A Driven Team of Resource Professionals

At the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD), we know that great work takes great people. We are a diverse team of researchers, planners, water quality experts, outreach professionals, and more. We collaborate with communities, public partners, and private developers to improve land and water for future generations.

Administrator

James Wisker

District Administrator

Bio and contact

×
  • 952-641-4509
  • jwisker@minnehahacreek.org
James oversees the administration of MCWD’s programs, services, and staff. He works closely with the Board of Managers to lead and coordinate the organization’s strategies, priorities, policies, goals, and budgets. Throughout the watershed, James develops relationships and partnerships with other governmental agencies, stakeholders, and policymakers to achieve MCWD’s goals to improve water quality, manage water quantity, restore ecological integrity, and create thriving communities. He has served as an elected official on the Hennepin Conservation District Board and in 2009 received the Minnesota Division Isaak Walton League Stewardship Award.

Degree(s):

B.S., Ecology, Evolution & Behavior, University of Minnesota
M.S., Water Resource Science, University of Minnesota

Project Planning

Working with public and private partners to lead and support capital projects across the watershed that promote Balanced Urban Ecology and create benefits for our natural resources and our communities.

Michael Hayman

Director of Project Planning

Bio and contact

×
  • 952-471-8226
  • mhayman@minnehahacreek.org

Michael oversees and guides MCWD’s capital improvement program, the implementation of capital projects, and land conservation initiatives in coordination with planner – project managers. He also works closely with the District Administrator to cultivate and maintain MCWD’s strategic direction and alignment by identifying and prioritizing watershed opportunities, developing public-private partnerships, and developing funding strategies.

Degree(s):

A.S., Business Management, St. Cloud State University
B.S., Environmental Science, St. Cloud State University

Gabe Sherman

Planner – Project Manager

Bio and contact

×
  • 952-641-4510
  • gsherman@minnehahacreek.org

Gabe works with MCWD’s partners to develop and design capital projects that manage and improve water within the watershed, with a focus in the Minnehaha Creek subwatershed. He works with staff and partners to identify emerging issues and opportunities, develop innovative solutions, and construct projects that improve water quality, manage water quantity, restore ecological integrity, and enhance thriving communities.

Degree(s):

B.A., Political Science, Tufts University
Master of City and Regional Planning, Rutgers University

Sophia Green

Planner – Project Manager

Bio and contact

×
  • 952-641-4523
  • sgreen@minnehahacreek.org

As a member of the project-planning team, Sophia works with the District’s partners to plan and develop capital projects that improve the watershed’s resources. By working with partners across private and public sectors, Sophia identifies emerging project opportunities that provide mutual benefits for the watershed’s resources, communities, and economy.

Degree(s):

B.S. Ecology and Political Science, University of Minnesota – Duluth
M.S. Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

Kailey Cermak

Planner – Project Manager

Bio and contact

×
  • 952-641-4501
  • kcermak@minnehahacreek.org

Kailey works with MCWD’s partners to develop and design capital projects that manage and improve the watershed. She works with public and private partners to identify emerging opportunities to improve water quality, manage water quantity, and integrate water and land-use planning to support thriving communities.

Degree(s):

B.S., Conservation Biology, University of Wisconsin – Madison

Policy Planning

Collaborating with cities, landowners, and developers to improve coordination, identify opportunities to create mutual benefits, and implement policies that integrate land and water planning efforts.

Becky Christopher

Director of Policy Planning

Bio and contact

×
  • 952-641-4512
  • bchristopher@minnehahacreek.org

Becky cultivates and maintains MCWD’s direction and alignment through the development of the District’s Strategic Plan and Watershed Management Plan. She leads the development and implementation of the District’s Balanced Urban Ecology policy, developing local, regional, and state policy strategies to integrate land use and water planning. She also leads the Land and Water Partnership program by identifying, evaluating, and prioritizing the District’s response to public-private partnership opportunities.

Degree(s):

B.A., Biology, teaching licensure in Earth Science and Life Science, University of Minnesota – Morris
Graduate level courses in Water Resources Science, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

Kate Moran

Policy Planning Coordinator

Bio and contact

×
  • 952-641-4520
  • kmoran@minnehahacreek.org

Kate supports MCWD’s Policy Planning Program by coordinating with state, regional, and local entities to promote and develop policy to improve the integration of land use and water planning. She also supports the implementation of the District’s Balanced Urban Ecology policy and Response Program to collaborate with public-private partners to achieve the District’s goals of improving water quality, managing water quantity, restoring ecological integrity, and creating thriving communities.

Degree(s):

B.S., Geography – University of Oregon-Eugene
M.S., Water Resources Policy and Management – Oregon State University-Corvallis

Rebecca Neal

Policy Planning Coordinator

Bio and contact

×
  • 952-641-4507
  • rneal@minnehahacreek.org

Rebecca works with the Policy Planning Program to coordinate with state, regional, and local entities to promote and develop policy that improves the integration of land use and water planning. She also supports the program’s Land and Water Partnership program, as well as MCWD’s climate action and DEI initiatives, to work toward MCWD’s mission of creating thriving communities by improving water quality, water quantity, and ecological integrity throughout the watershed.

Degree(s):

B.A., Anthropology, Religious Studies – University of Wisconsin-Madison
M.C.R.P., Community and Regional Planning – University of New Mexico
M.P.H., Public Health – University of New Mexico

Permitting

Reviewing and overseeing construction activities, and providing technical assistance and customer service in coordination with communities to protect natural resources from degradation as a result of land use change.

Trey Jonas

Permitting Technician

Bio and contact

×
  • 952-641-4521
  • tjonas@minnehahacreek.org

Trey performs technical work and customer service by administering and issuing permits. In addition, he implements and administers the Wetland Conservation Act, supports compliance enforcement to advance the strategic objectives of MCWD, and works closely with other members of the permitting staff to build new public and private partnerships that achieve natural resource benefits beyond regulation alone.

Degree(s):

B.S. Environmental Geoscience, Winona State University

Maggie Menden

Permitting Technician

Bio and contact

×
  • 952-641-4586
  • mmenden@minnehahacreek.org

Maggie processes and reviews water resource permit applications, provides technical assistance and customer service, and conducts field inspections to ensure quality service and compliance with MCWD’s permitting rules. Maggie also implements the Wetland Conservation Act and helps identify public-private partnerships to improve water quality, restore ecological integrity, and promote thriving communities.

Degree(s):

B.S. Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, University of Minnesota

Veronica Sannes

Permitting Technician

Bio and contact

×
  • 952-641-4580
  • vsannes@minnehahacreek.org

As a permitting technician, Veronica works with the permitting team to review permits, perform site inspections, provide customer service, and implement the Wetland Conservation Act. Veronica also assists in identifying opportunities for public or private partnerships that improve water quality and quantity and support thriving communities throughout the watershed.

Degree(s):

B.S. in Aquatic Science, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse

Operations

Supporting MCWD’s general business operations and ensuring that staff are well equipped to work on projects and policies that conserve and improve our natural resources.

Deb Johnson

Office Manager

Bio and contact

×
  • 952-641-4500
  • djohnson@minnehahacreek.org

Deb supports the general business operations of the MCWD by providing external and internal customer service, assisting with permit fee processing, managing detailed records, assisting with accounting, preparing reports and meeting packets, and supporting the general office maintenance.

Tessa Vacek

Administrative Services Manager

Bio and contact

×
  • 952-641-4503
  • tvacek@minnehahacreek.org

Tessa manages and leads MCWD’s business operations, including Human Resources, Finances, and Facilities Management. She directs and oversees all management activities necessary to achieve strategic objectives, including the development of systems, plans, policies, procedures, budgets, and progress reports.”

Degree(s):

B.A. Psychology, St. Cloud State University

Outreach

Connecting people to the information they value and engaging residents, agencies, and private sector partners to ensure MCWD’s work is integrated with the goals of our communities.

Samantha Maul

Outreach Manager

Bio and contact

×
  • 952-641-4518
  • smaul@minnehahacreek.org
As Outreach Manager, Samantha leads a small team of communications professionals that coordinate external engagement, create impactful content, and contribute to MCWD’s outreach strategy. She collaborates with staff across many programs to promote meaningful, strategic engagement and build productive partnerships for capital projects and policy initiatives. Samantha is the District’s staff liaison for the Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC). She is also the District’s media contact.

Degree(s):

B.A. Environmental Studies and Music, Management Concentration, St. Olaf College
Coursework toward M.S., Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy, University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Maia Irvin

Communications Coordinator

Bio and contact

×
  • 952-641-4524
  • mirvin@minnehahacreek.org

Maia supports MCWD’s Outreach Program by producing data-driven stories that connect stakeholders to meaningful information and increase understanding of MCWD’s mission, goals, and key initiatives. She also manages MCWD’s website and digital communications and supports the development, implementation, and evaluation of MCWD’s Outreach strategy.

Degree(s):

B.A. Journalism and Anthropology, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

Research and Monitoring

Collecting and analyzing data across the watershed to identify resource needs and inform planning and implementation.

Brian Beck

Research & Monitoring Program Manager

Bio and contact

×
  • 952-471-8306
  • bbeck@minnehahacreek.org
Brian oversees MCWD’s research and monitoring department. He leads the development and implementation of the District’s data collection, the technical analysis of watershed and partner data to help guide and evaluate and guide the district’s work, and the aquatic invasive species program. He also oversees the development of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) studies within the District and provides technical support to the MPCA.

Degree(s):

B.S., Environmental Science, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
M.S., Water Resources Science, University of Minnesota – Duluth

Jill Sweet

Research & Monitoring Technician

Bio and contact

×
  • 952-930-1976
  • jsweet@minnehahacreek.org
Jill assists in the implementation of MCWD’s monitoring plan, collecting field data, training seasonal field assistants, and performing data analysis. She also assists in implementing MCWD’s aquatic invasive species program and managing field equipment.

Degree(s):

B.S., Water Resources and Biology, University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point

Project Maintenance & Land Management

Maintaining MCWD’s projects and land to ensure continued function and value. Managing the operation of Gray’s Bay Dam to reduce the risk of flooding and balance the water budget throughout our 178-square miles.

Josh Wolf

Project Maintenance and Land Management Program Manager

Bio and contact

×
  • 952-641-4588
  • jwolf@minnehahacreek.org

Josh coordinates the ongoing maintenance of MCWD’s capital projects and infrastructure. He also manages the District’s land conservation strategies and works with other Project Maintenance and Land Management staff to oversee the operations of the Gray’s Bay Dam.

Degree(s):

B.S. International Studies, German, Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
M.S.-M.P.H. Water Resource Management and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison