The Water Foundation seeks to transform the way water is managed. We understand the dynamics of the past, have a clear vision of a sustainable, resilient future, and know what it will take to bring about real change.

We strive to improve the long-term availability of water for cities, farms, and environment. As advocates for better regional and statewide policies, we invest in targeted regions, building coalitions that amplify new voices.

And while we will always remain focused on specific priorities, our over-arching strategy keeps us nimble and able to take advantage of new windows of opportunity.

In January 2017, the Water Foundation became an independent organization after being launched in 2011 as an initiative of Resources Legacy Fund, with primary funding from the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the Pisces Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, with additional support from the Walton Family Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.



  • Lester Snow Executive Director
  • Andrew Fahlund Deputy Director
  • Michael Mantell President
  • Mary Scoonover Executive Vice President
  • Kristin Brainerd Program Manager/Attorney
  • Corey Brown Program Officer/Attorney
  • Alfredo Gonzalez Program Officer
  • Lisbeth Jakobsen Program Finance Officer
  • Robin Jenkins Program Coordinator
  • Mark Kleinman Communications Officer
  • Mike Myatt Program Manager
  • Alexandra Paxton Program Manager/Attorney
  • Merswind Reyer Counsel
  • Elizabeth Soderstrom Program Manager
  • Kathryn Viatella Program Manager
  • Kate Williams Program Manager
  • Lester Snow Executive Director Lester Snow directs the California Water Foundation and leads integrated resource management projects. Mr. Snow has a distinguished record of innovation and results working on complex natural resource management matters. Most recently, he served as California Secretary for Natural Resources, where he oversaw 25 departments, commissions, boards, and conservancies, and served as chief advisor on issues related to the state's natural, historic, and cultural resources. During this time he also served as chairman of the California Ocean Protection Council and served on the Delta Conservancy, Delta Protection Commission, and the Strategic Growth Council. Previously, Mr. Snow was Director of the California Department of Water Resources, where he headed a Department that protects, conserves, and manages California’s water supply, including operation of the California State Water Project, the largest state-run, multi-purpose water and power system in the United States. Mr. Snow has also served as Executive Director of CALFED, regional director for the Bureau of Reclamation, General Manager of the San Diego County Water Authority, and spent six years with the Arizona Department of Water Resources, including four years as Tucson area director. Mr. Snow holds a Master’s degree in Water Resources Administration from the University of Arizona and a Bachelor’s degree in Earth Sciences from Pennsylvania State University.
  • Andrew Fahlund Deputy Director Andrew Fahlund assists the executive director in providing leadership, strategic direction, and overall program coordination for the California Water Foundation. He works with other team members and management to craft strategy, develop projects, oversee implementation, and ensure that agreed-upon outcomes are being met, and that financial and program reporting is timely and accurate. Andrew also represents the Water Foundation as a spokesperson with external audiences and stakeholders, and manages relationships with key partners. Before joining the Water Foundation, Andrew was the executive director of the Water in the West program at Stanford University and worked for 12 years in the Washington, DC, office of American Rivers, where he was senior program director and senior vice president for conservation. Mr. Fahlund received an MS in Natural Resource Policy from the University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources and Environment and a BA in Anthropology from Colorado College.
  • Michael Mantell President Michael Mantell is President of Resources Legacy Fund, which he founded to help design and administer initiatives for philanthropic foundations and individuals that result in significant conservation achievements. He also helped to create the independent Resources Law Group. Since the late 1990s, he has designed and participated in programs and projects that broadened the leadership and constituency for natural resources protection and achieved extensive conservation outcomes for land, water, and ocean resources and on renewable energy. Mr. Mantell helped lead the 2010 campaign that prevented a rollback of California’s landmark climate change legislation. In the past decade, he has chaired two campaigns resulting in voters approving $7 billion of investments in water, land, and ocean conservation. Previously, as Undersecretary for Resources for the State of California, he oversaw the $2.8 billion budget of the Resources Agency. Prior to that, he was General Counsel for the World Wildlife Fund and a Deputy City Attorney in Los Angeles. Mr. Mantell is author and co-author of several books and articles, the recipient of several national conservation awards, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and on the Governing Council of The Wilderness Society.
  • Mary Scoonover Executive Vice President Mary Scoonover provides executive leadership to Resources Legacy Fund. She engages partners and philanthropy to design conservation programs that address complex natural resource management issues, including land and water conservation, land use, climate adaptation, ecosystem diversity, federal and state law, policy, funding, and strategic coalition development. Before joining RLF, Mary was a deputy attorney general in the California Department of Justice, where she represented the state in litigation concerning Mono Lake, Owens Lake, the Lower Owens River, California’s coast and San Francisco Bay Delta, and Lake Tahoe. She is a graduate of the UC Davis School of Law.
  • Kristin Brainerd Program Manager/Attorney Kristin Brainerd develops and implements strategies and projects in the areas of land conservation and water resources. Before joining Resources Legacy Fund, she served as legislative counsel to U.S. Representative Jim Costa, advising on energy and environmental matters. Previously, Kristin was an attorney with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, focusing on environmental aspects of real estate and corporate transactions, environmental disputes, and regulatory compliance. She received her law degree from Columbia Law School and her MS from the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley.
  • Corey Brown Program Officer/Attorney Corey Brown serves as a strategic policy advisor and program officer on a diverse portfolio of issues, including climate change, land use, park protection, urban rivers, and river restoration. In the past, Corey served as executive director of the Big Sur Land Trust, government affairs director for The Trust for Public Land (Western Region), general counsel for the Planning and Conservation League, legal counsel for Friends of the River, and Assembly Fellow with the California State Legislature. He also served as adjunct professor at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law and as visiting lecturer at UC Davis. He is a graduate of the UC Davis School of Law.
  • Alfredo Gonzalez Program Officer Alfredo Gonzalez leads efforts across programs to broaden and diversify the conservation constituency with a specific focus on actively engaging urban, Latino, underserved, and younger Californians. Previously, he served as director of the South Coast and Desert Region for The Nature Conservancy of California, managing programs in Southern California including a Los Angeles-based urban strategies project and a renewable energy initiative. He also oversaw land protection and habitat enhancement efforts in the Tehachapi Mountains, Riverside County, San Diego County, and the watersheds of the Santa Clara and Armargosa Rivers. Prior to that, he served in senior government affairs positions for the Southern California Association of Governments and the County of Santa Clara, and was a policy analyst for the Latino Issues Forum. Alfredo received a BA in Communications from UC Berkeley and an MA in Public Administration from California State University, Los Angeles.
  • Lisbeth Jakobsen Program Finance Officer Lisbeth Jakobsen is responsible for financial evaluation, budget analysis, and preparation for a variety of philanthropic grant and loan programs. She brings more than 15 years of experience in financial management related to conservation transactions, public funding, grantmaking, and nonprofit management. Before joining Resources Legacy Fund, Lisbeth served as director of finance for Audubon California and, before that, as grants specialist/financial analyst for The Nature Conservancy. She also worked as fiscal manager for the Division of Social Work at California State University, Sacramento.
  • Robin Jenkins Program Coordinator Robin Jenkins helps administer Water Foundation programs, providing research, grantee oversight, and communications. Prior to joining Resources Legacy Fund, she worked for six years as a program analyst for Resources Law Group; 18 years with the California State Senate providing legislative and committee support for an East Bay senator; and four years in the CALFED Bay-Delta Program as the assistant to the executive director.
  • Mark Kleinman Communications Officer Mark Kleinman provides coordination, research, analysis, strategy development, writing, review and editing, and administration, as well as oversight of grantee, consultant, and public communications, for all Resources Legacy Fund philanthropic initiatives. He brings more than 25 years of experience in research, writing, and strategic and communications planning. Mark was a history professor at UC San Diego and the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, and worked as a marketing communications strategist in Sacramento, developing and implementing communications plans, campaigns, and projects for numerous organizations, including California Community Colleges, Sierra Nevada Alliance, The Nature Conservancy, Sacramento Air Quality Management District, and California Highway Patrol. Mark received a PhD in history from UCLA.
  • Mike Myatt Program Manager Mike Myatt develops and implements strategies and projects for the Water Foundation. His past experience includes the development and administration of the California Department of Water Resources’ multibillion-dollar annual budget; design and coordination of a multiagency, crosscutting budget for the CALFED Bay-Delta Program; and development of long-term financing strategies for the California Bay-Delta Authority. Mike received BS degrees in environmental studies and economics from San Jose State University.
  • Alexandra Paxton Program Manager/Attorney Alex Paxton develops and implements strategies and projects for the California Water Foundation program. Prior to joining Resources Legacy Fund, Alex was a consultant for Estolano LeSar Perez Advisors and before that was with the Community Redevelopment Agency for the City of Los Angeles. She received a BA in American Studies, an MFA in Theater Management, and a law degree from Yale University, as well as an MS in Social Anthropology from University College London.
  • Merswind Reyer Counsel Merswind Reyer addresses matters related to natural resources, environmental, land use, and local government law, and conservation real estate transactions. She also assists with counseling for conservation philanthropy programs and other projects. Previously, Mersy was counsel at Downey Brand LLP in Sacramento, representing clients in the negotiation and litigation of environmental disputes and assisting with environmental due diligence and compliance issues. She also was an adjunct professor in the Appellate Advocacy Program at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. Mersy received her law degree and a certificate of completion in environmental and natural resources law from the University of Oregon School of Law.
  • Elizabeth Soderstrom Program Manager Elizabeth Soderstrom develops and implements strategies and projects for the Water Foundation program. Before coming to Resources Legacy Fund, Elizabeth was senior director of conservation and development at American Rivers. Prior to that she was director of the Sierra and Africa Rivers Program at the Natural Heritage Institute. She received a BA in English Literature, a BS in Biological Sciences, and an MS in Biological Sciences from Stanford University, as well as a PhD in Wildlands Resource Science and River Science from UC Berkeley.
  • Kathryn Viatella Program Manager Kathy Viatella develops and implements strategies and projects for the Water Foundation program. Before joining Resources Legacy Fund, Kathy was managing director of programs at Sustainable Conservation. Prior to that, she was senior project director at The Nature Conservancy of California and an economist at Environmental Defense Fund. She received a BA in International Development and Economics from Mount Holyoke College and an MS in Food and Resource Economics from the University of Florida.
  • Kate Williams Program Manager Kate Williams develops, implements, and oversees water management strategies and projects for the Water Foundation. Previously, Kate worked for more than 30 years in numerous roles in natural resource management and legislation. Most recently, she worked as principal consultant on natural resource management and comprehensive water legislation to California Assembly members John Laird and Jared Huffman. Kate served as assistant director of policy and finance and as restoration coordinator for the CALFED Bay-Delta Program. She also served as wetlands coordinator for the California Department of Water Resources and as senior fiscal and policy analyst at the California Legislative Analyst’s Office. Kate received her MPA from the University of Washington and a BS in environmental planning and management from UC Davis.
Board of Directors

Board of Directors

Resources Legacy Fund Board of Directors (fiduciaries for the California Water Foundation):

  • Barton H. “Buzz” Thompson, Jr. Stanford, California
  • Edward W. “Ned” Barnholt Los Altos Hills, California
  • Steven Gaines Santa Barbara, California
  • Katharine Jacobs Tucson, Arizona
  • Charlene C. Kabcenell Portola Valley, California
  • Craig McNamara Winters, California
  • Jeanne Sedgwick Woodside, California
  • Gordon R. Smith Moraga, California
  • Mark Wan Portola Valley, California
  • Michael A. Mantell Sacramento, California
Contact Us

Contact Us

For more information contact:

California Water Foundation

555 Capitol Mall, Suite 1095
Sacramento, CA 95814

Voice (916) 442-5057
Fax (916) 325-7541