Plenary Speakers

Devon Buckels, The Water Connection Director, Greenway Foundation: Devon Buckels is a civic-minded Denver native. Her decades of work in the public, private and nonprofit sectors has focused on creating healthy and sustainable communities. She has a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Colorado at Denver, and a Certification in Sustainability Leadership and Implementation from the Daniels College of Business. Devon is excited to serve as TGF’s lead policy and water resources staff as Director of The Water Connection, supporting innovation in thought and practice for resilient Colorado watersheds.


John Goodin has served as the Acting Director of EPA’s Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds since January of 2017, where he leads multiple programs related to the protection and restoration of the nation’s waters. Chief among them are Clean Water Act efforts in collaboration with states to monitor and assess water quality, develop restoration plans and nonpoint source pollution reduction plans, promulgate rulemakings and guidance related to the Act’s jurisdiction, administer permitting responsibilities related to inland and ocean discharges of dredged and fill material, and advance state and local efforts under our National Estuary Program and Urban Waters program. Prior to his OWOW position, John was Director of EPA’s Wetlands Division where he was responsible for leading the development and implementation of national wetlands policy, including advancing rulemakings and regulatory actions with the Army Corps of Engineers, as well as the strategic and financial support of state programs and aquatic resource science and monitoring. Since joining EPA in 1990, John has also led the Agency’s Watershed Branch, where he conceived and implemented a new vision for the Clean Water Act’s program on identifying and restoring impaired waters with the collaboration of state partners. He also previously led the Wetlands and Aquatic Resources Regulatory Branch and served as Acting Deputy Director of the Oceans and Coastal Protection Division. John holds a Master’s degree in Zoology from the University of Western Australia and a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Richmond.


Kiel Weaver is Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science at the U.S. Department of the Interior. Water and Science oversees the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Geological Survey. Kiel works on numerous water resources issues, including federal policy impacting California water deliveries. Kiel is a seasoned professional with 23 years of federal service. Prior to joining Interior, he was the energy and environment policy advisor to former Speaker of the U.S. House, Paul Ryan. In this capacity, he advised the Speaker on water, energy, forestry and fish and wildlife issues and was the most senior House Republican staffer charged with interacting with his Senate counterparts and the executive branch. Previously, Kiel served as the long-time Republican staff director for what is now the House Water, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over aspects of federal water policy, among other things. He also worked in the private sector on behalf of public power clients and served as a senior policy aide in House and Senate member offices representing Montana and Minnesota. In his “spare” time, Kiel coaches his 13-year-old son’s lacrosse team, remarking that it’s easier to negotiate on controversial water items than coach 20 eighth grade boys.


Robert M. Hirsch is a Research Hydrologist Emeritus with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) located at the USGS headquarters in Reston, Virginia. He earned a B.A. in Geology from Earlham College, an M.S. in Geology from the University of Washington, and a Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering. He began his USGS career in 1976 and has conducted research on water supply, water quality, pollutant transport, and flood frequency analysis. He is co-author of the textbook “Statistical Methods in Water Resources.” The second edition of this book will be published by the USGS in 2019. From 1994 through 2008, he served as the Chief Hydrologist of the USGS. In this capacity, Dr. Hirsch was responsible for all USGS water science programs. These programs encompass research and monitoring of the nation’s ground water and surface water resources including issues of water quantity and quality. In 2008 he returned to a research position and since that time he has focused his efforts on describing long-term changes in streamflow and river water quality. This includes exploring century-scale trends in flooding nationwide. It also includes the development and applications of new methods for characterizing trends in river water quality in many regions of the US. He has published applications of these methods to issues including nutrients and salinity in the watersheds of Chesapeake Bay, Lake Erie, Lake Champlain, and the Mississippi River. His research has provided important insights on causes of the observed trends and has also resulted in the development of software (the EGRET R-Package “Exploration and Graphics for RivEr Trends”) to help scientists analyze long-term water quality and quantity records. He retired from the USGS in 2018 but continues to collaborate with colleagues inside and outside the USGS as a scientist emeritus.


Sandra Connors currently serves as the Deputy Office Director in the Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds (OWOW), where she leads multiple programs related to the protection and restoration of the nation’s waters. Within OWOW, Sandra helps lead Clean Water Act efforts in collaboration with states to monitor and assess water quality, develop restoration plans, promulgate rulemakings and guidance related to the Act’s jurisdiction, administer permitting responsibilities related to inland and ocean discharges of dredge and fill material, and advance state and local efforts under several partnership programs. Sandra previously served as Director for the Office of Strategic Environmental Management (OSEM), responsible for leading both EPA’s sustainability efforts and EPA’s process improvement efforts through the use of Lean and other evaluation tools. Before coming to OSEM, Sandra served as the Deputy Director of OSWER’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery (ORCR) where she helped manage EPA programs governing hazardous and non-hazardous wastes. Sandra also has experience with environmental enforcement in Superfund and other federal multi-media programs from her time as the Deputy Director in the Office of Site Remediation Enforcement as well as the Federal Facilities Enforcement Office. Prior to joining EPA, Sandra worked at the Environmental Law Institute. She holds a J.D. from the George Washington University, and a B.S. in Forestry from Virginia Tech.


Peter Colohan is the Executive Director of the Internet of Water (IoW), a project based at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. Peter came to Duke after nearly a decade of Federal service with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). At NOAA, Peter was a key advocate for the development of the National Water Model and the creation of the NOAA Water Initiative. During this time, Peter was also an enthusiastic participant in the 2017 Aspen Dialogue Series on Water Data, co-led by the Nicholas Institute, which led to the creation of the Internet of Water. From 2010–2014, Peter served as the Assistant Director for Environmental Information within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy under President Barack Obama, on assignment from NOAA, where he worked closely with all Federal agencies responsible for climate, water and environmental science and technology. Prior to his federal service, Peter advised NOAA as a consultant on the development of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), an intergovernmental body dedicated to the global exchange of environmental data and information. He served as that body’s Executive Officer from 2003 to 2005. He holds degrees from American University’s School of International Service and the College of William and Mary in Virginia.


Susan Holdsworth serves as the EPA co-chair of the National Water Quality Monitoring Council. She joined the Environmental Protection Agency in 1998. Early project responsibilities included working with states and across EPA to improve consistency in monitoring, assessment and listing methodologies for CWA Sections 303(d) and 305(b). In 2003 she led the Wadeable Streams Assessment in collaboration with states, EPA regions and ORD. In 2008 she was promoted to manage the Monitoring and Analysis Branch in EPA’s Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds. Here she’s had the opportunity to work with amazing talent inside and outside of EPA to promote data sharing, capacity building, and bringing a range of monitoring designs to meet the range of decision needs. Susan has a Bachelor of Science and a Master’s in Environmental and Natural Resource Policy, both from the George Washington University.


Gary Rowe holds a B.S. in Geology from U.C. Davis and a Ph.D. in Geochemistry from Penn State University. He began his career with the U.S. Geological Survey in 1991 in the USGS Ohio Water Science Center where he led the National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program study of the Great and Little Miami River Basins. In 2003, Dr. Rowe was named a NAWQA Regional Program Officer where he oversaw NAWQA water-quality studies in the central United States. He led the NAWQA Cycle 3 Planning effort and is the USGS co-chair of the National Water-Quality Monitoring Council under the Advisory Council for Water Information. In 2017 he was named Program Coordinator of the USGS National Water Quality Program whose major components include NAWQA, the National Atmospheric Deposition Program, the USGS-National Park Service Water Quality Partnership and water-quality projects funded with NWQP cooperative matching funds and local, state, and tribal partners. Dr. Rowe has almost 28 years of experience conducting and overseeing water-quality studies at local to national scales.