Hummingbird Collective Consulting LLC and its founder, Cindi Ptak, will serve in the ambassador role. Ptak will serve as a liaison between local partners and the federal government as part of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership. Funding for the position is provided by local partners, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the USDA Forest Service. A multidisciplinary team of Rio Reimagined partners recommended the selection of Cindi Ptak. The Maricopa Association of Governments will host the ambassador on behalf of the partners.

“We are excited to serve as the host for the ambassador. The selection of the ambassador will reinforce and extend the goals of the initiative to strengthen communities, promote economic development, and protect the river ecosystem as a valued natural and cultural asset,” said MAG Chair and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. “This partnership will provide a sanctuary of public spaces that unite us throughout the region and enrich our lives through access to open space and recreation.”

The ambassador will provide valuable support to the communities and local and tribal governments located along the Salt and Gila River corridor, including Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa, Buckeye, Goodyear, Avondale, Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community, and Maricopa County. Additional members of the Rio Reimagined Advisory Group include Arizona State University and SRP. Beyond the Advisory Group, a myriad of public, private, nonprofit, agencies and community-based organizations partner on Rio Reimagined.

Ptak says she is committed to empowering the Rio Reimagined partners with the knowledge, skills, and strategies needed to “claim their seat” at the federal funding table.

“Through collaborative planning, our work will be impactful, sustainable, and consistent with the goals of reconnecting the community to the river, being a catalyst for economic growth, and building an unprecedented regional destination,” said Ptak.

In 2017, the late U.S. Senator John McCain asked his friend and colleague Dr. Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University (ASU), to bring ASU’s research expertise, organizational resources, and experience with large-scale urban planning projects to the Rio Reimagined project.

“On behalf of Arizona State University (ASU) and the Rio Reimagined Partnership, we look forward to working with Cindi as the RIO Ambassador to the Urban Waters Federal Partnership,” said Maggie Soffel, Senior Director of the Rio Reimagined Initiative at ASU. “Cindi’s experience and deep understanding of the federal space will serve the RIO Partnership well. I look forward to working closely with Cindi to secure critical resources for ensuring the initiative’s success.”