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CREWS 2020 Convening

Welcome to the CREWS 2020 Virtual Convening!

We are so excited and thankful that you’re able to join us for this event. The year 2020 has been challenging: the COVID-19 pandemic; the ongoing fights for racial and environmental justice; a pivotal presidential election; and the continuous impact of more frequent and intense storms and flooding on communities across the country. Addressing racism within the water sector is not an option.

How we move forward in 2021 is critical. Join us as we reflect, dream, and get energized about the work ahead! Our convening theme, “Changing Climate, Changing the Tide: Racial Equity, Resilience & Revitalization,” will provide an opportunity for partners to:

  • Dream and aspire about our shared vision for 2021 and beyond.
  • Uplift tactics and practices that will crystallize this vision.
  • Leave inspired and revitalized to tackle climate change and disrupt racism within the water sector.

Special thanks to our Convening planning team: Kate O’Brien of Catalyst Collaboratives; Kresge’s Jill Johnson, Wendye Mingo, Sam Turner, and Kaniqua Welch; and to the members of our volunteer Agenda Review Committee: Lisa Beyer, Angela Chalk, Kirsten Evans, Ann Fowler Wallace, Tiffany Ganthier, Aurora Heying, Meg Jamison, Tim Little, Claire Marcy, Timon McPhearson, April Mendez, Cate Mingoya, Taj Schottland, Brendan Shane, Alicia Smith, Chris Sturm, and Diana Toledo.

Please feel free to reach out with any questions. We look forward to seeing you!

Yours in health and environment,


Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #KresgeCREWS and tagging @kresgenviro @kresgefdn @JalonneWNewsome


Day 1 | Thursday, November 12 | 2:45 – 5:00 p.m. Eastern

Welcome & Acknowledgement of Indigenous Lands
  • Rip Rapson, President & CEO, The Kresge Foundation
  • Dr. Jalonne L. White Newsome, Senior Program Officer, The Kresge Foundation
Opening Artistic Expression
  • Choklate, Performing Artist
Panel Discussion #1: Visioning

While the last four years have been some of the most challenging for those on the ground in frontline communities seeking equity and justice, the time is now to discuss, discern, and distill the lessons learned from the tumult so we can move forward with a clear-eyed vision of how we’ll realize equity in 2021 and beyond. Sit with us for an inspiring, soul-nourishing conversation between these three leaders, which will jump-start our own visioning in small groups afterwards.

  • Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder in Residence, PolicyLink
  • Hilton Kelley, Founder & Executive Director, Community In-Power and Development Association
  • Dr. Pamela Oatis, Pediatrician, Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center
Breakout Groups – Visioning
Optional Networking
Day 1 material

Day 2 | Thursday, November 19 | 2:45 – 5:00 p.m. Eastern

Welcome Back & Overview
  • Dr. Jalonne L. White Newsome, Senior Program Officer, The Kresge Foundation
Panel Discussion #2: Tactical Planning

Following an opening day focused on vision and framing, today is the day for drilling down into details, defining what will it take to shift the tide on equity at the center in 2021 and beyond. Tune in for a conversation amongst organizers and technologists working in and supporting front line communities, and the local government and utility leaders with whom they are forging collaborative partnerships to achieve equitable access to water, and equitable investments in water infrastructure, on the ground. In this moderated panel discussion, speakers will respond to the vision content co-created during Day 1, and build upon that content/themes in robust conversation with each other, expanding from visioning to the tactical steps required to achieve that vision.

  • Alicia Smith, Panel Moderator, Freshwater Future and Junction Coalition
  • Mariana Del Valle Prieto Cervantes, Green Latinos
  • Bob Dean, Center for Neighborhood Technology
  • Dana Eness, The Urban Conservancy + Stay Local!
  • Adrienne Hampton, Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition
  • Mami Hara, City of Seattle & US Water Alliance Board Member
  • Monique Harden, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice & Gulf Coast Water Justice Project
  • Chuck Morse, LaunchNOLA
  • Scott Schreiber, Camden County Municipal Utility Authority
Group Photo
Breakout Groups – Tactical Planning
Closing Ceremony & Appreciations
Optional Networking

(after formal program concludes at 5:00 p.m.)


Day 1

Dr. Pamela Oatis, Pediatrician, St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center

Dr. Oatis is a primary care pediatrician and contingent care provider with the Family Care Center at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo, Ohio. In addition to this work, she serves as a Task Force Member for the Ohio Governor’s Office on Healthcare Transformation, and as Chair of the Medical Specialist Ethics Adult Institutional Review Board for St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center. Dr. Oatis has led research in partnership with Harvard focused on Resilience Through Relationships in Early Childhood Education. Dr. Oatis enjoys training for Olympic distance triathlons, competing at local, national and world levels since 2008. Organic gardening, spiritual work, and handcrafts deepen her joy and purpose. A favorite quote that emblemizes her personal and professional work is: “My liberation and yours are bound, together we rise.”

Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder in Residence, PolicyLink

Angela Glover Blackwell is Founder in Residence at PolicyLink, the organization she started in 1999 to advance racial and economic equity for all. Under her leadership, PolicyLink gained national prominence in the movement to use public policy to improve access and opportunity for all low-income people and communities of color, particularly in the areas of health, housing, transportation, and infrastructure. Prior to founding PolicyLink, Angela served as Senior Vice President at The Rockefeller Foundation. A lawyer by training, she gained national recognition as founder of the Urban Strategies Council. She is the 2018 recipient of the John W. Gardner Leadership Award, presented by the Independent Sector, and in 2017, she received the Peter E. Haas Public Service Award from the University of California, Berkeley.

Performing Artist: Choklate

Choklate is an international singer and songwriter who has collaborated with renowned artists including Dr. Dre, Common, Musiq Soulchild, Erykah Badu and many more. Her self-titled release in 2006 and its subsequent re-release in 2008 created a tremendous global buzz for Choklate’s music and live performances. Choklate has toured Sweden, France, Italy, Japan and the UK and performed at the legendary Blue Note (NYC), Jazz Alley (Seattle) and countless other historical music venues around in addition to headlining her own U.S. tour. Choklate has also begun to actively bridge the gap between her consistent work within different philanthropic endeavors and the music that she is most known for and looks forward to continuing to utilize her platform to have a positive impact on the world.

Hilton Kelley, Founder and CEO, Community In-power & Development Association Inc. (CIDA)

Hilton Kelley is a leading figure in the battle for environmental justice on the Texas Gulf Coast, as he fights for communities living in the shadow of polluting industries. Kelley is a life-long resident of the refinery and chemical manufacturing town of Port Arthur, Texas. In addition to community organizing, Kelley is an electrician and former second-class petty officer in the U.S. Navy. Kelley organized CIDA and began to challenge the regulatory agencies and their policies, and the environmental violations of the plants that loom over the community. CIDA collects scientific data about the sources, types, and amounts of pollution emitted and educates the community’s low-income residents and people of color about the toxic burden they shoulder. He received the 2002 Environmental Justice Award from the Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter, the 2004 Ben & Jerry Award for Environmental Activism, and the North America 2011 Goldman Environmental Prize.

Rip Rapson, President & CEO, The Kresge Foundation

Rip Rapson is president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation, a private, national foundation founded in 1924, which is dedicated to expanding opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing. Since his appointment in 2006, Rapson has led the foundation to adopt an array of tools to improve the economic, social, cultural and environmental conditions of urban life through grantmaking and social investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services and community development in Kresge’s hometown of Detroit. Using a full array of grant, loan and other investment tools, Kresge invests more than $160 million annually to foster economic and social change. Nationally, Rapson has strengthened the philanthropic sector’s role through convening, collaborating and supplementing community development activities in cities across the country.

Jalonne L. White-Newsome, Environment Senior Program Officer, The Kresge Foundation

Dr. White-Newsome is a senior program officer at The Kresge Foundation, responsible for the Environment Program’s grant portfolio on Climate Resilient and Equitable Water Systems (CREWS). Before joining Kresge in 2016, Jalonne served as director of federal policy at West Harlem Environmental Action Inc. (WE ACT), where she led national campaigns to ensure the concerns of low-income communities and communities of color were integrated into federal policy. She is also an adjunct professor at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She provides leadership on various boards, including the National Academy of Sciences Board on Environmental Change and Society, an Associate Editor of the Environmental Justice Journal and co-chair of Health Environmental Funder’s Network Steering Committee.

Day 2

Alicia Smith, Moderator

Alicia Smith is the Community Engagement Director for Freshwater Future and the Community Liaison for Junction Coalition in Toledo, Ohio. She lives, works and enjoys the community’s natural social environment with neighbors, friends, family and partners from across the Great Lakes Region. Alicia’s passion flows from her belief that all citizens need information to thrive. As such, she works to build the capacity of each family. As a graduate student at the University of Toledo, her doctoral studies focused on the educational development for disenfranchised communities. She has served the community for over 15 years as a Restorative Justice (RJ) Facilitator working with inner-city youth, teaching the skills of healing community trauma through listening and critical thinking skills. Alicia serves on several boards from Healing our Waters Coalition/Equity Committee to the Ohio Energy Table, EPA Children’s Public Health Advisory Committee. Alicia is the proud mother of three. She and her family currently reside in Toledo, Ohio and are natives of Detroit, Michigan.

Mariana Del Valle Prieto Cervantes, Clean & Healthy Waters Advocate, Green Latinos

Mariana Del Valle Prieto Cervantes has committed her life to help advocate for and represent the Latinx community in the environmental movement. Raised in California’s central coast, Mariana obtained her degree in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Communities. She started her career near the ocean at a local aquarium where she gained experience in public education and community engagement. Mariana also comes with experience working with local government and policy action campaigns at the local, state, and national level. Through her work in coalition building, environmental policy advocacy, public education, and community engagement, Mariana has a strong passion and commitment to serve GreenLatinos.

Bob Dean, CEO, Center for Neighborhood Technology

Bob Dean joined CNT in August 2018 as its Chief Executive Officer. Prior to CNT, Bob served as the Deputy Executive Director for Planning for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), where he created and then oversaw the Local Technical Assistance program, and managed GO TO 2040, the award-winning comprehensive plan for the Chicago metropolitan area adopted in 2010. Prior to CMAP, Bob worked in municipal government for five years, serving as a transportation and land use planner for the City of Naperville, Illinois and a transportation planning liaison for the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference.

Dana Eness, Executive Director, The Urban Conservancy + Stay Local!

Dana Eness has been Executive Director of The Urban Conservancy since 2007. She was a founding board member of The Urban Conservancy’s Stay Local! initiative in 2003, which is dedicated to creating a robust economy based on strong locally-owned businesses. Since receiving her MA in Latin American Studies from Tulane University, Dana worked in non-profit administration, programming, community development and systems building while developing and managing cross-cultural and literacy programs abroad, at Tulane University, and for the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. Post-Katrina, Dana took the position at The Urban Conservancy to work on issues related to New Orleans’ sustainable recovery.

Adrienne Hampton, Climate Policy & Engagement Manager, Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition

Adrienne Hampton is Climate Policy & Engagement Manager for the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition. Her passion for advocacy and amplifying the voices of community stems from her grandmother who was involved in community organizing and activism during the civil rights movement in upstate New York. Her most recent career experiences have embraced teachings from the Duwamish River. She has co-created community science programs, supported early career scholars, and fostered movement for successful collaboration. Adrienne works toward employing a cross-cultural understanding of human identity in conjunction with a loving of the land and waters. She is committed to the advancement of climate justice for thriving communities, fair decision-making, and the preservation of cultural identities. Adrienne holds a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Washington.

Mami Hara, General Manager / CEO, Seattle Public Utilities

Mami Hara is the general manager of Seattle Public Utilities (SPU). She is committed to advancing an equitable and sustainable Seattle and region through collaboration, strategic investment, and partnering with community, and seeks to expand this ethic throughout Seattle Public Utilities. Hara brings over three decades of experience in sustainable land and water management practices and advances them through cultivating leaders, partnerships, participation, planning, science/data-informed decisions and knowledge sharing. Hara has degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University and has been an advisor to several environmental, philanthropic, planning and design advocacy organizations. She has taught at PennDesign, Temple School of Architecture and the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT.

Monique Harden, Assistant Director of Law & Policy and Community Engagement Program Manager, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice & Gulf Coast Water Justice Project

Monique Harden is the Assistant Director of Law & Policy and Community Engagement Program Manager for Deep South Center for Environmental Justice. She has more than 20 years of achievements in the practice of law that have helped predominantly African American communities win significant environmental justice victories in the Gulf Coast Region. She is the former co-director of Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, a public interest law firm whose representation of Mossville Environmental Action Now achieved the international precedent that environmental racism is a human rights violation and U.S. residents have the right to seek remedies for it at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Harden has authored papers and lectured on the rights of people to live in a healthy environment and the duties of government to protect this right.

Chuck Morse, Executive Director, LaunchNOLA

Chuck Morse is Executive Director of LaunchNOLA, a nonprofit Christian community development organization offering services to help meet the physical and economic needs of individuals and families. Chuck is a longtime corporate executive with many years of solid experience in sales & marketing, governmental relations, strategic planning, membership development, board relations and community affairs. He brings his experience as the former Assistant Secretary in the Louisiana Office of Tourism, Special Assistant to the President at Washington Convention and Tourism Corporation, and most recently as the ConnectWorks Director at the Good Work Network. He has leveraged his passion to help minority business owners and local ministers to expand his impact in serving the broader mission of Thrive New Orleans. Chuck holds a Master’s degree in Urban Studies from the University of New Orleans and a Master’s degree in Divinity from Union Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans.

Scott Schreiber, Executive Director, Camden County Municipal Utility Authority

Scott Schreiber is Executive Director of the Camden County Municipal Utility Authority. Scott brings years of institutional knowledge and experience serving the residents of Camden County to the position. A Rutgers-Camden graduate, Scott has committed his career to nonprofit and public service leadership. Prior to joining CCMUA, he served as the executive director of the Audubon Mutual Housing Corporation from 2006 through 2012, a nonprofit cooperative housing project in Audubon Park, where he focused on improving infrastructure and maintaining a strong financial position. In the eight years since joining CCMUA, Schreiber has served in several key positions, including as the planning administrator, grant administrator, budget officer and deputy executive director.


Learn more about the CREWS Initiative
View resources and materials from our 2017, 2018 and 2019 CREWS Convenings
CREWS 2020 Convening Recording: Day 1
CREWS 2020 Convening Recording: Day 2
2020 Kresge CREWS Directory
2021 PolicyLink Water Equity Federal Policy
2021 River Action Agenda
2021 CREWS Policy Outlook
The Local Economic Impact Of Flood Infrastructure Projects
Water Equity Federal Opportunities In Response To COVID 19 Pandemic
Improving Health Equity Through Water Policy Opportunities
US Water Alliance Federal Policy Priorities And Comments For CREWS Convening
Water Health Equity Priorities



Kresge staff is working remotely, and our offices are closed until further notice.  See our promise to partners during COVID-19.