Building on Success

South End Waubesa June 12, 2020

An update to Clean Lakes Alliance’s vision and mission

By Linda Nedelcoff, Clean Lakes Alliance Board Chair

In May of 2010, a small, one-day festival received a large donation from Lands’ End. The Clean Lakes Festival, run by the very popular Mad-City Ski Team put on the event with a goal of “raising money for the lakes.” Quickly, it was realized that many businesses and community members wanted to invest in the lakes more than just one day a year. Born out of that festival was Clean Lakes Alliance.

A lot has happened over the last 13 years. We’ve grown our alliance, funded important projects that are improving water quality, created a community invested in our lakes, and educated the public on how everyone can make a difference. As we worked deeper into our second decade, we realized our original goals have either been met, or need to be updated as we move forward.

Clean Lakes Festival 2014 - canoes
Clean Lakes Festival in 2014

Valuable vision

A vision outlines what an organization sees as its long-term goals. Our original vision was simple – “We see a future in which everyone realizes the lakes are the center of our community.” But as our organization grew, we started to realize more and more people are seeing the lakes like we want – at the center of the community.

Looking to the immediate future, our new vision needed to reflect where we’ve been and where we still need to go. After great work with partners in the community, we have updated our vision to, “We envision a community renowned for its healthy lakes, lands, and  waters.” To us, the future sees not only clean lakes and rivers, but it makes Madison and its surrounding communities a nationwide leader in putting water health at the top of the list.


New Clean Lakes Alliance Vision
2019 Community Breakfast
Clean Lakes Alliance Community Breakfast in 2019

Mindful mission

From the beginning, our mission was always to bring as many people and groups to the table as possible to solve the issues facing our lakes. Our mission said, “Clean Lakes Alliance strives to continue building a community of people, businesses, organizations, and government agencies dedicated to improving and protecting water quality in the Yahara River Watershed and its lakes.” A bit long maybe, but straightforward. Our list of over 2,000 individual and organizational donors, coupled with our more than 40-person Community Board made up of government, individual, and business leaders, shows we are on our way to building that community.

Updating our mission meant we needed to build on the great success we achieved over the past 13 years. Streamlining and improving a mission on why we exist and what we do came down to a simple statement, “Our mission is to champion our lakes and watershed stewardship for the benefit of all.” It was important for us to look at the entire community – not just those groups that are currently using the lakes, but the groups that could or would use the lakes if they were clean and accessible. Our updated mission aims to build up community members so they can act as stewards of the lakes and take action with the tools provided by Clean Lakes Alliance.


New Clean Lakes Alliance Mission
Lake Explorer Camp 2017 Group
Lake Explorer Camp in 2017

Future focus

A focused team will help make sure our mission is followed and our vision is achieved as we move forward. We are also updating our core values to not only show the standard we hold ourselves to in the community, but also inside our office where the decisions are made that drive action. 

We are excited to keep moving the needle forward on water health, lake access and use, and of course a community that thinks about water in all of its decisions. Clean Lakes Alliance has been working for you for 13 years, and we’ve only just started to make our lakes and rivers the best in our nation.

South End Waubesa June 12, 2020
Southern end of Lake Waubesa, courtesy Robert Bertera
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