Grants and Community Program Associate
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.
Community Database and Tech Coordinator
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.
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.
Policy and Community Program Associate
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.
Associate Director for Urban Partnerships
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.
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 Jamestown, New York.
Community Program Associate
Kristen Haitaian (like “Hawaiian”!) is a 2021 graduate of the Sustainable Urban Development Masters program at DePaul University. Her studies and internship at the Metropolitan Planning Council in Chicago focused on water advocacy, environmental policy, and urban planning and design. As a Community Program Associate with Freshwater Future, she continues her stewardship for clean and affordable drinking water with a focus on protecting Michiganders from lead in their water. Prior to returning to school to focus on her lifelong passion for environmental injustice, Kristen worked for a decade in health care. She received her B.A. in Linguistics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2008 and an M.A. in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2011. She is beyond grateful for the patience and wisdom gained while working with skilled nursing residents and plans on continuing speech therapy in the future. She is a native of the Chicago suburbs, and in her free time enjoys cooking, art, music, working on her Spanish, and exploring nature with her husband and dog.
Community Program coordinator
Kwamé Hampton has spent years volunteering with local community organizations in Detroit, including Detroit Abloom, Motor City Blight Busters and Rouge Rescue River Cleanup assisting with environmental initiatives, community beautification projects, and community and youth outreach and engagement. At the same time, Kwamé was developing business skills through his work at security firms, and business alliances playing roles from administration to management. Since childhood, the outdoors, nature and the environment have been important parts of Kwamé’s life. In his role as Community Program Coordinator, Kwamé pulls all of these skills and experiences together to work with community organizations to identify and solve neighborhood concerns.
Grants Specialist and Administrative Assistant
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.
Communications and Development Director
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.
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.
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.
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.