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WELL UnTapped 2020

The 2020 UnTapped Cohort consisted of eight elected officials from throughout the state of California. The fellows traveled to different watersheds in California to learn about regional water challenges and best practices and to develop the leadership and interpersonal skills necessary to make a lasting impact on California water policy.

January 1719, 2020: The opening retreat of UnTapped 2020 took place in Los Angeles, and included an exploration and survey of the LA River, team-building exercises, such as speed interviews and “Circle to Square,” and an introduction to leadership development tools. Fellows interviewed and heard from the following guest speakers: Senator Elena Maria Durazo, California’s 24th State Senate District; Ed Reyes, Executive Director of RiverLA; and Liliana Griego, Senior Manager of Policy, Advocacy, and Engagement at Friends of the LA River.

February 78, 2020: UnTapped fellows traveled to Orange County to tour the Orange County Water District (OCWD). While there, they interviewed OCWD’s Legislative Liaison Alicia Dunkin; OCWD Board President Victor Sarmiento; and OCWD Board Member Kelly Rowe. Later, they interviewed Santa Ana City Councilmember Jose Solorio. On Saturday, UnTapped WELLos dove deep into Public Narrative, a public speaking strategy designed to help WELLos achieve their legislative goals.

March 67, 2020: UnTapped WELLos visited the Coachella Valley to explore a myriad issues facing the Salton Sea, Polanco Parks, and the Colorado River. They toured Polanco Parks with Monica Telles, the Senior Development Specialist for the County of Riverside Economic Development Agency; Shayra Hernandez, the East Valley Liaison; and Agriculture Advisor under the County of Riverside, Supervisor V. Manuel Perez. During the tour, WELLos spoke to two young women about their experiences living in a Polanco park. WELLos also got heard from Sergio Carranza, the Executive Director of Pueblo Unido, and interviewed Castulo Estrada, Vice President of the Coachella Valley Water District. In the evening, City of Coachella Mayor Steven Hernandez took WELLos on a public art tour of the city. WELLos also took some time to continue developing their Public Narratives.

April 1011, 2020: Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the UnTapped Fellowship moved online. Although the WELLos were unable to meet in person, the water education and leadership development continued on! In this session, WELLos explored the Human Right to Water as it relates to farmworkers and other vulnerable populations in the Central Valley. They took a virtual tour of the Cesar Chavez National Monument and discussed Chavez’s work and legacy. WELLos also had a chance to interview Clay Rodgers, the Assistant Executive Officer of the State Water Quality Control Board–Central Valley Region. The WELLos Public Narrative leadership training continued virtually as well, as WELLos shared and received feedback on their “Story of Us.”

May 12, 2020: In another online session, WELLos explored water as it relates to farmers and the agricultural sector in California. They had the opportunity to interview Joe Del Bosque, former Commissioner of the California Water Commission and current San Joaquin Valley farmer. They discussed sustainable farming practices, issues at the labor-water nexus, and the future of farming in the Central Valley. Although our UnTapped Fellowship Program for elected officials moved online, the water education and leadership development continued to move forward.

June 34, 2020: For this special virtual WELL UnTapped graduation, WELLos talked about how they could translate what they studied into action. WELLos learned about the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and shared their final Public Narratives. For their commencement ceremony, they heard from City of Covina Mayor Pro Tem Jorge Marquez; Mayor of Baldwin Park, Manuel Lozano; Paola Laverde, Chair of the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board; County of Sonoma Supervisor James Gore; California State Treasurer Fiona Ma; and California State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (AD-63). Congratulations to our WELLos for graduating from the UnTapped Fellowship Program!