2023 Speakers

John Barnett

Former Board President – Middle South Platte River Alliance

John Barnett has degrees in landscape architecture and natural resource planning. He retired in 2019 after a long career as an environmental planner and project manager working in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. During his career, his work included post fire stream recovery, wetland delineation and restoration, mined land reclamation, conservation easement, and flood mitigation projects. He briefly worked as a wildland fire fighter. From 2014 until he retired from the City of Greeley, he was on the board of the Middle South Platte River Alliance, serving as president from 2017 until 2019.The MSPRA was established to implement flood recovery projects on the South Platte River between the Saint Vrain and the Big Thompson Rivers. He is currently serving on the Larimer County Planning Commission and is a volunteer with Wildland Restoration Volunteers. He enjoys woodworking, blacksmithing, gardening, hiking, and visiting family and friends.

Nick Bettis

VP of Marketing and Sales Operations – Lightning eMotors

Nick Bettis is the Director of Marketing & Sales Operations for Lightning eMotors, a leading manufacture of zero emissions battery electric and fuel-cell electric commercial vehicles including shuttles buses, transit buses, delivery trucks, last-mile delivery vans, ambulances, work trucks, school buses, and motor coaches. Lightning also offers robust telematics on all vehicles and comprehensive fleet charging solutions.  Nick has been with Lightning for over two years and has a passion for sustainable transportation, having worked with hundreds of fleets to help design optimal end-to-end electrification solutions for their specific needs. Prior to Lightning eMotors, Nick was the Vice President of Marketing at RLE Technologies, a data center monitoring equipment manufacturer.

Clair Bouchard

Director of Community Engagement & Communications – Community Foundation of Northern Colorado

A Larimer County resident for nearly 20 years, Claire is the Director of Community Engagement and Communications at the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado. Claire is a senior advisor for communications and events at the Foundation, she guides the Foundation’s regional initiatives, is the main point of contact for nonprofits for the Foundation, strategically connects nonprofit funding gaps with philanthropists, and leads the Foundation’s grantmaking work.

She has held engagement, communications, and community impact positions at the City of Fort Collins, Larimer County, and United Way of Larimer County. Claire has lead COVID and wildfire grant funding initiatives, was a past Larimer Long Term Recovery Group CO Chair, recently graduated from Colorado State University’s Water Center’s Water Literate Leaders class, and currently convenes the Northern Colorado Water Alliance group. In her free time, Claire enjoys spending time outdoors, and making memories with family and friends, locally and afar.

Sean Chambers

Director of Water & Sewer – City of Greeley

Sean Chambers is director of water & sewer for the city of Greeley and leads a dynamic team of water and wastewater planning, engineering and operations professionals.  Sean joined the city in 2018 and brings a vision for increased collaboration, regional resiliency through planning and demand management.  Greeley has one of the most robust and resilient surface water-collection systems in the West, with resources from four major river basins and balance between trans-mountain and native Poudre and Big Thompson water resources. Sean is passionate about leadership, change management, takes great pride in the stewardship of a proud organization with more than 125 years of service. Sean is experienced in water-resource development, applied natural resource economics, strategic planning, infrastructure project financing, executive team building, collaborative partnership development, and water resource and contract litigation. He has a bachelor of science degree from Colorado State University in agriculture and natural-resource economics, and is an alumnus of the Water Education Colorado Water Leaders program.

Garrett Chappell

Sr. Sustainability Specialist – Premier Members Credit Union

Originally from South Dakota, Garrett Chappell currently lives in Longmont and has a deep passion for social justice & equity, conservation, and education. In 2019 he developed and managed the first Sustainability Program at Circle Graphics, and is currently the Senior Sustainability Specialist for Premier Members Credit Union. Garrett has had the opportunity to volunteer with some amazing Colorado groups, including Boulder Valley Women’s Health as a designer for their annual fashion show fundraiser, the Zero Waste Team of Sustainable Resilient LongmontThe City of Longmont’s Equitable Climate Action Task Force, and as a board member for Eco-Cycle

Steven Conrad

Associate Professor – CSU Systems Engineering

Dr. Steve Conrad has conducted research and consulted with the water and energy industry for over 25 years on the feedbacks between human-environmental systems through the coupling of social and engineering sciences to inform decision making and visualization, the quantification and modelling of system function, system optimization and resilience, and policy and planning as applied to energy, water and food systems, sustainable community design, and climate change adaptation.

Prior to joining the systems engineering department, he led the Future Waters Research Excellence Cluster at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Before that he was the Associate Director of the Pacific Water Research Centre and chair of the REM Water Research Group at Simon Fraser University.

Dr. Conrad is active in industry having served on the Board of Directors for the American Water Works Association and the British Columbia Water and Waste Association, and chairing multiple industry committees on energy management, climate change, and risk and resilience.

Sean Cronin

Executive Director – St. Vrain and Left Hand Water Conservancy District

Sean is the Executive Director for the St. Vrain and Left Hand Water Conservancy District. He has 20 plus years experience in water resource planning and policy. Sean earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and spent two years as a Natural Resources Agent with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service before moving to Colorado. Prior to joining the District, Sean spent 13 years with the City of Greeley, including the last six as their Water Resources Manager.

Sean serves on the Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC), is the past chair of the South Platte Basin Roundtable, and serves on the Loveland Utilities Commission. Sean is a recipient of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education – Emerging Leader Award, Colorado Water Congress POND Leader of the Year Award, and under Sean’s direction his District received a Collaboration Award from the Special District Association.

Alexandra Davis

Assistant General Manager, Water Supply/Demand – City of Aurora

Alexandra Davis has almost 27 years of water resources law, management and policy experience focused mostly in Colorado.  Alex joined Aurora Water in June 2015 to lead the Water Supply & Demand Division of the Aurora Water Department.  The Water Supply & Demand Division is responsible for the acquisition, maintenance and protection of Aurora’s water supply, the creation and implementation of water supply and storage projects, water rights operations, all aspects of conservation and demand reduction and watershed health.  Prior to coming to Aurora Water, Alex spent some time in private practice at the firm of Vranesh & Raisch and the Denver-based strategic services and communications firm, GBSM.  Before that, she spent many years with the State of Colorado where she served in multiple leadership capacities in different agencies including the Department of Natural Resources, the Attorney General’s Office, the Governor’s Office, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.  She has also served on numerous boards and committees including the Colorado Work Group to Explore Ways to Strengthen Current Water Anti-Speculation Law, the Colorado Water Center Advisory Board, Colorado Water Trust Board, InterBasin Compact Committee, Colorado Ground Water Commission, Colorado Water Conservation Board, Western States Water Council, Governor Ritter’s South Platte Task Force, and the Colorado Supreme Court Water Rules Committee.  She is a graduate of Pitzer College in California and the University of Colorado, School of Law.  Alex loves being with her family and being outside.  While she does love river trips and mountains, her favorite place is on the seashore.

James Eklund

Member – Sherman & Howard

James Eklund leads the Water & Natural Resources practice where he is a strong advocate for smart water infrastructure and a recognized authority on water management in the American West.

James works with sovereign governments, multi-state authorities, state agencies, and private interests to deliver critical water infrastructure projects and to design policy regarding water law, natural resources, infrastructure, and environmental protection. He uses his depth of policy-making experience and notable connections with federal, state, and local decision makers to assist clients on a wide variety of matters including environmental, regulatory and legislative issues, and matters involving the use of public-private partnerships.

James served as served as Colorado’s lead negotiator and signatory on the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan and as Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board where he built a reputation as a leader in negotiation and diplomacy. He is recognized for bringing together numerous stakeholders with opposing goals to collaboratively craft binding solutions to common problems. James was the architect of Colorado’s Water Plan, the largest civic engagement process in state history, and served as legal counsel to Colorado’s Governor.

James teaches at the University of Colorado Denver, School of Public Affairs, and the University of Denver.

Kevin Gertig

Director of Water and Power – City of Loveland

Kevin Gertig is the Director of Water and Power for the City of Loveland, CO.   He leads a team of 200 dedicated employees that plan, operate, and maintain utility systems for the City of Loveland’s power, water, wastewater, and fiber optic (pulse) services.   Kevin has over 4 decades of experience in utility operations and management and has been involved in preparations for a transition to renewable energy.  Along with his expertise in optimization in utility operations, his work includes strategic planning for city distribution, capital infrastructure, data management, and system wide level core planning.  He is supporter of Platte River Power Authority (PRPA) in his role as co-chair of the board of directors.   Kevin is a graduate of Colorado State University and enjoys traveling and outdoor activities in his spare time.

Alex Hager

Reporter – KUNC

Alex Hager covers the Colorado River basin and water in the West for KUNC public radio in Northern Colorado and a network of 20+ NPR stations throughout the Southwest. He previously covered environmental issues and the resort economy for Aspen Public Radio in Colorado, and reported on the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery for KDLG public radio in Alaska. He is a graduate of Elon University who enjoys skiing and mountain biking.

Dave Harris

Chief Operating Officer – Colorado Clean Energy Fund

Dave Harris is the Chief Operating Officer for the Colorado Clean Energy Fund (CCEF), a climate-first impact investment fund that’s dedicated to building systemic change in the finance industry by expanding access to capital to underserved and vulnerable communities.

As CCEF’s Chief Operating Officer, Dave helps to drive the organization’s strategic planning, staff, operations, and workflow. Dave brings over 15 years of experience managing and guiding teams, and building businesses and products from the ground up. Dave is passionate about making an immediate impact in the fight against climate change.

Prior to joining CCEF in late 2021, Dave was the Director of Operations for Rockies Venture Club (RVC), the longest-running Angel investor group in the U.S. and a nonprofit centered on furthering economic development across the Rocky Mountain region. Dave helped to lead and raise nearly 200 funding rounds, totaling over $50M. Dave is also a Managing Partner of the Rockies Venture Fund I, a seed-stage venture capital fund and a venture partner with Spock Ventures, a Colorado-based venture capital fund. Dave has served as an active Board Member for nonprofit and for profit organizations, like the Biz Girls CEO Accelerator and TiLT.

Dave worked with several dozen companies as a collaborative start-up consultant specializing in capital strategy and fund raising, business development, and marketing. He also worked across international finance and project management at Thomson Reuters and Lipper, covering the financial markets for Latin America, Europe, and Canada.

Dave is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder, and he enjoys climbing 14ers, backpacking, fly fishing, and cooking; often all simultaneously, while still answering emails.

Taylor Hawes

Colorado River Program Director – The Nature Conservancy

Taylor serves as the Colorado River Program Director for The Nature Conservancy.  The Program’s goal is to conserve the freshwater biodiversity of the Colorado River Basin while also meeting community needs for water. Taylor has worked on Colorado River issues for more than twenty-five years. She practiced water, local government, water quality, and land use law on Colorado’s Western Slope before joining the Conservancy. Taylor has served on numerous boards and commissions, including the Murray-Darling Basin Balanced Water Fund Advisory Board in Australia, as a Gubernatorial appointee to Colorado’s Interbasin Compact Committee and most recently, she was appointed to the Colorado River District board. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Taylor received a B.A. in political science from University of North Carolina and her Juris Doctorate degree from Vermont Law School.

Scott Holwick

Managing Shareholder – Lyons Gaddis

Scott Holwick is committed to protecting the water rights of Colorado residents and organizations. His practice is focused on representing clients in water rights litigation, water quality issues, and transactional matters. He works with individuals and organizations throughout the state, including corporate entities, Title 32 special districts, water conservancy districts and other governmental agencies. His area of expertise expands beyond water and encompasses real estate, land use and corporate and governmental law. 

David Hornbacher

Executive Director of Electric Services – City of Longmont-Power & Communications

David Hornbacher has worked in the Colorado utilities sector for over 30 years, joining the City of Longmont as the Executive Director of Longmont Power and Communications (LPC) in August 2019.  In this position, David oversees an innovative team dedicated to connecting the community to affordable, reliable and environmentally responsible electric services. Their focus includes on empowering our community’s transition to a sustainable, carbon-free energy future powered by 100% renewable electric energy resources by year 2030. 

Most recently, David assumed the role of the Interim Deputy City Manager at the City of Longmont with broader responsibilities including LPC, Engineering Services, Operations, Parks and Natural Resources, and Consolidated Services. 

Previously, David was the Director of the City of Aspen Utilities and Environmental Initiatives for nine years, overseeing the city’s water and electric services and portfolios, hydroelectric operations, and environmental health, climate action and sustainability. In 2015, David lead his team at Aspen Utilities to  became the third municipal electric utility in the nation with a 100% renewable electric energy portfolio, a key community goal.  

He has also worked as the Xcel Energy New Business Manager for the Boulder, Colorado region where he was a member of the “Smart Grid City” implementation team – and has held earlier progressive roles at Colorado Springs Utilities and the City of Longmont.   

David holds a bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University. He serves on the Platte River Power Authority board, and is Vice-President of the Colorado Association of Municipal Utilities.

Ida Mae Isaac

Recovery Officer – Colorado Energy Office

Ida Mae is the Recovery Officer for the Colorado Energy Office where she supports the state through the planning, development, and rollout of federally funded programs related to clean energy and climate mitigation. She supports CEO in identifying and prioritizing funding opportunities, supporting fund application processes and helping ensure appropriate procurement, reporting and monitoring, performance management and audit compliance. She plays an important role in helping Colorado achieve its greenhouse gas reduction goals through the effective, efficient and compliant execution of the historic investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act.  

Prior to working at CEO, she was the Director of Strategic Initiatives in the Infrastructure & Sustainability division at the University of Colorado Boulder where she led special projects to improve the efficiency and resilience of the campus’ built environment. She has also worked as a project manager in private industry for Turner Construction Company, MTech Mechanical and Western Development Group. She is a “double buff” from CU Boulder with a MS in Construction Engineering & Management and a BS in Architectural Engineering.

Kerri Ishmael

Sr. Analyst/Grants Coordinator – City of Fort Collins

Kerri supports all departments within the City Fort Collins in diving deep into funding opportunities. Her support comes with ten years of experience in both the public sector and in public accounting as an auditor supporting both government and not-for profit organizations over government-based funding opportunities. She holds a Master of Accountancy from Colorado State University and a Certified Public Accounting license through the State of Colorado. Understanding the complexities of rules and regulations she guides departments over the best fit over government funding opportunities, ensuring that a fit for proposed project aligns with the funding opportunity. The current environment over government funding opportunities through the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act, as well as the Inflation Reduction Act, which also includes new opportunities for tax credits versus deductions, provides Kerri with new opportunities to guide departments over braiding these funding opportunities and tax incentives to be advantageous in obtaining the most funding for projects. Originally from the east coast, Kerri and her husband have lived near Horsetooth Mountain Park for the past thirteen years, enjoying time with their seven-year-old and equine kiddos.

Adam Jokerst

Rocky Mountain Regional Director – WestWater Research LLC

Adam Jokerst is the Rocky Mountain regional director for WestWater Research LLC and leads the Colorado office in Fort Collins. Adam brings over 15 years of experience in both the private and public sectors. He has overseen long-range water supply planning, water acquisition, water rights protection, and water conservation programs.  He has also led the development of large-scale dam and reservoir projects and underground storage projects, including acting as program manager for federal permitting processes. Prior to joining WestWater, he served as Deputy Director for Water Resources at the City of Greeley, where he led a multidisciplinary team that plans, develops, and operates water supplies serving 150,000 residents.  At WestWater, Adam assists clients to optimize water resource management and pursue and protect water rights through a variety of economic and engineering analyses.  Adam holds a B.S. in biological engineering from the University of Arkansas and an M.S. in civil engineering from Colorado State University and is a licensed professional engineer in Colorado. He is passionate about finding innovative solutions to solve complex water problems.

Jonathan Koehn

Director of Climate Initiatives – City of Boulder

Jonathan Koehn serves as the Director of Climate Initiatives for the City of Boulder. Jonathan oversees the integration of the City’s climate, environmental and resilience efforts into Boulder’s overall sustainability framework. He began his tenure in Boulder as the Environmental Manager for the city in 2006, and has continued to work with federal, state, regional and local governments to develop solutions to energy and climate challenges.

Ted Kowalski

Colorado River Initiative Lead and Senior Program Officer, Environment Program – Walton Family Foundation

Ted is a senior program officer, leading the Walton Family Foundation’s Colorado River initiative. In this role, Ted supports work that promotes sustainable management of the Colorado River in order to benefit rivers and communities.

Prior to joining the foundation, Ted was the Chief of the Interstate, Federal and Water Information Section, for the Colorado Water Conservation Board. In this role, Ted represented the State of Colorado in State, Federal, inter-State, and international negotiations.

Ted is recognized for his deep expertise in Colorado River water management issues. He has testified before the U.S. Congress and before the Colorado General Assembly, and he has spoken at dozens of conferences. He started his career in the Colorado Attorney General’s office working on water law issues.

Ted has a law degree from the University of Colorado and an undergraduate degree from Cornell University.

Diego Lopez

Executive Director – Northern Colorado Clean Cities

Diego Lopez joined Northern Colorado Clean Cities (NCCC) in August 2018 and now serves as the executive director for NCCC. Available to assist coalition stakeholders with project development, technical advising, workshops, funding opportunities and proposals. With 7 years of experience in the energy and transportation industry with a demonstrated history of working with consumers, businesses, municipalities, utilities, and fleets.

Chris Matkins

Principal – Ally Utility Consulting

When it comes to the design, implementation, and optimization of water utility enterprises, Chris Matkins, P.E. taps into over 25 years of experience. As the owner of Ally Utility Consulting, Chris has a unique skill set and deep understanding of public utilities to provide expert consulting services. Since graduating from the South Dakota School of Mines with an M.S. in Civil Engineering, he has dedicated his career to water engineering and water business management. Chris has extensive experience running water utilities in Northern Colorado having worked with the City of Loveland Water + Power and most recently as the General Manager at the Fort Collins – Loveland Water and South Fort Collins Sanitation Districts. In his new venture, Ally Utility Consulting, Chris’ goal is to function as an extension of management staff, or “Ally”, supporting water and wastewater utilities in planning, design, operational excellence, rate studies, and business decision analysis.

Ski Milburn

CEO – Eberspaecher VAIREX

Ski has been in the cleantech and renewable energy industry for his entire 40-year career, in the fields of energy efficient building design, solar (thermal and PV), wind, clean diesel, and for the last 25 years, fuel cell components manufacturing. He’s typically served as founder, C-suite management, and board member of private and public companies, with experience in private fundraising, one IPO, and a half-dozen M&A transactions. His strengths are strategic focus with the ability to bring technology, engineering, and business development together to achieve goals often believed impossible. His company, Vairex, was recently acquired by Eberspächer Gruppe, a large German auto parts manufacturer. He continues as CEO of Eberspächer Vairex, and is also as a member of the strategic planning team of Eberspächer Gruppe looking to pivot from IC engine parts to hydrogen and fuel cells components and subsystems.

Darren Nowels

Water Efficiency Planner for Northern Water

Darren manages indoor retrofit and outdoor audit programs, assists stakeholders in developing water stewardship messaging, and provides policy and data analysis to support the growth of water efficiency programming in Northern Colorado. Prior to joining Northern Water, Darren worked for Resource Central, managing their irrigation audit program. Darren holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Washington and an MBA in Sustainable Enterprise from Colorado State University.

Amy Ostdiek

Section Chief – Colorado Water Conservation Board

Amy is the Chief of the Interstate, Federal, and Water Information Section at the Colorado Water Conservation Board, a state agency whose mission is to develop, protect, and manage Colorado’s water for present and future generations. The section Amy oversees works to protect Colorado’s interests in interstate water compacts and supports coordination with the federal government and other states in various contexts. Much of Amy’s work focuses on Colorado River matters, including supporting the State in negotiations and coordination with fellow Basin States, Tribal Nations, and others within the Basin. Prior to joining CWCB, Amy was an Assistant Attorney General with the Colorado River Subunit at the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. Amy is originally from rural Western Nebraska. She attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Colorado Law School.

Josie Plaut

Director of Projects – Institute for the Built Environment, Colorado State University

Josie is Director of Projects for the Institute for the Built Environment at Colorado State University.  She has a degree in Business and Sustainability from Fort Lewis College and a Masters of Construction Management with an emphasis in Sustainable Building at Colorado State University.  Josie has worked in the private, nonprofit and government sectors to facilitate and coordinate green building projects and is an experienced instructor, lecturer and workshop facilitator.  Josie is LEED v2.0 and v2.2 Accredited Professional with working knowledge in LEED compliant design, construction, and documentation.  Josie’s research interests include organizational change and processes as they relate to the adoption of sustainability and integrated design.

Alex Ruiz

Energy Resources Administrator – Poudre Valley REA

Alex leads Poudre Valley REA in administering energy resource programs to increase the co-op’s electric load flexibility and improve customer/member satisfaction. Before moving to Northern Colorado to work at PVREA, Alex executed energy efficiency programs, implemented power supply strategies, and managed solar assets for both the private and not-for-profit electric sectors in Oregon and Texas. He received his MBA from the University of Texas McCombs.

Michael Rucker

Founder and CEO – Scout Clean Energy

Michael Rucker is the Founder and CEO of Scout Clean Energy, a renewable energy owner-operator with projects in 26 US states.  Scout was acquired by the Brookfield Global Transition Fund in 2022 and the company continues to expand its operations throughout the United States Michael was also co-founder and formerly President of Harvest Energy Services, Inc. which specialized in O&M and asset management services. Michael previously served as CEO of juwi Wind North America, a German wind developer, and as VP of Business Development at Clipper Windpower Development. Prior to that, he was a Commercial Director at GE Energy for west region wind, hydro, and natural gas turbine sales. He also supported the Climate Change negotiations at the International Energy Agency in Paris as manager of the Climate Technology Initiative program. Michael was also a Manager at the Edison Electric Institute, the trade association for the US investor-owned utilities.


Ashwin Salvi

COO, Global Head of Business Development & Co-Founder- AtmosZero

Ashwin builds on his nearly 20 years of clean energy and climate background to advance meaningful technology development and drive commercialization.

Before decarbonizing the industrial sector with AtmosZero, Ashwin completed his PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan, studying the thermo-physical properties of nano-carbonaceous layers in heat exchangers and diving into research based in thermodynamics and heat transfer.

Ashwin joined ARPA-E at the U.S. Department of Energy as a Fellow in 2013, where he worked on high-risk, high-reward energy concepts related to combined heat and power systems, nuclear fusion, connected and automated vehicles, lightweight high-strength materials, electrochemistry, methane leak detection, and photovoltaics. He helped create and manage over $75M worth of federal programs to de-risk and advance novel energy technologies, and in doing so, fused his technical background with technology commercialization. He then joined Achates Power, where he led customer engagements, won more than $40M in competitive federal contracts, and commercialized novel high-efficiency power generation technology.

Meagan Smith

Deputy Director of Public Works – Town of Wellington

Meagan Smith is the Deputy Director of Public Works at the Town of Wellington, where she oversees the Water and Wastewater Utilities, including long term water supply planning. Meagan previously spent five years with the Water Resources Division at Fort Collins Utilities, where her work focused on assessing the impacts of climate change and other risks on the Utilities’ ability to meet demands in the near and long-term future. Meagan has a B.S. in Biosystems Engineering from Oklahoma State University and an M.S. in Water Resources Engineering from Colorado State University. 

Brittany Speetles

Energy Technology and Policy Researcher – National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

Brittany (they/she) is an energy technology and policy researcher at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and conducts research related to the decarbonization of electricity markets and heavy industry. They have performed greenhouse gas accounting and decarbonization/electrification analyses for cities, utilities and other stakeholders and are versed in concepts related to emerging energy technology, workforce development, energy justice, and public policy. Brittany has an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering with certification in the Graduate Portfolio Program in Energy Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and is a certified Engineer in Training. They joined NREL in May 2022.

Hally Strevey

Executive Director – Poudre River Coalition

Hally is a Colorado native, with a great love of the West. Her family has a cabin on the Poudre River, and she spent much of her childhood fishing, hiking, and cross country skiing in the watershed. These experiences helped to fuel her passion for a career path in restoration ecology and watershed management.  

Hally has a diverse background in both wildlife and ecology. She has a Bachelor’s of Science in wildlife biology from Colorado State University and a Master’s of Science in restoration ecology from Montana State University.

Hally has also worked for the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, the Restoration Ecology lab at Colorado State University, and an ecological consulting firm.

When she’s not working, Hally enjoys spending time in wild and beautiful places with her husband and dogs, practicing and teaching yoga, identifying plants, and hanging out in downtown Fort Collins. 

Joseph Taylor

Manager, Transmission Access  – Xcel Energy Services Inc.

Joe is the Senior Director of Western Markets for Xcel Energy-Colorado.  In this role he is responsible for oversight of all of PSCo’s western markets activities.  Joe has been with Xcel Energy since 2004 with responsibilities ranging from transmission/interconnection service, resource procurement and market engagement, both in the West and the Southwest Power Pool. In addition to Xcel Energy he has been employed by El Paso Electric Company, Plains Electric Generation and Transmission Cooperative and Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association.

Throughout his career Joe has been active in regional utility initiatives, including ISO/RTO formation efforts and participation in market, reliability and policy efforts in both the Western Interconnection and the Southwest Power Pool.  

Joe has a Bachelor of Science degree in Petroleum Engineering from Texas A&M University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas-El Paso.

Jessica Thrasher

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Programs Leader – CSU – Colorado Water Center

Jessica Thrasher is the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) Programs Leader at the Colorado Water Center. She has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Southern Methodist University and a master’s degree in International Development Anthropology from Colorado State University. She focuses on creating and managing programs that promote a diverse water workforce that represents the communities served, equitable access to water resources and information, and developing resources that promote integration of DEI practices into the water field. She is dedicated to fostering collaboration, innovation, and inclusion of diverse perspectives to build an equitable, sustainable water future for all. 

Jessica Thrasher photo

Dr. John C. Tracy photo

Dr. John C. Tracy

Director – CSU – Colorado Water Center

Dr. Tracy serves as director of the Colorado Water Center at Colorado State University, beginning his position in the summer of 2022. Dr. Tracy has led research and outreach 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 programs have focused on increasing our understanding of the integrated behavior of water resource systems under the influence of changing hydrologic, economic, and social conditions; and understanding community water security from a socio-technical perspective.

Patrick Wells

Water Strategy Specialist – Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District

Patrick Wells is an engineer with over 25 years of experience in the water resources, utilities, and environmental professions.  Mr. Wells joined Northern Water in February 2023 as a Water Strategy Specialist where he currently works on a wide range of projects and initiatives involving water policy and strategy, water rights protection, resource management, and regional water negotiations and collaborations.  Prior to joining Northern Water, Mr. Wells served as the General Manager of Water Resources & Demand Management for Colorado Springs Utilities, where he oversaw a department of over 30 employees responsible for integrated water resource planning, water rights protection and development, water conservation, watershed health, and related water resource management activities for the State’s second largest municipal water provider.  He has been actively involved in the Basin Roundtable process since its inception under House Bill 1177 in 2005 and currently serves as a Governor’s Appointee to the Interbasin Compact Committee.   Mr. Wells holds a B.S. in Geological Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and is a registered professional engineer in Colorado.  

Kyle Whitaker

Water Rights Manager – Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District

Northern Water and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation operate the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, which collects water from the Colorado River basin and delivers it to about 980,000 residents and 640,000 irrigated acres in Northeastern Colorado. Northern Water, headquartered in Berthoud, and its Municipal Subdistrict are also currently developing the Windy Gap Firming Project and Northern Integrated Supply Project. Kyle is responsible for overseeing Colorado River and Platte River programs that Northern Water is involved in and managing and protecting the water right assets owned by Northern Water and its enterprises in cooperation with Northern Water’s legal counsel. Kyle grew up in the White River basin in western Colorado.  Kyle has more than 25 years of engineering experience, having previously worked for 18 years for the Colorado Division of Water Resources in the Colorado River basin prior to joining Northern Water.  Kyle has a B.S. and M.S. in Civil Engineering from Colorado State University.

“Water is emerging as one of the most important and controversial subjects to be addressed in the 21st century. Water issues are particularly complex, and understanding the nuances is critical for good decision-making.”

Water Literate Leaders of Northern Colorado Program

From energy to waste, an increasing number of cities are seeking to achieve aggressive sustainability-related goals. But what does it mean to be “net-zero?”
This event will unpack what it means for cities and counties and the reason behind the movement,
as well as address implications for the private sector and the regional population at large.