Leading on Lead Service Line Replacement in New York
February 29 | 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

On November 30, 2023, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the proposed Lead and Copper Rule Improvements (LCRI). If the proposed LCRI is finalized, it would, among other changes, require that most water systems replace 100 percent of their lead service lines (LSLs) within ten years. More immediately, and under existing LCRI guidance from 2022, water systems have been directed to create and complete lead service line material inventories by October 16, 2024. In advance of the upcoming deadline, join the Rockefeller Institute of Government on Thursday, February 29, 2024, for a half-day symposium to bring together community stakeholders, experts, practitioners, and policymakers to share strategies, challenges, and innovative solutions to ensure public health and safety in the wake of these new regulatory measures.

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Event Program

See presentation details and speaker bios and headshots below.

Parking information will be sent to registrants in the lead up to the event.

  • 10:00 AM – 10:15 AM

    Welcoming Remarks

    Welcoming remarks will be offered by US Congressman Paul D. Tonko and Jona Favreau.

  • 10:15 AM – 11:10 AM

    Panel 1 | Funding

    Moderator: Robert Megna, president, Rockefeller Institute of Government

    • Marissa Lieberman-Klein, associate attorney, Earthjustice

    • Rebecca Ruscito, counsel, New York State Conference of Mayors

    • John T. McDonald III, assemblymember, district 108, New York State Assembly

    • Kristine Wheeler, director, Bureau of Water Supply Protection, New York State Department of Health

  • 11:15 AM – 12:00 PM

    Panel 2 | Equity & Implementation

    Moderator: Laura Rabinow, deputy director of research, Rockefeller Institute of Government

    • Gabrielle Burton-Hill, founding member, Newburgh Clean Water Project

    • Torrance Harvey, mayor, City of Newburgh, New York

    • Rob Hayes, director, Clean Water, Environmental Advocates NY

    • Kathy Sheehan, mayor, City of Albany, New York

    • Harrison Watkins, research director, New York State Laborers’ Organizing Fund

Featured Speakers

Jona Favreau

Jona Favreau

Mother, Advocate, Troy, New York

Jona Favreau is a mother and resident of Troy, New York. Recently confronted with the alarming discovery of lead present in her children’s blood, Favreau has become an advocate for community awareness and action on environmental health issues. Through her journey, she strives to raise awareness about the importance of safe drinking water for all residents of New York State. Favreau’s commitment to safeguarding her children’s and the community’s well-being showcases her strength, compassion, and dedication to making a positive impact. Beyond her role as a resident, Favreau is an avid hiker and 50k ultra-marathoner. She works enthusiastically for the Upper Hudson Library System, contributing to the Capital Region’s access to knowledge and literature.

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Paul D. Tonko

Paul D. Tonko

United States Congressman, New York's 20th District, House of Representatives

Congressman Paul D. Tonko is an eighth-term member of the US House of Representatives, representing New York’s 20th Congressional District in the Capital Region, including the cities of Albany, Schenectady, Troy, and Saratoga Springs.

He has dedicated his career in public service to bettering the lives of those in his district with meaningful legislation that creates good jobs, strengthens the middle class, and drives economic opportunity.

Serving as ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment, Manufacturing, and Critical Materials, he has jurisdiction over many of the nation’s most important environmental laws, including the Safe Drinking Water Act; Tonko has been a long-time, fierce advocate for removing lead from American communities. He helped pave the way for critical federal investments to replace lead pipes from drinking water service lines through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and other legislation.

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Presenters

Vincent Albanese

Vincent Albanese

Executive Director, New York State Laborers' Political Action Fund

Vincent Albanese worked as a laborer for 10 years before transitioning into policy and public affairs with the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA). In 2000, Albanese proudly received his union book and worked on various building projects in the New York City area. In 2011, he joined the New York State Laborers’ as a field coordinator and then as a lobbyist in 2014. During this time, he helped advance critical legislation for safe, middle-class careers for construction workers in the New York State Legislature and the New York City Council.

In 2017, Albanese began working for the New York State Laborers’ PAC and also as the director of public policy and affairs for the New York State Laborers’ Organizing Fund; in these roles, Albanese engaged in lobbying, public relations, and strategic campaigns for the union. More recently, Albanese has been focused on various energy advocacy issues, from reforming the New York State Article 10 process for wind and solar to expanding port infrastructure to support offshore wind development. He was a board member of the Just Transition Working Group as enacted with the passing of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

In 2022, Mr. Albanese became the executive director of the New York State Laborers’ Political Action Fund. As director, he oversees the administration, financial contributions, and candidate endorsement process for the Laborers’ Union in New York State. This fund, representing over 40,000 union members, is one of the largest and most active political funds in the State. In December 2023, Vincent was voted to the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE-NY). He is also a graduate of the University of Scranton, class of 2005.

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Gabrielle Burton-Hill

Gabrielle Burton-Hill

Founding Member, Newburgh Clean Water Project

Gabrielle Burton-Hill, a proud lifelong resident of the City of Newburgh, NY, is a natural advocate, caretaker, and leader who is continuing to learn, grow, and develop her skills. In 1986, while attending the first national holiday celebration of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr in Atlanta, Georgia, and listening to the powerful words of the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu, her commitment to social justice was sparked. Returning home, she became involved in various community youth initiatives.  Her activism ignited in 1999 after her firstborn was diagnosed with near-fatal lead poisoning—a condition discovered by chance through a daycare-required blood test. This personal crisis propelled her into action, focusing on lead poisoning awareness after realizing the pervasive risk in Newburgh homes and the potential dangers of lead-laden drinking water.

As a restorative justice practitioner, Burton-Hill created and facilitated a series of community circles entitled “I Am Water” to engage in a conversation that would lead to action. After a year of meetings and planning, the Newburgh Clean Water Project (NCWP), a volunteer advocacy group, hosts several events yearly. “Our mission includes community and school district awareness events and presentations. As founding members, Burton-Hill and the NCWP team are committed and dedicated to clean, healthy drinking water from the tap to the glass for all residents (and visitors) of her beloved city of Newburgh. However, in addition to outreach, it is imperative that WE, THE PEOPLE, reclaim our power by working with our local, state, and federal officials in achieving one of our basic human rights: CLEAN HEALTHY WATER,” says Burton-Hill.

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Torrance Harvey

Torrance Harvey

Mayor, City of Newburgh, New York

Mayor Terrance Harvey has served the city of Newburgh, New York, as mayor for six years. First appointed in 2018 by the City Council after the passing of Mayor Judy Kennedy, Harvey was re-elected in a special election in 2018, for his first four-year term in 2019, and recently re-elected for his third term in November 2023. Before his time as Newburgh’s mayor, Harvey served on the City Council from 2016 to 2018 and as a history teacher.

Harvey released his first book of poetry, Y’a Sankofa, in 2018, and his second manuscript “America, America”: A Letter to a Nation in 2021. A children’s book, Hey Mr. Mayor! My Neighbor, will be released soon promoting literacy and civic engagement among the youth.

Harvey led the charge with lead line replacement program. Newburgh’s Lead Service Line Replacement program has given Newburgh’s water department and executive team a golden opportunity to replace over 250 lead water service lines in private homes throughout the city for free. This important effort caught the attention of the White House, where Mayor Harvey was invited to a private meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris in 2023.

Harvey received his BA in drama from Morehouse College, MFA in acting from DePaul University, and master of science in secondary education and history from Mount Saint Mary College. Harvey resides in Newburgh with his wife, Tina, and three children, TJ, Armani, and Brizayna.

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Rob Hayes

Rob Hayes

Director, Clean Water, Environmental Advocates NY

Rob Hayes is the director of clean water at Environmental Advocates NY. He joined the organization in May 2018 after graduating from the University of Chicago. Based in Albany, New York, Hayes lobbies for strong state-level legislation and regulations to protect clean water from source to tap. He leads numerous statewide advocacy coalitions and supports residents in communities directly impacted by water pollution, including Hoosick Falls and Newburgh, New York. Recent coalition victories have included the enactment of the Lead Pipe Right to Know Act and a landmark commitment by the city of Troy, New York, to replace 100 percent of their lead pipes at no direct cost to customers.

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Marissa Lieberman-Klein

Marissa Lieberman-Klein

Associate Attorney, Earthjustice

Marissa Lieberman-Klein is an associate attorney in Earthjustice’s Northeast Regional office. Lieberman-Klein works to advance environmental justice in the northeast region and advocates for safe drinking water, safe and healthy housing, and climate justice. Lieberman-Klein specifically focuses on lead in drinking water in homes and schools and lead paint in rental housing. Before joining Earthjustice, Lieberman-Klein served as a special assistant attorney general at the New York State’s Office of the Attorney General in the Environmental Protection Bureau, where she worked on environmental justice issues, particularly lead paint in rental housing, challenging federal regulatory rollbacks, and air pollution from school buses. She holds a JD from New York University School of Law and a BA from the University of Chicago.

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John. T McDonald III

John. T McDonald III

Assemblymember, District 108, NYS Assembly

Assemblymember John T. McDonald III, RPh, represents the 108th Assembly District, which includes parts of Albany, Rensselaer, and Saratoga Counties, specifically the communities of Cohoes, Green Island, Watervliet, North Greenbush, East Greenbush, Rensselaer, Waterford, and Troy.

Prior to being elected to the New York State Assembly in November 2012, Assemblymember McDonald served as mayor of Cohoes for 13 years. In addition to representing the 108th Assembly District, McDonald served as Marra’s Pharmacy’s president from 1985 to 2021. Assemblymember McDonald received his BS in pharmaceutical sciences from the Albany College of Pharmacy and led Marra’s Pharmacy to become one of the largest independent pharmacy operators in the Capital Region. As well as focusing on the priorities of his constituents, the assemblymember also focuses on issues that impact working families in the district and statewide, especially in the arena of small business, local government, and healthcare. Assemblymember McDonald is the chair of the assembly’s Governmental Operations Committee.

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Robert Megna

Robert Megna

President, Rockefeller Institute of Government

Megna previously served as senior vice chancellor and chief operating officer of SUNY System Administration. In that role, he oversaw the operations of the chief information officer, the State University of New York (SUNY) Plaza business functions, capital facilities, campus energy management, and the Charter School Institute. He joined SUNY System Administration from Stony Brook University, where he served as senior vice president for finance and administration. Prior to joining Stony Brook, he served as executive director of the New York State Thruway Authority and New York State Canal Corporation.

Megna served as budget director for the New York State Division of the Budget (DOB), during which time the state achieved its highest financial rating in 40 years from three major credit rating agencies and passed four on-time budgets for the first time since the 1970s. He also chaired multiple governmental boards, including the Financial Restructuring Board, the New York Racing Association, and the Public Authorities Control Board. Megna has also served as commissioner for the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, director of the revenue and economics unit at DOB, assistant commissioner of the office of tax policy at the Virginia Department of Taxation, director of tax studies at the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, and deputy director of fiscal studies on the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

Megna earned an MS in economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science at the University of London and received both his BA in Economics and MPA from Fordham University.

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Laura Rabinow

Laura Rabinow

Deputy Director of Research, Rockefeller Institute of Government

Dr. Laura Rabinow is the deputy director of research for the Rockefeller Institute of Government, supporting the broad array of research conducted at the Institute and focusing her own research on environmental policy issues. Her prior work has moved between public policy research and practice. Most recently, she worked in the New York State Legislature in various roles, including as a chief of staff in the Assembly and as the environmental conservation, agriculture, and cultural affairs policy analyst in the Senate. Prior to her legislative experience, she worked in agricultural microfinance and foreign policy research. Dr. Rabinow’s more recent research considers New York State and federal policies with respect to drinking water and chemical contaminants, with a particular focus on the ways that public policy, social movements, and public health cultures co-construct the production of knowledge and ignorance about contaminants.

[email protected]

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Rebecca J. L. Ruscito

Rebecca J. L. Ruscito

Counsel, New York State Conference of Mayors (NYCOM)

Rebecca Ruscito, Esq, serves as counsel to the New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials (NYCOM). Ruscito provides legal assistance and training to city and village officials on a variety of municipal issues, particularly those relating to cell towers and telecommunications, elections, energy, environment, prevailing wage, parks and recreation, procurement, property taxes, and water and sewer system administration.

Prior to joining NYCOM in 2016, Ruscito served in state government. She is a graduate of Brown University and the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University.

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Kathy Sheehan

Kathy Sheehan

Mayor, City of Albany

Mayor Kathy Sheehan is in her third term as Albany’s 75th mayor. Sheehan has dedicated her administration to creating a city of opportunity, leading with a commitment to equity and responsive government that includes diverse community voices. Under her leadership, the city has invested more than $100 million in new parks, streets, sidewalks, and water and sewer infrastructure across the city, with a focus on neighborhoods impacted by redlining and other historically discriminatory practices. Sheehan worked with the Common Council to enact groundbreaking equity legislation and policing reform initiatives and has led a multi-year effort to eliminate blight and sub-standard housing in the city.

Since Sheehan took office, Albany has seen $1 billion in new development citywide, with another $900 million in the pipeline—all indicators of continued historic investment in New York’s capital city. Her innovative streetlight purchase and conversion program has reduced Albany’s carbon emissions, improved pedestrian safety, and saved millions in taxpayer dollars. Additionally, her administration is further combatting climate change by planting 2,025 new trees by 2025, installing electric car charging stations throughout the city, and empowering its director of sustainability to keep the city on track to meet its 2030 climate goals.

Sheehan worked closely with federal, state, and local partners throughout the COVID pandemic to connect residents with food, PPE, and vital healthcare resources. She granted millions to support small businesses, tenants, and landlords, and secure $81 million in crucial federal funding to ensure the city’s continued fiscal health, and make $25 million in transformative investments across Albany. Sheehan served a four-year term as Albany’s treasurer prior to being elected mayor. Before serving in elected office, she served as vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary of a publicly-traded medical device manufacturer. Sheehan is a graduate of Albany Law School and Bowling Green State University. She lives in Albany’s Arbor Hill neighborhood with her husband, Bob.

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Kristine Wheeler

Kristine Wheeler

Director, Bureau of Water Supply Protection, New York State Department of Health

Kristine ”Kris” Wheeler, PE, has worked for the New York State Department of Health’s Bureau of Water Supply Protection since 2003, initially responsible for critical infrastructure security and emergency response planning for the water sector. Wheeler transferred to the Glens Falls District Office in 2008, where she managed the drinking water regulatory program for Warren, Washington, and Saratoga Counties for nearly ten years. In 2018, she returned to Albany, becoming assistant director for the Bureau of Water Supply Protection (BWSP) and then director in 2020. The Bureau of Water Supply Protection has regulatory authority over 9,200+ public water supplies in New York State and implements the Safe Drinking Water Act with local health department partners. The BWSP also administers the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund with the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation. Wheeler is a licensed professional engineer and a graduate of Clarkson University. She is an avid skier and cyclist and lives with her husband and two active boys near Lake George, New York.

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