Logo for Annual COnference

Annual Conference Speakers: Livestreaming

On February 16th and 17th, UWC-USA will host this year’s Annual Conference: Fire and Water. The conference will bring together high school students and teachers from Mexico and the state of New Mexico for workshops, activities, and speakers focusing on the themes of Fire and Water as they relate to climate change, resilience, community practices, policy, and the human experience.

Two of the speakers will be livestreamed during their keynote addresses. Dr. Len Necefer ’07 and Hugo Contreras Zepeda ‘87 will speak about how we can be better stewards of the natural world.

Dr. Len Necefer ’07, Friday, February 16 at 3:15 pm MT
Hugo Contreras Zepeda ’87, Saturday, February 17 at 1:15 pm MT

To watch the keynote sessions:

At the time of the workshop (all times are Mountain Time), simply click this link which will take you to the UWC-USA Facebook page. There is no need to register in advance and there will be recordings of the sessions.

More about the speakers:

Picture of Len NEcefer

A member of the Navajo Nation, Dr. Len Necefer, has spent the past decade learning about the land and water that has shaped his identity as a Navajo person and those of indigenous people across the globe. After thirty years of figuring out and surviving western education he obtained a bachelors in Mechanical Engineering and Doctorate in Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University. As an unforeseen result of obtaining these degrees, he worked for the U.S. Department of Energy and, most recently, as a professor at the University of Arizona. However the confines of government and the cloistered halls of academia grew too frustrating and he set off to become an entrepreneur and to meld his education with adventure storytelling.

In 2021 Len went full time with NativesOutdoors as their founder and CEO – a native-owned athletic and creative collective founded in 2017 – working in media and film production, design, and consulting. His storytelling, film, and photography work melds the intersection of sport, environmental advocacy, and indigenous people and has been featured in the Alpinist, National Geographic, the Rolling Stone and over 50 film festivals globally.

In recent years, Len saw a calling to return to the southwest and to document the lands and waters around the Colorado River in light of a decades-long megadrought gripping the region. From the snowpacks of Colorado to the Gulf of California it became clear that knowing how to move through these landscapes needed its own education. To combine the academic training with on-the-ground- knowledge, it required learning how to climb and ski at age 28, learning avalanche and mountaineering safety at 30, learning how to packraft whitewater at 33, and how to operate a film camera at age 34. In building these skills, Len has built a community of professional athletes, filmmakers, and other storytellers focused on supporting native communities. Dr. Len calls Tucson, Arizona home. 

Hugo Contreras Zepeda

Hugo is the Head of Infrastructure Services for the LAC Region at Water.org. He has more than 20 years experience building successful partnerships, supporting change and driving innovation in the water, sustainability and natural resources governance. 

He has Managing Director experience reporting to Boards in multinational corporations, global NGOs, and government. A solid academic background in economics, development issues and business management and multicultural experience in developing and developed regions, coupled with a trajectory of engaging with IFIs (International Financial Institutions), International Agencies, private and public sector and communities. Fluent in Spanish, English and able to communicate in French and Portuguese. Hugo heads the newly created Infrastructure Services practice for Water.org in the LAC Region. In this capacity, he is responsible for identifying, developing and helping finance water infrastructure aimed at improving access to water and sanitation, ameliorate water quality, mitigate scarcity and help communities become more resilient to climate change. 

Prior to his tenure at Water.org, Hugo led TNC´s Latin America´s Freshwater Regional Unit. In this role he has led one of TNC´s most successful Partnerships in the water space, the Latin American Water Funds Partnership. The Partnership helped incubate 25 NGOS across the Region focused on mainstreaming nature base solutions and strengthening governance for a more water secure world.

As Business Development and Public Affairs Director for Mexico at one of the leading international private water utilities, he was able to acquire first-hand experience in responding to the challenges of providing water services to large populations.  

Hugo earned his BA in Economics at ITAM in Mexico, his MSc in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics from UCL in London. He also has diplomas in Management and Environmental Economics from Cambridge University, the IPADE, Berkeley University and the World Bank. 

Hugo is a UWC-USA alumni, class of ‘87.

Stay Connected