Robbie O’Donnell Joins The Commons

Our New Water Data Collaborative Coordinator
Common Culture
August 31, 2021
Robbie O’Donnell Joins The Commons

The Commons proudly welcomes Robbie O’Donnell to The Commons as the inaugural Water Data Collaborative Coordinator. In this newly created role, Robbie will advance the Water Data Collaborative from concept to concrete offerings to build the national infrastructure to enhance community water quality science at the local scale in regional and national data-driven discourse and decision making.

Robbie will provide key support to the WDC Steering Committee in both administration and strategic development. Furthermore, the coordinator will work closely with the Steering Committee to support the Collaborative in expanding its programs and networks. In 2021, the Steering Committee consists of leaders in both community science monitoring membership organizations and technical service providers. Our membership driven organizations include: River Network, Waterkeeper Alliance, and Izaak Walton League of America. Our technical services include: The Commons, Chesapeake Conservancy, Stroud Water Research Center, and The Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science Inc. (CUAHSI). Collectively, the Water Data Collaborative serves as the community science data hub of the Internet of Water.

“We are excited to have Robbie join the WDC; his arrival is a marker of our success and his presence will help harness and guide the momentum that has been building over the past few years. His previous experience creating community-based monitoring efforts and making the program, resources, and tools accessible to a diversity of stakeholders will be a huge asset to WDC as we continue to evolve,” shared Katherine Luscher, Training Director at Waterkeeper Alliance and Steering Committee Chair of the Water Data Collaborative.

Robbie has extensive experience implementing conservation programs at watershed scale to motivate public engagement and advocate for both behavioral and legislative change. This cross-disciplinary approach to conservation in the environmental sector, delivering media and education content while institutionalizing applied science and advocacy, will be an incredible asset to the expansion of WDC. At Anacostia Riverkeeper, Robbie was instrumental in the creation and implementation of a multi-organization, multi-state volunteer driven water quality monitoring program. Robbie also has demonstrated experience in broadening participation in environmental programs with Washington D.C.’s predominantly Black and predominantly resource-deprived communities. We anticipate that Robbie can use his experience to reach more BIPOC communities that have historically been at best excluded from and at worst harmed by environmental initiatives and engage these communities in community science water monitoring that helps keep a pulse on the health of local waterways.

“Water Data Collaborative represents the connective tissue that will help support community led watershed organizations. These groups represent one of the greatest avenues the environmental movement has for connecting with the general public to educate, build a culture of local stewardship, and create an inclusive community that takes part in documenting the health of our watersheds. Robbie has implemented programs first hand that represent the how the environmental movement can truly resonate with individuals at the community scale, fostering a deeper connection with one another and their local resources. We are honored that Robbie has joined our team to grow the WDC and look forward to supporting him in the expansion of the program.”

The Water Data Collaborative began in 2017 with the assembling of five inaugural Steering Committee members through direct support through The Pisces Foundation. Since its inception, the members of the WDC have taken meticulous steps to identify critical areas for support of community led monitoring programs. Based on this information the Collaborative mapped out a nationally recognized strategy — the community science framework — to elevate, standardize, and educate community science programs. When fully implemented, our vision to improve data flow between typically fragmented water sectors will be realized and community science data will have more opportunities to be included in national policy and community decision-making.