News | October 17, 2017

International Desalination Association Names Shannon McCarthy New Secretary General

Shannon McCarthy

The International Desalination Association (IDA) announces that Shannon McCarthy, Co-founder and a Partner of United4Water and 1st Vice President of IDA for the 2015-2017 term, has been appointed Secretary General of the Association.

She will assume her duties on October 19, upon the retirement of Ms. Patricia A. Burke, one of IDA’s founders and Secretary General for more than four decades.

“I am honored to serve the IDA Board of Directors, our membership, affiliates, partners, public utilities and industrial end-users. IDA has a strong and vibrant future. Looking ahead, we will work to enhance the value that IDA brings to all parties through international strategic alliances, knowledge sharing, and connecting people and ideas to solve the world’s growing water supply challenges. Together we will expand IDA’s capacity to build cross-collaboration between stakeholders that face water sustainability challenges and solution providers. We are committed to enhancing our leading industry events to address technical challenges and solutions including the IDA 2018 Water Reuse Conference, issue- or industry-specific technical gatherings around the world, and the 2019 IDA World Congress organized in partnership with the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority”, said Ms. McCarthy.

“We will strengthen the unity of our organization and undertake new initiatives such as the establishment of the IDA Sustainable Water Resources Foundation and IDA’s educational endeavors that enhance the expertise of our current members and open new doors for the next generation of water leaders,” she added.

“It is also an honor to build upon the fine work of our outgoing Secretary General, Patricia Burke, who served IDA with great dedication and success for 45 years. Her service made IDA the organization that it is today and was a key factor in promoting our industry worldwide. I look forward to working together with the IDA team to fulfill IDA’s mission and deliver on our role as the world’s leading organization focused on desalination and water reuse,” she concluded.

Ms. McCarthy brings extensive experience in the water industry to her role as Secretary General. This includes more than 20 years’ experience working with countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, including 17 years’ experience in the field of water sustainability and advanced water treatment technologies, as well as non-profit management.

Prior to founding United4Water, Ms. McCarthy was the Deputy Center Director (DCD) of the Middle East Desalination Research Center (MEDRC), an international intergovernmental non-profit organization based in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. As a member of the MEDRC start-up team, she participated in developing and implementing programs for cooperation in training, education and research in desalination and water reuse technologies for the MENA region, including Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

She also brings to the Secretary General’s office a strong record of mobilizing resources and bringing together stakeholders from both government and the private sector to support education, scientific research, professional training programs, and specialized technology workshops related to desalination and water sustainability. In addition, her experience at United4Water – a consulting firm operating in the nexus of the water, food and energy sectors with a primary focus on water – included strategic counseling and assistance in business development, project planning and management, capacity building, and corporate social responsibility activities.

Ms. McCarthy participated in executive study programs in Public Policy and Management for Infrastructure Development at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and has a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations, specializing in US-Soviet relations, from San Francisco State University.

She has been a member of IDA for 20 years. In addition to serving as the Association’s 1st Vice President, she also chaired its Foundation and Public Outreach Committee.

About IDA
The International Desalination Association is a non-profit association that serves more than 2,600 core members in 60 countries and reaches an additional 4,000 affiliate members. Its membership comprises utilities, scientists, end-users, engineers, consultants and researchers from governments, corporations and academia. IDA is associated with the United Nations as part of a growing international network of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). For more information, visit

SOURCE: The International Desalination Association