Freshwater Staff


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Melissa Martinez-Sones, Interim Executive Director, she/her/hers
Melissa Martinez-Sones is co-owner and consultant at Mighty Consulting, a firm that works with nonprofits, partnerships, government agencies, and community groups as they experience and navigate organizational change. She has spent the last 20 years in Minnesota’s nonprofit sector, supporting and improving mission-focused nonprofit organizations and offering her unique blend of experience, insights, and high-energy leadership. Melissa’s organizing and management skills engage people and ensure that the organization or project is well-managed and grounded in the organization’s values. Melissa has a B.A. in Urban Studies and Sociology from Hamline University, and a Master of Public Affairs from the Humphrey School at the University of Minnesota where she received the Thomas H. Swain Fellowship in Public Leadership.
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Don Davies, Finance Director, he/him/his
Don joined Freshwater in February 2020 as finance director. He is a CPA, and started his career in public accounting followed by 38 years in executive financial positions in community banking organizations. He actively volunteered in a variety of nonprofit organizations over that time. Don lives on lake property in Isanti County, which his family has enjoyed for over 90 years. He is a founding board member of the lake’s Improvement District, which has been working for the past six years to protect, preserve, and improve the quality of the lake.
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Chyann Erickson, Program Associate & Member Experience Coordinator, she/her/hers
Chyann joined the Freshwater team in July 2021 to work part-time as the office administrative assistant. With a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and several years of experience in water quality, she was thrilled to continue her career at Freshwater. She is also pursuing a master’s degree in natural science and environmental education at Hamline University to become an effective educator on environmental issues. When she isn’t in the office, Chyann can be found adventuring in local natural areas, playing with her two cats, or reading a good book.
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Lila Franklin, Program Associate, she/her/hers
Lila joined Freshwater in December 2019 as a program intern. She graduated from St. Olaf College in May 2019 with a degree in environmental studies, and is currently attending graduate school at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota in pursuit of a master’s degree in urban and regional planning. She is primarily interested in environmental planning, and how our built environment can work to weave in elements of the natural. In her free time, Lila enjoys exploring Minnesota’s regional and state parks and sewing and knitting her own garments.
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Carrie Jennings, Research and Policy Director, she/her/hers
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. Carrie is Adjunct Graduate Faculty at the U of M and 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.
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Jen Kader, Director for Engagement and Systems Change, she/her/hers
Jen has nearly 10 years of experience engaging public and private stakeholders in environmental resources work, and has a master's degree in urban and regional planning 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 involves 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.
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Eileen Kirby

Eileen Kirby, Policy and Research Coordinator
A recent Humphrey School graduate, Eileen joined Freshwater in January of 2021 as a part-time contractor after working on the Banking Groundwater policy subgroup in her former position with the University of Minnesota’s Water Resources Center. Now as full-time staff, Eileen's work focuses on Freshwater's comparative study of groundwater governance in the Great Lakes. She also helps Freshwater continue considering policy approaches that address the climate-water nexus and looking for grant opportunities.
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Mary Lilly, Administrative Assistant
Mary joined the Freshwater team in January 2023, after decades of work experience in multiple industries: commercial insurance, K-12 education, and most recently, running an academic support program for undergraduates at the University of Minnesota. She has a degree in English literature from the University of Minnesota and a master's degree from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. She currently serves on the Community Advisory Committee of Capitol Region Watershed District, the Committee of Trustees at the Friends School Minnesota, and is an active participant in the Minnesota Water Stewards program. Mary can be found in the garden, on skis, casting for trout, and always trying to improve her golf game. She is thrilled to share her energy and enthusiasm for Freshwater.
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Kris Meyer, Community Engagement and Education Coordinator, she/her/hers
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 float plane, 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 immersed in Minnesota’s waters.
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Tera Scovill, Office Manager, she/her/hers
Tera joined Freshwater in April 2019. She has a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and worked as an interpretive naturalist. She has a background in project coordination, administrative support, sales, program development, and customer service in a variety of industries. Tera has now circled back to her passion around environmental stewardship. As a Minnesota Master Naturalist and a Minnesota Water Steward, she enjoys sharing experiences with others that inspire a sense of wonder, enthusiasm, and respect for nature, nurturing a desire to care for our earth and its inhabitants. You may also find her bird watching, gardening, or dancing
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Molly Street, Marketing & Communication Coordinator, she/her/hers
Molly joined the Freshwater team in 2022, bringing over 6 years of communication and outdoor industry experience to the team. She’s excited to put her communication and organization skills to work protecting freshwater resources. Outside of work she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with loved ones. Email Molly

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Alex Van Loh, Education and Program Coordinator, he/him/his
Alex joined Freshwater in September 2015 as a Minnesota GreenCorps member working with the Minnesota Water Stewards Program. In fall 2016 he became staff and expanded his work to include supporting all programs, with a specific focus on education and engagement. He has a degree in biology from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. Before coming to Freshwater, he lived in Germany, teaching English through the Fulbright Program. Outside the office Alex enjoys making music, running, sampling craft brews, and all things comedy.
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