Karen Knudsen — Executive Director
Karen was hired as director in April 2007. She has worked with the Coalition for 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 or call 406-542-0539, ext. 203.
Holly creates and implements outreach, public relations, and marketing strategies that increase awareness of CFC’s work in the Clark Fork watershed. Prior to joining the Coalition in 2015, Holly worked for Five Valleys Land Trust as its Communications Manager. Holly was a double major in Art History and Dance at the University of Colorado. She spent her early career in the San Francisco Bay Area working in sales and marketing for Dance Magazine and Lonely Planet Publications. After an internship with American Prairie Reserve in Bozeman, she moved to Missoula to earn a Masters of Business at the University of Montana. In her free time, Holly tries to get outside as much as possible by hiking, backpacking, skiing, and floating on rivers. Contact Holly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 406-542-0539, ext. 206.
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, and he currently serves as the hydrologist on the Montana Board of Environmental Review. 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 email@example.com or call 406-542-0539, ext. 211.
Andy 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 or call 406-542-0539, ext. 201.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 542-0539 ext. 202.
Lily joined the Clark Fork Coalition team in August 2015 as the Education Coordinator. Her work focuses on engaging local youth in caring for their watershed and providing the learning opportunities and tools to grow the river stewards of tomorrow. Lily partners with local educators and school to bring watershed science to students with high-quality standards and science based curriculum and professional development opportunities for teachers. Lily grew up in Montana and graduated from the University of Montana in 2009 with a BA in Botany/ Ecology, a Master Certificate in GIS, and ancillary master’s work focusing on aquatic ecosystems. Lily spent several years as a riparian health and restoration specialist with the Bureau of Land Management and as an educator for spectrUM Discovery Area, the Montana Natural History Center, and Ecology Project International. Lily’s favorite pastimes are anything that involves enjoying wild Montana, her daughter Mariah, and their three year old rescue pup. Contact Lily at email@example.com or 406-542-0539, ext. 200.
Julie Hiett — Bookkeeper and Grants Administrator
Julie applies her 2+ decades of experience in accounting, business operations, administrative support, office procedures, and computer systems to CFC’s financial operations. Her primary focus is on day-to-day accounting and assuring administrative compliance on grants and contracts. She holds a degree in Business Administration from Western Montana College and has worked in both the private sector and for mission-driven nonpfofits. Contact Julie at or call 542-0539, ext. 208.
Heather graduated in 2009, with a degree in Environmental Sciences with a focus on Environmental Design but has held many different positions and had many experiences over the years as she has traveled all around the world and across the US. Heather spent three years in Japan teaching English, volunteered with a couple of non-profits and was a ski bum for a couple of years. Since moving to Montana she has worked to develop her community organizing abilities and has become very interested in getting people interested in the health of their surrounding environment. Heather will be serving with the Clark Fork Coalition to support their education programs and coordinating classroom visits for seasonal programs. She will also be helping with community events and coordinating professional workshops, as well as helping promote the Clark Fork on social media. Heather will be working to help share our citizen science findings and coordinating with partner groups. Contact Heather at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alex joined the CFC in 2016 as a member of our Restore team. He works on stream restoration in the Upper Clark Fork focusing on water planning efforts and conservation projects aimed at enhancing flows and restoring aquatic habitat. 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 Wilderness areas in the Northern Rockies. Contact Alex at email@example.com or call 406-542-0539, ext. 210.
Will McDowell — 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 or call 406-542-0539, ext. 204.
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 .
Pat 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 with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and most recently 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 or call 406-542-0539, ext. 205.
Katie Racette — Stewardship Coordinator
Katie manages the Volunteer River Corps and works on connecting river stewards to projects that improve the health of our waterways. She also works on our restoration team to monitor instream flow and restoration projects. Katie graduated from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in 2014 and has been working in the Clark Fork watershed ever since. Feel free to contact Katie at or call 406-542-0539, ext. 212.
Jed joined the Coalition in 2013 as part of our Restore team, which works in the field 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 .