Staff

karen-web_100pxKaren Knudsen — Executive Director

Karen was hired as director in April 2007. She has worked with the Coalition for over 20 years in a variety of capacities, including director of its River Smart Growth program, communications director, business manager, and education and outreach coordinator. Karen is part of the Healthy Headwaters Working Group for Carpe Diem West, an organization that engages diverse stakeholders in developing strategies for addressing climate change impacts on water in the American West. She also serves on the board of the Watershed Restoration Coalition, a landowner-driven nonprofit working to conserve natural resources through stream restoration in the Upper Clark Fork basin. Prior to joining the Coalition in 1993, Karen worked as a research associate for a forestry/economics research firm in Portland, where she conducted economic, policy and financial research on national forest management issues. She holds a B.A. in economics from Colorado College and a master’s degree in public administration from Syracuse University. In her spare time, she’s outdoors as much as possible, enjoying Montana rivers and mountains with her husband and two children. Contact Karen at karen@clarkfork.org or call 406-542-0539, ext. 203.

Elissa Chott — Beaver Conflict Resolution Field Technician

Elissa is working to reduce human-beaver conflicts using non-lethal methods while building a greater tolerance for Montana’s largest rodent. She has worked with the Great Bear Foundation for five years promoting bear conservation, providing education and outreach, and working on mitigating human-bear conflicts. Elissa has a B.A. in English from the University of Texas and a M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana. She was on the fiction and nonfiction boards for Camas Magazine, as well as a participant of the Vietnam study abroad program learning about climate change and social issues in the Mekong Delta. She enjoys spending time up the Yaak, hiking and backpacking, knitting, and frequent post-work canoe paddles down the Clark Fork.

John DeArment – Science Director

John joined the Clark Fork Coalition in November 2017, bringing with him nearly 20 years of Montana water resource experience. He was formerly the Administrator of the Permitting and Compliance Division of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, where he managed the regulatory portion of the agency. John also worked in private consulting for many years, where he specialized in watershed assessment, water quality monitoring, and stream and wetland restoration. He was the project manager for several basin-wide TMDL projects and was the lead scientist on compliance monitoring for Superfund restoration of Silver Bow Creek and the Clark Fork River. John holds a B.S. in economics and English from James Madison University, an M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana, and is a Registered Professional Hydrologist with the American Institute of Hydrology. Contact John at john@clarkfork.org or call 406-542-0539, ext. 211.

Andy-Fischer-bio_100pxAndy Fischer — Project Manager

Andy works to restore streamflows to creeks and rivers in Western Montana. He partners with water right holders and irrigation groups on projects that benefit both fish and farmers. These types of projects include water conservation measures such as canal piping, water leasing and diversion reduction agreements. He works closely with water users and other stakeholder groups applying for grants, researching water rights, negotiating water purchase agreements, hiring and overseeing contractors and engineers, managing budgets and monitoring project effectiveness. Andy was born and raised in Missoula and has an intimate knowledge of the waterways of Western Montana. He holds an M.S. in resource conservation with an emphasis in water resource management from the University of Montana and a B.A. in environmental studies from Whitman College. Andy’s past experience includes working for the Deschutes River Conservancy in Central Oregon managing large-scale irrigation canal piping projects that conserved and pressurized irrigation water. In his free time, Andy enjoys exploring Montana through hunting, fishing, biking and skiing. Contact Andy at andy@clarkfork.org or call 406-542-0539, ext. 201.

Chloe Gibson – Accounting Manager

Chloe recently joined the CFC team as the Accounting Manager. She brings with her a background in corporate accounting, mainly focusing on assurance services, and the aspiration to use her skills and knowledge in the conservation industry. At CFC she is responsible for all our accounting systems, operations, policies, and procedures, along with assuring compliance on grants and contracts. A West Virginia native, Chloe holds a B.S. in Accounting and MBA from West Virginia Wesleyan College. In her free time she enjoys all things outside! Contact Chloe at chloe@clarkfork.org or call 406-542-0539, ext. 208.

Andrew Gorder — Legal Director

As CFC’s legal director, Andrew develops and advances advocacy strategies for protecting and restoring the Clark Fork watershed, and conducts research and interpretation of water rights, water law, and water policy. Andrew joined CFC in 2017. He previously worked as a Water Master for the MT Water Court, where he developed a deep working knowledge of the intricacies of Montana water law. Andrew also served as staff attorney for Cottonwood Environmental Law Center, litigating cases in public land, wildlife, and natural resource issues in federal court. He holds a B.A. in Journalism from the Univ. of WY and a J.D. from the Univ. of MT School of Law. Contact Andrew at andrew@clarkfork.org or 542-0539 ext. 202.

Lily Haines — Community Programs Manager

Lily organizes and manages CFC’s community-based programming, including watershed education curricula for youth, water briefings and community science field outings for adults, and volunteer opportunities that build a culture of river stewardship and connect people to their local creeks and streams. Before joining the CFC in 2015, Lily worked for the BLM as a riparian health and restoration specialist, and was an educator for spectrUM Discovery Area, the Montana Natural History Center, and Ecology Project International. Lily grew up in Montana and graduated from the University of Montana with a B.A. in botany/ecology, a Master Certificate in GIS, and ancillary Master’s work focusing on aquatic ecosystems. Contact Lily at lily@clarkfork.org or 406-542-0539, ext. 200.

Alex Leone — Restoration Policy Manager

Alex is a stream restoration scientist and policy analyst based out of Anaconda, Montana. He joined CFC in 2016. He works with public resource managers, landowners, universities and the general public to design and implement restoration projects and studies that improve rivers and streams in western Montana. Alex has spent most of his life in Montana, and attended both the University of Montana (B.S. in Forest Management) and Montana State University (M.S. in Earth Sciences). He spent several years working for the Forest Service as a wildland firefighter and researcher and has traveled extensively throughout the American West. Alex spends the majority of his free time chasing trout on Montana’s seemingly endless supply of streams and exploring the less traveled areas in the Northern Rockies. Contact Alex at alex@clarkfork.org or call 406-542-0539, ext. 210.

will-headshot_100px Will McDowell — Stream Restoration Director

Will heads up our integrated stream restoration projects in the Upper Clark Fork. He is dedicated to building partnerships with agricultural landowners, agencies, and other non-profits, so that restoration investments benefit both the rural community, and the fish and wildlife, from “ridge to river.” Will arrived at the Coalition in 2009 with a wealth of experience in natural resource management. He has an M.S. in Watershed Hydrology from University of Arizona, and a degree in biology from Carleton College. Most recently, he worked for the Tri-State Water Quality Council in western Montana for ten years, coordinating watershed projects on ranches, dairy farms, and both rural and urban communities. He has also worked in watershed restoration internationally, including Bolivia, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Panama, Armenia and China. He lives with his family, an over-sized garden, and a few too many dogs in Missoula. Contact Will at will@clarkfork.org or call 406-542-0539, ext. 204.

Liz_2_100pxLiz Murphy — Development/Special Events Manager

Liz joined the CFC team in 2010 to support our fundraising and special event efforts. Liz comes to us from the Chicago area, where she had experience in fundraising, communications, and administration. She graduated in 2003 from St. Lawrence University with a B.A. in government. Liz is thoroughly enjoying all that living and recreating have to offer in Montana, and in her off time she enjoys hiking, music, animals, football and getting out to enjoy the local rivers and culture in Missoula. Contact Liz at 406-542-0539, ext. 213, or liz@clarkfork.org.

Pat-Staff-2013_100pxPat Ortmeyer — Communications/Development Director

Pat joined the CFC staff in January 2013. She directs CFC’s fundraising and communications efforts, assists with strategic plan implementation, and oversees grants administration and compliance. Pat brings nearly 30 years of nonprofit programming, budgeting, development, and strategic planning experience to CFC at both the local and national levels. Her environmental and community advocacy work has taken her from Russia, to Central America, to Washington, D.C., to contaminated nuclear waste sites in the deep South. Over the last decade Pat has helped raise tens of millions of dollars for land and water conservation working previously with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the American Land Conservancy. Pat holds a B.A. in liberal arts/environmental studies from the University of Montana and completed master’s work in public administration at the University of Washington. When she’s not playing ice hockey, you can find Pat out hiking, cross-country skiing, rock-hounding, birding, or trying once again to learn how to fly-fish. Contact Pat at pat@clarkfork.org or 406-542-0539, ext. 205.

Adam Switalski — Project Manager

Adam joined Clark Fork Coalition in 2021 as a project manager focused on stream restoration in the Bitterroot basin. He brings 20 years of experience in restoration ecology, working both for nonprofits and in the private sector as an environmental consultant. Adam works collaboratively with state and federal agencies, private land owners, and conservation partners to develop and implement restoration projects across the Bitterroot watershed. His specialty is restoring aquatic habitat and reducing erosion associated with roads, stream crossings, and streambanks. Most recently, Adam was Principal at InRoads Consulting which provided resource assessments, on-the ground restoration, and monitoring across the northwest. He holds an M.S. in Fish and Wildlife from Utah State University and spends his spare time hiking, skiing, and floating around Missoula with his family. Contact Adam at 406-542-0539, ext. 210, or email him at adam@clarkfork.org.

Jed Whiteley — Project Manager

Jed joined the Coalition staff in 2013 and works to develop and implement restoration solutions for impaired tributary streams throughout the Clark Fork. Jed specializes in the development of flow and instream restoration projects in the Bitterroot Valley and the Middle Clark Fork. He is also responsible for the monitoring strategies that guide the way we manage project-area creeks and streams. Jed comes to the CFC with 19 years of experience in the field of river and ecological restoration, working in positions from field technician to company president. Most notably, he ran S&K Environmental from 2007-12 and was instrumental in growing the company. Jed is an avid fisherman, boater, hunter and backpacker, with a B.S. in natural resource management and forestry with a concentration in environmental management from California Polytechnic State University. Contact Jed at 406-542-0539, ext. 209, or email him at jed@clarkfork.org.

Sam Dwyer — Digital Content Manager

Sam joined the Coalition staff in 2021. She manages CFC’s email communications, social media, website updates, and publications like Riffles. Sam grew up in the Flathead Valley, swimming in its many lakes every summer. She moved to Missoula for the university, eventually earning a Master of Arts in literature using evolutionary biology as a critical lens. Sam loves finding the creative intersection between disciplines. She has over a decade of experience in Montana nonprofits in communications and programs. When not in the digital world, you’ll find her hiking up O’Brien Creek, paddle boarding on the Clark Fork, or somewhere cozy with her nose in a book. Contact Sam at 406-542-0539, ext. 206, or email her at sam@clarkfork.org.