Our Mission

H2O for Life offers a service-learning opportunity designed to engage, educate and inspire youth to take action to solve the global water crisis by raising awareness and funds to support implementation of water, sanitation and hygiene education projects for global partner schools

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April 28

H2O for Life Hires Doug Niemela As New Executive Director



MINNEAPOLIS – H2O for Life has selected Doug Niemela as its next Executive Director. Niemela succeeds Christy Andacht, who led the organization since 2017.

Niemela, a native of White Bear Lake, Minnesota, where H2O for Life is headquartered, has spent over a decade in various leadership roles with environmental nonprofits. He brings an entrepreneurial approach to executive leadership and has a passion for H2O for Life’s work developing, inspiring, and empowering young people to help solve the world’s water crisis.

“Doug is energetic and passionate about our mission. He has the skill set to bring H2O for Life into the future as we continue to grow and expand our impact on young people and the global water crisis. Doug is a person who wants to make the world a better place and we believe he will direct our organization to maximize our impact,” said H2O for Life Board Member Nicole Kettwick. “With Doug’s skills and experience, he can come in and hit the ground running. He brings a listening ear, eager to learn more about what has worked in the past, a curiosity to ask the right questions, and energy to help us continue to grow.”

Prior to joining H2O for Life, Niemela served as an executive director taking on issues from climate change to renewable energy to playing a lead role in the fight to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from sulfide ore copper mining. He also participated in numerous leadership cohorts within the outdoor industry and the Twin Cities entrepreneurial communities where he gained valuable insights in communications, marketing, and narrative-based motivation.

“This is an organization that has been so well-positioned to take the next steps to end the world water crisis. I am excited to grow awareness for the critical importance of our work by introducing H2O for Life to new audiences, and to work with our great staff and supporters to increase our capacity to make sure that every school in the world has access to clean water and sanitation,” Niemela said. “I believe that ending the world water crisis is the most critical work that we can be doing. To have the opportunity to lead an organization with the history and success of H2O for Life is an amazing honor and one I approach with humility and gratitude.”

As Executive Director, Niemela will work closely with staff and the H2O for Life Board to ensure the organization embodies a nimble, innovative approach and continues to adapt to the changing educational landscape. One of his first acts as Executive Director will be to oversee Spring Splash, H2O for Life’s first-ever virtual event that aims to garner new supporters and build momentum around the movement to activate children in the fight against the global water crisis.

About H2O for Life
H2O for Life’s service-learning opportunities are designed to engage, educate, and inspire youth to become global citizens. Our innovative school-to-school approach helps young people develop a concern for others by taking a major global crisis and scaling it down to a manageable size; one water project in the developing world. Through the service-learning opportunity we provide, students learn that they can make a tangible difference for the students in their partner school. In all, our partner schools have sent over $3.5 million to schools in need. For more information, please visit www.h2oforlifeschools.org

H2O for Life
1310 Highway 96 E, #235
White Bear Lake, MN 55110
651-756-7577 | info@h2oforlifeschools.org

Nick Coughlin, Director of Communications
Phone Number: 651-377-1094 | Ext: 104
Email: ncoughlin@h2oforlifeschools.org


Download a PDF version of this release here.

Fundraising Ideas

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Projects in Need

H2O for Life has many projects available all around the world, but here are 3 that are most in need right now. VIEW MORE

Crown Academy

Sierra Leone 753 beneficiaries

Crown Academy was founded in the Kissitown community of Waterloo, Sierra Leone in 2013. This primary and secondary school, which serves more than 750 students, has had many water challenges since its inception.

$4,538 needed (94%)

Mbaale Primary School - Latrine Project

Uganda 460 beneficiaries

Mbaale Primary School is in desperate need of clean water and sanitation. Students and teachers (460+ people) do not have any safe latrines (toilets) to ‘relieve’ themselves. This forces children to go to the bush or, to not come to school at all. A very passionate headteacher, along with parents, have tried to construct a temporary latrine, but it is collapsing and very dangerous. This is an urgent safety and health concern and the school will be shut down soon if a solution is not found.  

$6,300 needed (97%)

Hlefi Community School

Ghana 157 beneficiaries

Hlefi is a rural community located in the Ho-West district in the Volta region of Ghana. The population of Hlefi according to the 2010 Ghana national census authority is 5,129. Eighty percent of the people in Hlefi are farmers and the rest traders and hunters. Due to the traditional nature of economic activities in the area, the people are largely poor. Despite their level of poverty, they are very welcoming and committed to joining hands with helpers who come to the community. Due to this sense of ownership, the community has been able to build a clinic, police stations and a school. Hlefi Community School was established in 1951 by the Government of Ghana in partnership with the community. The school currently has 157 students from Kindergarten to Grade 6.  

$950 needed (49%)