AWRA 2023 Summer Conference

Connecting Land & Water for Healthy Communities

July 17 - 19, 2023 | Denver, CO | Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center

IMPORTANT: In order to receive important communication from the AWRA Team about your conference participation, you must add [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected] to your safe sender list.


Monday Plenary Speakers

Opening Plenary Session: Federal Agencies Working Together: The Water Policy Committee

Read the FLOODS ACT SEC13 PL 117-316

Gary Gold
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science
U.S. Department of the Interior

Gary Gold is Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science at U.S. Department of the Interior where he provides leadership and oversight to the Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Geological Survey. Gary is an attorney and engineer who focuses his work to addressing drought in the West. During his career, Gary has provided leadership on a variety of initiatives including water infrastructure projects, tribal water rights settlements, and ecosystem restoration efforts.

Sarah Kapnick, Ph.D.
Chief Scientist
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Sarah Kapnick, Ph.D., is the Chief Scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In this role, Dr. Kapnick is responsible for advancing policy and program direction for NOAA’s science and technology priorities.

Dr. Kapnick has extensive experience at the intersection of climate science and economics. Most recently, she served as a Managing Director at J.P. Morgan in the role of Senior Climate Scientist and Sustainability Strategist for Asset and Wealth Management. While at J.P. Morgan, she supported sustainability and climate action efforts and served as an advisor on new business and investment opportunities and risks.

Previously, Dr. Kapnick was a Physical Scientist and Deputy Division Leader on seasonal to decadal variability and predictability at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL). At GFDL, her work spanned seasonal climate prediction, mountain snowpack, extreme storms, water security and climate impacts. She was an expert and reviewer for NOAA’s Small Business Innovation Research Program, a member of its Eastern Region Climate Team, a science panelist for and the NOAA team lead for the NASA High Mountain Asia Team.

Dr. Kapnick is a member of the American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Society and American Association for the Advancement of Science. Prior to her graduate studies, she spent two years as an investment banking analyst with Goldman Sachs covering financial institutions. She received a Ph.D. in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences with a Certificate in Leaders in Sustainability from UCLA, and an A.B in Mathematics with a Certificate in Finance from Princeton University.

Julie A. Robinson, Ph.D.
Deputy Director, Earth Science Division
Science Mission Directorate
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Dr. Julie A. Robinson is Deputy Director for Earth Science at National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Headquarters in Washington, DC. In this role, she supports the director in overall management for the entire agency’s Earth Science portfolio, including, research and applications, data access, technology, mission development and operations. NASA’s Earth Science mission is to understand our changing planet including the development of the new Earth System Observatory—a set of five satellite missions to provide critical data on climate change, severe weather and other natural hazards, wildfires, and global food production.

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.

Honorable Michael L. Connor
Assistant Secretary
Army (Civil Works)

Honorable Michael L. Connor is the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) and serves as the principal advisor to the Secretary of the Army on all matters related to the Army’s Civil Works Program. He establishes policy direction and provides supervision of Department of the Army functions relating to all aspects of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers' Civil Works program. These responsibilities include programs for conservation and development of the nation's water and wetland resources, flood control, navigation, and shore protection. Previously, Secretary Connor served as the Deputy of Department of Interior and Commissioner at the Bureau of Reclamation.

Tuesday Plenary Speakers

Opening Plenary Session: Connecting Land, Water and Worldviews through Reconciliation and Inclusive Engagement

Rachelle Dillon MPlan
Senior Planner, Associate
O2 Planning & Design

Rachelle is an urban planner with over 15 years of experience leading and crafting plans and strategies across Canada and in Australia. Rachelle is interested in how the different facets of city building interact to create welcoming, healthy, dynamic, and resilient communities. This interest is anchored in her experience in many different planning disciplines, including mobility, open space, urban design, flood resiliency, heritage protection, land use and strategic growth planning. In recent years, Rachelle has focused on integrating water management considerations into her practice both while leading a team of planners and engineers for the City of Calgary’s Water Resource’s department and as an associate with O2.

Rachelle holds a Master of Planning degree (Dalhousie University), a Bachelor of Arts in Art History degree (University of Calgary) and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology degree (University of Calgary). Rachelle has completed additional training in real estate development at the University of Calgary, graphic design at the Alberta University of the Arts, Indigenous history at the University of Alberta and public engagement through the International Association of Public Participation.

Sarah Marshall
Water Resources Planner
City of Calgary

Sarah Marshall is a community and environmental planner driven to help shape resilient and equitable communities in response to complex social-ecological challenges. She works as a Water Resources Planner with The City of Calgary, bringing over 7 years’ experience with projects related to integrated water management and climate resilience. Her work has spanned research, education and outreach and planning projects related to water efficiency, riparian management, drought resilience and flood policy. She enjoys bridging research and practice and seeks to bring an ethic of continuous learning to her work - particularly around nature-based approaches and reconciliation and decolonization in planning and policy.

Sarah holds a Master of Community and Regional Planning degree (University of British Columbia) as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Geography (University of Victoria).

Paulette Fox
President/Owner, Harmony Walkers Inc.
Kainai Nation – Blood Tribe

As a consultant Paulette has worked with First Nations and Indigenous organizations in Canada and the United States and is a member of the Blood Tribe in southern Alberta, part of Treaty 7, the Lamefull Treaty, the Buffalo Treaty and the Blackfoot Confederacy. She has also worked with ethnic minority groups in China through CIDA-POP with Harmony Walkers Inc. (HWI) (2012-2013). HWI was founded on the importance of cultural and spiritual knowledge of riparian areas including and especially the Old Man River Cotton Wood Galleries where the founder, Harley Bastien resides and was raised on the Piikanni Nation. Paulette has worked to take over ownership of HWI since 2016 and is mentoring with AH Consulting and working collaboratively to design approaches that are meaningful and make sense for all participants and parties. Most recently Paulette’s work includes the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and Parks Canada to work towards Reconciliation in Action through Ethical-space and has introduced Biocultural Diversity, Monitoring and Cultural Keystone Species to the Parks staff thinking about Indigenous Philosophies, Laws and Governances. As a former public servant she was part of the cross-minstry team to develop the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (SSRP) in Alberta. Currently, her doctoral research is focused on the accelerated cumulative impacts of climate change and rapid loss of biodiversity to the inherent rights of First Nations. Exploring pedagogies and ontologies from a Blackfoot lens with a view to reconciliation based on: diversity, equity, inclusion and justice.


AWRA Code of Conduct

All conference participants (presenters, moderators, panelists, attendees, etc.) must adhere to the AWRA Code of Conduct and must register at the appropriate registration rate. AWRA Gateway members are not eligible for discounted conference rates. The registration fees are the major source of funding for the Conference, and the sharing of registrations is prohibited - every person attending the conference must register. For presenters, if two or more individuals will be presenting, each individual must register for the conference. This includes: all technical session presenters; all panel session presenters; and all poster session presenters.

Cancelations must be made in writing. Those cancelations received by June 9, 2023 will be subject to a processing fee of 30% of total fees. No refunds will be given after June 9, 2023 but we can transfer your registration to someone else. The transfer must be completed by July 10, 2023. Abstract submission fees are nonrefundable. Refunds will be processed after the conclusion of the conference.


If you actively engage in our community, your career and organization will benefit. We offer multiple opportunities for engagement via conferences, social media, webinars, committees and publications.

TEL • (540) 687-8390 | FAX • (540) 687-8395


The majority of images on our website were donated by Gary Whitton at