Board of Directors

 
 
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Mary Lou Soscia

President
Virginia Tech, B.A., B.S.
University of Maryland, M.A.

Mary Lou Soscia worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for 38 years in Washington D.C. and the Pacific Northwest. Protecting human health and ecosystem restoration in Indian Country throughout the U.S. and especially in the Pacific Northwest was a key foundation for her work. She provided leadership for the Oregon human health criteria to protect high tribal fish consumers, the most protective state criteria in the nation at that time. Mary Lou also created and led the Columbia River Basin Restoration Program, which became a Clean Water Act amendment and received $79 million from Congress in 2021 to reduce toxics to protect human health and increase ecosystem resilience. Mary Lou provided regional leadership for over 25 years on Columbia River water temperature issues and decisions which have become more critical and complex with a warming climate. During her career, Mary Lou also worked for the states of Maryland, Wyoming, and Oregon, along with the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission.

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Bryan Sohl

Vice President
University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, M.D.
University of California, Davis, B.S.

Bryan is the former director and founder of the Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford, and recently retired from the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at OHSU where he was an assistant clinical professor at the OHSU School of Medicine in the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and of Family Medicine. A Native Fish Society river steward for the Rogue and North Umpqua rivers, Bryan also serves on the city of Ashland's Climate and Energy Advisory Committee and helped draft Ashland’s Climate and Energy Plan. An avid fly-fisher and biker, Bryan resides in Ashland with his wonderful wife Paula.

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Dave Kilhefner

Treasurer
Washington State University

Dave spent his college years playing baseball first at Mount Hood Community College, and then at Washington State University. After college he went to work in the family business at KBI Insurance, and became the firm's owner in 2006. An outdoor writer since the late 1980s, Dave has fished, hiked, and hunted throughout the Pacifc Northwest and beyond. A past president of the Northwest Outdoor Writers Association, Dave currently serves as vice president of the Clackamas Fly Fishers. When he's not stuck in the office, Dave can usually be found on a river somewhere, walking as far as it takes to get away from the crowds.

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Kathryn Walter

Secretary
Lewis and Clark Law School, J.D.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, B.S. Environmental Engineering

An attorney with Allied Employers, a labor and employment law firm, Kathryn has a background in construction litigation and environmental engineering. Prior to moving to Oregon, she worked in government contracting in Washington D.C., including work with the Project on Government Oversight. In her free time, Katie is usually bird watching or hiking with her dog, especially along the Oregon coast. If it's too rainy, she can be found curled up with a good book or playing her cello.

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Karl Anuta

Lewis and Clark Law School, J.D.
Lewis and Clark College, B.S.

The owner of the Law Offices of Karl Anuta, P.C., in Portland, Karl also serves on the board of Friends of Mount Hood and as board president of the Northwest Environmental Defense Center. Karl previously served on the board of Pacific Rivers Council and the Environmental Advisory Board of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District.

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Leslie Bach

Colorado State University, Ph.D. Hydrology and Water Resources 
New Mexico State University, M.S. Soil Physics and Hydrology 

University of California, Davis, B.S., Soil and Water Science

Leslie has over 30 years of experience in water resources management, touching on many different aspects of science, policy and law. She currently works at the Northwest Power and Conservation Council focusing on issues including streamflow and fish passage at dams, habitat restoration, water quality and climate change. Prior to joining the Council, Leslie was the director of freshwater programs at The Nature Conservancy in Oregon, where she worked on ecological protections for both surface and groundwater, and worked for the Oregon Water Trust, the first organization focused on securing instream flows through water transactions. Leslie's career has also included stints with both federal and state government agencies. When not working, Leslie likes to spend time outdoors, hiking, kayaking or cross-country skiing.

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David Cooper

University of Wisconsin, J.D.
Marquette University, B.S. Chemistry
 
An IP attorney at Kolisch Hartwell for over 36 years, David Cooper is no stranger to volunteering with local nonprofits, and like many Oregonians treasures his time outdoors hiking, backpacking, cross-country skiing, canoeing, and kayaking with family and friends. His IP work has been both national and international, with an equal mix of helping clients develop patent, trademark, and copyright assets, and helping clients resolve disputes by settlement and contested litigation. Engaged in environmental matters throughout his life, David served an externship during law school at the University of Wisconsin with the Office of the Public Intervenor, and focused on wetlands preservation for a state agency that functioned as a public interest environmental law firm within the Wisconsin Department of Justice. David also served for several years on the board of the National Coast Trails Association, an Oregon-based nonprofit focused on establishing Atlantic and Pacific coast trails from the nation's northern to southern borders.
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Jean Edwards

University of California, Davis, B.A. Zoology

Jean has extensive experience working with policy makers and the scientific community to improve mutual understanding of complex natural resource management issues. Recently, her career has focused on the Endangered Species Act, salmonid harvest, fish hatcheries, habitat, and hydroelectric energy activities. Jean currently manages the Tribal Leadership Forum and much of her work is consulting with rural eastern Oregon communities on development issues. Prior to this, Jean spent two years as a congressional staffer focused on natural resources and energy legislation. Her experience also includes work for tribes as a fisheries biologist and technical expert in treaty fishing rights negotiations and litigation. Jean and her husband Phil operate a commercial blueberry farm and raise pack mules in Washington County.

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Val Gonzales

Portland State University, B.S. Biology

Valeria (Val) Gonzales is a Peruvian-born, California-raised advocate for accessibility in natural resources. She completed her studies in biology and sustainability at Portland State University and has been working in ecology, sustainability, and climate programs under the U.S. Forest Service ever since. Given her Peruvian roots, Val has a deep concern about water issues and their implications in environmental justice. In her free time, she enjoys surfing new waves, hiking new trails, and cooking new dishes. Most of all, Val is passionate about community, and hopes to continue building bridges in the world of conservation. 

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Bob Hunter

University of Michigan Law School, J.D.
University of Michigan, B.S.

In addition to a career in private practice, Bob has been with WaterWatch as a staff attorney, board member or board president for over 25 years. Bob's vision and commitment to rivers can be seen in the results of his work. Bob drafted Oregon's Instream Water Rights Act, the visionary law that provides legal protection for water instream. Bob also played a key role in starting the water trust movement now found across the western U.S. Bob led WaterWatch's Free the Rogue Campaign, the most successful river restoration campaign in the nation, and was the primary force behind the removal of Savage Rapids Dam from the Rogue River. This campaign removed four major dams from the Rogue Basin and completed the largest instream conversion of water rights in Oregon history at Savage Rapids Dam. Bob's work has been recognized numerous times: He has been awarded the Leopold Award, the highest national conservation award from the Federation of Fly Fishers, and has also been named a National River Hero by the River Network and has received conservation awards from the federal government for his work on Oregon's rivers.

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Kaitlin Lovell

Cornell Law School, J.D.
Bucknell University, B.S. Environmental Science

Kaitlin works in the public sector to restore watershed health and wild salmon to some of Oregon's most degraded habitats. A legal expert in the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act, she's advanced the field of urban ecology and nature-based solutions by bringing together law, science, policy, environmental justice, and conservation finance. Previously, Kaitlin was an environmental attorney for Trout Unlimited and Cornell University. Kaitlin is a co-founder and treasurer of Bird Conservation Oregon, and served as co-president of the Native Fish Society. In her free time, Kaitlin can be found at her son's soccer games, running, or on her hobby farm where she owns the oldest water right on her Molalla River headwater stream and has restored two of her streams, and rewilded five acres of wetlands by encouraging beaver to recolonize.

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Lynn Palensky

Troy State University, M.P.A.
University of Washington, B.S. Fisheries Science

Lynn works for the Portland-based Northwest Power and Conservation Council, where she coordinates the ongoing scientific review of the Council's Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program, which annually directs over $200 million of federal hydropower revenue to projects that protect and enhance fish and wildlife in the basin. With 16 years of experience working in collaborative, multi-agency fish and wildlife grant, mitigation, planning, and habitat acquisition programs, Lynn led a four-state effort to develop 62 subbasin plans that were amended into the fish and wildlife program in 2004 and 2005.  She has coordinated several events including art shows and fundraisers, was the founder and Race Director for an 8k run in Washington state, and serves on the board of the Portland-based Salmon Safe, Inc. Lynn, her husband Phil, and dog Dodie spend their free time fishing Oregon rivers.

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Jeff Perin

The owner of The Fly Fisher's Place in Sisters, Jeff has been working in fly fishing shops and guiding since 1986, when he started at The Fly Box in Bend. Along with being located in one the best parts of Oregon for casting a fly, Jeff has been fortunate enough to travel extensively while fishing and has learned firsthand about water issues facing the river systems, fisheries, and river-dependent communities around the world.

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Dean Runyan

University of Michigan, M.S. Engineering; PhD Urban and Regional Planning
University of California, Los Angeles, B.S. Engineering

The president of Dean Runyan Associates in Portland, a firm that specializes in economic and market research most often pertaining to travel, tourism, recreation, and education, Dean previously taught planning and public policy programs at the University of Oregon and University of Hawaii. In addition to technical research on travel and the travel industry, Dean has completed numerous feasibility and planning studies for natural resource-oriented public attractions such as botanical gardens, parks, aquaria, and education facilities such as science and interpretive centers. He has served on the boards of several organizations in the Portland area, including terms as treasurer, and most recently at the Oregon Maritime Museum where he is a past president and currently chairs the development committee. Dean likes to fish, but can most often be found rowing early mornings on the Willamette River.