Revisit the highlights of WEFTEC 2023 Opening General Session.

This year's session, held in the vibrant city of Chicago, was a groundbreaking event, blending culture, music, and storytelling to ignite conversations around the vital topic of water. This year, WEFTEC brought together a dynamic mix of voices like avery r. young, Sheryl Ude, and Benny Starr, to delve into the theme "Bringing People to the Center of Water."


The WEFTEC 2023 Opening General Session stood as a shining example of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), showcasing a wide array of innovative voices and perspectives that enriched the dialogue around water challenges. By featuring speakers from varied backgrounds, including artists, poets, and policy advocates, the event highlighted the importance of incorporating diverse experiences and viewpoints in addressing global environmental issues.

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Benny Starr

Benny Starr, hip-hop artist, filmmaker, creative strategist, and the U.S. Water Alliance’s first Artist in Residence kicked off the event.


Ifetayo Venner

2022-2023 WEF President Ifetayo Venner welcomed the crowd to WEFTEC 2023.


Kari Steele

Kari Steele, President of the Board of Commissioners of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, shared her journey into the water sector workforce.


Paul O'Callaghan

Paul O'Callaghan, Founder & CEO BlueTech Research, spoke about how he entered the water sector and his first WEFTEC experience.


Sheryl Ude

Sheryl Ude, policy advisor, change agent, and racial equity advocate, shared how water is at the core of social justice, including historical flooding, lead service line replacement, and capital improvement projects.


Dr. Maya Carrasquillo

Dr. Maya Carrasquillo, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley, shared a bit about her past and present and her view for future hope.


Brenda Santoyo

Brenda Santoyo, Senior Policy Analyst at Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, talked about how flooding affected her childhood and how it inspired her to enter the environmental justice arena and help create sustainable and equitable infrastructure.


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