500 global project management firm CH2M (acquired by Jacobs in 2017), including serving as one of seven employee-directors on the firm’s Board. During my career at CH2M, I was President of the $380 million Operations Management business unit for six successful years, with full profit-and-loss responsibility for that 2,300-person group.
I wore many other hats over the years at CH2M, including time in the C-suite as Chief Communications Officer. I was President of the CH2M Foundation, Trustee of the company’s retirement systems, and team leader for drinking water and utility management consulting. I was a portfolio leader for several key client accounts, executive sponsor for the firm’s global sustainability and corporate citizenship initiatives, and an active member of the Diversity & Inclusion Council.
Before joining CH2M, I worked for several other firms, was deputy director of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, and a project manager for the Boston Water and Sewer Commission.
An experienced non-profit board member, I chaired the board of the global non-profit Water For People, from whom I was honored to receive the Robert Hite Award. I was an officer of the American Water Works Association (AWWA), and received that organization’s Outstanding Service and Honorary Membership awards. I also served on the Board, and as Governance Committee Chair, for the US Water Alliance, and I am a member of the Water Environment Federation, AWWA, Women Corporate Directors, and the International Women’s Forum.
I split my time between New Orleans and Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts, along with My Man, Jon Kardon. In my other life, I'm working on publishing a novel. You can read more about it here.
Governance & Organizational Excellence
Environmental Stewardship & Corporate Citizenship
Strategic Communications & Teaching
Presentations & Publications
Harvard Kennedy School
Master's in Public Administration
B.A., Political science
Kellogg Women's Director Development Program