Waterway Stories: 2021 Conference of the NY-NJ Harbor & Estuary Program

To view recordings of the conference sessions, click on the session titles below.

For Waterway Stories: Water Quality, Access, and Community, we virtually brought together members of the community, non-profits, academia, and local, state and federal government to talk water quality and how it affects our lives and our community. How should we encourage equitable and safe waterfront access? How do we best communicate about risk? How does the climate crisis move these conversations?

The conference week highlighted HEP’s commitment to bringing our communities to their waterways and our water up to the standards befitting our communities, through expert presentations, interactive discussions, and diverse stories.


A Welcome From Walter Mugdan, Regional Administrator of EPA Region 2

Conference Welcome

Speakers: Paul Greenberg, Rob Pirani, Jonathan Kramer, and Rosana Da Silva

The conference began with a welcome from HEP and Hudson River Foundation staff and a keynote address by author of Four Fish and The Climate Diet, Paul Greenberg.

Who Speaks for the Waterways: Empowering Community in Vulnerable Places

Speakers: Pamela Pettyjohn, Noah Chesnin, Noelle Thurlow, Bibi Calderaro, Rob Buchanan, Shino Tanikawa, Charles Denson, and Julie Welch

This panel discussed how to elevate the voice of the community to improve our waterways and steward our waterways to highlight issues in the community.

More Than a Message

An interactive training session led by Eric Eckl from Water Words That Work

Eric led the group in exploring modern outreach concepts such as market research, targeting, delivery, and engagement. What Happens to Your Message Once it’s Out There? Attendees discovered how to predict the number of people who will notice your message, and how to measure their response.

Designing for Co-Benefits: Improving Water Quality, Habitat, Resiliency, and Stewardship

Speakers: John Mclaughlin, Rob Buchanan, Emma Butzler, Jennifer Gonzalez, and Elise Meyers

This session focused on four unique projects that seek to improve water quality while also maximizing co-benefits.

Safe Space Commitment: Join the Coalition and Make All Our Spaces Safe for Everyone

Speakers: Robina Taliferrow, Tanasia Swift, Elisa Caref, and Rosana Da Silva

HEP’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice subcommittee launched a new coalition and invited all partners to take the Safe Space Commitment to work towards creating open and equitable environments within our shared spaces where everyone can feel safe and welcomed.

Living With Water: Amplifying Community Voices to Drive Adaptation

Speakers: Lindsay Campbell, Drew Curtis, Dan Wiley, Roger Gendron, and Rebecca Fishman

Driven by climate change, chronic flooding is impacting people and places throughout the estuary. A panel of experts from community, government and science discussed how community stories and community science can inform policy, investment and management decisions.

An Old Story Made New: Swimming in the Hudson and Harbor

Speakers: Karen Frillman, Dan Shapley, Kara Meyer, Chris Boyd, Shanna Blanchard, and Shawn Slevin

Speakers discussed historic and current initiatives to provide safe and accessible recreation on our waterways. Panel presentations highlighted the physical, policy, and management opportunities and challenges for creating new bathing beaches in the Hudson and Harbor, including how community disparities can prevent people from accessing current and future swimming opportunities.

Partnership Panel with Billion Oyster Project: Envisioning Safer Blue and Green Spaces

Speakers: Priya Parrotta, Alan Michelson, Kristiy Drutman, Makalé Faber Cullen, and Tatiana Castro

The Billion Oyster Project, NY-NJ HEP, and Con-Edison presented a panel discussion on intersectional environmentalism. Speakers explored how diverse groups use green and blue spaces in their disciplines and why safety and access to those spaces is vital.

Partnership Panel with Natural Areas Conservatory: Making Wetlands Part of the New York City Story

Speakers: Sarah Charlop Powers, Marit Larson, Michael Marrella, Karen Imas, Chris Girgenti, Abby Jordan, Tanasia Swift, Paola Garcia, and Gale Brewer

New York City’s recently released Wetlands Management Framework and Comprehensive Waterfront Plan provide a roadmap for conserving and enhancing the City’s tidal and freshwater wetlands. Representatives from New York City Parks and City Planning provided an overview and a discussion with wetland managers, community-based activists, and environmental advocates that highlighted opportunities and challenges for new administration and City Council.

Creating Community With Every Catch

Speakers: Peter Park, Hugh Carola, Audrey Van Genechten, and Steven Wong

Some fisher folk discussed lessons learned from being on the water and the ways we can work together to improve communication with and about our fishing community.

Creating Spaces for Youth in Our Work: Supporting Their Growth in Community Leadership

Speakers: Jerel Ezell, Shinara Sunderlal, Allison Fitzgerald, David Tulloch, Shaquille Fearon-Elliott, and Jasmine Benitez

How do we define mentorship in our field? What does it take to be a mentor? Can we all do more to support the youth and young professionals in our communities to make sure they’re not just entering our field but staying? This session explored these questions and discussed what are some of the pathways that currently exist today that can support young people to take leadership roles in their communities.

The Flow of Trash: How we are Reducing Floatable Debris From the Waterway

Speakers: Marie Lorenz, Anna Koskol, Josh Kogan, and Kristin Ricigliano

This session focused on efforts to improve our understanding of floatable debris pathways and how these efforts are communicated.

Closing Keynote: Investing in Communities and Their Waterways

Speakers: Congressman Tom Malinowski, Nicole Miller, and Rob Pirani

Congressman Tom Malinowski provided the closing keynote to wrap up Waterway Stories.

Hudson River Foundation