Panels 2021

April 22
10:30 – 11:50 AM
The New Norm? Water Supply Challenges and Resiliency for California Panel Moderated by Diane Gatza and Russ Lefevre
April 22
2:45 – 4:10 PM
Future Networks & Applications Roadmap for Sustainable Cities/Societies Panel Moderated by Fawzi Behmann
April 23
3:50 – 5:10 PM
Cybersecurity for Sustainable Infrastructure Panel Moderated by David E. Gonzalez
April 24
9:55 – 11:05 AM
Young Professionals Panel – Sustainability in Tech Companies Panel Moderated by Alberto Tam Yong



The New Norm? Water Supply Challenges and Resiliency for California

April 22, 10:30 – 11:50 AM


  • Diane Gatza, P.E, Water Replenishment District of Southern California
  • Russ Lefevre, Metropolitan Water District (MWD) Board of Directors
  • Christopher Repp, LADWP

With the onset of Global Warming presenting a serious challenge to water supply in California, three of the major suppliers in the state are working to insure water will be available for the foreseeable future. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has a program, Operation NEXT Water Supply Program, to source 70% of water locally and recycle 100% of available treated waste water by 2035. The Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD) has initiated a program, WIN 4 ALL, that aims to utilize the 450,000 acre-feet of available storage space in the West and Central groundwater basins in conjunction with available recycled water sources to increase regional resiliency and sustainability. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) that supplies wholesale water to 19 million people in 6 counties is preparing the newest Integrated Water Resources Plan (IRP) whose purpose is to develop a planning document that can insure long-term supply reliability in an environmentally and effective way.

Panelist Bios:

Diane Gatza

Diane Gatza is a licensed P.E. and Water Resources Planning Engineer with the Water Replenishment District of Southern California(WRD). Diane manages several programs at WRD including the Regional Brackish Water Reclamation Program cleaning up a 600,000 AF salty groundwater plume and a managing a first of its kind joint partnership between WRD and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power aiming to reclaim over 200 million gallons a day of treated waste water for groundwater basin replenishment. Diane has lead large scale planning and high profile programs in addition to the current programs she is managing. She received her bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from California State Polytechnic University-Pomona.


Russ Lefevre

Russ Lefevre is a Director on the Board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California representing the city of Torrance. He is a Past President of IEEE-USA and the IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society. He is a member of the Board of Governors of the IEEE Society on the Social Implications of Technology. As an IEEE-USA Congressional Fellow he served as Science Advisor to Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. He has a B.S. and M.S. in Physics from the University of North Dakota and a Ph. D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara.


Christopher C. Repp is with Operation NEXT Water Supply Program, LADWP. Christopher holds a Chemical Engineering Bachelors with a Masters in Civil Engineering. Mr. Repp is a registered Civil Engineer with 16 years of engineering experience, having sought employment with the City of Los Angeles, in the Bureau of Sanitation, Engineering, and now, LADWP. His expertise lies mainly in Water Resources over the past decade. More recently his focus is in on Groundwater Rights and Development. He led the LADWP’s Groundwater Development and Augmentation Plan, and is now helping to lead staff on the Operation NEXT Water Supply Program, which will serve to supply the City through groundwater replenishment and potable reuse by maximizing recycled water from the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant.

Young Professionals Panel – Sustainability in Tech Companies

April 24 9:55 – 11:05 AM

Panel Organized and Moderated by Alberto Tam Yong


  • Mehmet Ogut, Technologist, JPL
  • Gaurav Uppal, Program Manager, Microsoft
  • Michael Hwang, Supply Chain Sustainability Program Manager, Intel Corporation

Alberto Tam Yong

As technology and innovations move forward, many tech companies have committed to make a positive impact in the environment with sustainability programs. From direct projects and initiatives to research and offer environmentally friendly solutions to corporate infrastructure, this Young Professionals Panel aims to share awareness and insight on some of these programs and projects at tech companies. Our panelists include young professionals working in the tech industry and will give us a glimpse of what it’s like to work at a company that cares about the environment.


Panelist Bios:

Mehmet Ogut

Dr. Mehmet Ogut is a technologist in the Microwave Instrument Science group at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). His expertise is design, testing, calibration and analysis of microwave and millimeter-wave radar/radiometer instruments, developing innovative concepts in radiometry and artificial intelligence applications in remote sensing. He is the CO-I and JPL lead of Ultra-Wideband Photonic Spectrometer for PBL Sensing funded under NASA ESTO ACT-20, and the Co-I of Smart Ice Cloud Sensing (SMICES) awarded under NASA ESTO IIP-19 program. Dr. Ogut is currently the Young Professional Ambassador of the IEEE GRSS and IEEE Rising Stars Organizing Committee member (2019-2022).

Gaurav Uppal

Gaurav Uppal (he/him) is a Program Manager in Microsoft Azure high performance computing and AI, and a 2020 grad of Duke University. He is passionate about employee activism and engagement around climate, environmental justice, and social justice. Since joining Microsoft Atlanta in 2020, he has built up the JustGreen Atlanta community for Sustainability and Environmental Justice to engage conversations on Microsoft Atlanta’s impact on the environment and the community as its new office sets to open up later this year. He is also an Americas lead for the Local Chapters program of the Microsoft Worldwide Sustainability Community, which consists of 26 office chapters and over 4000 employees. In his free time, Gaurav enjoys sunrise hikes and appreciating the arts.

Michael Hwang is a Supply Chain Program Manager at Intel. He started at Intel as an environmental engineer in 2010, where he learned about the intersection of supply chain management and sustainability through a pilot project to convert spent polystyrene reels from a manufacturing production line into pencil boxes to be donated to local schools. This inspired him to focus his MBA studies in supply chain, where he worked in commodity and IT management. He is also active in the Next(Gen) Employee Resource Group and the Sustainability Leader Speaker Series to advance and promote understanding of corporate responsibility. He grew up in Ahwatukee, Arizona, and, outside of work, he enjoys international travel and exploring Arizona.




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