2022 WWD Young Pros: Kristina Surfus, NACWA

May 13, 2022

Kristina Surfus is the managing director of government affairs for the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA).

About the author:

Bob Crossen is senior managing editor for Water & Wastes Digest. Crossen can be reached at [email protected].


Name: Kristina Surfus

Age: 37

Education: M.S. Freshwater Sciences; B.A. Environmental Policy; B.A. International Relations

Company: National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA)

Title: Managing Director, Government Affairs

List some of your professional accomplishments.

Steadily advancing within NACWA to where I now manage a team of talented and hardworking professionals. Earlier in my career, I was proud to secure a prestigious national fellowship, and before that I was excited to carve out my own interdisciplinary academic path in graduate school that I hoped would, and has, served me well.

What did you do before entering the water industry?

Before focusing on water beginning in grad school, I worked for municipalities in different roles, consulting on projects to spur sustainable 'triple bottom line' growth, brownfields redevelopment, and the like. This was just before and through the Great Recession, so it was a challenging and formative start to my career at the nexus of economic and environmental issues.

What was the biggest lesson you learned when you entered the water industry?

How diverse the challenges and opportunities are. When I entered the water industry, I thought I was honing in on a narrow area of environmental policy. The breadth of the issues the industry works on and the directions people can go within this field continues to surprise me.

How do you expect your generation will influence the water industry?

I'm excited by new treatment technologies, and excited to see more place-based solutions to water management. Since I work in wastewater, I also expect to see this generation advance the shift underway already in how we view grey and black water as resources rather than wastes.

What volunteer work do you do?

I spend a good amount of vacation time in Wisconsin, and am involved in lake association efforts there to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Until recently I also served on the Board of the Women's Aquatic Network in D.C., and am involved in other mentoring and alumni events.

What are your passions?

The very cliche, but honest answer for me is being on the water! Swimming, skiing, attempting to surf Lake Michigan, or sitting on shore with a cold beverage... my heart is full! More seriously, making new connections and staying curious. Doing work I find meaningful and avoiding complacency. And occasionally traveling by myself, which fuels my independent streak.

Describe a memorable moment with family or friends.

This fall a group of family, from myself up through my age 75 completed the Door County Century Bike Ride. It was a gorgeous fall day and the farthest most of us have ever rode!