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Staff and Board


Alana Honaker

Grants coordinator

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

Program Co-Director

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 focused on Lake Erie advocacy, community engagement, coaching and consulting, as well as supporting Freshwater Future in all of its technology needs. In her spare time, Alexis enjoys watching movies, listening to music, gaming, dancing, writing poetry, and spending time with her family and friends.


Ann Baughman

Associate Director

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.


Anna Bunting

program Co-Director

Anna Bunting is a life-long resident of the lands of the Anishinaabe, having been born and raised in southeast Michigan. She first joined Freshwater Future as an Environmental Fellow through the Yale School of the Environment in the summer of 2022. As a Program Co-Director, they are focused on Freshwater Future’s water affordability campaign, engaging our network, and other policy initiatives. Anna’s past work includes community sustainability organization, anti-racism facilitation, environmental justice project coordination, and DEIJ research. They hold a B.S. in Environmental Biology & Zoology from Michigan State University and most recently completed their Master’s in Environment and Sustainability specializing in environmental justice and sustainability & development at the University of Michigan. Anna loves to grow food, forage, camp, and play pickleball all around Michigan.

Hillard Hampton

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

Executive Director

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 Muskegon, Michigan.

Kristen Haitaian

Program Co-Director

Kristen Haitaian started with Freshwater Future in November 2021 following completion of her M.A. in Sustainable Urban Development at DePaul University. Her studies focused on waste and water policy and planning, supported by an internship with Chicagoland’s Metropolitan Planning Council. She also received a B.A. in Linguistics from University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (2008) and an M.A. in speech-language pathology from University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign (2011). After nearly a decade working as an SLP in adult rehabilitation facilities around Chicago, she transitioned to full-time environmental justice work to devote her time and privilege to her life-long passions of human rights and sustainability. She currently supports our lead and affordability policy programs. She recently moved from her home state of Illinois to Michigan, where she resides with her spouse and dog.

Kwamé Hampton

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.

Laurie Breighner

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.

Leslie Burk

Communications and Development Director

Leslie Burk is the Communication and Development Director at Freshwater Future. With over twenty years of experience, Leslie has spent most of her professional career helping environmental, social, business, and cultural organizations build lasting relationships with members, donors, volunteers, and stakeholders. At Freshwater Future, she coordinates fundraising activities and membership stewardship helping people connect to our mission and providing additional funds to protect water resources in the Great Lakes Region. On the communications front, Leslie utilizes her skills in research, analytics, design, and marketing to develop effective communications strategies for print, web, social media, and live events to reach a growing audience and help partner groups achieve their missions. 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.

Lisa Ross

Database Manager

Lisa’s extensive career spans diverse database management in construction, manufacturing, research, nonprofit, and community outreach sectors. She spent ten years as the Database Manager at United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County in North Carolina. Her commitment extends beyond her professional role volunteering with homeless initiatives and mentoring programs. She currently lives in Greenville, SC where she enjoys hiking, reading, live music and dancing.


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.

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 how 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.

Bettina Marshall

Based in Chicago, Bettina Marshall has made significant contributions to several non-profit organizations, including Alliance for the Great Lakes, playing a crucial role in their growth and development. Since November 2018, she has been an instrumental part of People’s Action Institute, establishing their human resources team. With extensive expertise in people and culture management, Bettina has been a driving force in implementing best practices and ensuring compliance in HR. She excels in employee relations, talent management, training, and performance management. She values diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, ensuring that all decisions are made with these principles in mind. Bettina holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Keller Graduate School of Management, along with a Human Resources Certificate from DePaul University. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Marketing Communications from Columbia College Chicago.

Pam Nyberg

Pam Nyberg currently lives in Chicago and has spent the vast majority of her life in close proximity to water, given her love for the Great Lakes. Currently, she is the Senior Director of Experience Design at Ascension Health. In this role, she leads multi-disciplinary teams in understanding the needs and experiences of people, including patients, their families, and clinical staff. She collaborates with these audiences to create solutions to their challenges and those of their local communities. Pam has 25+ years of experience in human-centered design, innovation strategy development, and design education. During her career, she’s led research, strategy, product, and platform development projects for Fortune 500 organizations and world-class consultancies. Given Pam’s passion for sustainability, she’s currently pursuing an MS in Sustainable Management from the University of Wisconsin and actively seeks opportunities to apply her systems design skills to environmental issues. Previously, she earned a Masters in Design Strategy from IIT’s Institute of Design, an MS in Industrial and Operations Engineering from the University of Michigan, and a BA in Mathematics from DePauw University.

Brenda Price

Brenda Price has served as an executive in the nonprofit field for over 25 years. Brenda’s goals are to live her best life, complete a PhD, and advance professionally within her organization. She has a wealth of knowledge and practice in the nonprofit sector and has helped to build the capacity of countless nonprofit leaders throughout her career and continues to be a resource for emerging leaders in her home state of Michigan and beyond.