The 2021 Stroud Award for Freshwater Excellence

400 400 Stroud Water Research Center

The 2021 Stroud Award for Freshwater Excellence Recipient is Melissa D. Ho, Ph.D., Senior Vice President for Fresh Water and Food at World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

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Influencing the Intersection of Water, Agriculture, and Sustainability

Melissa Ho, Ph.D.

As senior vice president for fresh water and food at WWF, Melissa D. Ho drives landscape and transformational initiatives that support the conservation of freshwater ecosystems and the sustainability of agricultural systems. She also supports the integration of water and food issues in all of WWF’s other workstreams. 

Throughout her career, Ho has leveraged a keen focus on the intersection of water and agriculture and its connections to energy and health. She has worked to support large-scale public irrigation and systems, agricultural value chains, community-based water resource planning and management systems, as well as in the delivery of household-level water technology through the private sector. 

Previously, Ho developed and implemented the agricultural water management strategy and grant portfolio at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She has also served in various capacities in the U.S. Congress.

About Melissa D. Ho

Ho has over 25 years of experience as a scientist, policy advisor, and development professional. She has supported the growth and integration of the markets, food, and freshwater teams at WWF. Before joining WWF, Ho oversaw a $1.5 billion portfolio of infrastructure investments in West Africa with the Millennium Challenge Corporation. She also served in the U.S. Agency for International Development overseeing the technical team responsible for the strategy development and implementation of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s food security and nutrition initiative. 

She has a Ph.D. in plant physiology from the Pennsylvania State University, a Master of Science in soil science (plant–water relations) from the University of California, Davis, and a Bachelor of Science in environmental systems from Cornell University. She has served on the board of several domestic and international nongovernmental organizations. She is married with two kids and lives with her family on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

About the Stroud Award for Freshwater Excellence

Presented at The Water’s Edge gala each year since 2011, the Stroud Award for Freshwater Excellence, also known as the SAFE Water Award, is a prestigious award for outstanding achievement in freshwater-related activities. The award honors individuals, institutions, or organizations whose work contributes broadly to:

  • conserving and protecting freshwater resources and ecosystems,
  • improving the quantity and quality of fresh water on the planet, or
  • developing policies and practices which help perpetuate clean fresh water for future generations of humans and wildlife.

Honorees represent regions and watersheds from around the world and a broad range of freshwater-related activities, professions, and scientific disciplines.