Colorado Water Center’s Jennifer Gimbel recognized with prestigious statewide award

Jennifer Gimbel stands for a portrait in front of water and packed snow and ice on the opposite bank
Jennifer Gimbel, Senior Water Policy Scholar, Colorado Water Center

Jennifer Gimbel, a senior water policy scholar with CSU’s Colorado Water Center, has been awarded the prestigious Wayne N. Aspinall Water Leader of the Year award by the Colorado Water Congress. The award recognizes Gimbel’s “long demonstrated courage, dedication, knowledge and strong leadership in the development, protection and preservation of Colorado water.”

“Over her career, Jennifer has time and again demonstrated her thoughtful leadership in addressing Colorado’s most pressing water management challenges, which continues with her current work on forwarding discussions on the future management of the Colorado River system,” said John Tracy, Colorado Water Center director.

Gimbel’s decades-long career in water has taken her from roles in the Rockies to D.C., working as a water lawyer for Attorney General’s Offices in Wyoming and Colorado before serving as the principal deputy assistant secretary for water and science at the U.S. Department of Interior from 2014 to 2016.

“Over the last 30 years it has been my good fortune to work on water issues for federal and state governments and see numerous sides of the issues,” said Gimbell when she joined the Colorado Water Center in 2016.

Since then, she has served as a prescient and trusted voice in the Colorado water community, sharing science-backed insights to inform decision makers and communities about present and future challenges. Recently, her focus has been on the Upper Basin of the Colorado River, which spans Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

“She would win the Aspinall Award just based on the body of work she’s produced during her career as an attorney, as a leader, as a policy maker. But when you put the filter on it that she’s a woman and leader in a time when our community was really male dominated [it’s inspiring].”

– Lisa Darling, Executive Director, South Metro Water Authority

“She makes decisions and collaborates based on sound science and based on reality, practicality and the immense background of knowledge and expertise that she has.”

– Eric Wilkinson, former Northern Water General Manager

Recently, Gimbel has been a key contributor to critical and timely research, from exploring the role emerging technologies can play in improving Colorado water management, a collaborative effort between CSU and University of Colorado, to co-authoring Quenching Thirst in the Colorado River Basin, which details the complex history of the Colorado River, the laws governing its usage, tribal water rights, myriad environmental challenges, and more.

“[As Executive Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board] she had a great way of pulling people together … in a really troubled time.”

– Travis Smith, former Colorado Water Conservation Board Chairman

“She’s respected by people from all walks of water life, ranchers and municipalities, policy and decision makers, all throughout the Colorado River Basin and seven basin states.”

– Erin Wilson, Principal at Wilson Water Group

Colleagues share their experiences working with Gimbel