Watershed Management Group Staff
Lisa Shipek is a founding member of Watershed Management Group and has served as the Executive Director since 2006. Lisa directs fundraising, strategic development, financial planning, community engagement, and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion activities for WMG. She co-directs the River Run Network program and manages the development of the Living Lab & Learning Center. Her specialized skills include developing experiential education programs; building community coalitions; and adapting technical information for public consumption. She holds a B.S. in Environmental Science and an M.A. in Latin American Studies. Lisa gives back to the community through serving on advisory boards, which has included: Tucson’s Environmental Services Advisory Committee, Tucson’s Transit Task Force, Tucson Conserve to Enhance, and the Santa Cruz Watershed Collaborative. Lisa was honored to be invited to join Women at the Top in 2020, a Tucson-based business networking group. She fills her free time with playing ultimate frisbee and dancing and enjoys gardening, bike touring, and camping with her husband Catlow.
Christian Aguilar Murrieta is from Ciudad Constitución, Baja California Sur, Mexico, a small city surrounded by agricultural fields and chirinolas (Stenocereus eruca). She moved to Tucson in 2013, after earning her undergraduate degree in Sustainable Tourism at the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California Sur in La Paz, Mexico and worked in Baja California, where extensive travels helped her learn English. She has been a volunteer and docent for WMG. Her interests relate to changing people’s perception of native plants in the Sonoran Desert region by creating beautiful and productive gardens for humans and nature in an urban environment. Her hobbies include growing plants, traveling to new places, photography, and collecting Polly Pockets.
Charlie graduated from Dickinson College in 2012 with a B.S. in Physics and has worked in environmental education and non-profit communications. He ventured from Pennsylvania to Tucson in early 2016 and has become enchanted by the Sonoran Desert and Tucson community. Charlie is passionate about using community education to help drive sustainable decision-making on an individual basis and in city decision-making. He works with the Green Living Co-op and Valley based programs. When he isn't talking about water harvesting Charlie likes playing soccer, cooking, and dancing with his two left feet.
Melanie Cooley arrived in Tucson from the Midwest over 30 years ago and fell immediately in love with the Sonoran Desert. Their passions are desert-friendly gardening, habitat restoration, water harvesting, critters, and dance. When not at WMG, she can most likely be found with hands in dirt, tending plants, tracing the path of water across her yard, dancing, or hanging out with her three dogs, five chickens, and desert tortoise named Mr. T. Melanie has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Michigan and is a certified 5Rhythms (movement/dance meditation) teacher. She is deeply interested in the connections between the body of earth and human bodies. She speaks English, basic French and Spanish--and just enough Arabic to have a conversation with a four-year-old.
Cindy is a first generation Mexican American from a small agricultural city in California. She is passionate about teaching environmental science lessons while surrounded by nature. Cindy received a BS in Environmental Studies at San Jose State University. She has over 10 years experience as a K-12 outdoor and science instructor and providing STEM opportunities for underrepresented communities. She completed two years of service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania, Africa. After Peace Corps, she received a Master's in Education at the UA and earned her AZ Teaching Certification. She is trilingual, a native Spanish speaker with proficiency in conversational Swahili. In her free time, Cindy enjoys traveling, hiking, and spending time with her newborn son.
Jonah is a native Sonoran and has felt connected to its soil, water, and lifeforce since childhood. He aspires to foster community using these building blocks, and in a way that addresses the complexities of oppression and prejudice, climate change, and mental health. Previously Jonah worked with marginalized community members in South Phoenix to create community gardens, and at ASU he helped found multiple student organizations focused on food system change. These commitments were rooted in the belief that water and food can serve as multidisciplinary mediums in addressing our interconnected complex issues; “they are as inclusive as basic necessities and as diverse as the cultures of our world.” Jonah is our first point of contact for WMG's Green living Co-op and Build Your Own Basin (BYOB) program.
Sky is a southwest native who loves our region's diverse biology, culture, and landscapes. He has worked primarily as a nonprofit administrator, naturalist/biologist, IT specialist, and website developer for organizations including Sky Island Alliance, The University of Arizona, SWCA Biological Consultants, National Park Service, among others. Sky is dedicated to protecting the region’s biodiversity through conservation action and lifestyle choices. In his free time, Sky enjoys exploring remote and wild parts of Arizona, Sonora and the greater Southwest, attempting photography, studying birds and plants, and growing native plants in his yard.
Born in Eindhoven, Netherlands, James traveled around a lot in his youth. Eventually settling in Oregon, where he studied fluvial geomorphology and environmental restoration. Working in conservation, restoration and monitoring throughout the western US, James eventually made his way to Tucson. He is excited to take his expertise and passion for botany and for hydrology, and create real world change in the southwest.
Lauren has a B.S. in Watershed Hydrology and Management from the University of Arizona. As a Tucson native, Lauren has a passion for the environment and the community in this area and wants to continue spreading this excitement for nature, water and people through her work with the River Run Network. Lauren enjoys hiking, drinking coffee and reading in her spare time.
Andrea Salazar is a native Sonorizonan and long time desert dweller. Her passion for conservation and sustainability is born out of a desire to live hopefully and not dejectedly. She believes in creating a more environmentally conscious and connected future and is excited about sharing that reality with others. She loves native plants, passive rainwater and greywater harvesting, chickens, and composting.
Born and raised in the Colorado River Delta region, Luis always wondered why his native hometown of San Luis Río Colorado was named after a river that seldom flowed through there. As a result, Luis completed a B.S. degree in Environmental Hydrology and Water Resources at the University of Arizona in 2017. During his time at the university, Luis began to understand the complex relationship between rivers and their users, and decided to pursue a career that emphasizes community-centric, ecological approaches to educating the public about environmental issues of the Southwest and natural resource conservation. Luis is fluent in both Spanish and English, and you can find him reading, writing, cooking, or playing drums at home when he’s not digging through crates at record stores or looking for a good place to set up a hammock on top of a nearby mountain.
Catlow Shipek is a founding member of Watershed Management Group. He received a MSc in Watershed Management from the University of Arizona. Catlow has over ten years of experience in applied watershed management, planning and policy specializing in urban applications like water harvesting, green infrastructure, stream restoration, and eco-sanitation. Catlow has worked on several successful local policy initiatives including Tucson's Green Streets Active Practice Guidelines, Tucson Water's residential rainwater rebate program, Tucson's residential greywater ordinance revision process, and through the Complete Streets Taskforce the adoption of Tucson's Complete Streets Policy. Catlow has served on the Citizens’ Water Advisory Committee for Tucson Water including Chair of the Conservation & Education subcommittee and on the University of Arizona's School of Natural Resource and the Environment's advisory board. Catlow currently serves on the Complete Streets Coordinating Council following the 2019 adoption of the Complete Streets policy. Catlow's passion is to link people to their local environment for improved stewardship and prosperity.
Eliza is a lifelong advocate with a passion for making environmental concepts and spaces accessible to the general public. Eliza most recently worked at an environmental organization in North Carolina, where she managed communications, led the renewable energy program, and coordinated advocacy campaigns regarding river protection, better public transit, safeguarding regional forests and more. She previously worked as a freelance writer and editor and as the Assistant Director of the Writing Center at Warren Wilson College, and also graduated from Warren Wilson with a double major in Latin American Studies and Creative Writing. Eliza is elated to join the Watershed Management Group and to get to work restoring her local watershed. In her free time, Eliza can be found exploring the Sonoran Desert, rock climbing, and hanging out with her mellow Great Pyrenees named Maggie.
Jim currently teaches geography and physics at Pima Community college. He has also studied geology, geophysics and hydrology. Growing up in Colorado, he got his start as a ranch hand chasing cattle, repairing irrigation ditches and building fence. In 2007, he initiated and coordinated a successful 10 year effort to remove Arundo or Giant Cane from the Sabino Creek watershed. He is excited to help manage and lead WMG’s effort to remove Arundo from Tanque Verde Creek, a part of WMG’s River Run Initiative. Jim finds working outdoors extremely satisfying and takes great pleasure in working with others to restore our unique southwestern riparian corridors by removing these invasive and non-native plants. Jim has traveled widely and enjoys swimming, hiking and reading.
Watershed Management Group Interns
Trent Blomberg has nine years of policy related experience, with a focus in distributed energy, resilience, and water management. His background includes consulting, Congressional internships, and an academic program focused around environmental policy. Trent is pursuing his master's degree in Water, Society and Policy at the University of Arizona and completed his bachelor's degree in political science at the University of Minnesota. Prior to moving to Tucson, he worked for ICF in the Washington, DC, area, assisting their distributed energy team on data management, policy analysis, research, and other project management tasks.
Teresa is in her last year of studies at the University of Arizona as a Master of Landscape Architecture student. Prior to becoming a student, she spent over ten years working as a field botanist in the Pacific Northwest and on the plateaus and in the canyons of the Southwest. In addition to being a landscape designer, Teresa teaches science classes at Tohono O’odham Community College. As a designer, Teresa draws upon her knowledge of plants to select planting palettes that are ecological, sustainable, and beautiful. Her designs reflect her experience and sensitivity to natural systems within the context of place and community. In her free time, Teresa enjoys traveling, hiking, backpacking, taking her ’84 Westfalia to remote corners of the West, and growing heirloom vegetables in her community garden plot.
Holds a master's degree in General Linguistics from the University of Puerto Rico - with a dissertation entitled "Criminalization and representation of the victim of hate crime in the Puerto Rican Media." In addition, she completed her bachelor's degree in Hispanic Studies at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez campus. Has taken courses in international contexts, Havana, Cuba, and Ghana, Africa. Among his publications are "Representation of the Victim of Gender Violence against Women in Murder Cases, "The Representation and Criminalization of Homosexual Victims in Murder Cases," and "A Preliminary Study of the Jargon of the Gay Communities in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean."
His research interests are in discourse studies, semantic theory, and pragmatics, relating them to cultural studies and the construction of social identity through language, education, and literature. He is expanding his research on the jargon strategies of the Hispanic Caribbean homosexual community and transsexuality as a discursive identity in American fashion magazines.
For the last eight years, he has been working in pedagogy. He is pursuing his doctoral studies in Teaching, Learning, and Sociocultural Studies at the University of Arizona. In her spare time, he contemplates nature, both internal and external aspects. He has been passionate about water and its components since he was an adolescent, recognizing that water is life to live and exist. He sees life as a continuum.
Raised in Phoenix, Matthew moved to Tucson to study at the University of Arizona, where he majors in Microbiology and minors in both Spanish and Evolutionary/Ecological Biology. They spent their freshman year volunteering for the Students For Sustainability club on campus and worked with other students to put native plants on campus. He wants to make a difference by removing the invasive Arundo plant from the Tanque Verde Creek. In his free time, Matthew enjoys hiking, writing, camping, and playing board games with his family.
Emma is studying Landscape Architecture and Spanish at the University of Arizona. Her interests include green infrastructure, ecological design, and culturally sensitive landscapes. She believes that sustainable landscapes and living practices play a crucial role in addressing the climate crisis and she strives to educate others about these concepts. She is learning Spanish so that she is able to connect on a deeper level with her Tucson community and the world as a whole. Emma is involved with research projects at the university studying public park usage and electric vehicle infrastructure implementation. In her free time, she enjoys rock climbing and spending time outside.
Julia Olson is a junior at the University of Arizona studying Watershed Management and Ecohydrology. She spent her freshman and sophomore years of college volunteering at Saguaro National Park pulling Fountain Grass. She looks forward to using this experience to help remove Arundo from the Tanque Verde Creek. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, kayaking, cooking, and hanging out with friends.
Mason is a student at UA studying natural resources with an emphasis on ecohydrology and water management as well as a certificate in GIS. Raised in Sacramento, California he came to Tucson to play rugby and started his college education studying computer science. He fell in love with the Sonoran desert through hobbies like trail running, mountain biking, and backpacking. Mason plans to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail next summer proceeding graduation and completion of the WMG internship. Mason will be working with Flow365 data to develop a platform to analyze flow report data through experience builder. In addition he will be assisting the beaver survey and arundo removal.
From Harrisonburg, Virginia, she recently moved to Tucson, AZ through a year-long voluntary service program (Mennonite Voluntary Service). In the Spring 2022, she completed a B.S. in Environmental Sustainability with minors in Chemistry and Environmental Justice from Eastern Mennonite University. At EMU, she was active in the campus’s EarthKeepers club and worked at the Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions as the Campus Climate Advocacy Coordinator. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and being in nature by working in a garden, identifying insects, hammocking, or hiking.