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Collab Lab 25: Water

Thursday February 7, 2019 @ 5:30 am - 8:30 pm

How can we engage students in authentic learning experiences related to water and water technologies?

Beyond the facts that Milwaukee sits next to a whole lot of water and spans several watersheds, it is home to more than 200 water technology companies.  This creates an opportunity not just to explore physical connections to water and the environment, but to tap into expertise around how water is used and managed.  Join colleagues from public, private, and charter schools from across greater Milwaukee as well as some folks from outside of K-12 to flesh out some ideas and make the connections that can help bring those to life.



5:30 – 6:00 Grab something to eat and drink, say hello

6:00 – 6:30 Introductions

6:30- 8:30 Let’s explore some ideas

Food and beverage will be provided. There is no charge for participation but space is limited!



Featured Participants

Brenda Coley – Co-Executive Director, Milwaukee Water Commons (MWC)

Milwaukee Water Commons is a cross-city network that fosters connection, collaboration and broad community leadership on behalf of our waters. MWC promotes stewardship of, equitable access to and shared decision-making for our common waters.

Brenda brings to MWC her philosophy on being a servant leader. She is committed to exploring the influences of one’s own culture or cultures and understanding ways in which groups of people have been and are treated in society, using that knowledge to develop strategies to effectively engage diverse groups of people in important community issues.

Jake Fincher – Stormwater Program Manager, Sweet Water

Sweet Water is committed to restoring the Greater Milwaukee watersheds to conditions that are healthy for swimming and fishing. They bring diverse partners together and provide the leadership and innovation necessary to protect and restore our shared water resources. Jake manages Sweet Water’s stormwater program which includes initiatives like the Respect Our Waters outreach campaign, the Adopt-A-Storm Drain program, and a coast-wide communications strategy. Each of these focus to inform and educate community members about stormwater pollution prevention. He holds a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in Integrated Science/Business, with an emphasis on water.

Tony Giron – Community Engagement Manager, Harbor District Milwaukee

The Harbor District has been at the center of our region’s prosperity for hundreds of years – first as a rice marsh with plentiful fish and game, then as an economic hub that served industries throughout the State. Now, much of its land sits abandoned or in disrepair, its waterways are polluted – but its potential is immense.

The Harbor District Initiative brings together local, state, and federal government efforts, private sector interests, and community enthusiasm to transform this area into a vibrant and productive waterfront that strengthens our community and regional economy.

Tony is responsible for building relationships and implementing programs that create or reinforce community connections to the Harbor District. His projects include organizing Harbor Fest, coordinating tours of the area, and seeking opportunities to collaborate with local partners.


Justin Hegarty, P.E., LEED A.P., Executive Director, Reflo

Justin has over 14 years of engineering experience including managing several diverse teams and water resource projects. He co-founded Reflo to work with community stakeholders in the Milwaukee-area to design and build creative and meaningful green infrastructure. Shortly after organizing the nonprofit it became evident that a strong local movement was necessary to advance green schools initiatives in the area, and Reflo began organizing the Green Schools Consortium of Milwaukee. Reflo has supported many exciting community-based green infrastructure initiatives including rainwater harvesting for urban agriculture, organizing and funding the first Green Schools Conference in Milwaukee, developing an interactive app to explore local water projects, and organizing a mapping user’s group to share community data with the intent of increasing communication and resource sharing across organizations.


Kelly Ibarra – Teacher Success Lead, STEMhero

STEMhero offers a curriculum geared towards educating students about water and utility usage through real time, individualized data collection. Previously, Kelly served at two different Urban Milwaukee schools as a middle school ELA teacher and most recently, as a “Master Teacher” and instructional coach. She resides in Bayview with her husband and three lovely children.


Cate Rahmlow – Director of Sector Strategy Development, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

Kate serves as project strategist and developer for targeted investments in Wisconsin’s food, energy, and water sectors. For each of these sectors, Cate works with industry leaders, economic development partners, universities and other schools to advance economic cluster strategies that strengthen public/private partnerships and help companies better innovate and compete in the global marketplace. Among noteworthy projects,Cate has been involved with the cluster development strategy of The Water Council—which has been recognized as a model for successful cluster development by entities including the Brookings Institution and CoreNet Global.


Rochelle Sandrin – Science Curriculum Specialist, Milwaukee Public Schools

Rochelle leads science curriculum development and design for Milwaukee Public Schools in grades K-12. Responsibilities include leading professional development for school and district administrators, writing and supporting science-related grants, updating curriculum and resources to align with the Next Generation Science Standards, and managing a small team of science teacher leaders as they work directly with teachers in the schools around the district. Our current work includes a focus on equity of access to science education for all students, and culturally relevant curriculum, resources, and teaching practices in our classrooms.


Liz Sutton, Outreach Manager, UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences

The School of Freshwater Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is the largest water focused academic research institute on the Great Lakes and the only North American school of higher education solely dedicated to freshwater issues. The School trains the next generation of freshwater professionals and advances strategic science to inform policy, improve management, and promote the health and sustainability of the Great Lakes and freshwater systems worldwide. Liz has spent her career working to engage and inspire young people through STEM and environmental science education. In 2008 she transitioned into higher education, working as the Assistant Director and STEM Specialist for UWM College for Kids before developing a formal outreach department within the School of Freshwater Sciences with her at the helm.


Thursday February 7, 2019
5:30 am - 8:30 pm
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Learn Deep


Ward 4
313 Plankinton Ave
Milwaukee, WI United States
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