Staff & Board

Staff & Board

Freshwater Future Staff


Alana Honaker, Grants and Community Program Associate

alana@freshwaterfuture.org

Alana is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a degree in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, with a focus of Policy, Planning, Law and Society. Alana has interned with Freshwater Future since the summer of 2019, originally at the lab station testing water samples for PFAS, then transitioning to assisting in policy work. She is originally from Petoskey, Michigan, and is now residing in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Since starting full-time as the Grants and Community Programs Associate, she has been implementing outgoing grant programs and tracking the outcomes of our grantees. Additionally, she is managing our grant database and other technological needs of Freshwater Future. In her free time, she enjoys downhill skiing, kayaking, camping, and spending time with her friends and family.


Alexis Smith, Community Database and Tech Coordinator

alexis@freshwaterfuture.org

Alexis started working part-time as an intern for Freshwater Future in the June of 2019. She helped with the launch and testing of  Freshwater Future’s storm-water tracking app, assisted with organizing and managing databases, and engaged Toledo community youth in water education and activities.  Prior to her intern work for Freshwater Future, Alexis worked 18 months in the spine orthopedics industry at Life Spine Inc. as a project engineer intern while completing her undergrad studies at the University of Toledo. She later graduated from the University of Toledo with a B.S. in Bioengeering in May 2019. She currently works for Freshwater Future full-time continuing her work with the storm-water app, youth and community engagement, as well as supporting Freshwater Future in all of its technology needs. In her spare time, Alexis enjoys watching movies, listening to music, gaming, writing poetry, and spending time with her family and friends. 


Alicia Smith, Director of Community Programming & Associate Director of Policy

alicia@freshwaterfuture.org

Alicia manages the Great Lakes Network and guides Freshwater Future’s engagement in state and federal policy. In Alicia’s most recent position she served as the Executive Director of Youth Commission and Manager of Youth and Recreation for the City of Toledo. She is the founder of a Toledo, Ohio community organization, Junction Coalition that started as an opportunity to help the community help themselves through partnering with others to address social, economic, and environmental issues and improve the community’s quality of life.  Alicia’s doctoral studies at the University of Toledo focus on the educational development of youth of color within low socioeconomic and disenfranchised communities. She acquired a bachelors of arts in education and counseling, as well as a masters of arts in criminal justice and juvenile law from the University of Toledo. 


Ann Baughman, Associate Director

ann@freshwaterfuture.org

Ann began work for Freshwater Future in the fall of 2006. Ann manages our climate program–helping communities build resilience to the impacts of climate change.  In addition, Ann works on diversifying funding sources for the organization.  Prior to working at Freshwater Future, she served as a Watershed Protection Director and National Park Service Ranger.  Ann has a bachelors of science in natural resources from the University of Michigan. Ann works out of the Petoskey office.


Brandon Tyus, Policy and Community Program Associate

brandon@freshwaterfuture.org

Brandon Tyus focuses on community engagement; working with people to identify the needs and assist in creating solutions while staying up to date with current policies within the Great Lakes region as a Community Program and Policy Associate. He has strengthened his leadership ability through attending the Dale Carnegie course and the Napoleon Hill Leadership course in addition to joining an 18-month study/volunteer abroad program — One World Center. While with the One World Center, Brandon spent 6 months in Mozambique, Africa to join the emergency team to help source materials and mobilize communities in rebuilding their farmlands and sanitation infrastructures that were destroyed by cyclone Idai. He is also the Vice Chair of the Benton Harbor Community Water Council and co-led actions that have been recognized by the city. Brandon enjoys cooking healthy dishes, exercising, and reading. Finding that his ever evolving goal is to transmute ideas into working services for people.


Jill Ryan, Executive Director

jill@freshwaterfuture.org

Jill Ryan received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Grand Valley State University in Michigan, her master’s degree in zoology from the University of Maine, and her law degree from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. She has a background in nonprofit management and capacity building, environmental toxicology, and human services, and has taught environmental law and legal research. Jill has held positions with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is now the Executive Director of Freshwater Future, where she has been since 2000.  In addition to building Freshwater Future, Jill’s passion focuses on increasing grassroots capacity to protect waters in the Great Lakes region, including assisting with a variety of planning processes, board development, facilitation and bi-national collaborative efforts. She serves on the Healing Our Waters Governance Board, helped spur creation of the growing Great Lakes Network and monitors emerging issues in the region. Jill enjoys paddling, cycling and camping with her family who reside in Petoskey, Michigan.


Hilliard Hamptom, Associate Director for Urban Partnerships

hilliard@freshwaterfuture.org

All his life, Hilliard Hampton has been a hands on problem solver and hands on leader. A four-time elected Mayor, police officer, small business owner, education leader – all of these experiences are what Hilliard brings to his role at Freshwater Future as our Associated Director of Urban Partnerships. Hilliard values the role of community and diverse perspectives in developing solutions, and excels at listening to and integrating others’ perspectives while also maintaining the broader picture to reach a successful conclusion.


Kristy Meyer, Associate Director

kristy@freshwaterfuture.org

Kristy MeyerKristy Meyer is an Associate Director at Freshwater Future. Kristy supports community groups in forwarding equitable policies and regulations for clean, safe, affordable, and accessible drinking water in communities throughout the Great Lakes states and provinces. Previously as the Vice President of Policy with the Ohio Environmental Council, Kristy led and co-led critical work that transformed the ability of the Lake Erie region to respond to its most significant challenges. She brings more than 15 years of experience in policy and campaign development, team-building, and non-profit leadership. Kristy has a B.S. in Environmental Biology and Business Administration from Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio. She earned a M.S. from James Cook University in Queensland, Australia, where she worked with Aboriginals on Natural Resource Management Issues and formed a “Greening Strategy” for all of Northern Australia, including Papua New Guinea. Kristy is a native of the Buckeye state and enjoys camping, hiking, and flat and whitewater kayaking with her husband, Chase, and her daughter and son.


Laurie Breighner, Grants Specialist and Administrative Assistant

laurie@freshwaterfuture.org

Laurie is involved in grant management, membership management, and helping organizations with planning. Prior to joining the Freshwater Future team, she had a thirty plus year career in retail, specializing in customer service.  She has a Bachelor’s Degree from Western Michigan University.


Leslie Burk, Communications and Development Director
leslie@freshwaterfuture.org

Leslie Burk is the Communication and Development Director at Freshwater Future. With twenty years of experience, Leslie is a seasoned fundraiser focused on building strong relationships and engagement with donors and stakeholders. Her past work experience includes outreach efforts with grassroots groups and mid-sized organizations, including Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council. On the communications front, Leslie has helped many businesses and non-profits increase brand awareness and enhance their online and social media presence. In addition to her non-profit work, Leslie was a small business owner managing both a physical store and online website. Leslie holds a B.A. with honors from Purdue University. She lives in Harbor Springs, Michigan with her family enjoying hiking, camping, gardening, boating, and winter activities.


Freshwater Future Board

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Karen Reinbold


Melanie Welch

Melanie Welch is Deputy Director of the American Library Association’s Public Programs Office, where she develops national informal education programs and professional development opportunities for libraries, and librarians, of all types throughout the United States. Melanie is a veteran non-profit professional, with additional experience in outcomes-based work at museums and environmental organizations, including several years on staff with Freshwater Future. She has expertise in informal education, public programs and community engagement and outreach. She received a BS degree in environmental biology from Bradley University and a MS degree in biology from Northern Illinois University, and is a member of the Second Nature class of Catto Fellows at the Aspen Institute. She lives in Chicago with her family.


Adam Parker

Adam Parker is Vice Chair and chairs the board’s Fundraising Committee. He has spent 15 years working in Development, raising funds primarily for educational and environmental organizations in Chicago, including the Latin School of Chicago and John G. Shedd Aquarium. He is currently the Director of Development at The ARK, an anti-poverty and human services organization serving Chicago’s Jewish community. Adam grew up in the Twin Cities and has spent most of his life on and around the Great Lakes. His time at Shedd Aquarium opened his eyes to the wonder and vital importance of the aquatic world to our planet and our human community. He is proud and grateful to support Freshwater Future’s work advancing the health of our waters and the communities that depend on them across the Great Lakes region and beyond.


Trent Stark


Tom Knott


Freshwater-Future-distinguished-board-members-serving-Great-Lakes-communities

Dr. Robert Letscher

Dr. Robert Letscher lives in Durham along the New Hampshire seacoast where he is a professional Earth scientist and assistant professor of chemical oceanography at the University of New Hampshire. Rob’s research interests include illuminating the ways in which the biology and chemistry of the oceans regulate global climate and in turn formulating predictions of how the changing climate will impact marine ecosystems. This work takes him out to sea on oceanographic research vessels for weeks at a time. Rob is also involved with the translation of scientific knowledge on the biology and chemistry of the oceans to the numerical code used in international climate modeling efforts that find their way into the decadal Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports.


Donald Wiggins Jr.,

Donald Wiggins Jr.


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Stephanie Smith

Stephanie Smith leads Zephyr Mangata, a consultancy that strengthens the community of global solutionaries to accelerate positive change for people, water and the planet through game-changing strategy, collaboration, and projects. She engages people at the intersections of water, climate, gender, youth, education and environmental justice – for a vibrant future for all. Stephanie works on 45% of the world’s surface freshwater in the North American and African Great Lakes. She is the Strategic Advisor for the African Center for Aquatic Research and Education, co-leading the African Women in Science program and working on Advisory Groups for seven lakes in East Africa. Stephanie launched Water Solutionaries, a program connecting youth on the North American and African Great Lakes. She is the former Vice President of Operations for the Alliance for the Great Lakes, where she authored the Great Lakes in My World curriculum and developed the Adopt-a-Beach program. She wrote the Wavemaker Curriculum for Drink Local Drink Tap, focused on climate change and water, water footprint, and clean water as a human right. She loves serving on the board of directors for Freshwater Future and lives in Evanston, IL near Lake Michigan with two teens, her husband and an energetic dog.

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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.