Tenth Annual Eccles Family Rural West Conference

The Changing Rural Southwest
Wed March 27th 2024, 8:30am - 7:30pm
Event Sponsor
The Bill Lane Center for the American West, Stanford University
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Arizona State University
The Westin Tempe - Opal East Ballroom
11 E 7th St
Tempe, AZ 85281
Dry Arizona desert terrain under a bright blue sky

Photo by @thematthoward on Unsplash

Read the Stanford Report's coverage of the conference, "Addressing the Colorado River crisis."

The Bill Lane Center for the American West presents the Tenth Annual Eccles Family Rural West Conference  in collaboration with The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University on March 27th in Tempe, Arizona.

Our interdisciplinary conference brings together academics, practitioners, and policymakers to share knowledge and ideas about the rural West. The conference aims to catalyze scholarship about and solutions to the region’s pressing problems. Each spring, the Lane Center travels to a different location in the West, growing the network of individuals and organizations invested in identifying solutions to challenges of rural policy, health, and environment.

This year, under the theme "The Changing Rural Southwest," our panels will delve into topics such as migration between Arizona, California, and Texas; the impact of the Colorado River agreement on western water issues; economic and policy considerations around the U.S.-Mexico border; and current Native American issues in the Southwest. Our panels will feature insightful discussions led by scholars and practitioners dedicated to exploring these crucial subjects.



Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Mar 27
8:30 - 9 am

Registration and Breakfast

Mar 27
9 - 9:15 am

Welcome and Introductions

Patrick Kenney, Arizona State University

Patrick Kenney

Patrick J. Kenney is the Dean and Foundation Professor at The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Executive Vice Provost at Arizona State University.  Kenney came to ASU in 1986 and received his bachelor's, master's and doctorate from the University of Iowa. Professor Kenney has authored and co-authored articles in the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics and several other journals. He has co-authored five books with Kim Fridkin, "The Spectacle of U.S. Senate Campaigns" (Princeton University Press, 1999), "No-Holds Barred: Negativity in U.S. Senate Campaigns" (Prentice Hall, 2004), "The Changing Face of Representation" (University of Michigan Press, 2014), “Taking Aim at Attack Advertising" (Oxford University Press, 2019) and “Choices in a Chaotic Campaign: Understanding Citizens’ Decisions in the 2020 Election” (Cambridge University Press, 2024). He has received funding from the National Science Foundation and he is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

Mar 27
9:15 - 10:45 am

Panel: Interstate Migration between Arizona, California, and Texas

Panelists will explore the economic implications of migration between these three populous states.

Moderator: David Brady, Stanford University 

Headshot of David Brady smiling at the cameria in a red shirt with a white collared shirt undernearth.

David Brady is the Davies Family Senior Fellow, Emeritus at the Hoover Institution and the Bowen H. and Janice Arthur McCoy Professor of Political Science in the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He has published seven books and more than a hundred papers in journals and books. Brady has been on continual appointment at Stanford University since 1986, where he has served as associate dean for Academic Affairs in the Graduate School of Business (GSB) and as vice provost for Distance Learning.  He has twice been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1987.  He presently holds the Bowen H. and Janice Arthur McCoy Professorship in Ethics at the Business School and was deputy director of the Hoover Institution from 2004-2014. During his teaching career, he won the Dinkelspiel Award for service to undergraduates, the Richard Lyman Prize for service to alumni, the Bob Davies Award and the Jaedicke Silver Cup from the GSB, and the first Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award given at Stanford.  He also won the George Brown Teaching Award at Rice University.


Preeti Hehmeyer, Stanford University

Preeti Hehmeyer is the managing director of the California Policy Research Initiative (CAPRI), where she works to connect state and local policy makers to Stanford research. Prior to joining SIEPR, Preeti served as Stanford’s Assistant Vice President for Community Engagement, building out a network of academic-community partnerships in the Bay Area. She was previously the Associate Director for Stanford’s Bill Lane Center for the American West, where she worked to advance regional policy solutions to pressing environmental and climate issues. Preeti regularly teaches classes for Stanford Public Policy and Urban Studies, exposing students to local government and land use issues in California. She has worked in higher education for more than a decade and immediately prior to joining Stanford was a management consultant for public agencies in California. Preeti received her BA in Political Science and City and Regional Planning from UC Berkeley and her MPA from the University of Southern California. In addition to her policy work at Stanford, Preeti is currently serving a second term as an appointed member of the City of Mountain View’s Environmental Planning Commission.

Richard Murray, University of Houston

Headshot of Richard Murray looking at the camera in a black suit jacket with a blue button-down shirt underneath.

Richard Murray co-founded the Center for Public Policy in 1981, as part of UH College of Liberal Arts, that later became the stand-alone Hobby School of Public Affairs. He is known as a pioneer in the art and science of polling and elections, serving for decades as a commentator and forecaster on election night. Murray was an entrepreneur in many ways in his leadership at UH. He established the Center’s polling operations, created the Center’s Houston Government Internship Program that has matched more than 1000 UH students with public offices and organizations and launched the computer-assisted survey system for the UH Survey Research Institute. Murray is a native of Louisiana with B.A. and M.A. degrees in Government from Louisiana State University and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Minnesota. He transitioned in Summer of 2021 from a 55-year teaching career in the University of Houston Department of Political Science to Senior Research Fellow with the Hobby School. Murray has written extensively on Texas politics and elections and his current research interests focus on partisan political change in Texas.

Scott Wilken, Maricopa Association of Governments

Headshot of Scott Wilken smiling at the camera wearing a black suit jacket with a blue button-down underneath and an orange and red checkered tie.

Scott Wilken is the Data Advisory Program Manager for the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG). He is responsible for data outreach and marketing to MAG member agencies and other stakeholders and partners. He is an instructor for the MAG Maps & Data Workshops, and is the primary liaison between the MAG Regional Analytics Division and MAG member agencies on matters of data collection and review, information distribution, and overall regional planning. He also serves as MAG staff for the Population Technical Advisory Committee and the Building Codes Committee.

Mar 27
10:45 - 11 am


Mar 27
11 am - 12:30 pm

Panel: Current Native American Issues in the Southwest

Panelists will consider a range of issues facing Indigenous communities in the rural Southwest, possibly including tribal governance, environmental stewardship, and healthcare.

Moderator: Angela Gonzales, Arizona State University 

Headshot of Angela Gonzales smiling at the camera wearing a pink shirt.

Angela A. Gonzales is an enrolled citizen of the Hopi Tribe from the Village of Songoopavi. She is currently Professor in the School of Social Transformation and Interim Director of the Center for Indian Education at Arizona State University. As an interdisciplinary scholar, her research cuts across and integrates sociology, American Indian/Indigenous studies, and public health. Her work has been funded by numerous grants and fellowships, including from the Ford Foundation, National Science Foundation, Russell Sage Foundation, and National Institutes of Health, among others.  She is a founding Board Member of the Hopi Education Endowment Fund, established by the Hopi Tribal Council with a gift of $10 million to create a perpetual source of funding to support the educational goals and aspirations of Hopi students, and current President of the Board of Directors for the Colorado Plateau Foundation, a Native-led foundation that supports the protection of water, protection of sacred places and threatened landscapes, the preservation of Native languages, and sustainable community-based agriculture. Gonzales holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Harvard University, an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a B.A. in Sociology from the University of California, Riverside.


Trula Breuninger, Native American Connections 

Headshot of Trula Breuninger smiling at the camera wearing a grey cardigan over a black shirt with trees in the background.

Trula Breuninger brings over 20 years of experience in the healthcare and social services industry, working with private enterprises and tribal governments in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon, and Massachusetts. Breuninger earned a Master of Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health, and a Master of Business Administration from Arizona State University, W.P. Carey School of Business. She served as a Tribal Administrator and is passionate about supporting organizations that strive to bring value to clients and patients. She has also held positions such as CEO, CFO, and COO for a number of tribal health programs and community health centers and has been instrumental in helping nonprofits achieve operational and financial success. Breuninger was born and raised in northern Arizona on the Navajo reservation. She is of the Todich'ii'nii (Bitter Water) clan, born for Honághááhnii (One-Walks-Around). Her maternal grandfather’s clan is Tsi'naajinii (Black Streak Wood), and her paternal grandfather's clan is Tábąąhá (Water's Edge).

Dwight Lomayesva, Colorado River Indian Tribes


Dwight Lomayesva is the Vice Chairman of the Colorado River Indian Tribes. 

Joseph Manuel Jr., Gila River Indian Community

Joseph Manuel Jr. smiling at the camera in a black suit jacket with a sky blue button-down shirt underneath, standing in front of a desert landscape.

Joseph Manuel Jr. is a Council Representative for the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC).  He is Akimel O'odham and Hopi.  In 2018, he graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor's degree in science, technology, and society. He served as a Community Court of Appeals Judge 2019-2022 for GRIC. In his free time, Joseph is a drum instructor at various marching arts groups in Arizona as he was a member of the 2013 Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps.

Mar 27
12:30 - 2 pm


Mar 27
2 - 3:30 pm

Panel: The Colorado River Agreement and the Future of Water in the West

Panelists will discuss the new Colorado River agreement and explore its possible effects on the larger landscape of water in the West.

Moderator: Vanessa Casado Pérez, Texas A&M University

Vanessa Casado Perez looking at the camera wearing a white sleeveless shirt with a stone wall and office buildings in the background.

Vanessa Casado Pérez is a Professor of Law and a Research Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University. She earned a J.S.D. from New York University in 2014. Her areas of expertise are water law, property law, natural resources law, and environmental law.





Andrea K. Gerlak, University of Arizona 

Andrea Gerlak smiling at the camera wearing a green dress standing in front of a light grey stone wall.

Andrea K. Gerlak is Director at the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy and Professor in the School of Geography, Development and Environment at the University of Arizona. Her research agenda focuses on cooperation and conflict in water governance, including questions of equity and access, institutional change, learning and adaptation. She is an author or co-author of more than 100 publications, including three books. Presently, she serves on Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona’s Water Conservation Grant Committee and the City of Tucson Water Advisory Committee. She is a senior fellow with the Earth Systems Governance network. Dr. Gerlak has more two decades of experience leading interdisciplinary environmental studies programs and university-community environmental partnerships. She has consulted on water governance and climate resilience efforts for UNESCO and the WMO. 

Sarah Porter, Arizona State University

Headshot of Sarah Porter wearing a navy blue suit jacket with a black shirt underneath.

Sarah Porter is the inaugural director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy. She is also an attorney, having graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree and obtaining her juris doctor from Arizona State University (ranking third in her class). She clerked for federal appellate Judge William Canby and was a litigator for Brown & Bain; Coppersmith Gordon Schermer Owens & Nelson, PLC; and Osborn Maledon PA. She left her law career in 2006 for Audubon because she wanted to contribute to a collaborative effort to address Arizona’s natural resource challenges. She now dedicates that focus to the Kyl Center. Porter has a broad understanding of both Arizona and regional water issues, having directed Audubon’s Western Rivers project, a multi-state initiative to raise awareness of the challenges to Colorado River sustainability, as well as protecting and restoring flows for critical habitats and communities.

JB Hamby, Imperial Irrigation District

Headshot of JB Hamby looking at the camera wearing a grey suit jacket and a white button-down shirt underneath.

JB Hamby is the twelfth Chairman of the Colorado River Board of California and is the State of California’s Colorado River Commissioner, serving since his election in January 2023. As Chairman and Commissioner, JB works closely with the Colorado River Board, California’s contractors, entitlement holders, and agencies to safeguard the rights and interests of the State of California, its agencies, and citizens concerning the Colorado River. Since 2020, he has served as an elected member of the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors representing Division 2, which includes southeast El Centro, Heber, Holtville, and Seeley. A fourth-generation resident of the Imperial Valley, JB grew up immersed in water and agricultural issues in the Lower Colorado River region. During his tenure at IID, he has led the formation of and served as the Chairman of the Coachella Valley Energy Commission to collaborate with diverse stakeholders across IID’s Coachella Valley energy service area toward long-term solutions to complex energy matters, developed and established a biennial strategic and budget planning process for the district, launch of a large-scale free shade tree program, among other efforts to modernize the policies, processes, and culture of the organization for the benefit of the district’s residents and ratepayers. JB is a Stanford University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in History and is an alumnus of the Water Education Foundation’s inaugural Colorado River Water Leaders program.

Mar 27
3:30 - 3:45 pm


Mar 27
3:45 - 4:15 pm

Keynote Speaker

Michael M. Crow, President of Arizona State University

ASU President Michael M. Crow looks at the camera seated in front of a white background wearing a navy blue suit.

Michael M. Crow is an educator, knowledge enterprise architect, science and technology policy scholar and higher education leader. He became the 16th president of Arizona State University in July 2002 and has spearheaded ASU’s rapid and groundbreaking transformative evolution into one of America’s best public metropolitan research universities. Under Crow’s leadership, ASU has established 25 new transdisciplinary schools, including the School of Earth and Space Exploration, the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, and launched trailblazing multidisciplinary initiatives including the Biodesign Institute, 16 use-inspired research centers focused on biomedicine and health, sustainability and security; the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and the nation’s first School of Sustainability, which advance research, education and business practices at the intersection of nature and the made environment. Crow’s model has achieved record-breaking levels of traditional, online and international student enrollment, freshman quality and retention, and nearly five-fold growth in research expenditures. ASU’s meteoric ascent in quality, growth and modernization has earned it separate rankings as one of the top 100 most prestigious universities in the world by Times Higher Education, and a top 100 position in Shanghai Jiao Tong’s 2018 Academic Ranking of World Universities. The inaugural recipient of the American Council on Education Award for Institutional Transformation, and one of TIME magazine’s “10 Best College Presidents,” Crow previously served as executive vice provost and professor of science and technology policy at Columbia University. He has advised the U.S. Departments of State, Commerce, and Energy, as well as defense and intelligence agencies, and serves as Chairman of In-Q-Tel. He is a former member of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and has advised several nation-states on matters of knowledge enterprise development. An elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and National Academy of Public Administration, university vice chairman of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, he is the author of books and articles analyzing knowledge enterprises, science and technology policy, and the design of higher education institutions and systems. He coauthored "Designing the New American University" (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015), outlining the imperative for new and creative public university models that advance concurrent academic excellence and broad accessibility. Crow earned his doctorate in public administration (science and technology policy) from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University.

Mar 27
4:15 - 5:45 pm

Panel: Economic and Policy Issues at the U.S.-Mexico Border

Panelists will discuss current economic policy issues, such as international trade, related to the U.S.-Mexico border region.

Moderator: Blas Pérez Henríquez, Stanford University

Blas L. Pérez Henríquez

Blas L. Pérez Henríquez founded and serves as Director of the California-Global Energy, Water & Infrastructure Innovation Initiative at Stanford University, sponsored by the Precourt Institute for Energy and the Bill Lane Center for the American West, focusing on regional low-carbon development opportunities. His research and teaching centers on policy analysis to advance clean innovation through novel technological, business, policy, and social solutions for a new clean economy and a net zero, carbon neutral future. He is a Senior Research Scholar at the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University and leads the Stanford | Mexico Clean Economy 2050 program.He is also directs the Local Governance Summer Institute @ Stanford (LGSI) and the Smart City: Policy, Strategy and Innovation Institute @ Stanford. He has served as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of Engineering and Sciences of the Technological Institute of Superior Studies of Monterrey (ITESM) in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in London, United Kingdom, and as Guest Professor at the Centre of Economics Research and Teaching (CIDE) in Mexico City, Mexico. Pérez Henríquez holds a Masters and a Ph.D. in Public Policy from UC Berkeley, a law degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), a diploma in Public Policy from the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM), and a certificate in Compared Environmental US – EU Law & Policy from Indiana University, Leiden & Rotterdam Universities.


Gemma Smith, University of Arizona

Gemma Smith

Gemma Smith holds a joint appointment as Assistant Research Professor at the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy and Assistant Professor in the School of Government and Public Policy at the University of Arizona. Gemma is an interdisciplinary scholar at the intersection of environmental policy, governance, and justice, and water resources engineering. She graduated from Stanford University with a PhD in Environment and Resources and a Minor in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2023. Her current research focuses on the governance of international freshwater resources. She works to improve the management of transboundary water quality and climate change adaptation through better understanding of governance processes and outcomes in North American borderlands. Her methods draw on social, political, economic and environmental qualitative and quantitative data with the goal of making more robust causal connections between institutional design, policy decisions, and environmental outcomes. Her research has been published in Policy Studies JournalEnvironmental Science & Policy, and International Journal of the Commons, among others. Prior to her PhD, Gemma completed her Master’s in International Policy (Environment and Energy specialization) at Stanford University and a Graduate Diploma in Political Science at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She previously worked in international investment management in Europe and Asia, having completed her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Spanish at the University of Exeter, UK, in 2013.

Christopher Scott, Pennsylvania State University

Headshot of Christopher Scott wearing a brown collared shirt with trees in the background.

Christopher Scott holds the Maurice K. Goddard Chair in Forestry and Environmental Resource Conservation, a Pennsylvania State University Endowed Chair based in the College of Agricultural Sciences and housed in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management. Goddard Chair since July 2021, Prof. Scott is also Professor of Ecosystem Science and Management. His research, extension, and engagement focus on natural resource conservation and policy, climate-smart forestry, watershed science and management, the water-energy-food nexus, interstate and transboundary waters, climate adaptation and resilience, and energy transitions, with emphasis on the Appalachians, Alleghenies, and international efforts in the Andes and Himalayas.

Salvador Lopez, NADBank

Salvador Lopez looking at the camera with his arms crossed wearing a navy suit jacket with a white collared shirt underneath and a red tie. There are buildings and a tree in the background.

On June 13, 2017, Salvador López-Córdova became the first Chief Environmental Officer (CEVO) of NADBank, where he is responsible for overseeing the environmental integrity of the operations of the Bank and the projects being considered for certification and financing. Salvador has more than 20 years of professional experience in environmental, water and other sustainability issues, including significant experience in the U.S.-Mexico border region. Prior to joining NADBank, he served as Country Representative for Mexico and Peru at Global Green Growth Institute, an international organization that supports member countries in their transition to a green economy model. During this time, he supported national and subnational governments in the development of green growth policies and strategies related to urban mobility, renewable energy and forestry, among others. In addition, he has nearly 15 years of consulting experience with renowned firms, such as McKinsey and Company and CDM-Smith, where he was responsible for overseeing projects in diverse areas, such as water resource planning and infrastructure, and climate change. While at CDM-Smith, he was responsible for the firm’s border initiative, where he led or participated in some of the most ambitious border region planning efforts at that time. Salvador holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a master’s degree in environmental engineering from Stanford University, and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of California.

Mar 27
5:45 - 6 pm

Closing Remarks

Bruce Cain, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University

headshot of Bruce Cain

Bruce Cain is an expert in U.S. politics, particularly the politics of California and the American West. A pioneer in computer-assisted redistricting, he is a prominent scholar of elections, political regulation and the relationships between lobbyists and elected officials.  Prior to joining Stanford, Professor Cain was director of the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley from 1990-2007 and executive director of the UC Washington Center from 2005-2012. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000 and has won awards for his research (Richard F. Fenno Prize, 1988), teaching (Caltech, 1988 and UC Berkeley, 2003) and public service (Zale Award for Outstanding Achievement in Policy Research and Public Service, 2000). He is currently working on state regulatory processes and stakeholder involvement in the areas of water, energy and the environment. 

Mar 27
6 - 7:30 pm

Reception Dinner