Episode 16: Keeping kids healthy with safe water, toilets, and hygiene with Cindy Kushner

This is a transcript of the Spur of the Moment episode “Keeping kids healthy with safe water, toilets, and hygiene with Cindy Kushner.” It is provided as a courtesy and may contain errors.

Cindy Kushner: We’re always trying to do the best we can to say what is the level that people need to thrive, not just survive.

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

Cindy Kushner: Now, if we can make sure that people do have the water they need for all their household needs, but also their community gardens, or if they have livestock, making sure their livestock can have enough water to drink, then you can really start talking about change, and you can, people can have economic opportunities instead of spending five hours a day walking to get water, because there’s one borehole really far away.

Jocelyn Hittle: On this podcast, we talk with experts in food, water, and health and learn about their current work and their career journeys. Today, I’m joined by Cindy Kushner, Chief of Climate Resilient Water Sanitation and Hygiene at UNICEF. Cindy has had a varied career with much of it focused internationally on water, sanitation, and hygiene issues. Welcome, Cindy.

Cindy Kushner: Thank you so much, and thanks for having me.

Jocelyn Hittle: Absolutely happy to have you. I’d like to start a little with the term water, sanitation and hygiene, or WASH. What is encompassed in that term WASH?

Cindy Kushner: Water is something that is used for so many different things and ways, but what we’re focused on in UNICEF, and my work is on drinking water and water for domestic use. So first and foremost, making sure that it is safe for drinking. It is available, which is not always a given, unfortunately, particularly in the places that we work. And sanitation is, it means something broader, but fundamentally at its core it means toilets for us and making sure people have, again, safe, dignified places to use a toilet instead of kind of picking up technology and saying it’s a toilet, the way that we know in the US. It’s about a place that can really separate the human waste from human contact, and if that opens up more, more technological options, more affordable options for different environments, and different places, and different economies. And then hygiene is primarily, again, it’s a very broad term, but we’re talking about hand washing with soap and water and making sure you can do that everywhere you need to, as well as menstrual hygiene management, because girls and women very fundamentally need to ensure that they have the information and the resources, the facilities, the products that they need to manage their menstruation. And if we don’t have that, then we, we don’t have adequate hygiene, particularly for girls and women.

Jocelyn Hittle: Great, thank you. So, can we talk a little bit about where you are working? So, you’ve hit on these WASH areas, safe and available drinking water, sanitation, hand washing, menstrual sanitation. Where are you focused on those different topics, and can you describe a few of the challenges that you are particularly focused on addressing?

Cindy Kushner: Sure, so I’m currently working in Zimbabwe, which is a country in southern Africa, about 15 million people, give or take. It’s been a while since we had a census. There was just one, so we’re waiting for those results. Zimbabwe is one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world. Some people may have heard, in 2019, there was Cyclone Idai, which was very destructive, particularly in Mozambique, but also very much in Zimbabwe and a few of the surrounding countries. So there’s an increasing intensity and frequency of cyclones, which is sort of what they call a hurricane in the southern hemisphere, but a lot more storms and ferocious storms and heavy rains as well. It’s not just the cyclone. And those, those heavy rains, you know, break through rivers, wash communities out, wash water systems out, schools, healthcare facilities, and they destroy roads, bridges. And so, there’s always an effort to make sure that we are not only able to respond when those things happen, but also try to be more aware of those risks when we’re building things in the first place, and we’re putting in place what needs to be managed and how we need to have warnings and things like that so that we’re really doing all we can before as well as immediately afterwards to ensure people are safe and they have what they need, particularly drinking water and sanitation. Yeah, those first needs that are needed once an emergency hits.

Cindy Kushner: But Zimbabwe’s very interesting, because part of the country is very vulnerable to heavy rain, storms and cyclones, and the other part of the country is in drought. And so probably, you know, similar to kind of challenges you have in Colorado and in the western US. We go long periods with not enough water and in a place where we rely on groundwater, the water that’s under the ground as opposed to surface water and rainfall, the rainfall recharges the underground water. And if there’s not that rainfall, then that water’s not getting recharged, and then when we go to pump it out, it’s either not there, or it’s deeper and deeper and deeper, which is more and more and more expensive. And particularly, in Zimbabwe, in contrast to the western US is that the population’s quite sparse. And so, you have small communities dotting the landscape as opposed to huge populations where you can justify a much larger investment. And so, it’s very difficult to build a huge water system for a couple hundred people. But those couple hundred people all over the place . And so if, you know, if we can make sure that people do have the water they need for all their household needs, but also their community gardens or, if they have livestock, making sure their livestock can have enough water to drink, then you can really start talking about change. And you can, people can have economic opportunities instead of spending five hours a day walking to get water, because there’s one borehole really far away. So, it’s really quite life changing, and we’re always trying to do the best we can to say what is the level that people need to thrive, not just survive.

Jocelyn Hittle: Maybe we could take a step back, and let’s talk a little bit about, and I’ll use a water analogy, what are the buckets of your work? I don’t wanna characterize it wrong, so maybe you could give us like, what are the major categories of the work that you’re doing?

Cindy Kushner: Sure, and I think that’s very much the way we look at it is, is what we call an enabling environment or strengthening the systems. So, we need to have policies again in this country. We have, you know, the National Water Act, and you know, federal and state policies, strategies. You need to know what you’re gonna do and what’s gonna guide your investment. What, what, you know, what do you need to do? Who needs to do what? What capacities do you need? So we work on that side. We need monitoring because, it’s about the most boring thing you could talk about is monitoring, but if you don’t know who has water and who doesn’t, how are you targeting your resources, right?

Jocelyn Hittle: Very important part of decision making.

Cindy Kushner: Very important part of decision making. And so, sort of having that data and making sure you’re translating that data into information and knowledge. So within the enabling environment, we have the policy side, we have the monitoring side, and then budgeting, right? So, you know, government budgeting is a long complex process. And what we’re really, you know, we, as UNICEF, we do a lot of implementation. We do build things. There’s a lot of partners around the world that do things, NGOs and nonprofits, all sorts of different organizations. But the main funder of water sanitation hygiene is the government, whether it’s local governments or national governments. And so we, and that’s the only truly sustainable way to do that, because nonprofits and external funding come and go, but the government needs to be the one to stay. And obviously, the government doesn’t always have the resources, and we all need to support that. But for UNICEF, our goal is to support the government to do its job. And in this country and in Zimbabwe and any country, it is the government’s responsibility to provide drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene. There’s not too many that would disagree with that, but it’s not easy. And so for UNICEF, we really focus on enabling environment and aiming to work ourselves out of the job of the more nuts and bolts. And the other pieces of it, so the enabling environment, but also supply, and so that’s where we put in infrastructure. And also, and again, whether that means we’re building a water system, we’re putting in a borehole, and whether we work with a local partner, an NGO, or we work with the local government, ’cause maybe they do have the capacities, don’t have the money. But also, when we talk about toilets, it isn’t about someone else building them. No one walks into your house and builds your toilet when you built your house. And so, it’s about saying, look, do you have the products you need to build a toilet? Or do you need to go six hours to the main town? They’re probably not gonna build a toilet if you don’t have a lot of money, and you certainly can’t, you can barely afford a bag of cement. You certainly can’t afford the six hour trip and the transport costs. So trying to make sure that people have what they need to do what is the household responsibility, but also that they all have the knowledge, and they demand to have a toilet. They demand to have water supply. So yeah, so we work on the enabling environment, supply and demand, and that’s kind of the three buckets we put it into.

Cindy Kushner: And again, when we’re in an emergency situation, because UNICEF works in, we have huge programs in Afghanistan, and Yemen, South Sudan, and in Ukraine right now. So there’s places where there’s conflict, but there’s also places where there’s huge natural disasters. So whether it’s in Zimbabwe after Cyclone Idai where we, again, we don’t on a regular basis try to kind of just provide the service. We try to work with the government to provide the service, or the partners, but when there’s a massive cyclone, then it isn’t, the needs are just so great, and the systems break down. And again, I mean we, again, we saw this in the hurricane in New Orleans, you know. There are just times where it’s just too much pressure for the ongoing system, and you have to bring in outsiders.

Jocelyn Hittle: So Cindy, can you tell us a little bit more about UNICEF and how the WASH work that you’re doing fits within the organization’s broader mission?

Cindy Kushner: Sure, so UNICEF is United Nations Children’s Fund. We are a part of the United Nations, which is sort of the body of the countries in the world and member states. So we’re in the governance, but we have that very specific mandate of children and their families, making sure that children’s needs are met. And so, we work in various sectors, I would say, but basically making sure that children have what they need to survive and thrive. So we work on education systems, we work on health systems. And again, there’s, we’ve all heard of WHO now with COVID, and the World Health Organization is a really important, but UNICEF really work is to ensure health systems for children. Malnutrition, again, child nutrition. There’s a huge, there’s, you know, we all, we’ve seen photos of starving children and very, very thin, and that’s severe malnutrition. That’s not, that is a very much a fundamental problem, especially where you have conflict and people are moving, they just don’t have the coping mechanisms, but we also have stunting, which is basically that children are not getting a nutritious diet, so we’re working on stunting and making sure that children are both mentally and physically developing as healthy children. And we work on water, sanitation, hygiene, which kind of underpins all of that in terms of, you know, you can’t have good health if you have diarrhea all the time from drinking contaminated water. You can’t have good nutrition if you always have diarrhea, and you’re not absorbing the nutrition. You can’t, you know, going to school without a toilet, or simply being, drinking contaminated water. Not being able to go to school is the problem, but also when you go to school, making sure that there’s drinking water, there’s toilets, there’s hand washing facilities. But also making sure that, that when we talk about, you know, what are good hygiene practices and good sanitation, we need to be working in schools, ’cause that’s the time to teach people when they’re young.

Jocelyn Hittle: So a lot of what you’re describing as it relates to WASH is really that, that water and sanitation piece really is an underpinning for so many of the other goals that UNICEF has. And I think we tend to take for granted in the US and in other more developed countries, you know, these are things we don’t really think about. We don’t think about where your water is coming from, whether or not you have access to sanitation, you know. It allows us to go about our day-to-day life in a very different way than people who are really concerned about that, who are spending hours getting access to clean water, et cetera. So, it does seem like the international space is, in some places, quite different from work on water that are happening here in the States. That said, there are aspects of water and sanitation that are still real challenges across the US, and one of the places that the Spur campus is focused on is kind of the arid American west. Maybe you can talk a little bit about some of the places around the world that you see having similar challenges to water access and supply and some of the ways that UNICEF is addressing those challenges in some of those drier places.

Cindy Kushner: Around the world, climate change is, you know, the, you know, climate change is sort of first felt through water. Well, drinking water is the most basic need there is, and it is absolutely being felt there. And so, so yeah, so you know, in the American west, you have water restrictions, right? And, and you know, you don’t lose water, though. You can still turn on your tap and you know, you’re just asked not to water your lawn or run your washing machine certain hours and things like that. But, you know, if you’re in arid Zimbabwe, and you have a borehole, and the water table is no longer, you know, where it used to be, right? So, you know, you put a borehole in under ground, and there’s a water table sort of, you know. It may be 30 yards down, and if it rains less and less and less, that water table keeps going down and down and down. Suddenly, your borehole just doesn’t reach the water. We gotta drill a new one. You need to have money for that. And, with climate change, we just need to keep, you know, drilling deeper and deeper and is that sustainable or are we overexploiting the aquifers and the groundwater? This is very much an issue that you have in the west. How much water do you have? And when it changes, all the things that you built around that presumption start to change. They either become, you know, in the US that tends to be they become more expensive. And then, you know, you maybe don’t have the same industries in the same place, because it’s no longer economically viable to have those industries. Or you keep spending more and more money to bring water from further and further away. You know, there’s a lot of effort to manage the demand and to bring in more water saving technology, just a lot of innovation that comes from these kind of changes. And that’s what we see here in the US, and when we talk about, you know, the arid parts of Zimbabwe, we’re talking about things a lot more basic, a lot more simple. The use of the water is just not as complex. There’s not enough water to have built industry in the first place. And again, we can, there are dams, and there is surface water in other parts of the country. We can put in bigger pipelines and bring it, but again, it’s expensive. And so, at the end of the day, climate change is really exacerbating the economic challenges of moving water, treating water, finding water in the first place.

Jocelyn Hittle: Thank you, you’ve hit on so many different complexities within the WASH environment, particularly in the work that you do. I’m wondering if you could tell us a little bit about what it means to have your particular position. What is a day in the life for the Chief of Climate Resilient Wash at UNICEF?

Cindy Kushner: I mean, I do a lot of different things in a day, and fundamentally, I’m a manager, and I would like to, I hope I’m a leader as well of my team and in my role that I play, but I, sorry, fundamentally, I manage resources. I manage people, I manage money, and I try to make, lead the strategy of how to use those resources. Fundamentally, I’m a manager, and a leader in the space that I’m working. So I manage resources. I have partners. We have a team of about 13 people making sure that each of them has a clear role and responsibility. They each have accountability for the work that they do. They know what they need to do. They have fair expectations. They’re really with their expectations so that they’re able to do their job, and I’m able to support them in the way that they need to, that they can work independently and achieve their work, and that they can call on me for what they need, be it technical guidance or, you know, I do work in a bureaucracy, and sometimes you have to kind of use a bit of hierarchy to get through, get business made, get papers signed, and things like that. It’s also my job to navigate all that, to enable them to do their jobs fundraising and making sure that we both have the money to spend as well as to spend it. And with that comes relations with the, the people who fund us as well as the partners that we work with. And I am a huge, huge believer, for me, this is really core to my work, which is the whole has to be greater than the sum of all parts. And I don’t think that UNICEF has all the answers. I don’t think any one organization has all the answers, all the capacities, all the expert expertise, all the credibility, to affect the change as needed. It’s a complex space. And so, for me, it’s about building partnerships with those that complement us, and say, okay, this is what we do. For me as a person, as a supervisor, as a manager, as a leader, it’s, you know, recognizing what you do well and what your strengths are and what others do well and how you bring that together. So whether I, I bring that into my daily work, but I also try to bring that to my, sort of, how I lead the team. I do a lot of working with the government to create more senior levels and making sure that, again, that my team is able to influence the policies and the budgeting. I work closely with my health colleagues because again, if we could end, you know, diarrheal disease, or at least the WASH-related diarrheal disease, our health colleagues would have a whole lot less work to do in treating people and curing diseases, similarly with nutrition. So it’s really about partnerships within UNICEF and other expertise with the government and working very closely with them and supporting them to achieve their agenda. Working with our other partners that really are managing the resources, managing the partnerships, developing all that and providing strategy.

Jocelyn Hittle: Yeah, so you’ve hit on some buckets of work that you do, and those are buckets that I think are maybe common across folks who are in a level of position that is similar to yours, policy work, advocacy work, partnerships, fundraising, management of your team. And I guess I would be curious to hear a little bit, let’s transition a little to sort of what’s your journey to this point in time, right? Because you’re now in a management role within this WASH space. You have not always been in that role. Can you tell us briefly kind of what’s the, what was the journey that got you, I don’t know, when you were a kid, was this something you were dreaming of? I wanna work internationally? Like what was the?

Cindy Kushner: This is very far away from where I was as a kid.

Jocelyn Hittle: Right, so, and that’s really common, right? We don’t, most of us have unexpected journeys. So maybe you could tell us a little bit about your unexpected journey.

Cindy Kushner: Sure, and I, you know, I mean I work with a lot of people whose, whose parents worked in this industry as it were, and so they were exposed to international development, and they were exposed to working and moving around, and I was not at all. I grew up in the suburbs of Boston, but I just, you know, I always loved traveling, and I really wanted to be a teacher, all growing up. Nothing else. I had a laser focus on being a teacher. And I, when I applied to university, I even applied to education schools. I think, you know, talk about a pivotal moment, because I applied to the University of Michigan School of Education, and I received back a letter that said, well, you have, you can come in the school of education when you’re a junior, but we’ll let you into the liberal arts college. I just thought, wow, they let me in. I couldn’t even figure out the application process. They let me in. So I was in Michigan, and I pretty quickly realized, like, I don’t wanna be a teacher. I, you know, what I understood teaching to be was like staying in school and you know, getting your tenure, and being in one place. And I thought, well that, you know, I love to travel, I love to meet new people, and I’m not sure that is what I want to do. And so pretty quickly, I’m quite glad that I didn’t go into an education school there, arts school, because I ended up majoring in political science, which was kind of interesting to me, of kind of how decisions get made, and what the implications are, and critical thinking. I just found my way to DC ’cause it seemed like the place to go, but not with a great deal of clarity, but again, still with this idea of traveling. And so, I ended up working for a consulting company who influenced international development programs. And then it got me in to see what it was all about, and I found my way overseas.

Cindy Kushner: I found my way into emergency work first, which has a huge gratification. Like people need water, here’s your water. What I came to see pretty quickly is that there’s a lot of constraints that are beyond the community level. And so, after years of really working at that community level, I kind of started to wanna reach and influence at a higher level of saying, okay, well, these communities are all constrained by the fact that the government’s not investing, or that there’s no information at the government level to make a decision about what to invest in. And so I just, over my career, I just started to kind of reach into the more fundamental challenges and with that, moving, say, up just in terms of the governance level structures. You have your national government or local government, down to the community. And so, I worked my way from the bottom up and kinda mocking said, okay, well here, district level. You know, it’s not just the community communities that need to be supported by the local authorities. Okay, let’s work with the local authorities and how do they do that? But it’s like, well, they’re not resourced adequately, and they don’t have the policies to guide them. The capacities keep going up, and I actually went, my previous, one of the previous roles was actually working at UNICEF headquarters and leading a global partnership of governance of countries, of NGOs, and really coordinating a conversational dialogue around how do we fundamentally, what is common across countries, and what are the common ways to move forward? And you know, governments need to be in the lead. There needs to be one clear agenda than everybody working on their own in silos. And so, I kind of reached this, you know, pinnacle of hierarchy with the global policy dialogue and learned a great deal, and it was fascinating. But at the same time, always kind of yearning to come back down to Earth. But for me, what motivates me is that feel of getting the government to make a decision and passing it to everyone . I think as international organizations, we can contribute, but we don’t solve problems. You know, if we can solve the problem today, it’ll, you know, if we didn’t, you know, if the fundamental issues are not addressed, the problem just comes back. And so, I’m much more interested in taking time.

Jocelyn Hittle: One of the things I’m hearing you say that I think is really interesting is, and I think might be particularly interesting if, for a young person who’s sort of thinking about a career path, that you started at a grassroots level, right, at a community level and then worked at a variety of different scales and on a, kind of coming at the same problem from a variety of different perspectives or lenses, right? There’s one, the immediate gratification you’re talking about. You need water, I’m handing you water. Two, there’s a systemic or foundational problem that we’re seeking to change at a different scale. So I think it’s really, I wonder if you could, could talk a little bit about, you know, the, this is true across a lot of different career paths too, right, the scale at which, and the which, are you focused on the complex systemic problem, or are you focused on the more immediate problem? And I think throughout the course of one’s career, one might pick and choose once you’ve been exposed to all of those different scales and approaches, you might find one that feels like the right fit and try to settle yourself in that space.

Cindy Kushner: Yeah, exactly. And again, it was, you know, I, my approach to my career early on was always, you know, do what you enjoy and then, when it’s no longer challenging, find something more. And that worked for a really long time for me. At a certain point, though, I hit a level of seniority where you, you need to be a bit more deliberate in defining what you wanna do next and be building those skills before you get there. And so, that was a bit of a wake up call for me that sort of like, I, you know, I’m just going to be driven by my, not so…

Jocelyn Hittle: Curiosity, and your interest.

Cindy Kushner: Passion, my satisfaction. And I just, you know, and I always found opportunity through hard work, and delivering, and having a reputation for myself, and being able to advance. But, that wasn’t enough to keep advancing, because I wasn’t necessarily recognizing what the next role needed. So I think there’s sort of two things here. One is, is what is my personal pathway and how do you move through, not just a hierarchy by any means, but you know, again, it’s, you know, for me the sort of governance that is kind of stacked, hierarchically, in the government system. So, you know, where do you wanna influence? Where do you feel energized? And I feel energized from, you know, a great meeting with a key decision-maker as much as I do from a community getting water, because that community, there’s 200 people in that community got water, and that’s amazing. But when that decision-maker makes a decision to put in a budget of $20 million, it’s not gonna happen tomorrow. But that’s, that is the thing that will make a difference to thousands and thousands of people. And so, that takes time, that takes a different skill set, but that’s exciting for me.

Jocelyn Hittle: You’ve been working over the course of your career in a variety of different places. How many different countries?

Cindy Kushner: Long term, sort of more than a year, I think I’ve been in, I was in Timor-Leste for a total of five years. I was in Rwanda for three and a half years. I feel like I’m skipping something. I was in Albania in 2000, but that was less than a year, just because our funding ran out, so I had to leave. I’ve been Zimbabwe for a year and a half. I was in UNICEF headquarters for around 10 years. So there was a point where you also have to find balance in your life. And my parents were aging, and so I decided I needed to come back to the US. I’m from the East Coast and so I, you know, I was able to still do the work and advance my career and you know, work in WASH, which is my passion, but also be there for my family. And so, Skype and Zoom and all these things definitely have helped a lot more than… Early in my career, when I was in Albania, I got 10 minutes call for 10 minutes a month to call somebody at home, or in Timor, let’s say, it’s an island country, and I was in a town that didn’t have, really, a network, but I was about 45 minutes away from the city, and so if I drove 20 minutes, and I walked out onto this one spot on the beach, that would get the signal from the city. I could call the US. I could talk to my mom.

Jocelyn Hittle: So you’ve mentioned some of the challenges of working and living internationally. Maybe you can tell us a little bit about what you love about it.

Cindy Kushner: Sure, I mean there is so much and again, I think that’s the choice that me and my husband, my family made to keep doing this work. Is it, you know, the traveling is amazing where, you know, we live in Africa, and so when we go away for a few days or a week, you know, we go down to Florida from the East Coast, we go to California. We had to stop in Africa, Kenya, and which is amazing beaches, and see all sorts of new things and animals. That’s a huge part of it, but also just being able to get to know people of an entirely different experience. And you know, the people that I work with are just tremendous and working with people in different cultures, different settings, their experiences growing up and how they got to where they are is just a constant learning opportunity and opportunity for reflection on yourself and your place in the world. And that is just something that really, really keeps me going.

Jocelyn Hittle: So Cindy, can you tell us where people can find more information about UNICEF, and particularly the WASH work that you’re doing, social media, websites, et cetera?

Cindy Kushner: Sure, so UNICEF is a large global international organization., U-N-I-C-E-F dot O-R-G. There’s plenty of information there about WASH as well as some areas we work in. There’s also, for US particularly, while we are part of the UN, UNICEF is also affiliated with, and sort of has, as part of its structure, is that we have national committees in many countries. And so, while the UN doesn’t sort of work here as the UN, we do have our sister agency UNICEF USA, which does a lot of advocacy work for children here in the US, as well as fundraising with the public. You can also go to, which is part of our UNICEF structure where we have a nonprofit organization here in the US, which also advocates for children here in the US, as well as fundraises for UNICEF.

Jocelyn Hittle: Great.

Cindy Kushner: But then there is a wide, wide social media presence for both UNICEF and UNICEF USA.

Jocelyn Hittle: Great, thank you. So we’ll also link to those resources in the show notes if anyone wants more information about UNICEF and the WASH work in particular. So now we have come to the very final question I have for you, which is our Spur of the Moment question. So, you have traveled quite a bit, but I’m curious if there is a place that you have always wanted to travel that you have not yet been.

Cindy Kushner: That is interesting one. There are a couple. There’s actually three, I think. And interestingly, that I spent a lot of time in Asia and a lot of time in Africa. I would love to see the aurora borealis, the northern lights, and so that is on my bucket list. I’ve never been to Scotland and hiked the Highlands. That is on my bucket list. And there’s a pilgrimage that goes through Spain and Portugal, and I always get the name wrong, so I won’t try to say it correctly, but, it is my goal one day to, probably not do the whole thing, but to do the, to do at least a part of that walk. Those are my three bucket list.

Jocelyn Hittle: That’s Camino de Santiago, that the one you?

Cindy Kushner: Exactly, thank you.

Jocelyn Hittle: Yes, it’s on my list as well that. The idea of a walking vacation sounds like the right speed, but also includes a different way of seeing all of those places, right? So I really, I love that idea, too. Cindy, thank you so much for your time today. We really appreciate you being a guest on CSU’s “Spur of the Moment”, and hope that our paths cross again soon.

Cindy Kushner: That would be wonderful. Thank you so much.

Jocelyn Hittle: The CSU “Spur of the Moment” podcast is produced by Kevin Samuelson, and our theme music is by Ketsa. Please visit the show notes for links mentioned in this episode. We hope you’ll join us in two weeks for the next episode. Until then, be well.


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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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. 

Wave art