Keynote Speakers

All Speakers

Speaker Ali Abolmaali

Ali Abolmaali, Ph.D., P.E. Professor of Civil Engineering and Department Chair at the University of Texas at Arlington

Dr. Abolmaali is the civil engineering department chair and Tseng Huang endowed professor of structural and applied mechanics at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). He is director of the UTA Center for Structural Engineering Research/Simulation and Pipeline Inspection. He has secured over $40 million in research and development grants and has published over 150 technical articles. His research includes, but is not limited to, determination of remaining service life of sewer, gravity and pressure pipelines; development of multi sensor robot for pipeline inspections; and assessment of different pipe materials.

Speaker Michael Bloom

Michael Bloom, P.E. Sustainability Consultant at R.G. Miller Engineers, Inc.

Michael Bloom directs the sustainability practice of R.G. Miller Engineers, Inc., based in Houston, Texas. Michael provides planning and design services for green infrastructure solutions. He recently prepared "Residential Green Infrastructure Standards" for Harris County’s pending Imagination Zones. He helped prepare the Urban Land Institute’s "Harvesting the Value of Water: Stormwater, Green Infrastructure, and Real Estate," as well as prepared "Houston Incentives for Green Development" for the City of Houston's Office of Recovery.

Speaker Chelsea Boozer

Chelsea Boozer Government Affairs Manager at Central Arkansas Water

Chelsea is the government affairs manager at Central Arkansas Water (CAW), the state's largest water utility serving 1 in 6 Arkansans. Named to the Arkansas Business 2020 "20 in Their 20s" list, Chelsea manages CAW's governmental and stakeholder relations, including interactions with regional wholesale customers. She previously worked in the communications division conveying the value of safe, high-quality, and abundant water. She is an executive master of public administration candidate at Syracuse University, serves on American Water Works Association’s Young Professionals Committee, and is the young professionals chair of the Arkansas Water Conference.

Speaker Jim Bradbury

Jim Bradbury Managing Partner at James D. Bradbury, PLLC

Jim Bradbury’s practice focuses on land, environmental, water, and regulatory matters, including the imminent water policy issues facing rural Texas. Jim advises clients on land use and permitting as well as enforcement matters before state authorities, the EPA, and the Department of Justice and handles civil litigation that arises out of environmental issues. Jim has a focus on the legal and policy issues facing Texas landowners and producers, working with statewide agricultural associations on legislative and regulatory matters. He teaches as an adjunct professor at Texas A&M Law School.

Speaker Laura Bright

Laura Bright, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Media Analytics at the University of Texas at Austin

Laura F. Bright is an associate professor of media analytics in the Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations in the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin. Laura’s research focuses on social media addiction and fatigue, big data and personalized advertising, and consumer privacy. She was a co-founding director of the Certified Public Communicator Program at Texas Christian University and has worked closely with public sector agencies on communication planning for over a decade. Laura holds a Ph.D. in advertising from the University of Texas at Austin.

Speaker Melissa Bryant

Melissa Bryant Director of Technical Services at the San Antonio River Authority

Melissa Bryant is the director of technical services at the San Antonio River Authority (SARA). She attended Texas A&M University where she graduated with a bachelor of science in agricultural engineering. She also holds a master of science in urban and regional planning from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Melissa is a licensed professional engineer in civil engineering, a certified floodplain manager, and has a certification in project management. She has been with SARA for 19 years working in the field of water resource management.

Speaker Molly Carson

Molly Carson Attorney at McCall, Parkhurst & Horton, L.L.P.

Molly practices exclusively in public finance, serving as bond counsel on tax-exempt and taxable financings for various governmental issuers in Texas, including state agencies, cities, municipal utility districts, fresh water supply districts, and major regional water authorities. In addition, Molly has a robust disclosure and underwriter’s counsel practice, serving in such roles on hundreds of transactions throughout her career. Molly also provides annual and as-needed counsel to numerous water districts in Texas by assisting those issuers with the preparation and filing of their annual reports, audits, and material event notices pursuant to Rule 15c2-12 of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.

Speaker Ted Chapman

Ted Chapman Investment Banking Analyst at Hilltop Securities, Inc.

Ted Chapman joined Hilltop Securities in 2021 after more than 20 years at S&P Global Ratings. As part of Hilltop’s public finance team, one of Ted’s focuses includes the credit market’s views on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors. He has published on topics including affordability, resilience, and climate risk management. Ted is a member of the American Water Works Association, sitting on both the Finance, Accounting, and Management Controls Committee and the Climate Change Committee. He has been recognized multiple times by Smiths Research & Gradings as a “municipal all-star” Wall Street analyst, and in 2017 he was appointed to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Financial Advisory Board.

Speaker Stephanie Corso

Stephanie Corso Chief Executive Officer of Rogue Water

Stephanie is proud to lead two mission-driven organizations that she co-founded; she serves as chief vision officer for Rogue Water, LLC, and co-executive director for the non-profit Rogue Water Lab. Her mission is to revolutionize the water industry, making water the catalyst for community transformation. She is half of the H2duO and co-host of the Water in Real Life podcast. Stephanie had the honor of beginning her career in water working for municipal water utilities for a decade before "going rogue." She credits her passion for this industry to the men and women she spent time with in the field.

Speaker Amanda Crawford

Amanda Crawford Executive Director of the Department of Information Resources and State of Texas Chief Information Officer

Amanda Crawford is the executive director of the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR), an agency responsible for protecting the state's data and critical technology infrastructure, managing a multi-billion-dollar cooperative contracts program, and providing strategic technology leadership, solutions, and innovation to all levels of Texas government. She also serves as the chief information officer for the State of Texas. Prior to leading the team at DIR, Mandy served at the Office of the Attorney General of Texas for nearly two decades. Mandy earned her bachelor of arts from the University of Texas at Austin and her law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.

Speaker Kevin Critendon

Kevin Critendon, P.E. Assistant Director of Environmental Planning and Development Services for Austin Water

Kevin Critendon is a career public servant with more than 30 years of experience in electric power generation, water and wastewater utilities, and water resources planning and management. He is currently an assistant director for Austin Water responsible for the Environmental, Planning, and Development Services Program area. Kevin has a bachelor of science degree from the University of Texas at Austin in civil engineering and a master of business administration degree from St. Edward’s University in Austin. He is a licensed professional engineer in Texas and a certified project management professional.

Speaker Dean Djokic

Dean Djokic, Ph.D. Principal Consultant for Esri

Dr. Dean Djokic is a principal consultant for Esri's Professional Services Division where he leads the Water Resources group. He specializes in water resource GIS implementations and development. Before joining Esri in 1996, he spent 15 years in civil engineering consulting and academia focusing on water resources modeling. He holds a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

Speaker Kelly Doyle

Kelly Doyle Water Conservation Assistant for Fort Collins Utilities

As a member of the Fort Collins Utilities Water Conservation team, Kelly Doyle uses advanced metering infrastructure data to help customers identify possible leaks and use water efficiently. Over the past three years she has evolved the Utilities’ Continuous Consumption Program to alert all customer types with water use indicating a possible leak. When she is not helping the community use water efficiently, she enjoys hiking, camping, and spending time on the reservoirs and rivers of Colorado.

Speaker John Dupnik

John Dupnik, P.G. Deputy Executive Administrator of Water Science and Conservation of the Texas Water Development Board

John Dupnik joined the Texas Water Development Board in February 2018. He previously served as the general manager of the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District, where he was employed since 2005. He also has eight years of experience in state government, including tenure with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. John holds a bachelor's degree in environmental studies from Texas State University and a master's degree from the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin, where his research and thesis focused on Texas groundwater management. He is a Texas licensed professional geoscientist.

Speaker Eric Eckl

Eric Eckl Owner of Water Words That Work, LLC

Eric founded Water Words That Work, LLC, and oversees all of the company’s client projects. Eric has more than 20 years of experience planning and executing outreach and communications programs. He is a sought-after conference speaker and has appeared on CNN and been quoted in the New York Times. Before starting the firm, Eric worked for Beaconfire Consulting, American Rivers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Environmental Law Institute.

Speaker Kim Edwards

Kim Edwards Managing Director of Public Finance at Piper Sandler

Kim has worked in the public finance industry for over 30 years. At Piper Sandler she provides investment banking and underwriting services to a broad segment of state agencies and local governments in Texas. Kim has also served as the executive director of the Texas Public Finance Authority and assistant executive director at the Municipal Advisory Council of Texas. She is on the Executive Board of National Women in Public Finance. She holds a bachelor of arts from Rice University, a master of business administration from the University of Texas, and a master's of public administration from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

Speaker Rebekah Eggers

Rebekah Eggers America's Technical Innovation Leader of Energy, Environment, and Utilities for IBM

Rebekah is responsible for IBM America’s Technical Innovation Team for Energy, Environment, and Utilities and is a trusted utility industry professional based in Los Angeles, California, with a 20-year track record of strong solution leadership. She is a member of the IBM Industry Academy, a vibrant community of IBM's preeminent industry leaders, and a member of the board of directors for Woodard and Curran, a privately held integrated engineering, science, and operations company. She holds advisory board positions for Digital Water City, One Water Academy, World Water Tech, and DistribuTech International.

Speaker Anne Burger Entrekin

Anne Burger Entrekin Regional Managing Director for Hilltop Securities, Inc.

Anne Burger Entrekin joined Hilltop Securities in 1986 and has served as financial advisor on more than $12 billion in par amount of debt instruments that has included multi-year, billion dollar capital improvement programs, complex restructurings, variable rate debt, conduit financings, utility acquisitions, and start-ups. Her expertise is in providing financial advising and consulting services to water and wastewater utility systems through the development of multi-year strategic planning models. She also has expertise in structures and debt issuances related to the State Revolving Fund Act, the Water Quality Act, and the Drinking Water Act. She is currently affiliated with CIFA Board of Directors and was a past chairwoman at the Municipal Advisory Council of Texas Board of Trustees.

Speaker Tom Entsminger

Tom Entsminger Manager of Program Administration at the Texas Water Development Board

Tom manages the Texas Water Development Board’s (TWDB’s) Program Administration Department, which is responsible for the development and management of the TWDB’s infrastructure financing programs. Prior to joining the TWDB, he worked for the Community Development Block Grant Program at the Texas Department of Agriculture, specializing in funding for colonias and disaster relief projects. Before moving to Austin, Tom served as a grant writer for the County of El Paso and worked on funding initiatives for infrastructure, renewable energy, court programs, and children’s mental health services. He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Texas at El Paso.

Speaker Mark Evans

Mark Evans Funding Specialist at Freese and Nichols, Inc.

Mark Evans serves as Freese and Nichols Inc. (FNI) funding specialist, providing technical assistance to FNI clients and staff on multiple funding alternatives, including low interest loans, grants, disaster relief and hazard mitigation-type funding programs for water, wastewater, and stormwater opportunities. Mark has extensive experience mapping out traditional and disaster response emergency relief funding strategies that involves both grant and low-to-zero-interest loans to assist clients build needed infrastructure projects as quickly as possible. These strategies are customized for each client based on their long-term development goals and constraints. In the last three years, Mark has worked on more than 30 projects funded by agency programs and have assisted clients in accessing more than $600 million in funding. Prior to joining FNI, Mark worked at TWDB for nine years at the where he became a subject matter expert of both state and federal State Revolving Fund funding programs, as well as application processes, program requirements, and compliance monitoring/reporting for requirements such as procurement, state and federal prevailing wages, and domestic iron and steel sourcing.

Speaker Yvonne W. Forrest

Yvonne W. Forrest Director of Houston Water for the City of Houston

As director of Houston Water, Yvonne is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the City of Houston’s regional water and wastewater utility systems. She also oversees regulatory compliance, infrastructure planning, and operations/program support. She leads a staff of over 1,600 with an annual capital and operations and maintenance budget of over $657 million. Prior to her career in public service, Yvonne spent 15 years as an engineer in the private sector developing processes to ensure compliance with environmental regulations, permits, and corporate standards.

Speaker Adeline Fox

Adeline Fox Director of Communications and Membership for Texas Water Conservation Association

Adeline Fox is the Texas Water Conservation Association (TWCA) director of communications, outreach, and membership. Adeline joined TWCA in 2017. She previously worked as project manager for WaterPR and as education and outreach coordinator for several groundwater districts in the Texas Panhandle. Adeline has a bachelor of science in agricultural communications from Texas Tech University and a master of public service and administration from the Bush School of Government and Public Service of Texas A&M University. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the outdoors and taking landscape photos.

Speaker Larry French

Larry French, P.G. Director of Groundwater at the Texas Water Development Board

Larry French joined the Texas Water Development Board in 2011. He directs the Groundwater Division, which conducts research and monitoring of fresh and brackish aquifers, develops and uses specialized models to predict groundwater availability, and provides technical assistance to organizations that manage groundwater in Texas. He previously worked as a hydrogeological consultant throughout the United States and Europe. Larry received a bachelor’s degree in geological sciences from the University of California at Riverside and a master’s degree in geological sciences from the University of Texas at Austin.

Speaker David Garza

David Garza Commissioner of Cameron County, Precinct 3

David Garza was born and raised in San Isidro, Texas, where he graduated high school in 1971. David attended Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin where he graduated with a bachelor of science in pharmacy. In addition to being the owner and operator of the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy in San Benito, David has served the community as a Cameron County commissioner since 2000, a board member for the San Benito Consolidated Independent School District for 12 years, and as a chair for the TWDB Region 15 Flood Planning Group. David is very passionate about solving water issues in South Texas.

Speaker Floyd Hartman

Floyd Hartman Assistant City Manager for the City of Amarillo

Floyd Hartman has served as assistant city manager for development services for the City of Amarillo since 2018. He joined City of Amarillo Water Utilities in 2004 and has over 26 years of service in municipal government. During Floyd’s tenure with the City, he managed the day-to-day operations of departments including utilities, public works, engineering, planning, airport, and others. He has managed multiple construction projects including the construction of the Potter County Well Field in the early 2010s, which was funded through the Texas Water Development Board. Floyd earned a bachelor of science in occupational education and a master’s in public administration from Wayland Baptist University. He holds a class A water operator’s license and wastewater collection III operator’s license from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and serves as a municipal representative on the Region A Water Planning Group.

Speaker Sam Marie Hermitte

Sam Marie Hermitte Assistant Deputy Executive Administrator of Water Science and Conservation at the Texas Water Development Board

Sam Marie Hermitte’s areas of responsibility at the TWDB include strategic planning, legislative analysis and implementation, water data, drought policy and project coordination, technical writing and review, and special initiatives such as the development of the Texas Water Data Hub and, a flood preparedness and response website. Additionally, Sam leads the Texas Water Data Initiative and serves as an advisory board member to the Internet of Water and the Texas Disaster Information System. She holds a bachelor’s degree in public policy analysis from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s degree in public affairs with a portfolio in integrated watershed studies from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

Speaker Clay Hodges

Clay Hodges General Manager of the Cash Special Utility District

Clay Hodges joined the Cash Special Utility District (SUD) in January 1998 as general manager. Cash SUD is one of the larger rural water systems in Texas and serves water to over 20,000 people in parts of Hunt, Rockwall, Rains, and Hopkins counties and wholesales water to a few smaller cities and water supply corporations. Prior to joining Cash SUD, Clay was the general manager of Goforth Water Supply Corporation in Central Texas.

Speaker Matt Hollon

Matt Hollon Environmental Policy Program Manager at the City of Austin, Watershed Protection Department

Matt Hollon is division manager of planning for the City of Austin’s Watershed Protection Department. His focus over 30 years in the public and private sectors has ranged from watershed regulations to stormwater control design to watershed master planning. His recent work includes membership on the regional flood planning group for the Lower Colorado River and Lavaca River basins for the state flood plan. He also helped shepherd Austin’s October 2019 Atlas 14 floodplain ordinance and facilitated the City of Austin’s 22-member Flood Mitigation Task Force.

Speaker Katy Holloway

Katy Holloway Customer Engagement and Public Education Coordinator for Fort Worth Water

Katy Holloway is the customer engagement coordinator for Fort Worth Water. Spreading her energy and enthusiasm for the natural world around her, Katy has made a career out of passionately connecting people to natural resources. She is a certified heritage interpreter through the National Association for Interpretation and a certified educator with National Geographic. Earning her bachelor of arts in zoo and wildlife biology and her master’s in park and resource management, she certainly has a unique background for a communicator. In her spare time, she co-hosts a nature comedy podcast, For the Love of Nature, and serves on the board for the Grant Plains Restoration Council.

Speaker Lonnie Howard

Lonnie Howard, Ph.D. President of Lamar Institute of Technology

Dr. Lonnie Howard’s life is an example of the American dream. Born in a four-room shack, placed in remedial high school classes, not considered college material, delayed enlistment in the U.S. Army at age 17, and once employed as a janitor, Lonnie had to overcome many challenges. He did not graduate college until age 36 with an associate’s degree in welding. But 12 years later, he had earned a total of five degrees: associate of applied science, associate of general studies, bachelor of science, master of science, and Ph.D. (through the University of Texas at Austin) with a 4.0 GPA. Lonnie has continued on to complete postdoctoral training at Penn State, Harvard, and the University of Southern California. He has twice served as a college president/CEO and is a sought-after speaker with nearly 100 national, state, and local presentations.

Speaker Kathleen Jackson

Kathleen Jackson, P.E. Board Member of the Texas Water Development Board

Kathleen Jackson was appointed to the Texas Water Development Board by Governor Rick Perry in March 2014 and reappointed by Governor Greg Abbott in March 2017. Kathleen has a diverse background representing agricultural, environmental, industrial, and wholesale-supply interests, which includes developing and implementing water management strategies for Southeast Texas. As a registered professional engineer, Kathleen served as public affairs manager for one of the world's largest petroleum and petrochemical producers. She was also involved in production agriculture with her late husband. She is a past member of the Lower Neches Valley Authority Board of Directors and the Texas Water Conservation Association. She received a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from North Carolina State University.

Speaker Vanassa Joseph

Vanassa Joseph Communications Manager at the Trinity River Authority of Texas

Vanassa Joseph is the communications manager at the Trinity River Authority of Texas. She joined the Trinity River Authority in 2013, and her main goal is to help ensure the organization’s success in carrying out its mission and vision throughout the basin. Previously, she worked for Tarrant County Public Health where she spent a large percentage of her time handling media relations and crisis communications. She has worked in emergency operations centers during health-related events and natural disasters. She earned a bachelor of arts in journalism from the University of Arkansas.

Speaker Sam Katz

Sam Katz Senior Facilities Process Engineer at NXP Semiconductors

Sam Katz is a senior facilities engineer focused on ultra-pure and wastewater at NXP Semiconductors in Austin. Sam supports the design of new water treatment equipment supporting fab ramp, as well as retrofits and efficiency improvements of aging equipment. Prior to his role at NXP, he worked as a facilities engineer for Samsung Austin Semiconductor and as a hydraulic fracturing engineer for Schlumberger. Sam holds a bachelor of science in chemical engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder.

Speaker Kevin Kluge

Kevin Kluge Director of Water Conservation for the City of Austin Water Utility

Kevin Kluge is the water conservation manager at Austin Water, overseeing water conservation incentive and compliance programs. Prior to his position with Austin Water, he spent over 20 years with the Texas Water Development Board, culminating in the role of director of conservation and innovative water technologies. Kevin holds a master of science in natural resource utilization and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Speaker Eric Letsinger

Eric Letsinger Chief Executive Officer of Quantified Ventures

Eric is the chief executive officer of Quantified Ventures, an outcomes-based capital firm that develops and finances initiatives that deliver measurable health, social, and environmental impact. He is a “tri-sector” executive, bringing more than 25 years of leadership experience in government, non-profit, and private sector organizations operating in healthcare, environment, education, and housing. He has led transformative, public-private initiatives in complex, cross-sector business environments and is a member of the U.S. EPA Environmental Finance Advisory Board.

Speaker Sharlene Leurig

Sharlene Leurig Chief Executive Officer of Texas Water Trade

Sharlene Leurig is chief executive officer of Texas Water Trade, a non-profit harnessing the power of markets and technological innovation to build a future of clean, flowing water for all Texans. She is a sustainable water finance expert with extensive experience in Texas on long-range water planning, infrastructure finance, and water transactions. She holds a bachelor of arts in physics and English from Washington University in St. Louis and a master’s in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she was a fellow in the MIT-USGS Science Impact Collaborative focusing on the role of science in multi-stakeholder resource planning and dispute resolution.

Speaker Jeff Lindner

Jeff Lindner Meteorologist at Harris County Flood Control District

Joining the Harris County Flood Control District in 2003 as the District’s first meteorologist is one of many precedents set by Jeff Lindner. In his primary role as director of the District’s Hydrologic Operations Division and Harris County meteorologist, Jeff implements regular communication with multiple agencies, elected officials, and media partners during episodes of severe weather. Jeff oversees the operation of the District’s flood operations, the flood warning system, and flood forecasting efforts. Jeff holds a bachelor of science degree in meteorology from Texas A&M University.

Speaker Joone Lopez

Joone Lopez General Manager of Moulton Niguel Water District

Joone Lopez is the general manager of the Moulton Niguel Water District, which provides water, wastewater, and recycled water services to six cities in South Orange County, California. Before joining Moulton Niguel, she served as the general manager of Calaveras County Water District. Joone’s prior experience includes serving as assistant general manager for Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company and deputy general manager of Central Basin Municipal Water District.

Speaker Robert Mace

Robert Mace, Ph.D., P.G. Executive Director of the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment

Robert Mace is the executive director and chief water policy officer of the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment and a professor of practice in the Department of Geography at Texas State University. Robert has more than 30 years of experience in hydrology, hydrogeology, stakeholder processes, and water policy. Robert has a bachelor of science in geophysics, a master of science in hydrology from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, and a Ph.D. in hydrogeology from the University of Texas at Austin.

Speaker Leah Martinsson

Leah Martinsson Executive Director of Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts

Leah Martinsson joined the Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts (TAGD) as executive director in March 2019. TAGD is a membership organization comprised of Texas groundwater conservation districts and groundwater professionals that works to promote and support sound management of groundwater based on local conditions and good science. As executive director, Leah provides strategic direction and guidance to the organization and administers and manages TAGD’s overall activities. She serves as a primary point of contact for the membership, the legislature, state agencies, and related organizations across Texas. Leah works closely with policymakers, decision-makers, and water stakeholders to promote sustainable groundwater policies. She is an attorney licensed to practice law in Colorado, where she represented clients in all aspects of water law for over 16 years before relocating to Texas.

Speaker Edith Marvin

Edith Marvin, P.E. Director of Environmental and Development for North Central Texas Council of Governments

Edith Marvin serves as the director of environment and development for the North Central Texas Council of Governments. Membership of this council includes a 16-county area centered around the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Edith has over 30 years of private and public sector experience in the field of engineering and development. She graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 1995 with a bachelor of science in civil engineering. Edith is a licensed professional engineer and certified floodplain manager.

Speaker Tommy McClung

Tommy McClung Vice President of Jacobs South Central

With more than 30 years of operational and business development experience, Tommy has shaped success for water utilities across the country by leveraging extensive industry knowledge with operational expertise to enhance business outcomes. In addition to his well-rounded utilities expertise gained as the deputy director of Houston Public Works, Tommy is considered a leading expert in the water industry’s meter to cash model. He has served clients in advanced metering infrastructure and data management implementation, supporting organizational efforts to become data-driven enterprises.

Speaker Mike McGill

Mike McGill President of WaterPIO

In 2017, Mike McGill founded WaterPIO, a national public communications firm dedicated to affordably helping water and wastewater utilities of all sizes improve their customer, media, and crisis communications. Before starting WaterPIO, Mike directed public information and customer service operations for water and wastewater utilities for 12 years. He holds a dual degree in broadcast journalism and political science from Syracuse University. He began his career as a political and media news producer with CNN and the planning producer for the CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C.

Speaker Will Mobley

Will Mobley Research Scientist for the Institute for a Disaster Resilient Texas

Will Mobley is a research scientist with the Institute for a Disaster Resilient Texas. His work focuses on applying cutting edge research and technology to flood risk reduction. Most recently, his focus has been on the planning and implementation of the Texas Disaster Information System and developing a flood risk assessment methodology through Artificial Intelligence for communities experiencing severe flooding.

Speaker Julie Nahrgang

Julie Nahrgang Executive Director of the Water Environment Association of Texas

Julie Nahrgang is the executive director of the Water Environment Association of Texas. She received a bachelor’s of science in economics from Trinity University and received a Lifetime Honorary Studentship to the Student Union at the London School of Economics. As executive director, Julie advocates and educates on a range of issues pertinent to the sector. She’s constantly pushing the sector to embrace its misfit and cutting-edge status and the incredible innovation potential within resource recovery. And she’s constantly pushing the public to consciously realize the value of water!

Speaker Saul Nuccitelli

Saul Nuccitelli, P.E. Director of Flood Science and Community Assistance at the Texas Water Development Board

Saul Nuccitelli is the director of the Texas Water Development Board’s Flood Science and Community Assistance Division. He has more than 25 years of civil engineering experience in the public and private sectors, with a primary focus on stormwater issues such as master planning, asset management, floodplain mapping, drainage modeling and design, drainage policy, and municipal drainage charge rate structures. Saul received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil and environmental engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Speaker Abby Owens

Abby Owens Public Works Strategic Planning and Compliance Manager for the City of Plano

Abby has been with the City of Plano since 2013 and transitioned to Public Works in 2017 to develop and implement an asset management program. Before moving to Texas, she worked with local governments in the Atlanta metro area to implement water supply and sustainability programs and policies. Her passion for local government comes from a drive to work with residents and community partners to improve the services and programs the city provides. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Emory University and a master’s in public administration from Georgia State University.

Speaker Brooke T. Paup

Brooke T. Paup Chairwoman of the Texas Water Development Board

Brooke Paup was named chairwoman of the Texas Water Development Board by Governor Greg Abbott in April 2021. She was appointed to the Board by Governor Abbott in February 2018. Prior to her appointment to the Board, Brooke served as the director of legislative affairs for the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts for the previous three years. She is formerly the deputy division chief of intergovernmental relations and former special assistant for policy and research for the Office of the Attorney General. In total, she has 15 years of state government experience. She is a member of the State Bar of Texas and earned a bachelor of arts from Texas A&M University and a juris doctor from Texas Tech School of Law.

Speaker Suzanne Pierce

Suzanne Pierce, Ph. D. Technical Lead and Research Scientist for the Texas Disaster Information System

Suzanne A. Pierce is a research scientist with the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Suzanne chairs a national community of researchers using artificial intelligence to better understand Earth ( Her work has received awards locally and internationally for innovation and stakeholder engagement. Her research aims to provide cyberinfrastructure tools, integrated modeling approaches, and intelligent decision support systems to improve resilience at regional scales. Currently, Suzanne is leading the Texas Disaster Information System.

Speaker Russ Poppe

Russ Poppe, P.E. Federal Programs Consultant for HNTB

Russ Poppe served as the executive director for the Harris County Flood Control District. Under his direction, the District built flood damage reduction plans and successfully led the effort to pass a $2.5 billion dollar bond program to fund recovery and resiliency efforts following Hurricane Harvey. Since then, the District has secured more than $1 billion in funds from federal, state, and local partners. Russ recently joined HNTB as a federal programs consultant, where he will leverage his knowledge and skillset to the advantage of communities and clients across Texas and beyond.

Speaker Reagan Pugh

Reagan Pugh Speaker and Facilitator at

Reagan Pugh's speeches and workshops guide attendees toward gratitude, healthy mindsets, and purposeful action, so they can recommit to their work and lives with excitement. He's traveled the world serving organizations like Facebook, Cardinal Health, the US Air Force, Meals on Wheels, National Future Farmers of America Organization, and the American Red Cross. He is a TEDx speaker, frequent podcast guest, and secretly publishes poetry under a pen name (ask him about this). His first book about helping highly emotional people get unstuck will be released in 2022. You can learn more at

Speaker Bob Reedy

Bob Reedy, P.G. Research Scientist Associate at the University of Texas at Austin, Bureau of Economic Geology

Bob Reedy has more than 30 years of experience in hydrology and hydrogeology and has been involved in research into a wide variety of issues related to groundwater recharge, energy and agricultural water use, and in characterizing water resources quantity and quality. His work has focused more recently on characterizing trends in water use for hydraulic fracturing, produced water, and disposal. He has authored or co-authored around 50 peer-reviewed journal articles. He has a bachelor of science in geology and a master of science in hydrology from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.

Speaker Roland Ruiz

Roland Ruiz General Manager of the Edwards Aquifer Authority

Roland Ruiz serves as general manager of the Edwards Aquifer Authority. He focuses his leadership on creating “shared value” around the effective management of the Edwards Aquifer in the face of environmental, economic, and regulatory demands that are often exacerbated by drought, population growth, and competing interests around these issues. He has undertaken an effort to transform the Edwards Aquifer Authority culture into a dynamic, service-minded operation that fosters greater collaboration, transparency, and responsiveness through values-centered critical thinking and stakeholder engagement.

Speaker Red Sanders

Red Sanders Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Red Productions

Red Sanders started his first successful entertainment company at the ripe age of 12. Since then, his entrepreneurial spirit, media expertise, and love of visual storytelling have created one of the leading media production companies in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Red Productions is a full service, script-to-screen media production company that creates quality content for ambitious brands. Red also founded Backlot Studio & Workspace, which provides 12,000 square feet of office spaces and a sound stage for creative companies in Fort Worth.

Speaker Marc Santos

Marc Santos, P.E. Senior Consultant at Isle Utilities

Marc is a senior consultant at Isle Utilities where he provides technology scouting and vetting services for the water sector and focuses on improving water utility access to step-change technologies. Marc previously served as a congressional engineering and science fellow in the U.S. Senate managing a policy portfolio in manufacturing, innovation, and small business. Recently, Marc authored a policy proposal for the administration to establish a National Water Technology “Pipeline” to spur water sector innovation. Marc is a licensed professional engineer in Texas and California.

Speaker Nichole Saunders

Nichole Saunders Senior Attorney at Environmental Defense Fund

Nichole Saunders is a senior attorney in Environmental Defense Fund’s energy program in Austin, where her work is devoted to ensuring science-based regulations, policies, and industrial practices are in place to reduce human health and environmental impacts from energy development, with a particular focus on the management and disposal of oil and gas wastewater. Nichole received her master of science in environmental biology and bachelor of science in environmental biology and psychology from Tulane University. She also holds a juris doctor with highest honors from the University of Tulsa College of Law.

Speaker Sarah Rountree Schlessinger

Sarah Rountree Schlessinger Chief Executive Officer of Texas Water Foundation

Sarah Rountree Schlessinger is the chief executive officer of Texas Water Foundation. She previously worked in groundwater policy and regulation and has experience with international non-profits and disaster response. She serves as an appointed member of the Water Conservation Advisory Council and as a board member for Texas Water Trade.

Speaker Suzanne Scott

Suzanne Scott Texas State Director for The Nature Conservancy

Suzanne Scott joined the Nature Conservancy in Texas in November 2020 after a 20-year career with the San Antonio River Authority serving as its general manager for 13 years. As state director for the Nature Conservancy, she establishes conservation strategy and public policy leadership to protect the state’s cherished landscapes and support ecology, economy, public health, and equity. Suzanne is focused on promoting resilience through nature-based solutions in cities and along coasts while supporting the protection and restoration of connected and diverse landscapes.

Speaker Jonathan Seefeldt

Jonathan Seefeldt Communications Manager for the National Wildlife Federation

Jonathan has over a decade of experience in environmental and educational communications. He has researched and published on the history of hydro-engineering with a particular focus on the long-term story of large-scale water projects. His work as a communications specialist has involved organizational re-branding, storytelling, and media outreach. Jonathan has a master of arts in environmental history from the University of Texas at Austin, where he is currently completing his Ph.D. on the history of iterative design in water infrastructure.

Speaker Richard Seline

Richard Seline Managing Partner at ResilientH2O Partners

Richard Seline is the managing partner of ResilientH2O Partners, a national investment and innovation advisory firm focused on Private-Philanthropic-Public Partners for weather- and water-related pre-disaster risk mitigation. He is the former executive director of AccelerateH2O and serves as co-founder of the Resilience Innovation Hub, a national network of regional eco-systems collaborating with insurance and reinsurance industry leaders, technology innovators and entrepreneurs, academic and non-profit research organizations to unleashing alternative solutions to persistent disasters and perils across industries, communities, and economies.

Speaker Arianne Shipley

Arianne Shipley Chief Operating Officer of Rogue Water

Arianne is proud to lead two mission-driven organizations that she co-founded; she serves as chief operating officer for Rogue Water, LLC, and co-executive director for the nonprofit Rogue Water Lab. Her mission is to revolutionize the water industry, making water the catalyst for community transformation. She is half of the H2duO and co-host of the Water in Real Life podcast. Before "going rogue," Arianne began her career serving as the public educator and communicator for Mansfield Water Utilities. She is a proud Texas Aggie and a certified public communicator from Texas Christian University.

Speaker Anton Smith

Anton Smith Director of Social and Environmental Responsibility for Dell Technologies

Anton Smith is the director of Social and Environment Responsibility for Dell Technologies. In this role, Anton leads the Dell Supply Chain Sustainability Organization and focuses on labor, the environment, risk assessments, supplier capability building, worker safety, and skills training for frontline workers within Dell’s supply chain.

Speaker Stacey Steinbach

Stacey Steinbach General Manager of the Texas Water Conservation Association

Stacey Allison Steinbach is the general manager of the Texas Water Conservation Association and Texas Ground Water Association. Previously, she served as executive director of the Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts and as an attorney in state government and private practice. Stacey holds a bachelor of science in biology and ecology from Baylor University a master of science in wildlife and fisheries sciences from Texas A&M University, and a law degree from the University of Montana. She currently serves on the board of the National Water Resources Association and the Advisory Council for Texas + Water.

Speaker Allison Strube

Allison Strube, P.E. Director of Water Utilities for the City of San Angelo

Allison Strube is the director of water utilities for the City of San Angelo. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Texas Tech University and became a professional engineer in 2015. She began working for the City in 2012, became the assistant director of water utilities in 2015, and in 2018 she was promoted to director. She serves the large municipalities on the Region F Water Planning Group, is chairwoman of the Region 9 Flood Planning Group, board member on the West Texas Weather Modification Association, and a committee member for the Concho River Watermaster program.

Speaker Darrell Tompkins

Darrell Tompkins Director of Information Services and Chief Information Officer at the Texas Water Development Board

Darrell Tompkins has over 20 years of IT leadership experience in both the public and private sectors. He joined the Texas Water Development Board in 2014 and has served as the chief information officer for the last five years. He is a graduate of the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs’ Executive Leadership for Information Technology Excellence program, is a member of the Information Technology Leadership Committee for the State of Texas’ Shared Technology Services program, and has a bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management from the University of Houston.

Speaker Daniel Vargas

Daniel Vargas Senior Communications Specialist at San Antonio Water System

Daniel Vargas is a national award-winning communicator with 20-plus years of experience in newspapers, magazines, social media, and public relations. As the senior communications specialist, he leads the San Antonio Water System’s national award-winning social media channels. Daniel graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism and was a reporter/features writer for the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News, Austin American-Statesman, People magazine, and others. He was previously the media relations manager at the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas. He enjoys traveling abroad and hiking.

Speaker Gian Villarreal

Gian Villarreal, P.E. Principal of Water Services at Seagull PME

Gian Villarreal is the Texas representative for the National Municipal Stormwater Alliance through the Water Environment Association of Texas where he serves as the co-chair for the Stormwater / Watershed Management Committee. He is a voting member of the TWDB Guadalupe Region Flood Planning Group, the Stream Restoration Committee co-chair of the Texas Floodplain Managers Association, and a member of the San Antonio Chapter of Environmental and Water Resources Institute. He is a registered professional engineer, certified floodplain manager, and certified professional in stormwater quality.

Speaker Samantha Villegas

Samantha Villegas Director of Strategic Communication Services for Raftelis

Sam is an award-winning communications strategist with more than 28 years’ experience building value for public works. At Raftelis, she leads a team that empowers utilities with proven communication and stakeholder engagement techniques so they can build their reputations as trusted, caring community partners and achieve community understanding and support for programs and projects. Prior to Raftelis, Sam led external affairs both as an employee and a consultant for water and wastewater utilities and worked on campaigns to promote recycling and energy efficiency.

Speaker Richard Wade

Richard Wade Deputy Executive Administrator of the Texas Natural Resources Information System at the Texas Water Development Board

Richard Wade provides direction and management for all Texas Natural Resources Information System (TNRIS) activities and programs and serves as the Geographic Information Officer for Texas. He has 30 years of experience in Geographic Information System (GIS) technology and computer mapping. Richard started his career as an intern with TNRIS in 1986 and helped establish one of the first statewide GIS programs at the TWDB. He later went into the private sector and cofounded the Windrose Data Corporation, which provided GIS data and services to environmental and energy firms across the country. He returned to the TWDB in 2005. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Texas State University.

Speaker Brandon Wade

Brandon Wade, P.E. General Manager of the Gulf Coast Water Authority

Brandon Wade brings more than 35 years of municipal experience to his role as Gulf Coast Water Authority (GCWA) general manager and chief executive officer. Previously, Brandon served as GCWA deputy general manager; Pflugerville city manager; Galveston deputy city manager, director of public works and city engineer; and Alvin director of community development and city engineer. At GCWA, Brandon leads a staff of 75 to provide up to 200 million gallons of water per day to customers in Brazoria, Fort Bend, and Galveston counties. In addition, the GCWA Thomas Mackey Water Treatment Plant provides drinking water to the majority of Galveston County communities. Brandon holds a master of public administration from the University of Houston and a bachelor of science in civil engineering from Texas Tech University.

Speaker Daniel Wilson

Daniel Wilson, P.E. Senior Engineer at Samsung Austin Semiconductor

Dan Wilson has more than 22 years of professional experience in the water and wastewater industry, focused on the planning, design, and construction of water and wastewater systems. For the first 17 years of his career, Dan focused on the municipal engineering process and now he focuses on the industrial and electronics industry as a process engineer and project manager for Samsung Austin Semiconductor. He currently works on process engineering, design, and construction management for wastewater, ultra-pure water, hazardous waste handling, and chemical feed systems.

Speaker Lieutenant Colonel Chris Winnek

Lieutenant Colonel Chris Winnek Chief Information Officer/G6 of the 36th Infantry Division and Cyber Operations Chief for the Texas Military Department

Lieutenant Colonel Winnek is the Chief Information Officer-G6 of the 36th Infantry Division and the Cyber Operations Chief of the Texas Military Department. He serves on the Texas Cyber Security Council, State Information Security Advisory Committee, and the Texas Cyber Incident Response Working Group. He was the lead Texas Military Department planner for the first statewide ransomware incident response in August 2019. Colonel Winnek has served in communications director roles on tours to Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.

Speaker Sean Wohltman

Sean Wohltman Cloud Geographer at Google

Sean is the global geospatial engineering lead for Google Cloud’s Public Sector team. He joined Google in 2008 and is currently focused on helping public sector agencies leverage Google Earth Engine, Google’s planetary-scale GIS platform. Before joining Google, Sean worked as a geospatial analyst and developer at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. He earned a bachelor's degree in geography and a master of science in geographic information science from Virginia Tech.

Speaker Michael Young

Michael Young, Ph.D. Senior Research Scientist at the University of Texas, Bureau of Economic Geology

Michael Young is senior research scientist at the Bureau of Economic Geology, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin. His current work focuses on conservation of water and land resources and data management, among other things. He is currently the principal investigator on an Internet of Water project applied to the city of Boerne, Texas, combining water-related data and causal loop and systems modeling to improve water resource resilience. Michael has authored or co-authored over 90 peer-reviewed journal articles. He is the former editor of the Vadose Zone Journal, and a fellow of the Geological Society of America and Soil Science Society of America.

Speaker Lara Zent

Lara Zent Executive Director and General Counsel of the Texas Rural Water Association

Lara is the executive director and general counsel of the Texas Rural Water Association (TRWA), a trade association with 750 water and sewer utility members statewide. She leads a team of 32 staff who provide a variety of services including operator certification and management training; on-site financial, managerial, and technical assistance; legal counsel; and advocacy before the legislature and regulatory agencies. Before joining TRWA, Lara was a staff attorney at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for 8.5 years. Lara is a graduate of the Texas Tech University School of Law and the University of Texas at Austin.

Speaker Reem Zoun

Reem Zoun, P.E. Director of Flood Planning at the Texas Water Development Board

Reem is the director of the Texas Water Development Board’s (TWDB’s) Flood Planning Division. She has 19 years of water resources and civil engineering, leadership, planning, and management experience in the public and private sector. Prior to joining the TWDB, Reem served as the supervising engineer for the Local Flood Risk Reduction Section at the City of Austin’s Watershed Protection Department and worked at AECOM and Pasminco Elura mine in Australia. Reem has a bachelor of engineering with first class honors in environmental engineering from RMIT University in Australia and a master of science in environmental and water resources engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.