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KY Humanitarian of the Year: Mark Hogg

Our own Mark Hogg, Founder and CEO, has been selected as the Kentucky Humanitarian of the Year and will be awarded with this honor on Thursday, October 3rd at The Inaugural Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards: An Evening of Recognizing Greatness. The event will be a night of celebration, recognition and inspiration honoring humanitarians who exemplify Muhammad’s six core principles in the following categories: Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Giving, Respect and Spirituality for young people (35 and under); Kentucky Humanitarian of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, and Lifetime Achievement Award.  All of these awards recognize individuals around the world who have made significant contributions toward the attainment of peace, social justice or other positive actions pertaining to human or social capital. The event will take place from 6:00-9:30pm that evening at the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville.

Mark for Web

Mr. Hogg, who was born in Birmingham, Alabama and grew up in Nashville, ended up in Louisville with a combination of skills as a construction company owner and youth minister. It was through church-led missions to West Africa in 1983, that he learned about the world’s water crisis and realized that water could be a connecting point between cultures.

Through WaterStep, Mr. Hogg’s  focus is on providing solutions to the world’s water crisis, from bringing safe water to developing countries to providing water for disaster relief and emergency contingency plans in local communities.  He  launched his non-profit organization in 1995 as EDGE Outreach and he has since championed the cause on a global level. In 2012, Mr. Hogg refocused and grew the organization to become WaterStep. That same year, he founded IF Water, an international water conference held in conjunction with Idea Festival ® and speaks to international audiences on clean water issues.

Mr. Hogg had this to say about being named the Kentucky Humanitarian of the Year: “I am truly honored to be amongst those receiving the first-ever Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards. We fight to save lives at risk from waterborne illness around the world every day. We believe the world water crisis is solvable in our lifetime and that ordinary people will innovate and replicate tangible ways to make this happen. Knowing something is possible is often the catalyst that activates an entire populace. Muhammad Ali’s identified six core principles of confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect and spirituality are important whether you are standing toe to toe with an opponent, living in community, or facing issues of any magnitude. So, I don’t take this award lightly. I accept it with great respect of a man who not only exemplifies social justice, but is also an iconic humanitarian himself.”

Millenial Train and WS Millenials Collaborate

Mark Hogg boarded the Millennial Train Wednesday evening and stopped in Chicago Thursday morning to speak to the Millennials about WaterStep’s future with Virtual Water Utilities.


The Millennial Train is a non-profit organization that leads crowd-funded transcontinental train journeys that empower diverse groups of enterprising and civic-minded Millennials to explore America’s new frontiers. Over the course of ten days, participants gain opportunities for personal development and shared discovery through seminars, mentors, workshops and projects.

Mark Hogg started the morning out by connecting the Millennials on the train with WaterStep’s generation of Millennials. For those of you who haven’t heard the term “Millennials,” it refers to the generation born from the early 1980′s-2000′s. WaterStep’s team of Millennials tweeted back and forth with those on board the train throughout the morning to collaborate on new ideas, questions, and thoughts for the future of safe water in the world. Using #WSvwu to represent WaterStep Virtual Water Utilities, they communicated about Hogg’s talk and asked each other new questions.

Facts like, “80% of all illness in the world is from waterborne diseases,” and “With a handful of salt and a car battery, we can produce water that is safe to drink,” caught the attention of listeners as they were tweeted out during the presentation.

Other tweeters were inspired by Hogg’s words and thought about how their personal projects could be helpful to WaterStep.

@kbc88 said, “Loving the public health message that @MarkHogg is bringing to #entrepreneurship. #Newfrontiers #WSvwu @WaterStep @ideamornings

@Sweat_everyday said, “We’d love to collaborate on community workouts worldwide and clean water. Everyone will be thirsty after sweating!”

@SeanKolodziej said, “Glad to be working with Mark Hogg and WaterStep to solve the world’s water problems #WSvwu”

millennial train

The conversation continues as Millennials answer survey questions and we continue working together and thinking about more ways to bring safe water to people.

To see more from the morning and chime in with your thoughts, search and use #WSvwu on Twitter, or follow the link below to Millennial Train’s Highlights from the morning:
Millennial Train’s Storify of Twitter Highlights from the Morning

More info on the Millennial Train:


Wesley Korir and LMPD Working with WaterStep

Boston Marathon winner and first independent member of Kenyan Parliament, Wesley Korir, spoke at WaterStep Monday night about the importance of safe water in his country and the potential that WaterStep has to make a difference in the future.


Members of the Louisville Metro Police Department and other community members gathered to hear Korir speak about the impact that their upcoming trip to Kenya will have on the communities there. Dr. Bill Smock, WaterStep’s Medical Director, is leading the team of LMPD members to Kenya in November to install M-100 Chlorine Generators.

Smock has worked with WaterStep for over a year now and has found that the best way to decrease the amount of disease spread in developing countries is by providing people with clean water. Up to 80% of disease in the world is attributable to unclean water. Smock said, “The best way to help people is by giving them clean water to drink.”

Korir agreed. He said, “The one thing that has always defeated people is water.” Korir explained that because people do not have access to clean water, they become stuck in sickness and poverty that prevents them from making the next steps towards self sufficiency.

WaterStep’s program not only gives people access to safe water, but empowers them to take ownership of their community’s system. “We empower them with the tools to be able to do it themselves,” Korir said, “When it breaks, you don’t just wait for another person to come and fix it. You fix it yourself.”

The benefits of clean water are extensive, and when WaterStep comes into a new area and teaches locals how to maintain our M-100 Chlorine Generator, they are empowered with better health, more opportunities, and confidence.

Korir said, “A healthy nation becomes a working nation.”

Volunteers learn to repair hand pumps in Kenya – WDRB 41 Louisville News. Click to watch WDRB’s feature on WaterStep’s work with Korir and Smock.


Water Ambassadors Canada

Barry Hart, Chairman of Water Ambassadors Canada visited WaterStep last Thursday. Hart and Water Ambassadors have worked with WaterStep over the last five years, and focus on sending more missions teams out to bring safe water to the world.

water ambassadors

Hart founded Water Ambassadors Canada about 11 years ago. After retiring from teaching high school science, he heard about the world water crisis. He and his wife went to several conferences about water, and on a trip to Guatemala where they dug a well and learned more about the country’s water situation.

They then founded the organization to keep up the work. “I heard the statistics, and they went from my head to my heart,” he said.

Statistics like: 80% of all disease and sickness in the world is caused by inadequate water supply or inadequate sanitation, 1.1 billion people lack access to clean water, and 6,000 children die every day from illness caused by waterborne diseases, were what drove Hart to take action.

Hart and his team were focusing on drilling wells when they heard about WaterStep and their method of using chlorine generators to clean water. “There were all of these new water technologies developing at the time,” Hart said, “I came to see the chlorinator and realized that with the chlorinator, if you already have water, you don’t have to drill at all.”

This meant more people could have easier and cheaper access to water. Hart quickly decided that WaterStep would be a good partner for Water Ambassadors Canada, who work more as a sending agency, planning and sending people on trips. WaterStep could provide the technology and training for those going on Water Ambassadors’ trips.

Now, Water Ambassadors Canada and WaterStep have an “open door relationship” according to Hart. “Anybody from WaterStep is welcome to join us on our trips, and anyone from our trips can join WaterStep with theirs,” he said.

Hart also sends his teams to training at WaterStep’s headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky before they go on missions.

Rick Jenner, WaterStep’s Director of Hand Pump Repair, has worked closely with Hart as well, helping train people before they go on missions, and leading missions with Water Ambassadors. Teams can divide into groups that focus on either hand pump repair, or installing chlorine generators.

According to Hart, WaterStep has been a key part of their success as an organization. “Our vitality and diversity is directly due to WaterStep,” he said. “They have continued to welcome us.”

Water Ambassadors Canada will send out another 20 teams on missions this year, and Hart plans to focus on fundraising and keeping things running smoothly from Canada.

Shoe Program Grabs the Attention of New Staff Member

WaterStep’s new Director of Business Development, Michael Raus, connected with us for an interesting reason. He found out about WaterStep through his history and experience with shoes.

Raus grew up in Louisville, and attended Kentucky Country Day High School. He attended American University in Washington D.C., and got a B.S.B.A. in International Business. He graduated from Queens University with an M.B.A. after that.

After college, Raus became owner and president of his family’s general shoe lace company.

When Raus moved back to Kentucky and heard about WaterStep’s Shoes for Water program, his interest was piqued.

“I was groomed to be in the shoe lace industry,” Raus said, “So it is all in the same family of business.”

Raus was immediately interested in how WaterStep used shoes to fund water projects and make a difference in the world.

As Director of Business Development, he will be working on fundraising and expanding our business opportunities. “I like the idea of the micro businesses that I’ll be working on. We’ll be spreading our base to other areas to raise money for the WaterStep mission,” Raus said.

Check out or Why Shoes? page to learn more about our Shoes for Water Program.