Steve Woods – Executive Director
Steve Woods joined Freshwater in December 2013 as executive director. He is a civil engineer who previously was one of two assistant directors of the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, a $60 million a year state conservation agency. From 1987 to 1999, he was a consulting engineer in the Minnesota office of MWH, a global environmental consulting company. He also worked two years as a research analyst in the former Division of Waters in the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. He earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from the University of Minnesota, and a master’s degree in public administration from Hamline University. Learn a bit more about Steve by reading a Star Tribune interview published shortly after he was appointed.
Or read a short Q-and-A in which he reveals he’s an extrovert, a cyclist, a sailor, and an optimist about Freshwater’s ability to protect Minnesota’s water.
Brian Bohman – Research and Policy Intern
Brian joined Freshwater in March 2016 as a research and policy intern. He graduated from Saint John’s University in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in natural science and is currently a master’s candidate in the Water Resources Science graduate program at the University of Minnesota where he is researching strategies to reduce nitrate leaching to groundwater. He grew up in the Twin Cities, and from a young age has been in love with all things related to water. Brian enjoys swimming, canoeing, traveling, playing board games, and spending time with his family and friends.
Deirdre Coleman – Program Coordinator
Deirdre Coleman has been with Freshwater since 2010 and has a bachelor’s degree in biology, society, and the environment. As a program coordinator she works on a number of Freshwater’s programs, mainly the Master Water Steward Program. Dedicated to water in her career as well as personal life, Deirdre is usually found in town or up north on some body of water when she is not in the office.
Julie Fliflet, CPA – Director of Finance and Administration
Julie has over 20 years of experience working with nonprofit organizations and has specialized in the nonprofit sector for her entire career. She is a CPA, and started her career in public accounting working as an auditor in the nonprofit division for a large CPA firm, then subsequently held positions directing the finance and administration activities for several nonprofits in the Twin Cities metro area before coming to Freshwater.
Dana Ferguson – Administrative Assistant
Dana Ferguson joined Freshwater in August of 2018. With degrees from the University of Minnesota and Luther Seminary, her career has been varied and educational. Her previous work experience includes volunteer management, and for the last six years she ran the office of a busy Saint Paul bakery. Born and raised in the Twin Cities, Dana now lives in the best walking neighborhood in Saint Paul. She spends her free time gardening, cooking, reading, volunteering, and keeping fit.
Carrie Jennings – Research and Policy Director
Carrie joined Freshwater in 2016. She has been a field geologist for 24 years, 22 of those with the Minnesota Geological Survey and two with the DNR, Division of Lands and Minerals. For the last two years she was the science reports lead for the County Geologic Atlas program at the DNR. She applies her understanding of glacial geology and landscape evolution to shape policy and technical approaches for managing surface water and groundwater, avoiding hazards, and using resources wisely. Carrie and her husband live on a 120-acre farm which is primarily in a permanent conservation easement through the Dakota County Farmland and Natural Areas Program. Livestock is limited to a dozen chickens, a dog and a couple of cats. She has twice been elected town board supervisor and served on the planning commission for Eureka Township.
Jen Kader – Senior Program Manager
Jen has nearly 10 years of experience engaging public and private stakeholders in environmental resources work, and has a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs with a concentration in climate change planning. As a trained and practiced process facilitator, Jen’s work at Freshwater has involved strategic and collaborative planning efforts with community groups and local government units, as well as development of surface water management, lake management, and climate resiliency plans. She has served on the City of Minneapolis’s Community Environmental Advisory Commission and several community and technical advisory committees, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Women’s Environmental Institute and the Whittier Alliance.
Connie Lanphear – Communications and Program Manager
Connie joined Freshwater in 2016 after 12 years working in communications, management, and development for several environmental nonprofits. She manages general communications and the annual Weatherguide almanac calendar. Connie holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in liberal studies with an arts and literature concentration. She loves to travel with her two daughters and spends as much time as possible biking, dancing, practicing yoga, reading, cooking, and making art.
Kris Meyer – Program Coordinator
Kris joined the team in January 2018, bringing a communications and education perspective to Freshwater’s work. A trained and practiced facilitator as well as a skilled science communicator, Kris enjoys distilling complex technical information into plain language. Educated as an environmental journalist, Kris has experience as a freelance writer, classroom teacher, and tutor. Her favorite fieldwork experience was flying around the state in a floatplane, gathering lake water samples for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. A family cabin in Ottertail County, a sailboat on Lake Superior, and frequent canoe treks into the Boundary Waters keep her well submersed in Minnesota’s waters.
Mary Salisbury – Development Officer
Mary joined Freshwater in November 2017. With a Bachelor’s in political science and Spanish, and many years in the public sector, she’s made her professional niche in nonprofits: raising heart and financial resources for vital societal causes. With the addition of Mary’s position at Freshwater, the organization has a special chance to deepen relationships with valued donors, funders, and supporters — the committed individuals investing in Minnesota’s lakes and streams. Mary feels privileged to serve in this role. It allows her to live out one of her passions: celebrating the community support that makes freshwater possible!
Alex Van Loh – Program Assistant
Alex joined Freshwater in September 2015 as a Minnesota GreenCorps member focused on the Master Water Stewards Program. In fall 2016, he became a program assistant and expanded his work to include supporting all programs. He has a degree in biology from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. Before coming to Freshwater Society, he spent a year living abroad in Germany, teaching English through the Fulbright Program. Outside the office Alex enjoys making music, running, sampling craft brews, and all things comedy.
Leslie Yetka – Director of Programs; Director, Master Water Stewards Program
Leslie joined Freshwater as a program manager in July 2016 and took over as director of programs in 2017. For the past eighteen years, she has worked in education, community engagement, and public planning with a focus on water resource management, sustainable landscape practices, and community resilience to climate change. She has been fortunate to engage with a variety of audiences, including private landowners, businesses, nonprofit groups, technical professionals, and community groups working to protect our environment. Leslie has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Macalester College, and a master’s degree in horticulture with a minor in water resources science from the University of Minnesota, and spends most of her time (when not chauffeuring the kids) either reading a good book, spending time outdoors, or dreaming of mountains in Montana.