Storms, Flooding & Sea Level Defense November Conference 2023

Arvind Acharya

President, Society of American Military Engineers- San Francisco Post, Sr. Project Executive, GES-AIS

Mr. Acharya currently serves as the President of the Society of American Military Engineers, San Francisco Post and coordinates programs and events locally with a focus towards security and infrastructure resiliency and related challenges. Mr. Acharya is an experienced Project Executive with GES-AIS (an ASRC Industrial Company, ANC) with over 30 years in managing large-scale multi-project contracts that involves Environmental and Civil infrastructure construction activities. He has managed varied regional and national contracts with several federal agencies including the US Navy, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Air Force, Department of Energy and GSA.

Matthew Arms

Director Environmental Planning, Port of Long Beach

Matt Arms is the Director of Environmental Planning for the Port of Long Beach, joined the Port in 2003 and has been leading the Environmental Division since 2018.  Environmental Planning is the division most directly responsible for the Port’s industry-leading environmental programs: the 2005 Green Port Policy and the 2006 San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) and its 2017 Update. The division leads programs to improve air, water and soil quality, preserve wildlife habitat and integrate sustainability into Port practices. Due to the effectiveness of these programs, total diesel emissions at the Port have dramatically dropped by 91% since 2005, and native wildlife is making a comeback.  Mr. Arms earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science from Washington State University and worked in environmental consulting before beginning his career at the Port.

Julie Beagle

Environmental Planning Section Chief, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, San Francisco District

Julie Beagle is the Environmental Planning Section Chief for the US Army Corps of Engineers San Francisco District (SPN) and leads the District’s Engineering with Nature Proving Ground. She brings a focus on integrating nature-based approaches into USACE studies, projects, and operations. She is the technical lead on several Engineering with Nature pilot projects, including piloting strategic shallow water placement of dredged materials in SF Bay to support marsh and mudflat resilience to sea-level rise. Previously Julie was the Deputy Director of the Resilient Landscapes Program at the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) where she led the Institute’s climate resilience and adaptation studies. Prior to her ten years at SFEI, Julie worked with land managers on the North Coast of California to reduce fine sediment runoff into salmonid streams, and on watershed-scale river restoration projects. 

Brad Benson

Waterfront Resilience Program Director, Port of San Francisco

Brad Benson

Brad Benson joined the Port of San Francisco in 2005. As the Waterfront Resilience Program Director, he oversees the Waterfront Resilience Program efforts, including the up to $5 billion Embarcadero Seawall Program and the United States Army Corps of Engineers/Port of San Francisco Flood Study.

Before he was named Waterfront Resilience Program Director in early 2019, he was Director of Special Projects and oversaw the Port’s local, state, and federal legislative program.  During this time, Benson developed the state legislation that guides two of the Port’s largest development projects at Pier 70 and Mission Rock.  Additionally, he developed the state and local legislation that allows the Port to form infrastructure financing districts on Port property, to leverage private dollars for the benefit of the public. He collaborated in the preparation of the Port’s Ten Year Capital Plan to ensure an economically stable Port. Moreover, he managed the Port’s role in the Golden State Warriors Chase Center development project in the central waterfront. In addition to Director of Special Projects, he also served as the Port’s Pier 70 Waterfront Site Project Director to oversee a new proposed transit-oriented, Type 1 Eco-District neighborhood in the southern waterfront. 

From 2010-13, Brad served as the Port’s project manager for the 34th America’s Cup, that attracted millions of visitors and generated $1.4 billion in economic impacts to San Francisco.

Dana Brechwald

Assistant Planning Director for Climate Adaptation at the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC)

Dana Brechwald is the Assistant Planning Director for Climate Adaptation at the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC). She works with regional stakeholders to develop innovative climate adaptation and resilience solutions for the Bay shoreline and is the Project Director for BCDC’s Bay Adapt initiative. Previously, she was the Adapting to Rising Tides Program Manager at BCDC and a Resilience Planner at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission/Association of Bay Area Governments, focusing on hazard mitigation and long‐term disaster recovery planning, where she designed and managed several projects aimed at increasing resilience to earthquake and climate change hazards. She has also worked in partnership with FEMA, the EPA, and local jurisdictions on long-term recovery planning, multi-hazard vulnerability assessments, and integrating resilience into General Plans. Dana has also worked as a sustainability consultant, and with the Salvation Army and the City and County of San Francisco to develop disaster recovery guidelines and best practices. Dana holds a Bachelor of Architecture from UC Berkeley, and a Master of Urban Planning from Harvard Graduate School of Design. 

Summer Bundy

Climate Change Adaptation & Coastal Resilience Regional Sector Leader, Stantec

Summer Bundy is a Regional Sector Leader for Climate Change Adaptation at Stantec. She is an environmental engineer, climate scientist, and program manager with 25 years of experience in public water infrastructure. Summer has spent most of her career where technical challenges meet policy-driven solutions. These include projects such as the Port of San Francisco’s Waterfront Resilience Program, where she served as the consultant team’s planning lead to develop alternatives for adapting 7.5’ of waterfront to increase earthquake and coastal flood resilience. She is a passionate about stakeholder-driven climate action, with a primary focus on critical infrastructure adaptation to achieve equitable community resilience. She first fell in love with the San Francisco Bay in the 80s, when she visited Hayward Shoreline Interpretative Center on a grade school trip.

Summer has a B.S. in environmental resources engineering from Cal Poly Humboldt and is currently earning her M.S. in Energy Policy and Climate at Johns Hopkins University. She holds the Water Edge Design Guidelines associate certification from the Water Alliance.

Jim Carter

SAME Regional Vice President, California Region

Jim Carter has been in the environmental laboratory industry for over 35 years. He graduated with a BS in Chemistry from Harvey Mudd College, and from there worked in various positions in environmental labs. He worked as a bench chemist analyzing EPA CLP samples by GC/MS, to organics lab supervisor, to Technical Sales Manager at Brown and Caldwell. He joined EMAX Laboratories, Inc. in 1988 as the National Business Development Manager. EMAX, a small & disadvantaged business, focuses on providing high quality environmental lab services to the Federal Market. Jim has been very active in the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) as a member of the Board of the Orange County Post, Past President and Chair of the Education and Mentoring Fund. In 2023 he took over as the SAME Regional Vice President for the California Region. Jim is married with one daughter and lives in Studio City, CA.

Warner Chabot

Executive Director, San Francisco Estuary Institute

Warner Chabot brings over 30 years of executive experience in the private, public and non-profit sector, focused on science-based, environmental planning and policy issues. Warner has specialized in California coastal, ocean, water, land use and energy issues at the local state and federal level. Between managing his own environmental consulting firm Warner also served as the CEO of the California League of Conservation Voters. Prior to that, Warner was a Vice President of Ocean Conservancy, a national ocean policy organization.

Derek Chow

Deputy Director, Hawaii State Harbor Division

Dereck Chow

Derek Chow is the Pacific Rim Business Development Manager for Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company in Honolulu, Hawaii with pursuits in the renewable energy and ports and maritime sectors.  Prior to his joining Burns & McDonnell in August 2022, Derek served as the Deputy Director, State of Hawaii Harbors Division, and various positions with the US Army Corps of Engineers, including Chief of Civil Works and US Forces Chief of the Division of Water and Infrastructure in Afghanistan.  He has been involved in storm damage reduction projects, responses to dam breaks, typhoons and tsunamis throughout the Pacific islands.

Maria Conatser

President International Propeller Club

Ms. Conatser has 28 years in the maritime industry serving in various financial, analytical, and business intelligence roles with Ingram Barge Company.  She was recently elected President of the International Propeller Club and previously served as First Vice President, and Treasurer.  Ms. Conatser has also been active in and held leadership positions in the Propeller Club Port of Nashville for 17+ years.  She serves on the Finance Committee for the YWCA in Nashville, Tennessee.  She is a graduate of Western Kentucky University and has an MBA from Belmont University.

Kristin Decas

Executive Director, Port of Hueneme 

Kristin Decas took the helm of the Port of Hueneme in 2012 with a laser focus on prospering economic, environmental, and community enrichment. 

On Kristin’s watch trade volumes have grown 77% and revenue has climbed 127%. The Port’s total economic activity has soared 250% increasing from $800 million to $2.8 billion. Trade-related jobs have jumped 145% from 10,200 to over 24,997 jobs and tax revenues for vital community services have risen 224%. Despite COVID-19 and subsequent global supply chain disruptions in 2022, the Port realized its strongest sustained trade year since its inception in 1937 moving over $15 billion in cargo value. 

Since Kristin took the CEO post, the Port has invested over $70M in environmental improvement projects including shoreside power plug-ins for vessels and cranes, harbor deepening projects that re-nourish local beaches, and the launch of a world-class air quality monitoring program. She also championed impactful community work including food drives for over 47,000 families, local school trade programs, and thousands of port tours for the community. 

Kristin currently serves on high-profile county, state, and federal transportation, economic development, and hospital boards. Kristin lives in Oxnard with her husband and is the proud mother of two daughters. 

Peter Dreyfuss

Peter and Jonathan Dreyfuss, Co-founders, Watermaster North America

Peter Dreyfuss

Peter Dreyfuss and his brother Jonathan founded Watermaster North America, LLC, a US company which has the exclusive franchise for the US and Canada to import components of the Watermaster Amphibious Dredger from Finland, with a hull manufactured in Michigan.  This Jones Act compliant dredger Finland is a 5th generation machine currently being used in over 70 countries.

The AMD 5000 can be driven to a worksite on a standard lowboy trailer, and can then walk off the trailer and into the water, where it is propeller driven to a work site.  Powered by a Caterpillar Acert C7.1 Tier 4 engine, this suction cutter-dredger can pump 20-30% slurry up to a mile away through 10” piping, and further with booster pumps.

This machine can be viewed in action at our website 

Tom Ducker

Critical Infrastructure Lead, California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services

Tom Ducker joined the state’s Critical Infrastructure Protection unit in 2007. He currently leads the unit which is now part of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Service’s Homeland Security Division. Tom is responsible for programs serving to mitigate threats to California’s critical infrastructure through activities such as risk assessments, onsite security evaluations, maritime incident response, and State Operations Center (SOC) staffing. He worked the 2017 North Bay Fires, Oroville Dam Spillway Incident, Camp Fire Activation, and the initial COVID-19 respose at the SOC. Prior to working with the state, Tom served twenty-three years in the U.S. Army with assignments that included stints as a diplomatic courier and international treaty verification team member. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Maryland and a Master’s Degree in Military History from Norwich University.

Martha Farella

Data Scientist, Stantec

Martha has more than ten years of machine learning and geographical information system (GIS) experience. She has an extensive background in landscape-scale ecology, plant and soil interactions, soil biogeochemistry, and environmental change. At Stantec, Martha is one of the principal data scientists working on the development of Flood Predictor. She also has a Stantec Greenlight project to model soil carbon across large spatial extents using remote sensing and machine learning approaches.

 Over her career Martha has applied her remote sensing expertise to many projects. Some project highlights include: monitoring cover crops adoption across the midwestern U.S., creating high resolution predictions of soil functionality across complex landscapes with imaging spectroscopy, predicting and evaluating plant traits across diverse biomes, improving predictions of carbon dynamics across global dryland systems, and identification of flood inundation using satellite imagery. Martha has experience working with many different types of remote sensing data including thermal, lidar, and hyperspectral imagery. Her diverse experiences allow her to approach geospatial projects in unique and comprehensive ways.

 With a PhD in natural resource management and remote sensing, she helps her team incorporate spatial data into big data analytics to create products that are based in sound scientific theories. Martha is passionate about developing solutions to real world problems.

Brian Garcia

Warning Coordination Meteorologist, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 

Brian Garcia is the Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the National Weather Service here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Brian has worked all over the country from Houston to Alaska, from DC to California. He has been part of incident responses from Deepwater Horizon to the 2017 Wine Country Fires. Through too many “once in a career events” and years of operational meteorology, Brian has seen the impacts of climate change become more pronounced. Outside of his professional world, Brian spends most of his time in the ocean, surfing.

Brenda Goeden

Sediment Program Manager, Bay Conservation and Development Commission

Brenda Goeden

Brenda Goeden is the Sediment Program Manager for the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. She supervises the day-to-day sediment related projects, including dredging, sand and oyster shell mining, flood protection, and wetland and subtidal habitat restoration. She is BCDC’s Program Manager for the Long Term Management Strategy for the Placement of Dredged Material in the San Francisco Bay Region (LTMS) a member of the Dredged Material Management Office (DMMO), which is responsible for the beneficial reuse of over 25 million cubic yards of dredged sediment in the Bay Area. She and the BCDC Sediment Management Team worked in partnership with the San Francisco Estuary Institute, San Francisco Estuary Partnership, and the SF Bay Joint Venture on Flood Control 2.0, a multi-benefit approach to flood protection. She is the BCDC project manager for large scale wetland restoration projects, including Hamilton, Bair Island, Montezuma, and the South Bay Salt Ponds, and works to maximize beneficial reuse of sediment in these projects whenever feasible, supporting rapid marsh vegetation development. She is a frequent speaker at conferences and workshops on the subject. She has twelve years of experience developing and facilitating California marine conservation programs, as well as teaching marine science. She has a Bachelor of Arts in marine biology from Occidental College. She participates in the Great Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Beach Watch Program and Oil Spill Response Team and is a wild bird rehabilitator. 

JR Gregory

Senior Geomatics Analyst / Project Surveyor, Towill 

JR Gregory is a Geomatics Specialist and Project Surveyor with Towill, Inc. He attended university at California State University, Fresno where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Geomatics Engineering in 2010. He joined Towill shortly thereafter and has experienced a diverse career of 14 years with the company, providing geomatics services around the country. He is a Land Surveyor-In-Training (LSIT) and is currently pursuing his Professional Land Surveyor (PLS) license in California.

JR’s career highlights include field assignments for geodetic surveying, large control networks, terrestrial LiDAR, and airborne LIDAR while traveling across California and the US. He brings substantial experience to Towill using a variety of geomatics software in the office to deliver solutions to complex projects. As a result, he has implemented several QA/QC practices related to terrestrial LiDAR survey technology. Recently, JR wrapped up a 5-year project, managing a team monitoring construction under a QA survey contract for the Isabella Lake Dam Safety Modification Project. 

Rachael Hartofelis

Project Manager, MTC/ABAG

Rachael Hartofelis a Resilience Planner with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Association of Bay Area Governments. Her work focuses on understanding environmental risk, helping to analyze regional vulnerability, as well as supporting environmental assessments of the region for long-range planning. She has specialized in understanding local and regional vulnerability to sea level rise, providing risk analysis and visualization. Rachael has also specialized in understanding the funding of environmental adaptation, creating unprecedented assessments about regional financial need.

Maya Hayden

Director of Outreach, U.S. Geological Survey

Maya Hayden is an Environmental Scientist and Director of Outreach and Engagement for the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz, California. Her primary role is as a bridge between USGS coastal hazards science and decision-making applications. She develops and leads collaborative, interdisciplinary stakeholder engagement efforts to ensure that USGS coastal hazards science is actionable and centered on the needs of end-users. She has extensive experience building capacity to plan for and adapt to climate-driven coastal hazards. She holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from the University of California, Berkeley and an M.S. in Biology from Stanford University.

Janelle Kellman

Executive Director, Center for Sea Rise Solutions 

Janelle Kellman, Esq. has spent the last two decades working on challenges that define the 21st Century. Janelle most recently served as the Mayor of Sausalito in 2022 and is still a member of the Sausalito City Council. In her role as Mayor she tackled critical issues facing all of California, including climate resilience, affordable housing, homelessness, economic development, and equity and inclusion. Janelle most recently announced her candidacy for California Lieutenant Governor in 2026.

Janelle began her career as an environmental attorney, and worked across private and public practice in building her legal expertise. She has also launched her own technology startup and served as a trusted advisor to technology entrepreneurs. Janelle has a reputation as a unifying leader who can mobilize diverse constituencies to take action together, applying a unique lens of law, technology and public service to complex problems.

In 2020, Janelle founded the Center for Sea Rise Solutions, a global non-profit focused on coastal resilience and ocean health. She has spent significant time in California and in coastal communities across the United States working directly with elected leaders and their staff to help them find innovative solutions to these emerging climate challenges and to create opportunities for coastal communities to take action towards resilience. Janelle is also recognized as a global leader on coastal resilience and climate change, and what’s emerging as “the blue economy.” She has developed climate partnerships around the intersection of climate resilience, economic prosperity, and equity across the globe. Janelle most recently spent time advancing coastal and ocean health policies and innovation with private sector and government partners in France, Italy, and Portugal.

Janelle holds an undergraduate degree in History from Yale, a Masters in Environmental Management from Oxford, and a J.D. from Stanford Law. She was a two sport collegiate athlete and is currently an avid trail runner.

 Captain Taylor Q. Lam 

 Commander, Sector San Francisco, United States Coast Guard 

Captain Lam assumed command of Sector San Francisco in June 2021. As Commander, Sector San Francisco he leads nearly 600 Active, Reserve, and Civilian Coast Guard men and women operating three Cutters, seven Small Boat Stations, an Aids to Navigation Team, a Vessel Traffic Service, and a Marine Safety Detachment in addition to more than 1,000 Coast Guard Auxiliarists. His area of responsibility spans from the Oregon border to the San Luis Obispo County line and much of Nevada, Utah, and parts of Wyoming, and includes over 2,500 miles of shoreline within the San Francisco Bay and its tributaries.

Duties and responsibilities of Sector San Francisco include Captain of the Port, Federal On-Scene Coordinator, Officer in Charge of Marine Inspection, Federal Maritime Security Coordinator, and Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator. 

Captain Lam is a native of Riverside, CA and enlisted in 1996 through the College Student Pre-commissioning Initiative (CSPI) and graduated from Basic Training in Cape May, NJ. Upon completion of his undergraduate studies, he graduated from Officer Candidate School in 1998 at New London, CT. 

Over the course of his 27-year career, Captain Lam has served in some of the most demanding operational assignments the U.S. Coast Guard offers within the deployable law enforcement, port security, search and rescue, maritime safety, security, and environmental protection domains. Additionally, Captain Lam has served in unique special assignments in the U.S. Senate, Office of the Commandant, and other staff roles. 

He graduated from University of California, Riverside, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Boston University earning a master’s degree in criminal justice, The College of William and Mary earning a master’s degree in public policy, the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security Executive Leadership Program earning completion certificates.

Justin Luedy

Senior Environmental Specialist, Port of Long Beach

 Justin Luedy has worked as a Senior Environmental Specialist at the Port of Long Beach for over 15 years, where he’s responsible for projects and programs related to climate change adaptation and coastal resiliency planning, harbor-wide biological surveys, wildlife mitigation and management, water quality monitoring, compensatory wetland mitigation, and sustainability. Justin holds a B.S. in Marine Biology and a M.S. in Environmental Science. 

Stas Margaronis

President, Propeller Club of Northern California

Stas Margaronis is the California Ports Reporter for the American Journal of Transportation (AJOT).

Kristi McKenney

Chief Operating Officer, Port of Oakland

Kristi McKenney was named Chief Operating Officer at the Port of Oakland Feb. 5, 2020. In her role she oversees Port operations with responsibility for Engineering Services, Environmental Programs and Planning, Utilities and Information Technology. Before receiving the COO title, Ms. McKenney had been Assistant Director of Aviation at the Port’s Oakland International Airport since 2014. A graduate of San Jose State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aeronautics, Ms. McKenney received a Master of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

Mehdi Mizani

Deputy State Floodplain Manager, Floodplain Management Branch, Department of Water Resources

I have over a decade of experience at the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) spearheading high-impact water management initiatives across the state. I began my DWR career leading program controls for the State Water Project Analysis Office before transitioning to implement sustainable water projects statewide as part of the Integrated Regional Water Management program. 

In 2018, I was selected to join the Sustainable Groundwater Management Office, where I assisted with resource planning and the development of the review process for the Groundwater Sustainability Plans. The following year, I was selected as Deputy State Floodplain Manager for the Division of Flood Management. In this influential role, I lead the development of a Statewide Flood Risk Assessment Master Plan and oversee critical local assistance programs reducing flood risk across California. Most recently in 2023, I was designated as the California Silver Jackets State Lead, collaborating with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on nonstructural flood risk mitigation initiatives protecting communities statewide.

Jan Novak

Associate Environmental Planner and Scientist, Port of Oakland

Jan Novak

Jan Novak is a professional wetland scientist who works as an associate environmental planner/scientist with the Port of Oakland. He is responsible for permitting water-based projects and dredging. He recently managed the Port’s AB 691 Sea-Level Rise analysis. Prior to starting at the Port, he worked for 16 years at several environmental consulting firms. He studied soil science at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

Erika Powell

Senior Project Manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, San Francisco District

Erika Powell joined the US Army Corps of Engineers a second time a couple of months after the start of the pandemic, after working with the USACE in her hometown of New Orleans in the late 90’s. Erika currently serves as a Senior Project Manager responsible for coastal flood risk management studies as well as a navigation feasibility study for the Port of Oakland.

Erika has decades of trust-building with officials and technical leaders at the Federal, State and Local levels. This 360-degree view of the project planning and implementation process has enabled her to have candid and strategic conversations with stakeholders, directly accelerating and improving project implementation through collaboration and creative funding strategies. As a bi-lingual (Spanish) speaker and credible climate resilience liaison, Erika applies these skills in public engagement in economically disadvantaged and Environmental Justice (EJ) communities.

In addition to leading the design and implementation of flood protection and restoration projects in the Bay Area, Erika led an accelerated flood risk information solicitation effort for the California Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) FloodSafe Statewide Flood Management Planning Program that produced the Flood Future Report and Recommendations (2013). This effort, executed in collaboration with the USACE, consolidated Federal, State, and Local information into the first comprehensive view of California’s flood risk and is today used by many as a tool for flood risk mitigation and adaptation planning.

Born in the City of Guatemala, Central America, Erika and her family migrated to the City of New Orleans when she was eight years old. Erika was the first in her extended family to graduate from college. After earning a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of New Orleans and spending the first four years after graduation in Los Angeles working for the County’s Department of Public Works (LADPW), she returned home and joined the USACE New Orleans District. Erika’s love for the west coast brought her to the Bay Area in January 2000 where she spent the next 16 years in consulting, and the following 3.5 years founding the San Mateo County Flood and Sea Level Rise Resiliency District, also known as OneShoreline.

Kevin Roche

Research Engineer & Quantum Ambassador, IBM Research Almaden

Kevin Roche is a research engineer at IBM Research Almaden, specializing in materials for magnetoelectronics, spintronics, and other related fields. He is an expert in ultra-high-vacuum systems and thin-film deposition, data acquisition and laboratory automation.

A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Kevin earned his Bachelor’s degree in Physics at the University of California, Berkeley in 1983. He first joined IBM Research in 1982 as an American Physical Society intern; after completing his degree, he returned to IBM Research.

Since 2002, Kevin has been introducing and explicating his work in physics and materials science publicly, making it accessible to audiences with a wide range of technical education; he was a featured expert on magnetic levitation for Episode 4 of Science and Star Wars. In 2017 he added quantum computing concepts to that role and is now both an official IBM Quantum Ambassador and a Qiskit Advocate.

Kevin has been a dedicated science fiction fan since he learned to read, and his hobbies include building bartending robots, designing and making costumes, and running science fiction conventions; he was Chair of the 76th World Science Fiction Convention in August 2018.

Emery Roe

Senior Research Associate, Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, U.C. Berkeley

Emery Roe is Senior Researcher at the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, University of California Berkeley. He is a practicing policy analyst with a long-term focus on risk and uncertainty and more recently on society’s critical infrastructures. He is author or co-author of articles and books, including High Reliability Management (2008) and Reliability and Risk (2016), both co-authored with Paul Schulman.  

Paul Ruff

Pilot, San Francisco Bar Pilots

My name is Paul Ruff. I am a member of the San Francisco Bar Pilots and have been since 2011. I got my start with the US Coast Guard in 1986. I was a boatswain’s mate and a US Navy diver for my 5 years in uniform. In 1991 started my civilian maritime career. Starting as a deckhand and engineer working up to 1600-ton Master. I have worked as a Master for 16 years with Bay and Delta Maritime, Seariver Maritime, and Foss Maritime until 2009 when I started my apprenticeship for SFBP. 

Brett Sanders

Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, U.C. Irvine

Brett Sanders is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Urban Planning and Public Policy at UC Irvine.  He earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley and an M.S. and PhD in Civil Engineering at the University of Michigan emphasizing environmental fluid mechanics and computational methods. 

Dr. Sanders’ research seeks to promote improved understanding of and responses to flooding and erosion risks. His work addresses coastal, riverine, urban and mountain risks. He is the developer of the ParBreZo and PRIMo flood simulation models for compound risk assessment at local to regional scales, and his work has informed the practice of collaborative flood modeling with stakeholders to improve risk awareness and identify effective and just adaptation pathways. Dr. Sanders is experienced leading interdisciplinary teams advancing research that addresses compound and interconnected climate risks, and he currently leads collaborative flood modeling projects in both California and Florida.

Dr. Sanders is a Fellow in the Engineering Mechanics Institute of ASCE, a Fellow of the Environmental and Water Resources Institute of ASCE, Fellow of the Faculty Academy for Teaching Excellence, a recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, a Member of the Science Advisory Panel for the California Coastal Commission, and the recipient of numerous teaching awards at UCI.


LTC Timothy Shebesta

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, San Francisco District 

LTC Timothy Shebesta is a native of Antioch, IL.  He commissioned in the U.S. Army on December 17th, 2006 as an Engineer Officer after graduation from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering.  He has also earned a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology, and a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Minnesota.  He holds a current license as a Professional Engineer and a Project Management Professional certification.  LTC Shebesta is in his 16th year of Army Service.  

LTC Shebesta’s Army service began with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Calvary Division in roles such Provincial Police Training Team Chief, Platoon Leader, Executive Officer, and Assistant Operations Officer, during two deployments to Mosul and Amarah, Iraq. He then commanded Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division during a third deployment to Taji, Iraq.  Next, he served as an Area Engineer in the New York District US Army Corps of Engineers, followed by an OC/T Team Chief and Operations Officer in 181st Multi-Functional Training Brigade of First Army in Fort McCoy, WI.  As a major, he served as the Current Operations Integration Cell Operations Officer, Battalion Operations Officer, and Battalion Executive Officer of Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, U.S. Army South in Fort Sam Houston, TX.  His most recent opportunity was to serve as the Professor of Military Science at his alma mater, Marquette University Army ROTC.

LTC Shebesta is a graduate of the Engineer Officer Basic Course, Engineer Captain’s Career Course, Command and General Staff Officers Course, Joint Engineer Operations Course, Airborne School, the First Army OC/T Academy, and the Common Faculty Development-Instructor Course. 

His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal; Meritorious Service Medal (3rd Award); Army Commendation Medal (5th Award); Army Achievement Medal (2nd Award); National Defense Service Medal; Iraqi Campaign Medal (3 Campaign Stars); Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Armed Forces Service Medal; Overseas Service Ribbon; Combat Action Badge; Parachutist Badge; German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge; Meritorious Unit Citation. 

LTC Shebesta celebrates 16 years of marriage to his wife, Anna, who is a former Army Nurse.  They have 2 daughters, Josephine (5) and Madeline (2). Together, they enjoy traveling and exploring the world.  

Patrick Sing

Water Manager / Hydraulic Engineer, USACE SPN

Patrick Sing is the lead water manager for the US Army Corps of Engineers, San Francisco District.  He manages flood control releases from Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma, the two major reservoirs within the Russian River Basin.  He has worked for the Corps for over 15 years, including the last 7 years as the lead water manager.  He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of California, Davis and is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of California. 

Rebecca Verity

Program Manager, Climate Adaptation & Resilience

Rebecca Verity is a senior scientist and Regional Program Manager for Climate Adaptation at GEI Consultants, Inc.  She is serving as a co-author for the National Levee Safety Guidelines, leading content development around climate risks and adaptation.   She has worked at the nexus of ecology and infrastructure for over 20 years, focusing on building resilience to our changing climate patterns.  She is fluent in how a changing climate will disproportionately impact aging infrastructure, vulnerable ecosystems & species, and underserved peoples, and has prepared adaptation plans to safeguard communities, water supplies, flood protection systems and transportation against climate hazards ranging from sea level rise to wildfire, extreme heat to flood. She has a particular interest in protecting critical community lifelines against the hazards of compound climate events, and enjoys working closely with clients and colleagues to help transform individual expertise into collaborative, creative solutions.

Kristine Zortman

Executive Director, Port of Redwood City

Kristine A. Zortman is the executive director of the Port of Redwood City where she is responsible for implementing long-range organizational goals and policies for the seventh largest port in California.

While serving in this role, Zortman has spearheaded several key initiatives that have positioned south San Francisco Bay’s only deep-water port for long-term success. This includes developing the port’s first-ever strategic vision plan, which will guide the port’s development through 2025. The plan calls for maximizing land use, improving infrastructure, diversifying maritime and commercial business efforts, improving operations and protecting the environment – all with the overall goal of strengthening the port’s impact on the region’s economy and quality of life.

Zortman’s port experience also includes eight years at the Port of San Diego where she worked on commercial real estate negotiations for cargo and maritime trade growth. She also served as vice president of neighborhood investment for Civic San Diego, a non-profit economic development agency. She began her career working in the environmental and biological realms for the National Park Service and Heitman Financial, a real estate investment management firm in Los Angeles.

Zortman was named the 2021 Chamber San Mateo County’s Businesswoman of the Year; serves as vice president of the California Association of Port Authorities; and is a board member for the Bay Planning Coalition, California Marine Affairs & Navigation Conference, and the San Francisco Marine Exchange.

Her unique ability to navigate the complex intersection of public and private interests has led to the successful implementation of pioneering policies, including cost recovery initiatives, environmentally conscious practices and unique development opportunities.

She holds a degree in biology from George Mason University and has pursued graduate studies from the University of Utah and University of California Los Angeles.