TRANSCRIPT
Episode 07: Listening to the Colorado River with Becky Mitchell

This is a transcript of the Spur of the Moment episode “Listening to the Colorado River with Becky Mitchell.” It is provided as a courtesy and may contain errors.

Becky Mitchell: Where we’re gonna find our future solutions is the blend of science and policy.

Jocelyn Hittle: Welcome to “Spur of the Moment,” the podcast of Colorado State University’s Spur Campus in Denver, Colorado.

Becky Mitchell: When you think about those 40 million people and the $1.4 trillion economy and the 5 million acres of irrigated farmland that rely on that, that’s a lot of pressure.

Jocelyn Hittle: Hello and welcome to “Spur of the Moment,” the podcast of Colorado State University’s Spur Campus in Denver, Colorado. On this podcast, we talk with experts in food, water, and health about how they are tackling big challenges in these three areas. I’m Jocelyn Hittle, and I am joined today by Becky Mitchell, the Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board. Welcome, Becky.

Becky Mitchell: Thank you, Jocelyn. So happy to be here.

Jocelyn Hittle: Happy to have you. As Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Becky carries out the policies and directives of the board relating to conservation, development, and use of the state’s water resources. Becky has been director for four years, and prior to that was the Water Supply Planning Section Head. Becky worked as a Water Policy and Issues Coordinator within the State Department of Natural Resources. Becky has both her bachelor’s and master’s in engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. Becky, can you start us off by describing what the Colorado Water Conservation Board is, what exactly is it, what is it charged with doing?

Becky Mitchell: Really, CWCB was created over 80 years ago as the state’s water information resource and really has developed into the state’s primary water policy agency. It’s one of the agencies within Colorado Department of Natural Resources. It’s governed by a board, some of those are governor appointed board members and state officials. And that includes the DNR Director, Dan Gibbs and myself on that board. And really our focus areas include interstate water issues because our rivers and lakes cross our state boundaries. Stream and lake protection, otherwise known as our Instream Flow Program. Our water supply planning, which I hope folks know about our Colorado Water Plan, but that falls under that section. Watershed and Flood Protection, which includes unfortunately a lot of wildfire restoration efforts right now.

Jocelyn Hittle: The CWCB plays a number of roles you just outlined for us, several big buckets, no pun intended, of work that you all do. What has been keeping you most busy recently, and maybe what are you most proud of in terms of your recent work with CWCB?

Becky Mitchell: So I think what’s keeping us most busy now is the suite of issues that we have going on between drought, wildfire, flooding now, it’s not one thing, it’s the combination and the culmination of all of those things coming together and really putting us in a position of having to step up. And so when we talk about what I am most proud of, I would think it really is about how the agency has been able to evolve and step up in areas that maybe we weren’t designed when the CWCB was originated, I don’t believe that folks were thinking about the watershed health and the impact that that had and how that affects everything, and being able to adapt and be there for water users and the people of Colorado, and the resource of Colorado, and changing the way that we do things to change with the times, I think is what I’m most proud of.

Jocelyn Hittle: That’s great, so very adaptable, very cross-disciplinary, which makes a lot of sense given that water impacts so many different sectors and areas of work within the state. So can you say more about that integration role, how you all might connect someone in agriculture, and someone in industry or business, and someone in policy. I mean, you do so much work that brings different people together, can you say a little bit more about that?

Becky Mitchell: Yeah, we like to call projects multi beneficial projects, but really a lot of, kind of making that into simpler terms, it’s really about bringing different interests together and looking for common goals. And so when we talk about agriculture and the environment, there’s ways that we can do better for agriculture while at the same time focus and do better for the environment and the resource, and we’re all providing a municipal water supply. And so I think when we talk about multi beneficial, it is about that integration and integration across sectors.

Jocelyn Hittle: Is there any favorite example you have of some win-wins across different sectors?

Becky Mitchell: I think there are so many, a lot of the work that’s happening right now with agricultural transfer mechanisms and that work and how we have landowners working right alongside with environmental entities, I think those are probably the projects that get me most excited.

Jocelyn Hittle: You described in your early comments when you were describing what CWCB does and what you’re most focused on right now, it’s really hard to say one thing because there is so much happening, we are really facing a lot of pressures around water in the state of Colorado. Can you say a little bit about Colorado specifically, we are one of two headwater states, the other being Hawaii, and we can talk more about that later, I know that’s your state. So what is the significance of Colorado being a headwater state? And then when you’re looking at that suite of challenges that we are facing right now, how do those two things interface with each other?

Becky Mitchell: I think being a headwater state provides a lot of opportunity and a lot of pressure. And so when you think about the 40 million people that rely on the Colorado River, that is a lot to think about. And so the Colorado River flows over 1400 miles through seven states and Mexico. And so when you think about those 40 million people and the $1.4 trillion economy and that 5 million acres of irrigated farmland that rely on that, that’s a lot of pressure. And the way that we operate has influence on all of that, and what we do is going to have influence. And being the headwater state means we really are the first. You think about the water that originates in Colorado, a lot of it flows out, so we are supplying for more than just ourselves. And so the Colorado River starts in Colorado, it comes from our snowpack, from our mountains, and the mountains in Colorado. And that start point really makes us in the lead position.

Jocelyn Hittle: A lot of folks think about Colorado and they think about snowy mountains, and they think about skiing, and they don’t really think about the fact that people who are up there skiing in February are skiing on our largest reservoir and one of the biggest sources of water, not only for Colorado, but in north America, right? This is a huge reservoir that’s trapped in that snowpack. And so being the headwaters, the headwaters means the start of a river, so in some ways, our headwaters is really that snowpack, and it feeds a lot of different rivers and water bodies that flow outward from the state. When you think about the fact that we have this maybe additional responsibility as a headwater state, when so to your point, there are seven states, Mexico, so many people, so much economic impact of the Colorado River, can you tell us a little bit about how you interface with those other states, you mentioned that the CWCB plays an interstate role. Can you say a little bit more on that?

Becky Mitchell: Yeah, definitely. So, along with heading up the Colorado Water Conservation Board, I’m also appointed by the governor as Colorado’s River Commissioner for the state. So as the commissioner, I am the one responsible for working with the other basin states as we look towards the future. And so right now we’re in a point of time where we’re looking at renegotiating how Lakes Powell and Mead operate into the future. Currently the guidelines, they’re often referred to as the 2007 guidelines or 07 guidelines, they’re set to expire in 2026. And so we’re in the process of really starting to look at, okay, what is the future look like and how those reservoirs are operated? It’s important to remember though that we don’t get a supply from that. When we talked about being that headwater state, there is not a reservoir above us like there is for the lower basin like Lake Powell and Lake Mead. In the upper basin stage which is Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Wyoming, we’re really focused on that snowpack supply. And so it creates a situation where we need to figure out how to manage for the future. And when we’re seeing the hydrology that we’ve seen the last 20 years and we’re looking at the impacts of climate change, we really have to go forth with all of that in mind and know that it’s gonna be tougher than it has been before. And so we really are beginning those discussions of what does our future look like in the whole entire Colorado River Basin.

Jocelyn Hittle: So just take a step back to describe the Colorado River a little bit. So as we’ve been talking about, there’s this reservoir in our snowpack, as that snowpack melts, it flows into the upper basin of the Colorado River, which includes Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and Wyoming, and then into the lower basin which includes Arizona, California, and Nevada. We should talk a little bit about what’s going on in the lower basin right now because we are sitting here talking the day after the federal government put some restrictions on the Colorado River in the lower basin. So can you say a little bit more about what the significance of that particular moment in time is?

Becky Mitchell: Definitely, so yesterday was a long day. And part of that came from the first ever shortage declaration by the Department of Interior, or the Colorado River Basin basically, the lower basin states. And so that was triggered by levels in Lakes Powell and Mead, and really it’s a proactive step to help us remedy that situation. But that being said, it wasn’t completely unexpected, there was the Drought Contingency Plan in 2019 that the seven basin states along with the Department of Interior and the Bureau of Reclamation signed with that specific goal of reducing risks associated with drought. So that included these falling elevations in Lakes Powell and Mead. So unfortunately we’ve had to start using those provisions outlined within the plan, although it’s not unexpected, it is still unfortunate that we never wanted to be in this situation. So we continue to see those severe drought conditions and falling water levels. So the first step, and we were a part of that, was to release specific amounts of water from the upper reservoirs. We’re seeing that in Colorado’s own Blue Mesa Reservoir. And so there’ll be releases from that that’s already started occurring, Flaming Gorge, and then also Navajo reservoir.

Jocelyn Hittle: I mean, this is really a fascinating situation with the Colorado River. And I do wanna talk about other things other than the Colorado River, but it’s so important and so present right now that what we’re seeing and what you and your team are managing is a combination of the need to use less and also to move the water around more. So what you just described was the release of some water from the upper basin to the lower basin at the same time that the lower basin is also facing restrictions on how they use that water once it’s there, or the water that’s already there. So what are some of the restrictions that those lower basins are going to need to implement? Are they things that we are also doing here in Colorado?

Becky Mitchell: That’s each state kind of manages how they deal with their allocation. And so from my understanding, Nevada has already taken steps. In Arizona, there will be less water that’s going into the groundwater system for recharge.

Jocelyn Hittle: I see, okay. So maybe we can talk a little bit too about obviously the Colorado River. It feels like this very big, complicated math equation with lots of different people who have responsibility for different pieces of it. And that’s playing out on a really large scale. Maybe we can take it down a little bit to talk about what it is that’s happening at a smaller scale, both within the state of Colorado, but also how you are seeing individual companies or individual people reacting to the situation that we’re in right now, which is it’s hotter, it’s dryer, we have less. So let’s talk a little bit about Colorado first. We have a State Water Plan, the Colorado Water Plan, how was it developed and what are some of its primary features?

Becky Mitchell: So that is one of the things that I was most proud of from a little bit of a go, and really that was developed basically a grounds up process, where we looked at the different basins across the state and really said to the basins, okay, you determine what your future looks like, let us talk about what’s most valuable in the areas across the state, because the South Platte may be very different from the North Platte, and the North Platte may be very different from the Arkansas Basin. And Arkansas may be very different from the Southwest, or the Yampa, or the Gunnison. And so-

Jocelyn Hittle: Those are all rivers in Colorado for those of you who don’t know. Becky just has them roll off her tongue ’cause she’s so used to talking about them, but those are some different river basins and watersheds in the state.

Becky Mitchell: Well, and all the while we still have the metropolitan area of which a lot of that resides in the South Platte basin, but it’s kind of got its own features. Plan is really by the people, for the people. And it says, let’s do this together. And so that’s really what the plan does, and lays out some goals. There’s almost, I think like about 300 individual metrics in the original water plan, but really nine main objectives that we’re looking to move forward at the same time, at the same pace. And that includes preserving agriculture, and conservation, and looking at more storage opportunities, all the while protecting the environment and recreation. And so I think it’s really a by the people, for the people movement to the future.

Jocelyn Hittle: And one of the things that I’m struck by is in your description of it being a plan that everyone came together to create and need to continue to come together to implement, and then as you scale up also, we are working together across state boundaries. So it feels to me very much like water in the west is something where collaboration can happen, but that isn’t always the case. So can you maybe talk a little bit about some of those collaborative successes and where there’s maybe still room for work.

Becky Mitchell: Where we can use collaboration, I think that’s the best way. And the Water Plan is an example of that. I think when you look back at the history of it and some of the nervousness, it came out through then Governor Hickenlooper through Executive Order, like the directive to do it. And if I could tell you the kind of the messaging that people were saying after that Executive Order came out versus the message that we’re hearing now where they’re invoking the Water Plan. There were many skeptics, and I think that’s a perfect example of collaboration, where the administration was taking a leadership role and saying, this needs to be done, we need to plan better for our future, we were one of the last Western states to have a formal Water Plan. But saying that and people being extremely nervous about it, but building it in a way where they’re invoking its name as we move towards the future I think is a perfect example of collaboration.

Jocelyn Hittle: Right, and it shows the buy-in that people had where they felt that it reflected what they were telling you all as the CWCB that they needed and was most important. So I only hear from people what a great example the Colorado Water Plan was of collaboration, particularly given that it was a contentious issue up until then, then could we replicate it in other sectors, that collaborative approach?

Becky Mitchell: Well, and I think one of the things that was so interesting about Colorado’s water plan was the initial skepticism to the public comment period. And the way that that occurred, we got over 30,000 public comments on Colorado’s water plan, but I think more importantly was what we did with those. And I think when we talk about creating buy-in, it’s showing that people’s voice matters. And how do you show that? And so when people saw that their comment made a difference and could point to where it made a difference, I think that that was a huge piece of the buy-in that still exists for planning for our future through Colorado’s water plan.

Jocelyn Hittle: Absolutely, that transparency of your own impact and really seeing your thoughts reflected as local experts in what the water challenges are across the state being able to see their own impact is really important. Becky, can you tell us a little bit about what you’re focused on now. What are your goals for the next year, I know the water plan is in implementation and revision mode?

Becky Mitchell: Yes, so we’re obviously still focused on Colorado River and with the drought situation that we’re in, even though it seemed like we were very wet on the Eastern slope, we are still very dry on the Western slope of Colorado. So we’re very focused on that, but really it’s important to note that the Water Plan is a living document and that it doesn’t just stop because you have one, we constantly are trying to improve and learn more and use the best science available. And so we’re in the revision stage. So keep an eye out for that. We have links on our web page and you can keep looking, and giving input, and attending meetings, and being a part of being a part of the future.

Jocelyn Hittle: Thank you, and you described the original drafting creation of the Colorado Water Plan and how you needed people’s voices for that. That is no different now as you look to revise, so really encourage people to engage. You will see your ideas and voice reflected in what the CWCB creates as part of this revision. So speaking of voices related to water, can we talk a little bit about diversity in the water sector. So as I think you know, one of the goals of the Spur campus is to increase the diversity of backgrounds, and minds, and voices, and skillsets in these different fields of food, water, and health, can you talk a little bit about how diverse is the water sector now? What are you doing to increase diversity of all kinds? And is there more that we collectively and maybe we as a university could be doing?

Becky Mitchell: I love all of those questions. And so I think when we talk about first and foremost how diverse is kind of the water community now, I think it has definitely progressed. I always say, if we wanna look at things differently, then we have to talk to different people. And so that’s been a big push, not only on myself, but through the administration. So in March of 2021, the Department of Natural Resources announced the establishment of the Water Equity Task Force. It included 20 Coloradans from across the state who have unique perspectives and represent diverse groups. And so the purpose of that task force is to help the state better understand equity, diversity, and inclusivity challenges in water issues, and ultimately help inform the next Colorado Water Plan so that it’s truly representative of all the state’s people. Beyond that, though, when we think about how can you all play a role? How can everybody that’s listening play a role? I think the best way to address equity and inclusivity in water issues is for our state officials, our local leaders to connect young people to water and get them invested in it, and get them passionate about it. We should be blending water issues into school curriculums, other youth programs so they understand it, feel closer to it, know where their water comes from, and really have a passion to make a difference in that sector. So that may inspire a more diverse and open-minded group to be future water leaders. And I hope that we can all be an example of including folks in and being a part of that change. I think being a woman in water and being quite frank, the stats weren’t as equal as they are now and when I started in this business. And to watch that transition and watch the way that it has, I think, positively impacted the way we’re planning for the future, I think is a good thing. And we need more of it.

Jocelyn Hittle: They couldn’t agree more. And I think given the critical nature of water, we should feel inspired to tackle this big challenge. And there’s no way we can do it without diverse voices at the table that are gonna bring different perspectives and different solutions that we haven’t yet thought of. So appreciate your thinking on that. So we’re gonna shift gears a little bit and talk a little bit about how you got where you are. So one of the things that the Spur campus is interested in doing is introducing young people to careers they might not have thought about, careers in water to your point is one of the areas that we’re interested in connecting young people to. The other thing we want to do is to show young people that they can do these jobs, what does the pathway look like? Let’s take some of the mystery out of how you become the Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board. Tell us a little bit how you got here.

Becky Mitchell: I think there is no direct path. If folks hear anything today, I think that you can change your path, and you can change your path at any time. I would say mine was as circuitous as anyone’s for sure. I always had a bit of a science mind and was focused on that. I never dreamed that I would be doing the things that I am doing now, but I am so happy that I am. And I think part of it was being open to change and being open to your previous thoughts about what your future looked like changing. And so my background was engineering for sure. And I thought I would be sitting in an office, designing and not talking to many people. And now pretty much what I do is talk to people all day, but it really went from kind of an engineering role and looking at policy, and trying to make things different, and saying there’s better ways to do things that led me to where I am right now.

Jocelyn Hittle: Bachelor’s degree, did you go straight to the master’s or was there some work in there?

Becky Mitchell: No, and so I’m gonna fully disclose all of my dirty laundry, but you get it all. It took me about nine and a half years to get my bachelor’s. So I kind of did things a little bit backwards. And so I had a couple of kids by the time I got my bachelor’s, and five kids when I got my master’s. But I went to, I did my bachelor’s and went right into the field and working and in consulting. And some work came up that made me feel like I wanna do some more research. And so I went and got my masters at the same time that I was working. And that took a few years. A lot of folks can do it in just a year or two, but took a few years. And I did it while I was working the whole time, but I got to choose and having had a little bit of time working, it helped me decide what I wanted to focus on and what kind of policies I wanted to look at as it shaped kind of my engineering mind. So the bachelor’s was in engineering, same with the master’s, but a lot of the focus was on policy in the master’s.

Jocelyn Hittle: Yeah, so that’s interesting. It feels to me that it’s not uncommon for people who are in the sciences to then say, hey, if we to make a difference in this, whatever your particular interests might be, that there’s a policy piece that weaves its way in. So you made that transition in part for impact, right?

Becky Mitchell: Definitely, and I think where we’re gonna find our future solutions is the blend of science and policy, and scientists being able to speak policy, and policy makers being able to hear and understand what scientists are saying. I think that’s gonna be incredibly important as we move to the future.

Jocelyn Hittle: So I can absolutely relate as originally a scientist and now a person that does mostly project management that the skills transfer. So I think one of the things that I hope that we can inspire kids to understand as well as they come through the Spur Campus is that an understanding of the science even if you aren’t going to focus on that as your primary area of work can really help you, and the sort of scientific mindset can help you problem solve in whatever realm you then work in.

Becky Mitchell: Definitely, we need more problem-solvers.

Jocelyn Hittle: We do you need more problem-solvers. So can you tell us a little bit about, speaking of solving problems, I’m guessing that you do this on a daily basis, but maybe you can tell us a little bit about what is the job actually like? So you’ve had this pathway, and in some ways unconventional and juggling a lot of different competing priorities. And now you’re here, what is a week in the life look like as the Director of the CWCB?

Becky Mitchell: I’d I like to tell you any week was the same as another, I’d like to tell you any day would be the same as the day before. That’s never the case, which I think is actually works for me. Where some days I buckle down and I answer hundreds of emails, or I’m out speaking to people all day, or I’m reading reports or getting ready for board meetings, or actually in meetings all day, it varies. And I think that that’s what works for me, is that having a variety of situations to address.

Jocelyn Hittle: Let’s circle back for a second. So you’re originally from Hawaii, which is the other headwater state.

Becky Mitchell: Yes.

Jocelyn Hittle: Did that influence your interest in water, and how did you end up in Colorado from Hawaii?

Becky Mitchell: Definitely, I think as I reflect on kind of my upbringing and where I’m from, I’ve always had a sheer, a very tight connectedness to water. In Hawaii, a lot of it is saltwater, but there’s fresh water and we all rely on freshwater, but I’ve always felt connected. But growing up in Hawaii helped because I feel like there was such an emphasis on being stewards, stewards of the land, stewards of the environment, stewards of water. And I think we always knew water was life. We grew up with that statement and recognizing both the positive and negative impacts of it, and how it can be used, but how it gives. And so I think that really shaped who I am and my passion for this.

Jocelyn Hittle: So let’s talk a little bit about the last 18 months and what you have learned or what has been exposed by us working our way through the impacts of COVID and a global pandemic. How has that influenced your work?

Becky Mitchell: One of the things that I’ve seen over the last 18 months, and is something that we’ve known for for a long time, is that water and access to water, clean water, is incredibly important. And so I think some of the things that has really reinvigorated me and my work and the work that we do focused on water is seeing some of the differences across the country and specifically in rural areas or on sovereign tribal lands in terms of the access to clean water. And so I think that really has inspired me to be continually advocating and working with folks all across the state, including rural areas where there’s not always access to clean water, but especially on tribal reservation lands where the stats that came out during COVID in terms of the numbers of indigenous peoples and the higher rates of COVID occurrence and death, and the correlation of that to access to clean, drinking water, or clean water, or water in general, I think is something that as a nation, we need to continue to work on and move forward.

Jocelyn Hittle: Yeah, I think there are a lot of things that we learned throughout the course of COVID. Of course we’re not through it yet, but I feel like we have learned a lot across, a lot of different sectors around equity and inequitable impacts of negative things, and inequitable access to helpful and positive things. So I think that’s important to recognize that water is no exception.

Becky Mitchell: Thank you.

Jocelyn Hittle: Let’s talk just for a few minutes about your connection to the CSU Spur Campus. So you’ve been connected to the Spur Water in the West Symposium for the last several years. So thank you again for engaging in that each year. How do you see the Spur Campus, the Hydro building which you is focused on water, how do you see us being useful?

Becky Mitchell: Well, I think it goes back to that equity and diversity question, and really using all the resources that we have to get to build our future. And so I think that providing the opportunity for a space for that is first and foremost incredibly important. But really bringing people into the fold, I think the Spur is focused on that. And I think set up in an optimal way to help me meet my goals, so you do that for me so thank you

Jocelyn Hittle: Okay, thank you. Thanks, I will do our best. I mean, the thing that is both good and sometimes a struggle for those of us who might not always be that patient is that what we are hoping to do is engage young people in these career pathways and help show them you can do this, this is how, this is the educational pathway, how can we help set you up for success? And that is a long game, that if we’re engaging with a sixth grader, it’s a while before they even graduate high school and let alone enter the workforce, let alone be tackling these problems. And yet we also see young people making a difference every day of their lives, influencing how the people around them are behaving, or starting international movements around climate change when they’re 16, for example. So I try to remind myself that we’re playing both games, maybe it’s both games at once, we have both timelines I play.

Becky Mitchell: That the long game is definitely the one we have to be focused on. And so personally, I try to mentor or work and learn from as many younger people as I can. So I think I’m proud of the few that I spend a lot of time with.

Jocelyn Hittle: We’re gonna wrap up. So one thing we like to do is make sure that our listeners can find you and your organization on social media. So can you tell us a little bit what the channels you all are on, and how folks can find you?

Becky Mitchell: Yes, we’re at CWCB-

Jocelyn Hittle: Across the board.

Becky Mitchell: Yeah, at DNR. And then our Instagram is Coloradowaterconservation_dnr. And we have a YouTube channel. So you could search for us at CWCB. And then my personal Twitter, not personal, my work Twitter is @CWCBbecky.

Jocelyn Hittle: We’ll also link to that in our show notes so people can find you and follow your great work. Last thing is our Spur of the Moment question.

Becky Mitchell: Oh no.

Jocelyn Hittle: So I know you do a lot of outdoor activity. If you could pick one thing that you could do for the rest of your life, which one would it be?

Becky Mitchell: Yeah, I know it may seem surprising, Jocelyn, but I still play soccer. And if I can still play soccer when I’m 90, I’ll be thrilled.

Jocelyn Hittle: That’s great. I expected you to say paddleboarding, but soccer is great.

Jocelyn Hittle: The “Spur of the Moment” podcast is produced by Peach Islander Productions. And our theme music is by Ketsa. Please visit the show notes for links mentioned during today’s episode, we hope you’ll join us in two weeks for the next “Spur of the Moment” episode, until then, be well.

GLORIA MONTAÑO GREENE

Deputy Under Secretary, USDA, Farm Production and Conservation

Gloria Montaño Greene was appointed Deputy Under Secretary for USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC) mission area on February 22, 2021. Her experience is focused in government and community work and includes federal policy, politics, advocacy, intergovernmental relations, communications, and management.

As the FPAC Deputy Undersecretary, Montaño Greene leads agencies that deliver farm programs and services to farmers, ranchers, and agricultural producers. These programs include farm loans, conservation, disaster assistance, crop insurance and price support.

Montaño Greene is a former State Executive Director for the Farm Service Agency in Arizona from 2014-2017. With FSA in Arizona, Montaño Greene led implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill programs across the state.

She previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Chief of Staff to Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona. Montaño Greene also served as Deputy Director for Chispa Arizona, a program of the League of Conservation Voters focused on the empowerment of Latino voices in Arizona on issues including energy, public lands, and democracy access.

Montaño Greene is originally from rural Arizona. She is a proud graduate of the University of Arizona.

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JAIME VIENNEAU

Strategic Initiatives Coordinator for the Lands and Resources Sector, Ktunaxa Nation Council

Jaime Vienneau is a member of the Ktunaxa First Nation, Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it located in southeastern British Columbia, Canada and lives in Cranbrook, BC with her husband and two children. Jaime has over 20 years’ experience working with the Ktunaxa Nation Council Lands and Resources Sector, and is currently co-leading the Ktunaxa Nation’s participation in the Columbia River Treaty renegotiation. 

Jaime has a Master of Arts Degree, specializes in Indigenous Leadership and has credentials in Business and Public Administration.

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GILI ELKIN

Co-Founder and General Partner, ICI Fund (Innovation. Community. Intelligence)
Board Member, Kando, Viridix, Genda, Suridata, Tailor-Ed, Illustria

Gili is a Co-founder and General Partner at ICI Fund (Innovation. Community. Intelligence), investing in early-stage Israeli companies with artificial intelligence solutions that secure our future and supporting their scale up in the US market. Gili sits on the boards of Kando (AI & Wastewater), Viridix (AI & Agriculture), Genda (AI & Construction), Suridata (AI & Cyber), Tailor-Ed (AI & Education), Illustria (Cyebr security) and is an investor in PredictaMed (AI & Healthcare). 

Previously, Gili was a Managing Director at SynTech Bioenergy, a renewable energy company located in Colorado.  Gili is an Israeli lawyer who worked at Naschitz Brandes, ADV., one of the leading Israeli Corporate law firms and at Ernst & Young as Tax Consultant, providing tax advice to US and European VCs investing in Israeli companies. Gili served on the Board of Directors of the B’nai B’rith of the Rockies, Colorado.  Gili holds an LLB and BA (in Law and Business) from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an MBA from the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University. Gili also served in the Israeli military (IDF), driving tanks and guiding combat soldiers to shoot anti-tank guided missiles out of a tank. She is an avid snowboarder and is melted by dark chocolate!

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JOHN TRACY

Director, Colorado Water Center
Professor of Ecosystem Science & Sustainability, CSU Fort Collins

Dr. Tracy serves as Director of the Colorado Water Center and as Professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability at Colorado State University. Dr. Tracy has led research initiatives on understanding and developing sustainable water management practices in a wide range of hydro-climatological systems across the western United States, including the western High Plains, Northern Plains, Southern Plains, Great Basin and Pacific Northwest regions. His more recent efforts have focused on developing programs to: increase our understanding of the integrated behavior of water resource systems under the influence of changing hydrologic, economic, and social conditions; developing science based approaches to support the management of transboundary aquifer resources; addressing the linkage between water management and health outcomes; and understanding community water security from a socio-technical perspective. Dr. Tracy received his B.S. degree in Civil Engineering at Colorado State University in 1980, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Civil Engineering at the University of California at Davis in 1986 and 1989 respectively. Dr. Tracy also served as President of the American Water Resources Association, the University Council on Water Resources, and as Secretary/Treasurer of the National Institutes for Water Resources. 

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BENNY CHEFETZ

Professor of Soil and Environmental Chemistry & Columbia Foundation Chair in Soil and Water Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Dr. Chefetz’s research interests relate to physico-chemical processes of organic pollutants occurring in water, reclaimed wastewater, soils and sediments. An overarching goal is to elucidate physical, chemical and biological processes that influence the fate of organic molecules in the environment with special emphasize on the agricultural environment.

Special interests are: (1) Fate of pharmaceutical compounds in soil and water; (2) Sorption-desorption behavior of xenobiotics in soils and sediments; (3) Irrigation with reclaimed wastewater: effects on human health; (4) Nano particles in the environment; (5) Nature and reactivity of dissolved organic matter. 

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SYLVAIN FABI

Consul General of Canada

Sylvain Fabi (BBA, Bishop’s University, 1988) joined the Consulate General of Canada in Denver in October 2020. As Canada’s Consul General in the U.S. Mountain West Region, Mr. Fabi oversees a team of 17 people who work within Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Utah and Wyoming to strengthen trade and economic ties; enhance political, academic and cultural links; and assist Canadians visiting or living in the five-state territory.  He is also Canada’s chief negotiator for the modernization of the Columbia River Treaty with the United States.

Mr. Fabi joined the Trade Commissioner Service of External Affairs and International Trade Canada in 1992.  He worked in various geographic and trade policy divisions in Ottawa.  He was senior departmental adviser to the Minister of International Trade (2009 to 2010), Director for bilateral relations with South America and the Caribbean (2010 to 2013) and Executive Director of the North America Policy and Relations Division (2013 to 2015).

Mr. Fabi’s assignments abroad include trade commissioner at the embassy in Moscow (1995 to 1998), commercial counsellor at the embassy in Havana (2001 to 2005) and commercial counsellor at the embassy in Santiago (2005 to 2009). Mr. Fabi served as High Commissioner for Canada in Jamaica and the Bahamas (2015 to 2017). Before becoming Consul General in Denver, he was Executive Director, U.S. Transboundary Affairs Division (2017 to 2020). 

Mr. Fabi is married to Jany Joyal and has two children, Frédéric and Isabelle.

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TONY FRANK

Chancellor, CSU System

Dr. Tony Frank is the Chancellor of the CSU System. He previously served for 11 years as the 14th president of CSU in Fort Collins. Dr. Frank earned his undergraduate degree in biology from Wartburg College, followed by a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Illinois, and a Ph.D. and residencies in pathology and toxicology at Purdue. Prior to his appointment as CSU’s president in 2008, he served as the University’s provost and executive vice president, vice president for research, chairman of the Pathology Department, and Associate Dean for Research in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. He was appointed to a dual role as Chancellor in 2015 and became full-time System chancellor in July 2019.

Dr. Frank serves on a number of state and national boards, has authored and co-authored numerous scientific publications, and has been honored with state and national awards for his leadership in higher education.

Dr. Frank and his wife, Dr. Patti Helper, have three daughters.

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JOCELYN HITTLE

Associate Vice Chancellor for CSU Spur & Special Projects, CSU System

Jocelyn Hittle is primarily focused on helping to create the CSU System’s new Spur campus at the National Western Center, and on supporting campus sustainability goals across CSU’s campuses. She sits on the Denver Mayor’s Sustainability Advisory Council, on the Advisory Committee for the Coors Western Art Show, and is a technical advisor for the AASHE STARS program.

Prior to joining CSU, Jocelyn was the Associate Director of PlaceMatters, a national urban planning think tank, and worked for the Orton Family Foundation. She has a degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton, and a Masters in Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Jocelyn grew up in Colorado and spends her free time in the mountains or exploring Denver.

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ROBERTO SALMON

Founding Partner, Centro Luken de Estrategias en Agua y Medio Ambiente

Roberto F. Salmon Castelo is a founding partner and consultant at Centro Luken de Estrategias en Agua y Medio Ambiente. He served from April 2009 until May 2020 as the Mexican Commissioner to the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) and has a solid experience in international negotiations related to water and boundary issues between Mexico and the United States. In this capacity, he led the Mexican team to accomplish the signing of 11 binational agreements (Minutes) with the United States, which are binding for both countries.

From 2002 until 2009, he worked for the Mexican National Water Commission (CONAGUA), first as the Northwest Regional Manager and later as the General Director of the Northwest Basin Region, based in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico from where he oversaw all affairs related to water resources. In addition, Mr. Salmon served as the Planning and Special Projects Director for the Center for Research and Development of Natural Resources (CIDESON) of the State of Sonora. He also started a consulting company oriented to surface, groundwater, and environmental studies and projects.

He also has vast experience in financial projects. He served as the Director of Budget and Planning and later as the Chief Financial Officer at the University of Sonora and other private entities. He is also a founding partner in three financial enterprises in the State of Sonora.

Mr. Salmon has participated as a leading consultant in many projects on various subjects, such as water resources, plant location, financial engineering, statistics, economic feasibility, agriculture, and strategic planning.

In the academic sector, he served as a professor at the Instituto Tecnologico de Sonora, University of Sonora, Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey (Campus Guadalajara and Obregón), as well as a teaching and research assistant at the University of Arizona in the departments of Agricultural Economics and Hydrology and Water Resources.

He has authored or co-authored several articles on water resources and US-Mexico transboundary water issues and has been a speaker at binational and international conferences.

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EDWARD DRUSINA

Former United States Commissioner of the International Boundary and Water Commission

Mr. Edward Drusina, TX P.E. retired from the United States Commissioner of the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) in 2018. Mr. Drusina has served his community and his country with distinction. Mr. Drusina was appointed Commissioner by President Barrack Obama on January 19, 2010 and remained Commissioner until his retirement on May 2018 completing 44 years of engineering service to his City, State and Country.  A licensed Professional Engineer in Texas and graduate of University of Texas at El Paso, his career has lead him to successful work in both the private and public sectors. Prior to the IBWC appointment, Mr. Drusina was the Regional Director for Paragon Resources Inc., President and CoOwner of Omni Construction Management Services, Corperate Associate of Moreno Cardenas Inc, Director of Public Works for the City of El Paso, and Design Branch head for the US Army at Fort Bliss, Texas. He has been a Senior Project Engineer with Weston Solutions since 2018.

Mr. Drusina also headed some very impactful undertakings related to water in the Southwest. He represented the City of El Paso on the Far West Texas Water Planning Group, was the Construction Manager for the pipeline and injection wells for the largest inland Desalination Plant named the Kay Bailey Desalination Plant and was the City of El Paso stormwater manager.

Throughout his distinguished career, Mr. Drusina has also remained active in the different organizations along the border region. He was one of the founding members of UTEP’s Alumni Academe of Civil Engineers, served on the American Red Cross Board, was the Department of State’s advisor for the North American Development Bank Board,  and served on different state and federal committees aimed at addressing border environmental concerns.     

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STEVEN BARTON

Chief of Water Management, Columbia Basin Water Management Division for the Northwestern Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Mr. Barton assumed the role of Chief, Columbia Basin Water Management Division for the Northwestern Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in April 2015. As Chief of Water Management, Mr. Barton plays a key leadership role in managing a large, multi-purpose reservoir system and implementing the Columbia River Treaty with Canada, where he serves as the U.S. Co-Chair of the Treaty Operating Committee.

Mr. Barton has 30 years of experience managing water resources in the western United States. Prior to his current role, Mr. Barton served in technical and leadership positions with both with the Bonneville Power Administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in a variety of areas including weather and stream flow forecasting, mid- and long-term reservoir system planning, wind integration, and real-time reservoir operations.

Mr. Barton holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Oregon State University, a master’s degree in civil engineering from Colorado State University, and is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Colorado.

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JAY FAMIGLIETTI

Professor of Hydrology and Executive Director, Global Institute for Water Security at the University of Saskatchewan

Jay Famiglietti is a professor of hydrology and the Executive Director of the Global Institute for Water Security at the University of Saskatchewan, where he holds the Canada 150 Research Chair in Hydrology and Remote Sensing. Before moving to USask, Famiglietti served for 4 years as the Senior Water Scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology. Prior to working at JPL, he was a faculty member at the University of California, Irvine, and at the University of Texas at Austin. Famiglietti’s research group uses satellites and develops advanced computer models to track how freshwater availability is changing around the globe. A fellow of the American Geophysical Union and of the Geological Society of America, he is committed to science communication.

Prof. Famiglietti is a regular advisor to state, provincial and federal government officials on water availability and water security issues.

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MICHAEL WEBSTER

Executive Director, Water and Sanitation, City of Cape Town

Mike Webster is the Executive Director of the Water and Sanitation Directorate in the City of Cape Town. In this position, he leads the utility responsible for the full water cycle from “source to tap” and back to the environment. The utility serves the 5 million people of Cape Town through 660,000 water and sewer connections and 20,000 km of pipeline.  It has 5,100 staff, an annual operating budget of over USD 500 million (equivalent) and an annual capital budget of USD 180 million equivalent. The Executive Director is part of the Executive Management Team reporting to the City Manager.

Prior to joining the City of Cape Town in 2018, Mike worked for the World Bank for 16 years as a water and sanitation specialist based in Washington DC. He joined the Bank through the Young Professionals Programme and worked in operations in South Asia, Europe and Central Asia and Africa with field assignments in India and Zimbabwe.  Mike was Task Team Leader for over 20 investment operations in water supply, sanitation, solid waste management, municipal services, rural infrastructure, environmental protection and urban upgrading.

Mike graduated as a civil engineer from the University of Cape Town and went on to do an MSc in engineering at Loughborough University and a Master’s in Public Policy at Princeton University.

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KATE GREENBERG

Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture

Kate Greenberg was appointed to serve as Colorado’s first woman Commissioner of Agriculture by Governor Jared Polis in December 2018. As Commissioner, Greenberg provides leadership and direction to the Colorado Department of Agriculture, which serves producers operating more than 38,700 farms and ranches in the state. She is a member of numerous state boards and commissions, current board president of the Western U.S. Agricultural Trade Association, and vice chair of the Western Association of State Departments of Agriculture. Commissioner Greenberg is the recipient of the Emerging Conservation Leader Award from Western Resource Advocates and a 2019 Who’s Who In Agriculture honoree. She has worked in and advocated for agriculture for more than 14 years.

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TY SMITH

Director of the Native American Cultural Center and Interim Assistant Vice President in the Office of Inclusive Excellence, Colorado State University

Ty A. Smith, MBA, was born and raised on the Navajo Nation. He is Tódích’íi’nii  (Bitter Water Clan), born for  Ashiihi (Salt Clan). Ty received both his baccalaureate degree (B.S. Mechanical Engineering) and master’s degree (MBA) from Colorado State University. He was a practicing engineer in the energy industry prior to becoming director of the Native American Cultural Center (NACC) at Colorado State University in 2005. NACC’s mission is to ensure a successful educational experience for students by providing support and services related to recruitment, retention, graduation, and community outreach. The office embraces and encourages a supportive environment based on the traditions and cultures of Native American peoples.

Ty is also the Interim Assistant Vice President in the Office of Inclusive Excellence at CSU. He resides in Fort Collins along with his wife, Jan, and their two boys, Ty Jr. and William.

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KAREN ROTER DAVIS

Managing Partner, Entrada Ventures

Karen Roter Davis is a technology executive, investor, and board member, passionate about driving innovation that energizes and transforms companies from early-stage start-ups to global leaders. She is currently a Managing Partner at Entrada Ventures, an early-stage venture capital fund, where she invests in enterprise and industrial technology companies.

Karen spent over a decade in various senior positions at Alphabet, initially from 2003 to 2008, serving as a Principal in their New Business Development group, scaling its then early-stage businesses, as well as overseeing operations for the company’s groundbreaking 2004 IPO. Most recently, from 2017 until February 2022, Karen was Director of Early Stage Projects at X (formerly Google X), where she provided strategic direction and oversight for a portfolio of early-stage technology ventures.

Karen returned to Google in 2016 through Alphabet’s acquisition of Urban Engines, a SaaS geospatial analytics platform. Karen was the first business hire into the engineering-centric Urban Engines and established foundational business development, strategy, and operations functions as General Manager of Strategy and Business Operations.

Prior to joining Urban Engines, Karen was recruited by GE Digital to build software and analytics venture investing, M&A, and strategic partnerships to advance GE’s “Industrial Internet” (IoT, Industry 4.0) capabilities across its multi-billion dollar industrial businesses.

In addition to her executive experience, Karen has held multiple board and advisory engagements, including her service as a Board Director of Innovyze, a global leader in water software analytics, acquired in March 2021 by Autodesk (Nasdaq: ADSK). She is certified in Cybersecurity Oversight by Carnegie Mellon’s Software Engineering Institute and the National Association of Corporate Directors. She also serves on Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Carbon Initiative Impact Committee.

Karen earned her M.B.A. from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, her J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law, and her B.A. from Princeton University’s School of Public & International Affairs. She is a former Adjunct Professor of Business of Innovation at Northwestern University, a frequent author and speaker on a variety of innovation topics, a patent inventor, and a singer and songwriter.

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WILL SARNI

Founder and CEO, Water Foundry

Will Sarni is the founder and CEO of Water Foundry a water strategy consultancy. He is also the Founder and General Partner of The Future of Water Fund, a water technology venture fund focused on addressing water scarcity, quality and equitable access to water. He has been a sustainability and water strategy advisor to multinationals, water technology companies, investors, and non-governmental organizations for his entire career.

Prior to Water Foundry, he was a managing director at Deloitte Consulting where he established and led the water strategy practice. He was the founder and CEO of DOMANI, a sustainability strategy firm, prior to Deloitte.

Will is an internationally recognized thought leader on water strategy and innovation. He was ranked as; A Key Player Pressuring Businesses to Care About Water and one of the Top 15 Interviews In Smart Water Magazine 2019. Sarni is the author numerous publications on water strategy and innovation including the following books.

  • Corporate Water Strategies” (Earthscan 2011, and in Chinese by Shanghai Jiao Tong University Press 2013)
  • “Water Tech – A Guide to Investment, Innovation and Business Opportunities in the Water Sector” (Sarni, W. and Pechet, T., Routledge 2013)
  • “Beyond the Energy – Water – Food Nexus: New Strategies for 21st Century Growth” (Dō Sustainability 2015)
  • “Water Stewardship and Business Value: Creating Abundance from Scarcity” (Sarni, W., and Grant, D., Routledge 2018)
  • “Creating 21st Century Abundance through Public Policy Innovation: Moving Beyond Business as Usual” (Sarni, W. and Koch, G., Greenleaf Publishing 2018)
  • “Digital Water: New Technologies for a More Resilient, Secure and Equitable Water Future” (Routledge, 2021).

He is also the co-author, with Tony Dunnigan, of a children’s book on water, “Water, I Wonder” (Outskirts Press, September 2022).

Sarni is a co-founder of WetDATA and a host of the podcast, The Stream with Will and Tom. He is a board member of Silver Bullet, Project WET and the Rocky Mountain Rowing Club. He was the Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board for the WAITRO Global Water Innovation Summit 2020 and was on the Scientific Program Committee for Stockholm World Water Week from 2013 through 2019. His advisory work includes working with the 2020 X-PRIZE (Infinity Water Prize), as a Bold Visioneer for the 2016 X-PRIZE Safe Drinking Water Team and a Technical Advisor for the Climate Bonds Initiative: Nature- Based Solutions for Climate and Water Resilience. He is also on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Water Security.

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KEVIN O’DONNELL

Senior Vice President of Sustainability, Dairy Farmers of America

As senior vice president of sustainability, Kevin is responsible for steering DFA’s sustainability activities and evolving the Cooperative’s environmental, social and governance efforts. Prior to joining DFA, Kevin worked as the sustainability strategy advisor for a venture capital fund focused on global food system innovation. Before that, he served for more than 16 years in a variety of global sustainability leadership roles at General Mills and Nike. Kevin started his career in the public and consulting sectors advising industries on sustainability. He has had extensive global sustainability and sourcing experience in 25 countries across five continents.

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ROBERT SAKATA

President, Sakata Farms Inc.

Robert T. Sakata is President of Sakata Farms in Brighton Colorado which was started by his father Bob. Growing up on the family farm his parents were a great example of how important involvement in the community is. Following their footsteps Robert was the founding President of the board of directors for the Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association which aims to fill a need for a common voice representing produce growers across the state. Currently Robert serves on the board of directors for the Fulton Irrigation Company and is the president of the New Brantner Irrigation Ditch Company. He also serves on the Board of Trustees for the National Onion Association and in 2021 was appointed by Colorado Governor Jared Polis to the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB). The mission of the 15 member CWCB board is to conserve, develop, protect and manage Colorado’s water for present and future generations. Prior to that Robert served the state of Colorado on the Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) for 15 years appointed by three different Governors. The WQCC is charged with setting the water quality standards protecting designated uses for waters of the State.

While studying at the Molecular Cellular & Developmental Biology department at University of Colorado Robert worked for AMGEN when they opened their research labs in Boulder. Due to housing constraints for a seasonal workforce Sakata Farms transitioned away from growing vegetables to winter wheat, grain corn, and pinto beans on his family farm.

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STEPHEN ROE LEWIS

Governor of the Gila River Indian Community

Stephen Roe Lewis was raised in Sacaton, “Gu-u-Ki”, on the Gila River Indian Community. His father is the late Rodney Lewis and mother Willardene Lewis. Mr. Lewis has a son, Daniel currently attending Arizona State University.

Mr. Lewis is in his third term serving as Governor of the Community, having previously served as Lt. Governor. Prior to serving in elected leadership, Governor Lewis served the Community as a member of the Board of Directors for the Gila River Healthcare Corporation, as a Gaming Commissioner for the Gila River Gaming Commission, and as a member of the Board of Directors for the Gila River Telecommunications, Inc..

Stephen Roe Lewis graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s of Science and pursued graduate studies at John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Governor Lewis currently oversees the implementation of the Community’s Water Settlement of 2004 (at that time the largest water settlement of its kind in United States history). Governor Lewis advocates for renewable and green technologies guided by O’odham agricultural history and cultural teachings. Governor Lewis’s vision is to support a new generation of Community member agriculturalists with the goal of promoting and protecting the Community’s shudag (water) and agricultural development.

During his tenure as Governor of the Gila River Indian Community, Governor Lewis has brought innovative solutions to long-standing issues that will create long-term gains for the Gila River Indian Community. One of these projects, Management Aquifer Recharge sites, brings together the need for access to water while restoring the return of the Community’s riparian area which is vital for farming and the return of wildlife to the Community. Bringing back the Gila River, which is critical to the culture and identify of the Gila River Indian Community, has been a key milestone during Governor Lewis’ Administration and one that will lay the foundation for future projects across the Community.

In addition, Governor Lewis’ innovation can be seen in his approach to providing educational opportunities for the youth of the Gila River Indian Community. The Community was the first tribal community in the Nation to utilize the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act to create a program that revolutionzied how infrastructure is constructed and maintained throughout Indian Country. This program, the Section 105(l) program was utilized for education construction in the Community, and the Community is working to expand the uses of the program to other infrastructure in the Community and throughout Indian Country.

Governor Lewis has also prioritized the Community’s Veterans and youth by working to establish the Community’s first Veteran’s and Family Services Department and by committing more resources to protect the Community’s children by advocating for the protection of the Indian Child Welfare Act both at home and nationally.

These projects illustrate the commitment that Governor Lewis has to respecting the history and culture of the community while providing for a brighter future for all of the Community’s citizens.

In addition to his leadership in the Community, Governor Lewis has worked on numerous political campaigns and organizing projects throughout Indian Country including serving as an elector for the 2020 Presidential election and selected as an Arizona delegate and Co-Chair of the Native American Caucus for the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Governor Lewis was the first Native film curator for the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah and was an Associate Producer for the groundbreaking and critically acclaimed TBS six-part feature documentary, “The Native Americans.”

Governor Lewis proudly serves as the Secretary of the National Congress of American Indians, President of the Arizona State University’s American Indian Policy Institute Board of Directors, on the Executive Board for the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA), and on the Board of Trustees for the Heard Museum of Phoenix.

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CODY DESAUTEL

Executive Director, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation

Cody Desautel is a member of the Colville Tribe, where he has lived his entire life with the exception of his years spent away at college. He graduated from Inchelium High School in 1995, and from there earned a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science, and later a master’s degree in Indian Law.

Over the next 20 years he would work on the Colville Reservation for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Tribe as an Inventory Forester, Natural Resource Officer, Forester, and Fuels Planner. He was the Natural Resource Division Director from April of 2014 through June of 2022, where he oversaw approximately 15 programs, and 500-600 staff. His responsibilities included forest management, fire suppression and fuels management, cultural resources, oversight of the Tribe’s 450,000 acre carbon project, and reintroduction of important fish and wildlife species (bighorn sheep, pronghorn, lynx, and salmon into the blocked area above Chief Joseph dam). He currently serves as the Executive Director for the Colville Tribe.

In addition to his regular duties he also serves as the President for the Intertribal Timber Council, and is a member of the Washington State Forest Practice Board, Wildland Fire Advisory Committee, and Forest Health Advisory Committee.    

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NATHAN MATTHEW

Consultant, Simpcw First Nation

Nathan Matthew is a member of the Simpcw First Nation, Secwepemc Nation, growing up in the First Nation community of Chu Chua in British Columbia.

Nathan has been on the Simpcw Council for over twenty years as Chief, and has served two terms as the Chairperson for the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council. He has been involved in the many of the Secwepemc Nation social, educational, economic and political developments.

Nathan has been involved with the Columbia River Treaty negotiations for several years and is currently the Secwepemc Observer at the Canada/United States Columbia River Treaty negotiations. As an Observer, Nathan attends all CRT negotiations and participates in all of the Canadian delegation negotiation preparations.

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JENNIFER GIMBEL

Senior Water Policy Scholar, Colorado Water Center

Ms. Gimbel has had the opportunity to work for both State and Federal governments on western water issues. For the Department of the Interior she worked as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science and Deputy Commissioner for the Bureau of Reclamation. For the State of Colorado, she worked as the Director of the Water Conservation Board and was appointed by the Governor of Colorado as Commissioner on the Upper Colorado River Commission and the Governor’s representative in Colorado River negotiations. She also held several positions with both the Colorado and Wyoming Attorney Generals Offices.  

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ANGELA BRICMONT

CFO, Denver Water

Angela Bricmont is the CFO of Denver Water. She manages the financial resources of the Board of Water Commissioners, a 100+ year-old water utility serving 1.5 million customers in the City of Denver and surrounding suburbs. Angela is responsible for accounting, financial planning and performance, treasury, rates and customer care in addition to managing several retirement plans.  Since joining Denver Water in 2010, Angela has overseen a credit ratings upgrade to AAA, implementation of a new rate structure, issuance of Green Bonds, and funding lead line removal at no direct cost to customers.

Prior to Denver Water, Angela worked for several consulting firms focused on financial planning and rates for public utilities.  Angela also served as Vice President of Rates and Regulatory Matters for Comcast and the Director of Budget and Operations at the University of Denver. Angela has a bachelor’s degree in Finance and an MBA from the University of Denver. Angela was appointed by the Mayor to serve on the Denver Urban Renewal Authority Board, and she was appointed to serve on EPA’s Environmental Financial Advisory Board. 

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MAURA BARRY

Senior Deputy Assistant to the Administrator & Agency Global Water Coordinator

Maura Barry serves as Senior Deputy Assistant to the Administrator in USAID’s Bureau for Resilience and Food Security and as interim USAID Global Water Coordinator. In this role, she oversees the implementation of the Agency’s responsibilities under the U.S. Global Water Strategy. Ms. Barry also oversees the bureau’s strategy, program, budget and administrative functions, which support implementation of both the Water for the World and Feed the Future initiatives. Prior to joining RFS, she served as the Deputy of the Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance in USAID’s Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance. Before returning to Washington, she served for a year as the Acting Deputy Chief of Mission to the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica.

Ms. Barry has been working in international development for over 30 years. As a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, she has held various leadership positions throughout USAID. She served as USAID Mission Director to Jamaica responsible for the overall direction of programs that cut across a range of sectors, including citizen security, environment and health. Other assignments include serving in the Regional Development Mission for Asia (RDMA) in Bangkok overseeing a diverse portfolio aimed at narrowing the development gap in Southeast Asia, including programs in security, disaster management, human rights, trade, food security and local capacity development. In addition, Ms. Barry served in Afghanistan as the Deputy Office Director for USAID’s Office of Democracy and Governance, and as USAID East Africa’s Office Director for Somalia. In addition to her years with USAID, Ms. Barry worked for the United Nations Development Program and with CARE International. She holds an MPA in Public and Non-profit Management from New York University and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya.

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ANA MARGARIDA LUÍS

Member of the Board, Aguas de Portugal VALOR

Ana is member of the Board of Aguas de Portugal (AdP) VALOR and AdP Internacional, both of AdP Group. In recent years, Ana was also member of the Board of Aguas do Tejo Atlantico(the largest waste water utility in Portugal) and before she has been 15 years at EPAL (the largest drinking water utility in Portugal), as head of Asset Management and Climate Change. Before joining AdP Group, Ana worked for 10 years as a consultant, at Sir Alexander Gibb and Partners.

International project participation include EU and US Water Research Foundation funded R&D projects, as well as the collaboration with the EIB. Participation at several national working groups, having founded the “Climate Change Adaptation Group” of The Portuguese Association of Water Utilities.

Ana is also a member of the Policy Advisor Committee of Water Europe.

She holds a PhD in Strategic Risk Management by Cranfield University.

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HAPPY HAYNES

Executive Director, Denver Parks and Recreation

Allegra “Happy” Haynes is the Executive Director of Denver Parks and Recreation overseeing 250 urban parks, 29 recreation centers, 31 pools and 14,000 acres of mountain parks. Her vision is to help build a healthier city, create more park land and opportunities for all ages to play and exercise, increase sustainable practices, grow the urban forest and connect diverse communities to nature. Happy is a Denver native. She received a BA degree in Political Science from Barnard College at Columbia University and an MPA from the University of Colorado at Denver. During a career in local government spanning 36 years, Happy served 13 years on the Denver City Council from 1990 – 2003, including two years as President, and has served under three different mayors. She also served as an elected member of the Denver Public Schools Board of Education for 8 years. She currently serves on the national boards of the City Parks Alliance and the Trust for Public Land along with local boards including the Colorado Trust for Public Land, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver Zoo, Denver Botanic Gardens, Salazar Center for North American Conservation, Civic Center Conservancy, Denver Park Trust, and The Park People.

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JENI ARNDT

Mayor of Fort Collins

Fort Collins has been home since I was three weeks old.

After attending Moore Elementary, Blevins Junior High School, and Poudre High School, I earned an undergraduate degree in Sociology at Colorado College. Soon afterwards I earned an MA in Geography from the University of Colorado followed by an MA in Special Education from Purdue University in Indiana. After teaching special education for a few years, I earned a Ph.D. in Literacy and Language from Purdue. 

When I was away—in college, in the Peace Corps (Morocco), in graduate school, living and working in Mozambique, Africa— Fort Collins was always my home. When the opportunity arose to live anywhere, my husband, Channing, and I enthusiastically returned to Fort Collins with our three children. My work experience includes Congressional intern, ESL teacher, Peace Corps volunteer, secondary special education teacher, middle school principal, International Baccalaureate Coordinator, university faculty member and department head.

In addition to working, teaching and attending school, I have been an active volunteer. Serving in the Peace Corps in Morocco was an honor. I served on school boards in Lafayette, Ind. and in Mozambique. After moving back to Fort Collins, I served on the Commission on Disability as well as Childsafe before running for State Representative in 2014. As a State Representative I have focused on water, agriculture, small business and public education. After 3+ terms in the General Assembly I was elected Mayor of Fort Collins in April, 2021.

Personally, my husband of 32 years and I have three adult children. My mom, Libby James is my rock and role model. In my free time, I run, bike, swim, read and talk to people. 

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