Allison Harvey Turner serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Water Foundation. She oversees the foundation’s strategy, operations, and grantmaking and leads the staff in pursuing our mission to secure clean, reliable water for people and nature. As CEO, Allison supports philanthropy’s ability to convene, experiment with new ideas, and scale investment in transformative water solutions. The Water Foundation began in 2011 as a project of the Resources Legacy Fund and launched as an independent foundation in 2017. It has granted more than $50 million to organizations and coalitions to support safe, clean water for people, restored freshwater ecosystems, and climate resilience. To complement its grantmaking and build a broader constituency for water solutions, the Water Foundation also serves as a convener, field builder, and campaign strategist.
Previously, Allison was the Environment Program Director at the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, where she directed water and land conservation strategies, including managing the California Conservation Fund. She was also on the senior management team that grew the organization from ten to thirty professionals, managed a complex endowment, and guided more than $1 billion in grantmaking over ten years. Allison serves on advisory boards for Audubon California, the Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center, Sustainable Conservation, and the Water Solutions Network. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Lizette Castaño Leclerc is responsible for directing the fiscal functions and administrative operations for the Water Foundation. Before joining the Water Foundation, Lizette was chief of staff to the chancellor emeritus of the California State University system and retired president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust. Before that, she served as senior administrator of the Cotsen Family Office and Foundations and executive director of the Children’s Nature Institute. She received a BS in Business Administration from the USC Marshall School of Business.
Jen Sokolove is Director of Programs and Strategy at the Water Foundation. She has been working on sustainability issues for more than two decades, with a focus on community-based conservation. Prior to joining the Water Foundation, she led strategy and grantmaking at the Compton Foundation around movement-building and narrative in climate change, reproductive justice, and peace and security. She joined Compton initially to advance its environmental programs on fresh water, climate, and rural conservation in the western United States, as well as sustainable food systems and art for social change. Before Compton, Jen worked on a variety of community-led conservation projects in California, Montana, and the Pacific Northwest. She serves on the board of EcoAdapt and advisory boards for the Healthy Headwaters project of Carpe Diem West and the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at UC Santa Cruz. Jen received a PhD in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from UC Berkeley.
Nikki Verhoff has spent her career in non-profit development, working to direct philanthropic resources to pressing environmental, public health, and social issues. Before joining the Water Foundation, she served as the Director of Development for Health Care Without Harm, a global organization with the goal of transforming the health sector to be a leader on sustainability and environmental health. Prior to that, Nikki played a crucial role at Natural Resources Defense Council, leading efforts to align programmatic and fundraising goals, growing the pool of support from private foundations, and exploring new and strategic areas of resource mobilization for the organization. Over the years, she has also worked in the development and fundraising departments at City Harvest and The School of American Ballet.
Juliet Christian-Smith brings more than a decade of scientific research and policy analysis experience to this role, with expertise in water, climate and sustainability issues. She came to the Water Foundation from the Union of Concerned Scientists where she helped lead water and climate work as a Senior Climate Scientist. She also brings a comparative perspective, having received a Fulbright Fellowship to study the implementation of the European Water Framework Directive in Portugal and having been a Murray Darling Basin Futures Fellow in Australia. Juliet has a PhD in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from UC Berkeley.
Andrew Fahlund provides leadership in the ongoing development and implementation of the Water Foundation’s organizational vision, mission, and strategic priorities. 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. 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.
Niketa Kumar is responsible for strategic communications planning and execution for the Water Foundation. Prior to joining the team, she served as a Vice President at BerlinRosen Public Affairs where she led comprehensive communications programs for national and local campaigns to reduce income inequality and improve the economic security of families across the country. Niketa also served as Deputy Press Secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy during the Obama Administration, focusing on the agency’s renewable energy and energy efficiency programs and the administration’s programs to address climate change. She received a BA in International Affairs from George Washington University.
Yvonne Leland serves as the Executive Assistant to the CEO and provides support to the board and staff. Yvonne has a background in activism and a fifteen-year career working with social justice organizations in administrative, finance, and operations capacities. Before joining Water Foundation, Yvonne served as the Operations Manager for Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights. Yvonne received a Master of Public Administration (MPA) with a focus in non-profit management from Pace University.
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.
Alesandra Nájera provides planning and strategy development advice and support for program implementation and coordination for safe drinking water, water efficiency and Salton Sea/Colorado River initiatives. Prior to joining the Water Foundation, she was a Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, and to Congressman John Garamendi. She previously served as a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute STEM Graduate Fellow in the Office of the Secretary at the Department of the Interior.
Alesandra received both undergraduate and Master’s degrees from Stanford University, while working at Joint Venture Silicon Valley.
Aaron O’Callaghan develops and implements processes associated with Water Foundation’s grantmaking. Aaron has over a decade of experience in program management, providing expertise to a variety of philanthropic programs. Prior to joining the Water Foundation, he conducted research on the ecological systems of Lake Tahoe and the Bay-Delta in coordination with University of California, Davis and the USDA Agricultural Research Service. He received a BS in environmental biology and management from UC Davis.
Alex Paxton develops and implements programs for the Water Foundation. Prior to joining the Water Foundation, Alex worked for over a decade on local strategies for redevelopment, displacement mitigation, workforce development, and urban sustainability for a range of employers including LA Unified School District, then-LA City Councilmember Eric Garcetti, Mayors James Hahn and Antonio Villaraigosa, the LA City Community Redevelopment Agency, the LA Economic Development Corporation, and Estolano LeSar Perez Advisors. She also taught a course on Sustainable Urban Economies for the Masters Program in Urban Sustainability at Antioch University. Alex 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.
Elizabeth Söderström develops and implements strategies and projects for the Water Foundation. Before joining the Water Foundation, 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.
Joshua Stewart ensures that the day-to-day operations run smoothly. He provides tech, administrative, and program related support to all Water Foundation staff. Prior to joining the Water Foundation, Joshua completed the Enterprise Rent-A-Car management training program and managed multiple branches in Northern California. He received a BS in Business Administration from the University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business.