Keynote Speaker 
Anne Castle, former assistant secretary for water and science, US Department of the Interior

Anne Castle,  a former assistant secretary for water and science in the U.S. Department of the Interior from 2009 to 2014, is currently a Senior Fellow at the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment – part of the University of Colorado Boulder law school.


While at the Interior Department, Castle oversaw the Bureau of Reclamation, the nation’s largest water wholesaler, and the U.S. Geological Survey.  She spearheaded the department’s WaterSMART program and was the driving force behind the 2010 Memorandum of Understanding among the Interior Department, the Department of Energy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, addressing the development of sustainable hydropower generation.

Castle also provided hands-on leadership on Colorado River issues and was the Interior Department’s designee to, and chair of, the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Work Group.  She was a champion of Minute 319 – an amendment to a decades-old treaty between the United States and Mexico involving the Colorado River.

Prior to joining the Interior Department, Castle practiced water law with the Rocky Mountain regional law firm of Holland & Hart.  She received her undergraduate degree from CU-Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences in applied mathematics in 1973.

Charles FlynnExecutive Director of the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area

After graduating from Stanford University with a BA/MA in American History, Charles Flynn worked for the late Mayor Edward Koch of New York City from 1974-1981.  He was then the CEO of a family business until 1994, when he found his true passion: riverfront redevelopment.  From 1994 to 1999,  he guided a $25 million waterfront redevelopment in Wheeling West Virginia. Since then, he has led a $100 million revitalization of the riverfront in Yuma, Arizona as the Executive Director of the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area.


Tom W. DavisYuma County Water Users' Association manager

Tom W. Davis joined the Yuma County Water Users' Association as manager in January 2007.  Prior to joining YCWUA, Tom was manager of the Carlsbad Irrigation District, Carlsbad , NM.  He was also employed for fifteen years by the USDA-Forest Service.  Tom is a graduate of Oklahoma State University.  He is a member of  National Water Resources Association and the Family Farm Alliance.   He has testified before Congress on water issues in the Southwest.


John Swett, Program Manager (LC-8000)

John Swett has been the Program Manager for the LCR MSCP since September 2008.  Prior to becoming Program Manager, he was the Wildlife Group Manager for the LCR MSCP.  John has worked in the natural resources field since 1979, including 11 years with the US Forest Service, prior to accepting a position with the Bureau of Reclamation in 1992.  He has a BS in Wildlife Management from the University of Maine and a MS in Forestry from the University of Massachusetts.


Fred Phillips, President and owner of Fred Phillips Consulting, LLC (FPC)

Fred Phillips is the President and owner of Fred Phillips Consulting, LLC (FPC).  He has more than 22 years of experience undertaking ecosystem restoration, land planning, grant writing, and landscape design in the southwestern United States.  Fred received his Bachelor of Science degree in Landscape Architecture in 1995 from Purdue University.


As a student at Purdue, he began work on his original planning of the 1042 acre 'Ahakhav Tribal Preserve on the Colorado River Indian Reservation (CRIT), where he served as project director from 1994-1999. During these years he successfully raised more than $4 million in grants and restored more than 2 miles of river channel, wetlands, and native forests.

Fred Phillips established FPC in 1999, Since then, he has designed and implemented more than 2,000 acres of restored wetland and riparian habitat, combining technical design skills with grant-writing and  the rare “people skills” of consensus-building among diverse stakeholders.  In the 400 restored acres of the Yuma East Wetlands Project, he has pioneered the most successful techniques to remove invasive salt cedar and phragmites and restore these areas with native riparian revegetation.

Other large scale habitat restoration projects Fred has either planned and/or implemented include the Laguna Conservation Area (1400 acres), Las Vegas Wash (300 acres), Yuma West Wetlands (60 acres), Hunter’s Hole restoration (40 acres), Black Canyon Riparian Restoration (10 acres) and Lee’s Ferry Revegetation (10 acres).  Fred’s work has been featured in Landscape Architecture, Restoration Ecology, Arizona Highways, and a multitude of periodicals and books.  He resides in Flagstaff, Arizona with his wife Kellner and their two children Faye and Owen.

Jack Schmidt, Professor of Watershed Sciences, Utah State University Center for Colorado River Studies

Professor Schmidt has devoted 30 years of research to the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River that flows through it, focused on the relationship of ecosystem health and the dams, reservoirs, and diversions associated with river management.  He recently stepped down as chief of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center, a position he had held since 2011.  In both his university and government research, Jack has worked to encourage collaboration between federal and state agencies, tribal interests, non-governmental organization and academic institutions.  He recently received the National Park Service’s Director’s Award for Natural Resource Research.


Osvel Hinojosa Huerta, Director of the Water and Wetlands Program for Pronatura Noroeste

Osvel Hinojosa Huerta is the Director of the Water and Wetlands Program for Pronatura Noroeste and is in charge of the office in San Luis Río Colorado, Sonora.  He obtained his Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Arizona and his B.Sc. in Biochemical Engineering and Marine Sciences from ITESM (Monterrey Institute of Technology) Campus Guaymas.


Osvel Hinojosa has been working in multiple conservation and research projects in northwestern Mexico since 1997, in particular in riparian and wetland areas of the Sonoran Desert, first with the Center for Conservation and Use of Natural Resources of ITESM Campus Guaymas, then with the School of Natural Resources of the University of Arizona and finally with Pronatura Noroeste.

Mary Miss, Artist, Founder City as Living Laboratory, New York, New York

Mary Miss has reshaped the boundaries between sculpture, architecture, landscape design, and installation art by articulating a vision of the public sphere where it is possible for an artist to address the issues of our time. She has developed the “City as Living Lab”, a framework for making issues of sustainability tangible through collaboration and the arts, with Marda Kirn of EcoArts Connections.

Trained as a sculptor, her work creates situations emphasizing a site’s history, its ecology, or aspects of the environment that have gone unnoticed. Mary Miss has collaborated closely with architects, planners, engineers, ecologists, and public administrators on projects as diverse as creating a temporary memorial around the perimeter of Ground Zero, marking the predicted flood level of Boulder, Colorado, revealing the history of the Union Square Subway station in New York City or turning a sewage treatment plant into a public space. Recent projects include an installation focused on water resources in China for the Olympic Park in Beijing and a temporary installation at a seventeenth-century park in Delhi, India as part of the exhibition 49°: Public Art and Ecology. A proposal for a permanent project at the North Carolina Museum of Art explores the presence and movement of water through the site by recovering and revitalizing elements of the watershed to reveal the wetland processes in the region.

A recipient of multiple awards, Mary Miss has been the subject of exhibitions at the Harvard University Art Museum, Brown University Gallery, The Institute of Contemporary Art in London, the Architectural Association in London, Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, and the Des Moines Art Center. Among others, her work has been included in the exhibitions: Decoys, Complexes and Triggers at the Sculpture Center in New York, Weather Report: Art and Climate Change curated by Lucy Lippard, co-presented by the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art and EcoArts Connections, More Than Minimal: Feminism and Abstraction in the 70’s, Brandeis Museum’s Rose Art Museum, and Century City: Art and Culture in the Modern Metropolis at the Tate Modern.

David Benn, Principal Cho Benn Holback, a Quinn Evans Company Baltimore, Maryland

An accomplished, award-winning architect, David Benn has practiced internationally, taught architectural design, and has been actively involved in preservation, adaptive use, urban design, and neighborhood revitalization. He is known for his inventive approach to master planning and design, drawing upon the unique opportunities and close collaborations presented by each project and its context to create strong designs that reinforce community.


David’s experience includes waterfront, neighborhood and campus master planning and design of educational facilities, libraries, civic buildings, housing communities, and mixed-use centers. He has participated in the Baltimore waterfront revitalization and been a proud Waterfront Center member and participant for decades.

Rick Barrett, Principal Design Director MIG, Inc., San Diego, CA

Rick Barrett (LEED AP), a Principal at MIG design, integrates landscape design and urban planning, drawing creative inspiration from collaboration with colleagues, nature, art, literature and the urban form of cities.

He has expertise in complex, large-scale planning and design projects, as well as smaller, more intimate plazas and parks. He brings a holistic understanding of the urban design process, from outreach and communications to establish a common vision through the detailed implementation of that vision. He incorporates a city’s history, cultural traditions and landscape setting to forge solutions that reflect a strong sense of place and progressive vision.


His projects have won awards from ASLA, AIA, Ahwahnee and GSA. He holds degrees from Utah State University and a certificate in project management from George Washington University.

Roland Lewis, Executive Director Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, New York, New York

A lifetime New Yorker, Roland Lewis has worked in the field of community development since 1984. A graduate of Columbia University, he then went on to earn both a Master of City and Regional Planning and a Juris Doctor from Rutgers University. For nine years he served as a partner in the law firm of Dellapa, Lewis, and Perseo, whose clients included nonprofit organizations, civic groups, churches, cooperative corporations, and private real estate developers.


In 1997 Roland became the executive director of Habitat for Humanity New York City. He led the organization for 10 years, guiding it to become one of the top producers in the region and a nationally emulated model for Habitat for Humanity locations in other urban settings.

In early 2007, Roland took the helm of the Waterfront Alliance. Under his leadership, the Waterfront Alliance has organized a powerful constituency for a better waterfront. It has instituted new programs, initiated and helped create a new waterfront plan for the City of New York, and become the leading waterfront policy organization in the New York region, known nationally and internationally.

Kathy O. Wine, Executive Director, River Action

Founded River Action in l985 as one of the organization’s three co-directors,  became its Executive Director ten years later, and holds that position today.  During that time River Action has led the lighting of the Centennial Bridge, the QC Waterfront Master Plan, The Nahant Marsh Master Plan, the Mississippi River Design Principles, the QC Water Taxi Project, and an annual festival Ride the River, a 16-60 mile riverfront bike ride in nine cities and two states.


The RiverWay Project, begun in l996, has raised over $9 million for trail improvements, public art projects on the river, river education, wetland restoration, and storm drain and clean water programs.  Working with thirteen communities, River Action coordinated the Quad City area in the American Heritage Rivers program for the Upper Mississippi, the Grand Excursion 2004, the Mississippi River Trail, the Board of the Waterfront Center, the Retain the Rain conservation program, Explore the River Education Series,  RiverWay celebrations of life on the Mississippi, Taming of the Slough Adventure Race,  the annual Upper Mississippi River Conference: Water, Land and Life: Connections and Opportunities, The Upper Mississippi River Grantwriters’ Panel, QC Water Trails, QC Wild Places, and Floatzilla, an attempt to break the world record for a canoe/kayak float. Recently, River Action launched the First Bridge campaign to build a bike/pedestrian bridge, a replica of the first railroad bridge across the Mississippi.

A native of Iowa, Ms. Wine has lived in the Quad Cities for more than 50 years.  She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Drake University.

Jim Cherry, retired area manager, Bureau of Reclamation, Yuma, Arizona

Jim Cherry’s interest in and passion for water management was spurred by the six years he spent in the Peace Corps working on water projects involving irrigation in the Atacama and Sahara deserts and in Sri Lanka.

Jim then joined the Bureau of Reclamation and spent the next 35 years working on water programs on the Lower Colorado River, including as:


  • Bureau of Reclamation  Deputy Area Manager of the dams on the Lower Colorado River (Hoover Dam, Davis Dam and Parker Dam)
  • Chief of Operation and Maintenance of the Colorado River from Nevada to Mexico
  • Chief of Dredging on the Colorado River removing sediment in backwaters and the main stem river for continuous flow of water.
  • Project Engineer for the on-farm water conservation program in the Wellton-Mohawk Irrigation and Drainage District. This program was the first to use laser land leveling to improve the water use efficiency on farm.

From 1999-2008, Jim served as the Area Manager of Reclamations’ Yuma, AZ office. He guided the test reactivation of  the world’s largest reverse osmosis desalinization plant, the Yuma Desalting Plant, which had been dormant for 20 years.  He oversaw the Water Quality Improvement Center, one of five national desalinization research centers in the U.S . He brought focus to the Yuma basin groundwater issues by benchmarking the operation and management the Yuma area wells with all the major well field operations from Fresno, CA to San Antonio, TX (11 participants in all). This led to an installation of a SCADA system for improved groundwater management.

 His work experience on the Colorado River has covered the whole spectrum of water delivery from the upstream storage reservoir Lake Mead to delivering water on-farm to irrigate crops. He also managed more than one hundred projects requiring NEPA compliance and  404 Clean Water Act permits.  Since retirement Jim has formed his own company ‘Cherry Water Management’ where he has been pursuing a project that provides a long-term water source for an upstream user while helping make farming sustainable in the long run in the Yuma Valley.

Jim holds a B.S. degree from Michigan State University.