Freshwater's Board guides the organization in focusing on its mission and long-term goals.
Valery Forbes, PhD, Chair
Valery Forbes is dean of the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota. Previously, she served as director of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and spent more than two decades at Roskilde University in Denmark where she was founding head of the Department of Environmental, Social and Spatial Change. Valery's research extends across quantitative ecology and environmental management with particular focus on population ecology and modeling, fate and effects of toxic chemicals in aquatic systems, and ecological risk assessment. She received a doctorate in coastal oceanography and a master’s degree in marine environmental science from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She serves on the editorial boards of several international journals and provides advice to a wide range of government and industry bodies.
Ryan Godfrey, PhD, Vice Chair
Ryan Godfrey joined the Freshwater board in 2017. He is the senior vice president of Operations at Tonka Water, an industry-leading designer and manufacturer of custom water treatment systems for both municipal and industrial customers in a broad range of applications. He leads the company’s operations organization, which includes production, project management, procurement, field services, customer service, quality management, and engineering functions. Ryan holds a PhD and MS in condensed matter physics from the University of Maryland, and a BS in physics from the University of Minnesota. He also serves on the Environmental Technologies Trade Advisory Committee, which advises the Secretary of Commerce and the Environmental Trade Working Group on the development and administration of programs and policies to expand U.S. exports of environmental technologies.
Todd Bolin, Treasurer
Todd Bolin leads Bolin Marketing, a firm founded by his father. His title in the company is president and chief operating officer, but he says that if he chose his own title it would come from a list that includes: “keeper of the flame, head cheerleader, point guard, change agent, plotter of meaningful courses.” If he wrote an autobiography he would want to title it “Building on Success.” He has been chairman of the board of governors for the Twin Cities chapter of the American Association of Advertising Agencies and was recognized as one of “40 under 40” emerging business leaders by CityBusiness magazine in 1998. He has been a board member of the Midwest chapter of the Children’s Miracle Network, and a Freshwater board member since 2002.
Josephine Marcotty, Secretary
Josephine Marcotty joined the Freshwater board in 2019. As a journalist at the Star Tribune, she has covered the environment in Minnesota for eight years, with expertise in water quality, agriculture, critters and mining. Prior to that she was a medical reporter, with an emphasis on mental illness, transplant medicine and reproductive health care. Josephine attended college at the University Michigan and lives in south Minneapolis with her husband and her dog. She spends a lot of time on the water, either on the lakes in her neighborhood, or on Lake Superior where she is learning to sail.
Ms. Biedenfeld has 20 years of experience in the agribusiness industry with over half of that time spent in the global crop nutrition market. She joined Cargill Inc. in 2001 as commodity merchandiser and transitioned to The Mosaic Company in 2007 where she held various roles within the potash and phosphate divisions. In 2014 Ms. Biedenfeld transitioned to Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies; a global leader in nutrient recovery for reuse. For the last six years she has led their Crop Nutrition business unit; focused on growing the adoption and usage of sustainable phosphate fertilizer throughout the world. She has a Bachelor of Science from Colorado State University, an MBA from University of Minnesota and currently serves on the Children’s Minnesota Foundation Board.
Wade Campbell joined the Freshwater board in February 2020. As a B2B Operational & Strategy executive, he is recognized as an expert on corporate transformation, innovation, strategic planning (products, markets, channels), and go-to-market execution, and in transforming organizations to achieve their goals. Wade has been an executive at both large and small technology companies, including Intel, Dell, and Motorola. His lifelong love of outdoor activities, especially those in wilderness areas, led to his interest in and concern for sustaining the quality of those experiences for future generations.
Mike Hanson is president and CEO of Hunt Electric Corporation, where he has worked in various positions since 1985, and a licensed master electrician. He served as a governor of the St. Paul Chapter, National Electrical Contractors Association and a representative and past president of Federated Electrical Contractors. Currently, he is a trustee at both Dunwoody College of Technology and Hunger Solutions Minnesota. Mike earned a degree in electrical construction and maintenance from the Dunwoody Institute, and holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in business administration from Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota. He lives along the Mississippi River in Brooklyn Park.
Ryan Hurt joined the Freshwater board in 2015. He previously led strategic planning for Pentair, operating primarily within industrial segments focusing on water and energy. Ryan is originally from Annapolis, Maryland, along the Chesapeake Bay, and has spent most of his life enjoying and appreciating life in close proximity to both fresh and salt water resources — a proud supporter of conservation along the way. He is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, and holds a master’s degree in business administration from Hawaii Pacific University. Ryan has traveled worldwide as a member of the U.S. Air Force and while holding numerous positions in commercial business. He is an outdoor enthusiast, lacrosse coach, husband, and father of three boys.
Dave Leuthe joined the Board in March 2020. He spent 40 years working with Minnesota landowners, along with local, state, and federal units of government, to find and implement integrated solutions for land and water management problems. In retirement, he remains concerned about how our choices as Minnesotans affect the quality of life, public health, and economic costs for present and future generations. He has worked with Freshwater over many years and is happy to bring his knowledge and experience of surface water, groundwater, and natural systems management to the organization.
Joan Nephew was executive director of Freshwater from 2007 until her retirement in 2013. Previously, she was president of the Institute for Environmental Assessment, executive director of the Environmental Resource Council, and executive vice president of the Minnesota Institute of Public Health. In these roles, she managed environmental health projects, worked with industry and government, and oversaw environmental health and safety policy for schools and other institutions. She holds a bachelor of science degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead and has completed graduate work in public health administration at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Minnesota.
Zack Swanson joined the Freshwater board in 2019. He has worked for Rapala since 1997 and is the vice president of sales. In 2017 he was also named general manager and is instrumental in guiding key U.S. initiatives. Zach holds a bachelor of science in business administration and management.
A native of Minneapolis, Renée brings 20 years of experience in electoral politics, local government, cross-sector partnerships, program management and business development. As a principal at Stantec Consulting, she oversees the Midwest water services and supports strategic initiatives across the water sector. Renée believes in building authentic and effective relationships with utility professionals, community leaders and key stakeholders to advance projects that positively impact communities. Prior to joining Stantec, Renee served as the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, where she led the agency’s place-based revitalization strategy for the $2.7 billion Sewer System Improvement Program. Renee’s work centered on enrolling broad political and community coalitions to advance priority capital projects and securing outside resources to align with utility priorities such as workforce development, beneficial secondary land use, environmental justice, and equity and inclusion.
Blyth Brookman served on the Freshwater board since from 2002-2018. She is a financial advisor at a major brokerage firm. Raising her family on the shores of Lake Minnetonka increased her interest in water quality, the environment, and environmental education. Blyth has been active in efforts by the St. Martins By-the-Lake Episcopal Church to assist people in need around the world.
JoEllen Hurr served on the Freshwater board from 1989-2001. She is a former elementary school teacher who has committed her time and energy to public service and wise land use. She has been a member or officer of many groups, including Metropolitan Waste Control Commission, Lake Minnetonka Conservation District, and the citizens advisory committee of the North Shore Management Board. She served on the steering committee that helped establish the Lake Superior Coastal Program in 1999 and was the first elected chair of the council that manages the program. The Coastal Program is a collaboration between the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Two governors appointed her to the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources.
Tom Skramstad served on the Freshwater Society board from 2006-2018. He has held executive positions with a number of Twin Cities firms, including Target, Deluxe, and Apogee. Tom has been active in the Citizen’s Lake Monitoring Program for more than 15 years, has served as chair of the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District’s board, and is a former special deputy with the Hennepin County Water Patrol. Tom also has served as a director of the City of Shorewood’s Planning Commission, as board member of Lutheran Social Services’ Advisory Committee, as president of the Blake School Alumni Association and as vice chair of Hearthstone of Minnesota, a program for troubled youth.