Archive for Staff Profiles


Meet Alisha Renfro

August 8, 2012 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in Staff Profiles

Alisha Renfro, Staff Scientist, National Wildlife Federation

Alisha Renfro is the staff scientist for the National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) Mississippi River Delta Restoration program. Based in New Orleans, she provides accurate scientific information to help advocate for the best coastal restoration projects for Louisiana. She also helps translate scientific information for the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign’s public outreach and communication efforts.

Prior to joining NWF, Alisha had been actively involved in research examining beach erosion in South Carolina, sediment transport in tidal riverine marshes  and swamps in North Carolina, and sediment transport and deposition in coastal marshes in New York. For her doctoral work, she used naturally occurring radioactive forms of elements to trace sediment transport and deposition in the bay and the deteriorating wetlands of the Jamaica Bay Gateway National Recreation Area near New York. She holds a B.S. in marine science from Coastal Carolina University, an M.S. in marine science from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and a Ph.D. in marine and atmospheric science from Stony Brook University.

“Although I grew up in land-locked central Indiana, I always loved the coast,” said Alisha. “Going to school in South Carolina gave me an opportunity to do coastal research, but I also found that I was really interested in coastal management. My work at NWF has given me the opportunity to combine my interests in coastal management and science and to do something I’m really passionate about — using the best science available to build a better future for coastal Louisiana.”

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Meet Shannon Cunniff

May 3, 2012 | Posted by Elizabeth Van Cleve in Staff Profiles

Shannon is the deputy director for the Mississippi River Delta Restoration and Resilience Project at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). Working closely with the senior director, Shannon focuses on improving strategic and tactical effectiveness of the EDF team. She works on setting team goals, objectives and strategies; translating those into work plans; and evaluating progress to ensure timely, high-quality products. She manages staff scientists, policy analysts and consultants to solve complex problems and execute tasks.

Shannon is no stranger to flood risk reduction and environmental restoration. Much of her 27 years experience, including 11 years as a senior executive, involved developing and implementing national policy, managing federal water and environmental programs, and solving multifaceted issues.

"Throughout my federal career, I have worked at the intersection of water resources and environmental protection. I joined EDF to address these issues from another perspective and to use my skills, knowledge, contacts and creativity to secure a robust future for the Mississippi River Delta," said Shannon. "This region is so important to the cultural, biological and economic integrity of our nation. We need to implement wiser approaches now to ensure the delta continues to provide diverse, valuable services for generations well into the future."

Prior to EDF, Shannon worked at the Department of Defense, guiding development and implementation of its Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan. Most relevant to her Mississippi River Delta work, Shannon worked at the Bureau of Reclamation, managing research and policy programs addressing environmental, water supply and energy challenges, and for several years, she worked on the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration. Shannon served as the deputy director of the Interagency Floodplain Management Review Committee, formed by the White House in the wake of the 1993 Midwest floods, to address national policy and program implementation issues related to flooding and flood risk management. Before that, Shannon served as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s national expert on federal water resources programs, served as EPA’s liaison to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and Federal Emergency Management Agency, and led EPA’s oversight of National Environmental Policy Act compliance by federal water and energy agencies. Early in her career, Shannon worked on coastal and water resource projects as a district ecologist for the Corps. Not one for idle hands, Shannon also chairs the Environment and Energy Conservation Commission for Arlington County, Va.

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Meet Brian Moore

March 5, 2012 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in Staff Profiles

Brian Moore is legislative director of the National Audubon Society (Audubon). Based in Washington, he oversees the legislative operations of Audubon, focusing on ecosystem restoration, agriculture, budget, and appropriations legislation.

Before joining Audubon, Brian was legislative director of the Alaska Wilderness League, where he helped spearhead the conservation community's efforts to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil and gas development. Prior to that, Brian spent two years at the Brookings Institution, focusing his attention on Congress and its relationship with other branches of government and lobbying institutions, as well as the federal budget and appropriations processes.

Brian served in the Clinton administration from 1998-2001 in the Office of Legislative Affairs for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service, representing the USDA's conservation programs with Congress.

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Meet Doug Meffert

February 28, 2012 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in Staff Profiles

The National Audubon Society welcomes Dr. Doug Meffert as vice president and executive director for the state of Louisiana.

Doug joins a strong Audubon Louisiana team focused on the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign and the protection of many globally significant Important Bird Areas, including Audubon’s work in the Rainey Conservation Alliance and coastal waterbird conservation efforts.

He has a long history in the state, most recently as director of project development and associate professor at Tulane University’s Payson Center for International Development and as the executive director of RiverSphere, an initiative to develop a new campus for the university oriented to water resources and renewable energy.

Prior to those posts, Doug was deputy director of the Center for Bioenvironmental Research, a joint project of Tulane and Xavier Universities. In addition, Doug has served as Tulane’s representative on a range of coastal research and policy committees, including the Framework Development Team for Louisiana’s 2012 Coastal Master Plan and the Deepwater Horizon Science and Engineering Review Team.

As a teacher, Doug focuses on sustainable development and climate change. He has run his own consulting firm specializing in urban park habitat creation for birding and other recreational services, coastal adaptation, disaster recovery and emergency preparedness. He is widely published and is a sought-after international speaker.

Doug received a Loeb Fellowship at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and is a research fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge, Mass. He holds Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Engineering degrees from Tulane University and a doctorate in environmental science and engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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Meet Morgan Crutcher

January 19, 2012 | Posted by Elizabeth Van Cleve in Staff Profiles

As the technical and policy assistant at the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL), Morgan provides staff with accurate and reliable scientific, technical, and policy information for the purpose of establishing CRCL’s advocacy positions. Her broad range of previous work includes lobbying D.C. congressional staff for passage of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act for Ducks Unlimited, building nutria captivity pens in a flotant marsh for the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in Louisiana, using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software to analyze changes in wetland vegetation in relation to Great Lake levels for the USGS Great Lakes Science Center in Michigan, interviewing Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) trailer residents along the Mississippi Gulf Coast for a Columbia University study on the health needs of this population, fenceline monitoring of an oil refinery in St. Bernard Parish for the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and much, much more!

She credits her current position at CRCL to two life-altering decisions. The first was in 2000, when Morgan transferred from the University of Tennessee to Loyola University in New Orleans, where she still lives today. The second was her decision to take Bob Thomas’ class on Mississippi River Delta ecology. From then on, Morgan was forever attuned to all things coastal Louisiana. In 2006, she showed up on CRCL’s doorstep with a passion for visioning the future of coastal Louisiana and a request for a summer internship. They offered her the position, and four years later, she answered their call for a full time position. Along with Communications Director Scott Madere, Morgan provides the office with eternal optimism, a smiling face, and on occasion, donuts.

A third culture kid, Morgan has lived in eight different states and passed her senior year of high school in French-speaking Belgium. She never says no to an opportunity to travel, and in addition to visiting many countries across Europe and the Americas for fun, she has volunteered in both Africa and Central America.

“For me, the common, defining element of all the places I’ve lived or visited has been water,” says Morgan. “How we access it, allocate it, use it, treat it, manage its flow across the landscape, desire to live next to it as a feature of that landscape, and value it as a resource are all important questions when considering settling an area. Therefore, coastal Louisiana is naturally a fascinating and unique place to me, both culturally and physically. I am personally and professionally committed to its future.”

Morgan has a bachelor’s in environmental studies from Loyola University New Orleans and a master’s in natural resource policy from the School of Natural Resources and the Environment (SNRE) at the University of Michigan. A proud wolverine and “SNERD,” she loudly cheered Michigan to victory at the 2012 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans and dreams of the day when the Wolverines and Louisiana State University Tigers meet in the Rose Bowl.

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Meet Elizabeth Skree

December 27, 2011 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in Staff Profiles

Liz Skree is the communications manager for the Mississippi River Delta Restoration project at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). Working as part of the broader Restore the Mississippi River Delta Campaign, Liz manages Delta Dispatches, the campaign’s blog and e-newsletter publication about national and local efforts to restore the Mississippi River Delta. Liz also manages EDF’s Restoration and Resilience blog, social media strategy and web presence. She is based in Washington, DC.

Prior to coming to EDF, Liz worked as a forest policy intern at American Forests, a national nonprofit conservation organization working to protect and restore forests around the world. She also interned with the International Programs section of the U.S. Forest Service, working on policy and outreach.

“I’ve always loved the outdoors. My family is really into camping, and when I was a kid, I wanted to be a park ranger when I grew up!” says Liz. “This interest in the natural world continued in college, where my environmental studies classes taught me the many reasons why we need to protect the environment. I am thankful to work at an organization like EDF—working every day to defend and restore important ecosystems and helping others learn about what we do and how they can get involved.”

Liz holds a B.A. in Political Science from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.

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Meet Jim Wyerman

November 7, 2011 | Posted by Elizabeth Van Cleve in People, Staff Profiles

Jim Wyerman joined the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign in April as Director of Strategic Partnerships and Communications for Environmental Defense Fund. His role is to provide strategic direction in developing communications plans, engaging high-influence individuals to support the RESTORE Act and building long-term support for coastal restoration from key business sectors. He is currently leading a project to inform and engage the navigation sector in long-term solutions.

Jim brings 25 years experience in senior leadership at national conservation organizations, where he has led campaigns and managed multi-disciplinary teams. Most recently, he was Chief Program Officer at Carbonfund.org and VP of Communications for the American Forest Foundation. Previously, he directed development and communications for the Land Trust Alliance and was VP of Programs at Defenders of Wildlife. He also served as Executive Director of Maryland PIRG and the grassroots group 2020 Vision.

"What attracted me to Environmental Defense Fund was their reputation for achieving large-scale structural change through market-driven solutions," said Jim. "While grassroots, communications and policy advocacy are all essential parts of a successful campaign, the missing piece is often the economic one: How do we shape the conservation goal as a smart business goal?" That is what the Partnerships Committee of the Campaign is working to do. "We want to make it a little easier for businesses to do the right thing for the wetlands and communities that depend on a healthy Gulf ecosystem."

Since he first went to New Orleans for Mardi Gras 30 years ago, Jim says he fell in love with the culture, food, music and people of Southern Louisiana. If he's in town on a Thursday night, look for Jim at Rock 'n' Bowl for a zydeco dance.

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Meet Amanda Moore

September 8, 2011 | Posted by Elizabeth Van Cleve in People, Staff Profiles

Amanda is the Senior Coastal Louisiana Organizer for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). Amanda works with community leaders, coastal scientists and government officials to raise awareness about coastal land loss and build support to move forward large-scale, comprehensive restoration projects. Amanda brings eight years of experience to her advocacy work in the Greater New Orleans area and also serves as the coordinator for the MRGO Must Go Coalition.

Before joining NWF, Amanda was a planner for an environmental consulting firm where she focused on waste management and recycling. Prior to her consulting role, she worked for the Sierra Club in Florida on a number of campaigns, including coastal protection. She holds a BA from the University of Mary Washington and an MPA from the University of South Florida.

“As a Coast Guard kid, I had the privilege of growing up in some of the most beautiful coastal areas in the nation, and I also have deep familial ties to the working waters of the Chesapeake Bay," says Amanda. "Those experiences led to a career in conservation, and I was drawn to the Mississippi River Delta campaign because of the urgency and immense need for restoration. Additionally, I'm excited by the potential for the projects we’re developing in Louisiana to help solve mounting coastal issues throughout the world."

“The best part about my job is definitely the people I work with: the communities, my campaign colleagues and our partners. There is an amazing passion and tireless drive to find solutions. It is energizing and inspiring. Every day, I’m reminded that our work is important and deeply needed.”

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Meet Ryan Rastegar

August 26, 2011 | Posted by Elizabeth Van Cleve in People, Staff Profiles

Ryan is the campaign coordinator for Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation and National Audubon Society’s joint Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign. He is responsible for fostering internal communication and coordination within the campaign. He also heads up various aspects of the campaign’s external communications strategy including social media outreach as well as managing the campaign’s website. Ryan, along with the campaign director and field director, comprise the coalition’s central coordination team.

Ryan’s previous experience lies in field organizing. After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis in 2008, he was accepted into and completed Green Corps’ Field School for Environmental Organizing. During his time with Green Corps, Ryan worked on a multitude of campaigns–from mobilizing community leaders to support a solar incentives bill in Texas–to running a successful state-wide campaign allowing public schools to purchase milk free of the artificial growth hormone rBGH. Ryan most recently worked as an organizer with Food & Water Watch on a ballot initiative campaign to improve livestock care standards within the farming industry.

“I’m excited to be working on this campaign primarily for the opportunity to empower those disenfranchised individuals who have had their homeland and communities swept away by forces beyond their control," says Ryan. "By working to restore the Mississippi River Delta, we’re not only saving one of the nation’s most important and pristine environmental ecosystems, we’re also having a direct impact on the lives of those living in that region.”

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Meet Stephanie Powell

June 7, 2011 | Posted by Elizabeth Van Cleve in Staff Profiles

Stephanie is the field director for the joint Mississippi River Delta restoration campaign.  She is responsible for running the field operations of the campaign, including writing and implementing a national field plan, contributing strategic and political analysis and working with staff to build grassroots support for restoration efforts.

Before joining the campaign, Stephanie was the executive director of the Southern Energy Network, a regional organization dedicated to working with youth to combat climate change, advance renewable energy and promote a smart, just energy economy.  Previously, she worked for the Gulf Restoration Network, where she organized community members to help protect wetlands, stop water pollution, and minimize the Gulf of Mexico dead zone.

“Growing up in north Florida, my family spent a lot of time outdoors,” says Stephanie.  “Whether fishing with my uncles along black bottom creeks, boating on the coast, or sitting on cypress knees, water and wetlands were a huge part of my culture and my childhood.”

When asked what she loves most about her role, Stephanie replied “David Muth’s crawfish boil!  Or talking about hunting with Andy McDaniels.  But in all seriousness, culture and connection to place are really important to me.  It feels great to wake up every morning and know that I’m part of a team that is not only amazingly talented, but personally connected and passionately dedicated to protecting and restoring one of our country’s most important natural areas.”

Stephanie is a graduate of the Green Corps’ Field School of Environmental Organizing and has participated in the Rockwood Leadership program.  She holds B.A.s in Political Science and Anthropology from the University of Georgia.  Stephanie also serves on the Dogwood Alliance Board of Directors and the Energy Action Coalition Steering Committee.

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