2021 Joint AWRA & National Capital Annual Water Symposium Speakers

Day One: April 15 | Keynote and Panels 1, 2, & 3

9:30 AM – 10:20 AM ET
Keynote Speaker

Mustafa Ali
Vice President of Environmental Justice, Climate, and Community Revitalization
The National Wildlife Federation

A renowned thought leader, international speaker, policy maker, community liaison, trainer, and facilitator, Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali wears many hats, he is the Vice President of Environmental Justice, Climate & Community Revitalization for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and also the Founder & CEO of Revitalization Strategies. Before joining the NWF Mustafa was the Senior Vice President for the Hip Hop Caucus, a national, non-profit and non-partisan organization that connects the Hip Hop community to the civic process to build power and create positive change. As HHC Senior Vice President, he led the strategic direction, expansion, and operation of the Hip Hop Caucus’ portfolio on Climate, Environmental Justice and Community Revitalization.

Prior to joining the Hip Hop Caucus, Mustafa worked 24 years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He began working on Social Justice issues at the age of 16 and joined the EPA as a student, becoming a founding member of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ). He most recently served as Senior Advisor for Environmental Justice and Community Revitalization and Assistant Associate Administrator working to elevate environmental justice issues and strengthening environmental justice policies, programs, and initiatives. Mustafa worked for EPA Administrators beginning with William Riley and ending with Scott Pruitt.

Throughout his career, Mustafa has conducted more than 1,000 presentations across the country, including speeches, guest lectures, and training. He has also worked with more than 500 domestic and international communities to secure environmental, health and economic justice. Mustafa uses a holistic approach to revitalizing vulnerable communities helping them to move from Surviving to Thriving.

Frequently seen on TV, including MSNBC, CNN, VICE, BET, Samantha Bee and Democracy NOW Featured and/or cited in over 250 news publications to date, including GQ, New Republic, Ebony, Bustle, The Guardian, The Root, Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post.

Guest lecturer at over 100 colleges and universities, including Howard, Harvard, Yale, Berkley, Duke, George Washington, Georgetown, Spelman.

Former instructor at West Virginia University, and Stanford University. Mustafa currently serves a board member on Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Union of Concerned Scientist, TREE, Rodenberry Foundation and Climate Hawks Vote.

Current co-host of the live radio show and podcast, Think 100% “The Coolest Show On Climate Change” with Grammy Nominated Singer and Actress Antonique Smith & Civil Rights Icon, Rev Lennox Yearwood.

10:30 AM – 12:00 PM ET
Panel 1: Water Justice and COVID-19: Water management in 2020 and beyond

Maureen Taylor
Michigan Welfare Rights Organization

Maureen Taylor is Chair of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization (MWRO), a union of public assistance recipients, low-income workers and the unemployed that organizes members to fight for their rights and to eliminate poverty in the U.S. Over the past several years, Maureen spearheaded several MWRO campaigns to protect low-income Detroiters against electricity, gas and water shut-offs. She participated in negotiations for the Water Affordability Plan for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Maureen was also a key consultant on two award-winning documentaries: “The Water Front,” which was about water rights and water affordability in Highland Park, Michigan, and “A World Without Water,” which was about the crises of international water affordability and access and featured a segment on Detroit. Additionally, Maureen has a MSW in Social Work and is a Detroit school counselor who is improving student and teacher success rates.

Sydney Collins
Community Engagement & Green Infrastructure VISTA
Buffalo Sewer Authority

Sydney Collins is the Community Engagement VISTA for Buffalo Sewer Authority's green infrastructure initiative Rain Check. This initiative addresses the stormwater challenge in Buffalo through green infrastructure implementation while building climate resiliency and advancing environmental justice. She works to strengthen partnerships among community stakeholders to center public participation in program development and support equitable investment in neighborhoods. Sydney is a strong advocate of sustainability efforts to improve the quality of life and build greener urban communities.

Letitia Carpenter
Program Manager
US Water Alliance

Letitia Carpenter is a Program Manager at the US Water Alliance, a national nonprofit organization advancing policies and programs that build a sustainable water future for all. She works on the Alliance’s Equitable Water Future programs, and has years of experience advancing environmental justice, equity, adaptive management, and community centered practices. Before joining the Alliance, Letitia worked on community centered environmental justice initiatives in both the nonprofit and public sectors to ensure equitable access to environmental and community benefits.

1:30 PM – 2:50 PM ET
Panel 2: Social Hydrology: A Paradigm Shift Toward More Resilient Water Resources Management

Murugesu Sivapalan
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Murugesu Sivapalan is Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He specializes in catchment hydrology and his research has focused on hydrologic predictions in ungauged basins and under human-induced change. He was founding chair of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences’ Predictions in Ungauged Basins decadal initiative, and founder of the new field of socio-hydrology. He has has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the John Dalton and Alfred Wegener Medals of the European Geosciences Union and the Robert Horton Medal of the American Geophysical Union.

Vikram Mehta
Executive Director
Center for Research on the Changing Earth System

Vikram Mehta earned a Ph.D. in Meteorology in 1990 from Florida State University. He is the Executive Director of the Center for Research on the Changing Earth System (CRCES), specializing in research on decadal climate variability and its predictability and impacts on river flows, urban water systems, agriculture, and water-borne transportation. Besides numerous research papers, Vikram has authored two books - “Natural Decadal Climate Variability: Societal Impacts” and “Natural Decadal Climate Variability: Phenomena, Mechanisms, and Predictability”.

Bill Shuster
Chair & Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering
Wayne State University

Bill Shuster, Ph.D. is Chair, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Wayne State University, Detroit MI. Dr. Shuster focuses on themes in the forum of urban hydrology, and in the context of improving social equity and inclusion in the delivery of critical services from the built environment and its infrastructure. Dr. Shuster has over 70 publications in peer-reviewed journals, and previously served for 18 years with the US Environmental Protection Agency.

3:00 PM – 4:20 PM ET
Panel 3: Innovations in Water Resource Management

Peter Grevatt, Ph.D.
The Water Research Foundation

As CEO of The Water Research Foundation (WRF), Peter Grevatt, Ph.D. directs the world’s leading water research cooperative. WRF oversees research and promotes innovation across all aspects of the water sector—in pursuit of ensuring the highest water quality and improving water services to communities across the globe. With approximately 1,200 subscriber members in the U.S. and abroad, the Foundation has over $130 million of contracted research and innovation activities currently underway. Dr. Grevatt has dedicated over 30 years to the implementation of public health and environmental protection programs, including significant national leadership experience in the water sector. He previously served as Director of EPA’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water (OGWDW) where he was responsible for ensuring the safety of the nation’s drinking water supply. Dr. Grevatt also served as Senior Advisor to EPA’s Administrator for Children’s Environmental Health and has held leadership roles in EPA’s water quality and national hazardous waste cleanup programs. Dr. Grevatt is a graduate of New York University Medical Center with M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Basic Medical Sciences. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Biology from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana.

Emily Zechman Berglund
Professor, Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering
North Carolina State University

Dr. Emily Zechman Berglund is a Professor in the NCSU Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering. She graduated from NCSU, where she earned her Ph.D. in 2005, and she was an assistant professor at Texas A&M University for four years before returning to NCSU. Berglund studies sociotechnical systems, with a focus on feedback mechanisms and adaptations among human behaviors and decision-making, infrastructure, and environmental systems as they affect water resources and water infrastructure. Her research develops agent-based modeling frameworks, optimization methods, and simulation models to explore the interplay within sociotechnical systems and to manage the sustainability, security, and resilience of complex infrastructure systems and smart cities. She teaches courses in water resources engineering, systems analysis, and complex adaptive systems. Dr. Berglund received an NCSU Outstanding Graduate Faculty Mentor Award in 2018. Along with co-authors, she received the 2020 Best Seminal Paper Award, Editor’s Choice Award in 2016 and 2020, and Best Research-Oriented Paper Awards in 2010 and 2011 for publications in the American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE) Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Security Agency (NSA), and state water and transportation research institutes.

Jon Freedman, Ph.D.
Lead, Global Government Affairs & Policy
Suez Water Technologies & Solutions, SUEZ North America

Jon Freedman, Ph.D. is based in Washington, DC, where he leads Global Government Affairs & Policy for the multi-billion dollar Suez Water Technologies & Solutions and SUEZ North America. He is also the SUEZ Group representative to the World Bank and other multilateral organizations in the US. He is on the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania where he teaches graduate courses on water, energy, and sustainability. He also serves on Alumni and Corporate Advisory Boards for the The Wharton School's Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership, and he also serves on the Board of the WateReuse Association, where he Chairs the Policy Committee, the Board of the International Desalination Association, where he serves as Secretary, and the Board of the US EPA's Environmental Financial Advisory Board.


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