The Business of River Conservation: Finding the Middle Ground for Commerce, Environment and Human Welfare

Date:  April 7, 2015

Time: 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM

Location: University Club, Ballroom A

Open to the Public, Refreshments will be provided. 
Register here

Moderator: Brett Crawford, Clinical Assistant Professor, Katz Graduate School of Business, Affiliate Faculty, Department of Sociology, University of Pittsburgh

Panelists: Jeff Thompson, Executive Director (2010-2014), Cal Trout; Chris Williams, Senior Vice President of Conservation, American Rivers; and Laura Ziemer, Senior Counsel and Water Policy Advisor, Trout Unlimited

The purpose of this panel is to engage in a conversation about the complexity of water conservation as it relates to business, commerce and human welfare. The panelists will discuss stories of how economic, environmental, social and political interests collide in relation to water. Specific focus will be given to the conservation of rivers and the responsibility of business within those efforts.

Sponsors: David Berg Center for Ethics and Leadership, Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. This event is part of the University of Pittsburgh’s year of Sustainability Initiative.

The Panelists

Jeff Thompson
Executive Director, Cal Trout

Jeff spent the majority of his 25+ year career on the corporate side; primarily at Wells Fargo Bank, where he oversaw consumer deposit product marketing and interest well as Intuit, where he held a variety of marketing roles, and spent five years as President of Intuit's global enterprise real estate software division.  In 2010 he opted to take his career to the non-profit side.  Jeff spent four years as Executive Director at California Trout, a 40+ year old organization focused on wild trout, steelhead and salmon restoration throughout California.  He has been directly involved in many of California's current water challenges facing conservationists and the state's agriculture, timber and wine industries. 

Christopher Williams
Senior Vice President of Conservation, American Rivers

Christopher Williams leads American Rivers’ Conservation Program, a team of over 40 professionals dedicated to conserving the nation’s rivers and the natural, economic, and cultural resources they provide.

Prior to joining American Rivers in February 2012, Chris directed the Freshwater Conservation Program at World Wildlife Fund (WWF), where he developed and implemented river conservation projects in the US, Latin America, Africa, and Asia.  He pioneered the concept of ecoregional conservation as Director of WWF’s Chihuahuan Desert Program from 1997-2003, and was the organization’s lead counsel on federal wildlife policy in the early 90s, focusing primarily on strengthening and improving implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Chris began his career as an ESA lobbyist at the National Wildlife Federation.

Chris is an expert on freshwater ecosystem conservation, water resources management, wildlife conservation policy, and has extensive experience in engaging non-traditional partners, particularly corporate actors, in ambitious conservation programs.  He received a B.A. in History from the University of Washington, a Masters in Environmental Policy and J.D. from the Vermont Law School.

Laura Ziemer
Senior Counsel and Water Policy Advisor, Trout Unlimited

Laura Ziemer initiated Trout Unlimited’s (TU’s) water efforts by establishing the Montana Water Project office in 1998.  She has helped grow TU’s water work to seven states, (Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Washington, and California), to restore and maintain streamflows for healthy coldwater fisheries by addressing water allocation issues.  In Montana, Ms. Ziemer has expanded Trout Unlimited’s water leasing program. She has helped establish new watershed restoration authorities in the 2008 and 2013 Farm Bills, protected flows on the Bitterroot River, initiated a successful drought response plan on the Blackfoot River, and obtained favorable rulings from the Montana Supreme Court recognizing instream flow rights under the prior appropriation doctrine (known as the Bean Lake III case), and limiting new groundwater development that comes as the expense of river flows (TU v. DNRC, April 2006).  In 2007, Laura worked with a broad coalition of ranchers and conservation interests to pass comprehensive reform legislation for Montana’s management of groundwater, based on the recognition of ground and surface water as one resource.  She currently serves as Trout Unlimited’s Senior Counsel and Water Policy Advisor.

Ms. Ziemer served as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Barbara J. Rothstein of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle.  She is a 1990 graduate of the University of Michigan, graduating cum laude from the Law School while earning a Master’s Degree in Resource Ecology with honors from the School of Natural Resources.  She lives in Bozeman, Montana and enjoys time with her two daughters, ages 10 and 14.