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Water: Access, Supply, and Sustainability

October 27, 2020, 7:00 pm - October 29, 2020, 8:30 pm

View recordings of all live conference sessions as well as additional resources on the conference site at www.lindahall.org/water.

About the conference  

Water: Access, Supply, Sustainability is an online, multidisciplinary conference exploring complex water related topics and connecting water management issues of vital importance to Kansas City, the Heartland, and, indeed, the world. Through online resources and live sessions, participants will examine how diverse communities are working to provide access to clean water for their members, explore the engineering and economics behind management of our water ways, and learn innovative yet practical approaches for sustaining our fresh water resources.

Moderated by world-renowned oceanographer, Dr. David Gallo, a diverse lineup of speakers including community leaders, scientists, engineers, policymakers, and entrepreneurs will discover connections and provide an interdisciplinary lens through which the future of water can be examined.


Beginning on October 1, conference participants will have the opportunity to explore videos, materials, and resources at their own pace via the conference website. On October 27, 28, and 29 live conference sessions will be held via Zoom.  Registration is free and will provide access to the conference site and all Zoom sessions.  See registration details below.

Conference moderator

For nearly 40 years David Gallo has been at the forefront of ocean exploration, participating in and being witness to the development of new technologies and scientific discoveries that shape our view of planet earth. He has been described by TED Conferences as “an enthusiastic ambassador between the sea and those of us on dry land.” With nearly 13 million views, his TED presentation “Underwater Astonishments” has been among the all-time top TED Talks. Dr. Gallo is currently Senior Advisor for Strategic Initiatives and Programs at RMS Titanic Inc. Previously, he was Senior Advisor for Strategic Initiatives at the Center for Climate and Life of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Prior to that he was Director of Special Projects for 28 years at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, a preeminent, globally recognized scientific laboratory.


Session 1 – Equity and Access:

Diverse Communities and the Challenges of Infrastructure

Tuesday, October 27, 2020
7:00 p.m. – 8:15 p.m. 


Siddhartha “Sid” Roy served as a student leader and communications director of Virginia Tech’s 45-member Flint water research team, leading part of a scientific and humanitarian battle alongside Flint residents to uncover environmental injustice and a public health crisis. Dr. Roy earned his bachelor’s  of technology in chemical engineering from Nirma University in India and master’s and doctoral degrees in environmental engineering and civil engineering respectively from Virginia Tech. 




Gary White is co-founder and CEO of Water.org and WaterEquity, where he leads the organizations to create and execute market-driven solutions to the global water crisis. Gary’s entrepreneurial vision drives innovations in the way water and sanitation projects are delivered and financed, innovations that now serve as a model in the water and sanitation sector.



Emma Robbins is director of the Navajo Water Project, which provides infrastructure for Navajo families to access running water in New Mexico, Utah and Arizona. According to the project, Native American households face barriers to accessing running water, including about 30 percent of families on the Navajo reservation that do not have running water. Robbins joined the project after growing up in an area with a high concentration of water poverty. She is a Diné artist and uses her work to raise awareness about the need for clean water across all Native American nations. She is also an Aspen Institute Health Communities Fellow.  


Tracy Streeter joined Burns & McDonnell in 2018 in a new role where he provides consulting and project development support for water resource agencies and municipalities with public water utilities. Streeter served 33 years in positions related to Kansas water resource management, including 14 years as director of the Kansas Water Office (KWO), where he was responsible for water resource management and planningdrought declarations, and other state-wide management issues. During his tenure at KWO, Streeter served as chairman of the Governor’s Drought Response Team, and in 2013 was appointed to co-lead the development of a 50-Year Water Vision for Kansas



Session 2 – Economics and Engineering:

Water Systems that Sustain the Heartland

Wednesday, October 28, 2020
7:00 p.m. – 8:15 p.m. 


Terry Leeds,Director of KC Water, is a civil engineer with 28 years of experience in the water industry. Terry started his engineering career with Black & Veatch where he worked on water/wastewater projects as a design engineer and project engineer. He has held several different positions in the City, having worked in the Facilities Engineering Division, the Stormwater Engineering Division, and the Capital Improvements Management Office, and as Manager of Kansas City’s Overflow Control ProgramMr. Leeds earned a BS in civil engineering at the University of Missouri-Rolla.



Jon Stephens is President and CEO of Port KC, an organization that exists to grow the economy of Kansas City through advancing transportation, logistics, and revitalization. Jon is an economic development professional who has spent his career focused on utilizing thoughtful development concepts to improve the community. Previous leadership roles include serving as president of one of the largest urban redevelopment districts in America, director of economic development for Kansas City, Kansas, and CEO of VisitKC. As an entrepreneur, he has guided boards and corporations to innovative success. 



Amahia MalleaAssociate Professor of History at Drake University, is an environmental historian interested in the relationship between American societies and their lands and resources. She is the author of, A River in the City of Fountains: An Environmental History of Kansas City and the Missouri River (University of Kansas Press, 2018), which examines the city’s decades-long management of the river for often conflicting purposes of commerce (flood control and navigation) and public health (drinking water and sewage). She earned her doctorate in 2006 from the University of Missouri 



Chance Bitner is currently serving as the lead engineer for over $500M of improvements to levees in the Kansas City metropolitan area being conducted by the Kansas City District of the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in partnership with the Kaw Valley Drainage District, Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, and the City of Kansas City, Missouri.  Over the last 17 years, he has held positions with USACE including Chief of the Hydrology and Hydraulics Section, Missouri River Recovery Implementation Program Manager, and as a Hydraulic Engineer. Mr. Bitner earned a BS and MS in Civil Engineering at Colorado State University.


Session 3 – Keynote Address with Sandra Postel

Thursday, October 29, 2020
7:00 p.m. – 8:15 p.m. 


A leading authority and prolific author on international water issues, Sandra Postel has been hailed for her “inspiring, innovative and practical approach” to promoting the preservation and sustainable use of freshwater. From 2009-2015 she served as Freshwater Fellow of the National Geographic Society. She is founder and director of the Global Water Policy Project and also co-creator of Change the Course, a national water stewardship initiative awarded the 2017 US Water Prize for restoring billions of gallons of water to depleted rivers and wetlands. She is the author of Replenish: The Virtuous Cycle of Water and ProsperityPillar of Sand: Can the Irrigation Miracle Last?; and Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity, which appears in eight languages and was the basis for a PBS documentary. She has served as a commentator on CNN’s Futurewatch, and has also appeared on CBS’s Sunday Morning, ABC’s Nightline, NPR’s Science Friday, BBC’s Planet Earth, Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary, The 11th Hour, and National Geographic Channel’s Breakthrough series. 


This conference is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Registration is open now and will remain open through the final live session on October 29.  By registering, participants will receive access to the conference website and all three live sessions via Zoom. A link to the conference site will be provided on October 1. Links and instructions to join the live sessions via Zoom will be sent approximately 24 hours prior to each scheduled event.

Click here to register

Linda Hall Library encourages people of all backgrounds and abilities to enjoy our public programs. Closed captions will be provided for videos and live presentations. If you require additional reasonable accommodations in order to participate, please contact events@lindahall.org or call 816.926.8753 at least 24 hours in advance.

To help us better serve our audiences, we have included some demographic questions in the registration form. Your response to these questions is voluntary, but appreciated. Once you register for a Linda Hall Library event, you will receive email communications from the Linda Hall Library and the Linda Hall Library Foundation. You may choose to opt out of these communications at any time. Your contact information will not be sold or provided to any third parties.

Live presentations will also be livestreamed to the Library’s Facebook page.

Conference Planning Committee

Molly Davies, Associate Professor of Environmental Sciences, UMKC  
Rosemary Gudelj, Senior Advisor, Public Affairs, Water.org
Matthew Hughes, Executive Director, International Relations Council of Kansas City 
Lara Isch, Sustainability Manager, City of Kansas City, Missouri 
Tom Jacobs, Environmental Services Director, MARC
Adam McLane, Executive Director, Missouri Nature Conservancy

This conference is made possible by a generous grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Its content is solely the responsibility of the Linda Hall Library.


October 27, 2020, 7:00 pm
October 29, 2020, 8:30 pm
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Eric Ward
View Organizer Website

Questions? Contact Eric Ward at 816.926.8753 for more information about these events.

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