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Jill Alban, Outreach Director

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Jill has been a part of the CFC team since 2008. She directs the Coalition's Engage program, which includes outreach and educational programming such as volunteer events, workshops and learning activities, continuing education courses, youth courses, and climate change outreach. She also manages our corporate membership base, marketing and public relations efforts, website, and social media sites. Jill facilitates the Coalition-led climate adaptation working group for the greater Missoula region, serves on the City of Missoula's Climate Action Task Force, and serves on the board of the Clark Fork River Market. Jill received a B.A. in English from the University of Virginia in 2000, followed by an M.F.A. and M.A. in Literature and Writing from the University of Montana in 2006.  She came to CFC after working as an adjunct professor, nonprofit program manager, and several stints in public and media relations in the sports and entertainment fields. In her off-time, she enjoys getting outside and enjoying all that western Montana has to offer via running, triathlon, fly-fishing, skiing, backpacking, and gardening. Contact her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 542-0539, ext. 206.

 

Chris Brick, PhD, Science Director

ImageChris started with the Coalition as a board member, serving for four years until we tapped her in 2001 for the job as science director. A hydrogeologist and water quality specialist by training, Chris knows metals and arsenic and what they do to rivers and groundwater. She’s our go-to for gauging the health of the mining waste-plagued Clark Fork and figuring out restoration solutions. Her career odyssey started with a B.A. in geology at Carleton College, followed by a stint as an exploration geologist in the mining industry. A desire to study impacts from mining landed her at University of Montana for a master’s degree in Environmental Studies, a doctoral degree in Geology, and a post-doctoral focus on science education, including teaching for several years at the University. Whenever she gets the chance, she heads to the hills for running, climbing, biking or skiing.  Contact her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 542-0539, ext. 202.

 

 

Andy Fischer, Project Manager

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Andy works to restore streamflows to creeks and rivers in Western Montana.  He partners with water right holders and irrigation groups on projects that benefit both fish and farmers.  These types of projects include water conservation measures such as canal piping, water leasing and diversion reduction agreements. He works closely with water users and other stakeholder groups applying for grants, researching water rights, negotiating water purchase agreements, hiring and overseeing contractors and engineers, managing budgets and monitoring project effectiveness. Andy was born and raised in Missoula and has an intimate knowledge of the waterways of western Montana.  He holds an MS in Resource Conservation with an emphasis in water resource management from the University of Montana and a BA in Environmental Studies from Whitman College. Andy’s past experience includes working for the Deschutes River Conservancy in Central Oregon managing large-scale irrigation canal piping projects that conserved and pressurized irrigation water.  In his free time, Andy enjoys exploring Montana through hunting, fishing, biking, and skiing.  Contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 542-0539, ext. 210.

Barbara Hall, Legal Director
BH-StaffphotoBarbara began crafting streamflow restoration projects for the Montana Water Trust right out of law school. After a brief stint in private practice, she returned to the Water Trust as its executive director in 2008.  Barbara became a key member of our staff in 2010 when the Water Trust joined forces with the Coalition.  She now coordinates our Water Watch program, to ensure that restoration projects in the basin are up-to-par and that new industry proposals follow strict environmental guidelines.  Barbara also continues to work closely with our project managers on developing water right transactions across the basin. She currently serves on the board of the Missoula Chapter of the Montana Conservation Voters. Barbara holds a BA in Economics from the University of North Carolina and a JD from the University of Montana School of Law. When she’s not in the office, you might find Barbara running or skiing in the hills around Missoula or trying to keep up with her young daughter.  Contact Barbara at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 542-0539, ext. 211.

 

Kascie Herron, Big Sky Watershed Corps Member

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Kascie originally hails from the shores of the Chesapeake Bay with a background in water quality monitoring, outreach and education, advocacy, and watershed planning. Eager to experience a new landscape, she moved to Missoula for graduate school where she studied the unique challenges facing water resources in the West. With a M.S. in Environmental Studies from UM, her work has primarily focused on community organizing, conflict resolution and public engagement in the planning, protection and restoration of natural resources. She is excited for the opportunity to extend this knowledge and gain additional hands-on experience in the Clark Fork River watershed as a Big Sky Watershed Corps member and do her part to leave it a better place. In her spare time, Kascie tries her best to fly-fish and hunt, and enjoys romping around in the mountains with her dog Wilson. Contact Kascie at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or 406/542-0539, ext. 212.

Ben Horan, Restoration Specialist

Ben-Horan-WebBen provides technical support for flow restoration projects through monitoring, permitting, and project development throughout the Upper Clark Fork and Bitterroot River basins.  He graduated from the Univ. of MT in 2008 with a B.S. in Geology and ancillary Master’s coursework with an emphasis on hydrogeology.  During his time there he assisted with the monitoring and groundwater modeling aspects of the Milltown Dam removal project.  Ben worked for three years prior to CFC as a hydrogeologist and water right specialist at a consulting firm where he acted as a liaison between land managers and the state and federal regulatory agencies. When he’s off the clock, Ben prefers to spend his time running with his hound, "cheffing" around the kitchen, or skiing bottomless powder. Contact Ben at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or 406/542-0539, ext. 208.

 

Karen Knudsen, Executive Director

ImageKaren was hired as director in April 2007.   She has worked with the Coalition for 20 years in a variety of capacities, including director of its River Smart Growth program, communications director, business manager, and education and outreach coordinator.  Karen is part of the Healthy Headwaters Working Group for Carpe Diem West, an organization that engages diverse stakeholders in developing strategies for addressing climate change impacts on water in the American West.  She also serves on the board of the Watershed Restoration Coalition, a landowner-driven nonprofit working to conserve natural resources through stream restoration in the Upper Clark Fork basin.  Prior to joining the Coalition in 1993, Karen worked as a research associate for a forestry/economics research firm in Portland, where she conducted economic, policy, and financial research on national forest management issues.  She holds a B.A. in Economics from Colorado College and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Syracuse University.  In her spare time, she’s outdoors as much as possible, enjoying Montana rivers and mountains with her husband and two children.  Contact her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 542-0539, ext. 203.



Ellie Rial, Education and Outreach Coordinator

Ellie-Bio-PictureEllie joined the Clark For Coalition as a Big Sky Watershed Corps (AmeriCorps) member in the fall of 2011 and has stayed on to coordinate our growing educational opportunities for youth and adults in the Clark Fork basin. Specifically, Ellie is developing workshops and courses for youth and adults in the form of the annual "Kids River Expo" learning event, "Hands on the Ranch" stream assessment curriculum for high schoolers, "Living Near Water" course for real estate professionals, and more. She's also helping craft volunteer learning opportunities, river cleanups and weed pulls, for the basin's students and citizens. Ellie graduated with a BA from the University of Montana’s Environmental Studies Program with a focus in Sustainable Water Resources and Watersheds in 2011 and is pursing a Master's degree in Environmental Education at the University of Montana.  In her free time, she enjoys wildlife photography, biking, swimming, and exploring all of Montana’s great recreational opportunities with her husband and two dogs. Contact her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 542-0539, ext. 200.

 

 

 

William McDowell, Stream Restoration Director

As point-person for the Restore program, Will heads up our integrated stream restoration projects in the Upper Clark Fork. He builds and maintains strong relationships with key partners, including agricultural landowners, conservation districts, local governments, state agencies and non-profits like the Watershed Restoration Coalition and Trout Unlimited to achieve landscape-level stream conservation. CFC's efforts integrate stream flow restoration, fish passage improvements and habitat restoration, so that water quality and aquatic life benefit from a healthy, reconnected watershed from “ridge to river.”  This approach will maximize the benefit of the Superfund cleanup in the Clark Fork river floodplain by rewatering, reconnecting, and restoring the tributaries which provide the river with its vitality. Will arrived at the Coalition with a wealth of experience in watershed restoration. Most recently, he worked for the Tri-State Water Quality Council, coordinating efforts to reduce nutrient pollution and noxious algae in the Clark Fork. He also worked in watershed restoration internationally for many years, including stints in Bolivia, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Panama, Armenia, and China. He lives with his family and a few too many dogs in Missoula. Contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 542-0539, ext. 204. 

 

Pat Ortmeyer, Development and Communications Director

Pat-Staff-2013Pat joined the CFC staff in January 2013.  She coordinates CFC’s fundraising and communications efforts, assists with strategic plan implementation, and oversees grants administration and compliance. Pat brings nearly 30 years of nonprofit programming, budgeting, development, and strategic planning experience to CFC at both the local and national levels.  Her environmental and community advocacy work has taken her from Russia, to Central America, to Washington, DC, to contaminated nuclear waste sites in the deep South. Over the last decade Pat has helped raise tens of millions of dollars for land and water conservation working with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and, most recently, the American Land Conservancy. Pat holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts/Environmental Studies from the University of Montana and completed Masters work in Public Administration at the University of Washington. When she’s not playing ice hockey, you can find Pat out hiking, cross-country skiing, rock-hounding, birding, or trying once again to learn how to fly-fish. Contact her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 542-0539, ext. 205. 

Maggie Schmidt, Ranch Manager

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Maggie first teamed up with the Clark Fork Coalition in 2011 as an intern on our 2,300-acre working ranch in Deer Lodge, Montana. In 2012, she officially joined the Coalition to run the ranch as the Ranch Manager. Maggie earned a B.A. in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Sustainable Food and Farming from the University of Montana.  Before joining the Coalition, Maggie spent two summers in the Teton valley working to enhance rangelands through integrated weed management practices, specifically, prescribed grazing. Through this experience, she gained a deep passion and commitment to improving the human relationship with the environment, as well as a genuine love for agriculture and open space, places where people connect to nature and animals. When she’s not tending to the everyday needs of ranch life, Maggie can be found rafting, skiing, gardening, hiking, or cooking with friends. Contact her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Liz Underwood, Development and Special Events Manager

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We were thrilled to have Liz join our team in 2010 to support our fundraising and special event efforts. Liz comes to us from the Chicago area, where she had experience in fundraising, communications, and administration. She graduated in 2003 from St. Lawrence University with a B.A. in government.  Liz is thoroughly enjoying all that living and recreating have to offer in Montana, and in her off time she enjoys hiking, music, animals, football, and getting out to enjoy the local rivers and culture in Missoula.  Stop by our office and say hello, call 542-0539, ext. 213, or contact her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Jed Whiteley, Project Manager and Monitoring Coordinator

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Jed joined the Coalition in 2013 as part of our Restore team, which works in the field to develop and implement restoration solutions for impaired tributary streams throughout the Clark Fork. Jed specializes in the development of flow and instream restoration projects in the Bitterroot Valley and the Middle Clark Fork. He is also responsible for the monitoring strategies that guide the way we manage project-area creeks and streams. Jed comes to the CFC with 19 years of experience in the field of river and ecological restoration, working in positions from field technician to company president. Most notably, he ran S&K Environmental from 2007-12 and was instrumental in growing the company. Jed is an avid fisherman, boater, hunter and backpacker, with a B.S. in Natural Resource Management and Forestry with a Concentration in Environmental Management from California Polytechnic State University. Contact jed at (406) 542-0539, ext. 209 or email him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

 

 

 

 



Clark Fork Coalition Address:

140 4th St. W., Unit #1
Missoula, MT 59801

Mail:
PO Box 7593
Missoula, MT 59807

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T 406/542-0539

F 406/542-5632