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Keynote Speakers

Monday, May 20, 2024 | 9:00 AM - 9:45 AM

“Climate Science and How It Informs Future Design Conditions”

Water resource managers are increasingly faced with the difficulty of basing design decisions on a moving target of climate conditions. Although these challenges vary by location, some of the most relevant climate changes in this context are more intense rainfalls, greater precipitation variability, and altered cold-season meltwater hydrology.  In some cases, climatologists are confident about the sign of these changes but much less so about their magnitude.  How can engineers and managers incorporate the latest climate science into their decision-making?  In keeping with the adage of “forewarned is forearmed,” this presentation will provide an overview of observed historic and projected future climate changes, particularly those that most strongly impact infrastructure design.

Steve Vavrus, Ph.D.

Steve Vavrus

Director, Wisconsin State Climatology Office |  Senior Scientist, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research

Steve Vavrus is the director of the Wisconsin State Climatology Office and a Senior Scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research, where he serves as assistant director. He is an expert on Wisconsin climate, extreme weather, global climate change, and Arctic climate. Most of his research involves computer climate models to estimate changes in Earth’s climate in the past and future. 

Steve serves as co-director of the statewide Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI) and is a member of its Climate Working Group.  He is also a member of the Wisconsin Heat Health Network, the Wisconsin Climate and Health Program’s Science Advisory Team, and the American Association of State Climatologists.  Steve earned an M.S. and Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and received a B.S. degree from Purdue University. 

Monday, May 20, 2024 | 12:15 PM - 12:45 PM

“Milwaukee’s Commitment to Replace Lead Service Lines”

There are an estimated 9.2 million lead service lines remaining in the United States. Many of these are in the Great Lakes region, with a combined 555,000 lead service lines concentrated in Milwaukee, Chicago, and Detroit alone. The worthy goal of eliminating the risk of lead exposure via drinking water cannot be achieved nationally without expediting replacement in Great Lakes communities with the heaviest lead burdens. In Milwaukee, we have committed to reach the EPA’s 10-year Timeline to replace all lead service lines and launched an Equity Prioritization Plan, ensuring our most vulnerable communities will be served.

Cavalier Johnson

Cavalier JohnsonMayor of Milwaukee

In April of 2022, the people of Milwaukee elected Mayor Cavalier Johnson as the forty-fifth chief executive of the City of Milwaukee. Earning more than 70% of the vote, he became the first black mayor elected in the city, and only the 4th elected mayor in the past 62 years.

Mayor Johnson took office as Acting Mayor of the City of Milwaukee in late 2021, and he set out immediately to build a safer city. He has prioritized violence reduction, economic development, and roadway safety. Before taking on his role as Acting Mayor, Johnson served as Common Council President while representing the city’s 2nd Aldermanic District.

Mayor Johnson’s commitment to public service began at an early age when he was selected by the YMCA to participate in a pre-college program for low-income Milwaukee Public School students. That program, Sponsor-A-Scholar, instilled in him a passion to make Milwaukee better for future generations.

Growing up, his family moved frequently, and until middle school Mayor Johnson attended a different Milwaukee Public School almost every year. He has seen violence, evictions, and food insecurity — challenges common in urban poverty. He brings that lived experience to his work as Mayor.

After graduating Bay View High School, Mayor Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and returned home to work for the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board, now Employ Milwaukee. His focus included working with at-risk young people, youth looking for their first jobs, and adults retooling to enter the workforce.

Before his election as alderman, he served as a staff assistant in the Mayor’s Office, where he worked with community and faith leaders to find creative solutions to pressing issues facing families.

Mayor Johnson remains deeply committed to the community, having served on the boards of the Milwaukee YMCA, ACLU-Wisconsin and Milwaukee Community Brainstorming Conference.

His work is guided by his life experiences. He has prioritized making Milwaukee a more inclusive and respectful community. He is a champion for LGBTQ+ rights and led the passage of Milwaukee’s ban on conversion therapy.

He and his wife, Dominique, have one son and twin daughters and live on Milwaukee’s near west side.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024 | 8:30 AM - 9:30 AM

Kevin Shafer, P.E.

“Managing Water and Wastewater at the Watershed Scale”

Changing climates will disproportionately impact all our water resources.  Flooding, increased sewer overflows, reduced water quality and drought are all likely outcomes.  To reduce this impact, we need to start managing this resource at the watershed scale.  The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District has been transforming to this new paradigm for over 20 years.  This presentation will focus on this new paradigm.

Kevin Shafer

Executive Director, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD)

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) is a regional government agency that provides water reclamation and flood management services for more than 1.1 million customers in 28 communities in the Greater Milwaukee Area. The District serves 411 square miles that cover all, or segments of, six watersheds.

Established by state law, the District is governed by 11 commissioners with taxing authority. Since assuming this role, Kevin has transformed the MMSD into one of the leading wastewater utilities in the country through the integration of green infrastructure with traditional infrastructure. Kevin’s 2035 Vision has propelled MMSD forward with climate change adaptation through an aggressive program to convert to renewable fuels, install green infrastructure, and preserve floodplains.

Kevin’s leadership has brought MMSD recognition as the recipient of almost every major award in the industry, including the 2012 U.S. Water Prize. He currently serves on the boards of The Water Council and River Revitalization Foundation and is a past president of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, past co-chair of the Water Research Foundation and US Water Alliance, past Board member of the Great Lakes Protection Fund, Mequon Nature Preserve, and Discovery World, and a past member of the EPA’s Local Government Advisory Committee.

Kevin holds a master’s degree in civil engineering, water resources, from the University of Texas, and a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Illinois.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024 | 12:30 PM - 1:00 PM

Marsia Geldert-Murphey, P.E., F.ASCE

“Engineering the Future”

With an expanding global population, we must take care of our aging infrastructure to meet current needs, and at the same time, move it into the future with innovative technologies and capabilities that will enable us to combat the problems of tomorrow. In this presentation, ASCE President Marsia Geldert-Murphey will share how we need to prepare future civil engineers to meet these challenges.
As the oldest engineering society in the United States, ASCE represents 150,000 members in 177 countries. ASCE stands at the forefront of a profession that plans, designs, constructs, and operates society’s economic and social engine – the built environment – while protecting and restoring the natural environment. 

Marsia Geldert-Murphey

ASCE 2024 President

Specializing in transportation and geotechnical engineering, Geldert-Murphey currently works for the Lochmueller Group, a Midwestern consulting firm, where she is the regional director for the states of Missouri and Illinois. She has three decades of experience in civil engineering and construction.

An ASCE member since 1990, Geldert-Murphey is the former chair of the Public Policy and Practice Committee. She served on the ASCE Board of Direction from 2016-2019 as the Region 7 director. Her extensive ASCE activities include service on several Society-level committees such as program and finance, leader training, and diversity and women, as well as serving as a mentor. She also led the St. Louis Section as president in 2006.

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