Many groundbreaking projects begin as simple ideas – WaterWoman is no exception. What began as an art project for an undergraduate student progressed over time into an educational non-profit organization that focuses on educating children around the world about the global water crisis through The Adventures of WaterWoman™.
WaterWoman’s Executive Director, Dr. Joanna Krajewski, has always had a love of and special connection to water. She attributes at least part of her draw to water from her grandfather and father, who are both hydrologists. Krajewski also played and swam in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Baltic Sea, and lakes and streams whenever the opportunity presented, and swam competitively throughout high school. Her attraction to water combined with her drive to to help the environment, made the idea for the character of WaterWoman nearly instinctual.
In 2005, as the final project in an undergraduate intermedia art class, Krajewski was required to choose an artistic medium she was uncomfortable with and chose performance art. An environmental superhero, WaterWoman, sprang to mind and rolled off the tongue perfectly. Krajewski developed the character, designing a costume she would wear and educational material she could distribute as WaterWoman during the culminating event of the semester, the art department open house. Her enactment of WaterWoman was met with overwhelmingly positive feedback from community members, students, and professors in attendance, and that is where WaterWoman first came to life. “I knew I was not going to be done with WaterWoman after that class – I loved the character, and believed she was something that I needed to do with my life,” explained Krajewski.
In the several years between her undergraduate and graduate degrees WaterWoman hovered as an idea not fully developed. However, as she began to pursue her Master’s Degree in Public Health (M.P.H.), the focus of WaterWoman began to take form. It was on a water sustainability study abroad program in India that Krajewski learned the staggering statistics of the disproportionate effects of waterborne diarrheal diseases on women and children. This moment was a turning point for Krajewski. She focused the rest of her M.P.H. and Ph.D. degree work towards research on strategic communication for water sustainability.
Still, her priority had to be on finishing her degrees and securing an academic position post-graduation. Finally, in 2018, as a professor of strategic communication at Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL, Krajewski gave a presentation on Eco-Feminism during Communication Week. In this presentation, she introduced the idea for WaterWoman. Krajewski recalls being overcome by the enthusiasm from students and professors about the project idea. Thus, nearly 14 years after the initial conceptualization of WaterWoman, Krajewski and several student volunteers began working to bring an official organization to life.
Eventually, Dow Advantage, a student-run public relations group dedicated to the promotion of not-for-profit organizations helped support the student efforts to develop the project into an official 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. “WaterWoman is intended to be a self-sustaining educational program for children that will eventually help support and provide services to families around the world free of charge,” says Krajewski. The ultimate goal is all about improving the outcomes for women and children who were dealt a more difficult hand in the lottery of life. These are the people who are most affected by the water crisis.
Krajewski and the WaterWoman team hope that through the superhero's educational adventures, the youth of today will be more inspired and empowered to pursue careers in the water sector and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Math) fields in general. Together, future generations of the environmental superhero alive in all of us around the world, can beat the global water crisis.