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Healthy Communities, Green Infrastructure, and Water Sustainability in Southern California

Thursday, June 1, 2017
10:00am - 12:30pm PDT
Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator | La Kretz Innovation Campus
525 South Hewitt Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Members: $0.00
Non-Members: $100.00
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With temperatures rising in Southern California due to climate change, our region is facing severe threats including heat mortality, flooding, and long-term water shortages, particularly in low-income communities of color. Much of the region’s infrastructure developed in the 20th century only compounds these challenges: impermeable asphalt and concrete covering ecosystems, channelized rivers, and a lack of greenspace. Green infrastructure spending represents an enormous opportunity to mitigate these threats with billions of dollars in public funds to ensure new projects provide sustainable and equitable projects, especially as it relates to storm water capture: what we do with the rain that falls in our region, putting it to use or letting it go to waste.

Even with new funds becoming available, the traditional agency response may continue investing in “grey infrastructure”, which results in only minimal benefits such as economic development, sustained long-term  jobs for urban youth, and equity outcomes. On the other hand, green infrastructure can be designed specifically and cost-effectively to produce equity outcomes as a priority. Green infrastructure also brings multiple benefits such as saving energy, enhancing our water supply, generating green jobs, and supporting healthier communities, as opposed to single benefits from grey infrastructure.

For the philanthropic sector, an opportunity exists to invest in expanding local capacity of people and organizations to build and maintain green infrastructure, and to help advocate for green infrastructure to be prioritized over grey when the mitigations are being designed. Join this conversation with leaders working on a set of strategies to usher in a green infrastructure paradigm for Southern California, including civic leadership, agency coordination, potential ballot measures to generate funding, and grassroots community engagement. You’ll connect with funders currently funding in the space along with those interested to learn more about how green infrastructure can lead to better public health, climate resiliency, community engagement, and livable communities. After the program, we invite you to connect with other funders over a networking lunch.


  • Moderator: Alexandra Paxton, Program Officer, Water Foundation
  • Elva Yañez, Director, Prevention Institute
  • Roxanna Tynan, Executive Director, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy
  • Cindy Montañez, Chief Executive Officer, TreePeople
  • Katy Young, Deputy for the Environment and Arts, Office of Sheila Kuehl, LA County Board of Supervisors


This event is being hosted in partnership with Smart Growth California



Alexandra Paxton (Moderator), Program Officer, Water Foundation

Alexandra Paxton manages the Los Angeles program of the Water Foundation, a philanthropic non-profit dedicated to advancing sustainable water management. The Los Angeles program focuses on helping the region become a global leader in sustainable urban water management, reducing water pollution, augmenting local water supplies, and improving quality of life while engaging a diverse and informed constituency in policy and investment decisions.  Previously, Paxton consulted for clients including the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation and Estolano LeSar Perez Advisors, working on projects seeking to grow thriving, healthy and vibrant communities. Before that, she served as Project Manager at the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles, Acting Executive Director for the LA City Workforce Investment Board, and Legislative Deputy to then-Councilmember Eric Garcetti. She received her B.A. and J.D. from Yale University. 

Elva Yañez, Director, Prevention Institute

Elva Yañez has experience in policy advocacy, strategic planning, civic engagement, and communications for non-profit organizations, government agencies, and foundations in the areas of public policy, urban parks, public health, land use and the built environment. She has a long history of involvement in community-driven policy initiatives in both the public health and environmental arenas. Yañez has served as Director of the Center for Health and Parks at the Trust for Public Land; grant liaison officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's SmokeLess States national initiative; Deputy Director of the RWJF Policy Advocacy on Tobacco and Health initiative; and Senior Associate Director at Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights (ANR). She has been active in numerous local and statewide efforts to enhance access to parks and open space. Yañez was appointed to the California State Parks and Recreation Commission in 2011 by Governor Jerry Brown.

Roxana Tynan, Executive Director, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy

Roxana Tynan joined LAANE in 2001 and served as Deputy Director for six years until assuming the position of Executive Director in February 2012. She has spent her entire career advancing the cause of social and economic justice. Tynan was the guiding force behind LAANE’s groundbreaking Community Benefits Program, which has pioneered a new model for economic development in Los Angeles and across the country. She negotiated many of LAANE’s Community Benefits Agreements as well as the Los Angeles Superstore Ordinance, which has successfully limited Walmart’s expansion efforts in Los Angeles. She has played a leading role in developing LAANE’s community organizing department, mentoring dozens of young organizers and creating one of the region’s most effective grassroots recruitment and advocacy programs.


Cindy Montañez, Chief Executive Officer, TreePeople

Cindy Montañez is a lifelong Angeleno raised in the Northeast San Fernando Valley. At the age of 25, she was elected as the youngest mayor and councilmember of her hometown of San Fernando. At 28 years old, Montañez made history by becoming the youngest woman elected to the California State Legislature, where she became a champion for the environment, sustainable urban planning, and social justice. She then moved on to serve as Assistant General Manager at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, where she was a core part of the team transitioning the nation's largest publicly-owned utility to cleaner energy and a more sustainable local water supply. Montañez is currently a Board Member for the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and a Legislator In-Residence at the USC Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics.


Katy Young, Deputy for the Environment and Arts, Office of Sheila Kuehl, LA County Board of Supervisors

Katy Young is responsible for developing the Third District’s environment, water, and arts policy. She previously served as the General Counsel and Director of Government Affairs at the Climate Action Reserve, a Los Angeles-based environmental non-profit committed to developing and implementing market-based solutions to climate change. Young has also worked as a land use and environmental attorney at Latham & Watkins and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. An alumnus of the CORO fellowship program, she now serves on the Southern California CORO Board of Directors and its Executive Committee. Young is a Los Angeles native and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a BA from UC Berkeley and received her law degree from UCLA.


SCG members: No cost to participate
Eligible non-members: $100

Who May Attend:
SCG Members and eligible nonmembers

SCG members: register online (you must log in to your SCG account to register)
Eligible non-members: register online. If you do not have an SCG account, contact [email protected].

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