Our Board of Directors

The Officers and Members of the Board of Directors contribute their time strictly as volunteers and do not receive any financial remuneration from the Alliance as part of these services.  The Alliance thanks them for their service, their passion, and their leadership!

Ryan Palmer, President
Center for the Urban River at Beczak

Ryan Palmer holds a BS in Environmental Science from the University of Rhode Island.  Ryan Palmer joined Sarah Lawrence College as Director of the Center for the Urban River in August 2013.  A Hudson Valley native, Ryan previously was Director of Clearwater’s Green Cities Initiative, focusing on urban watershed and environmental justice issues, green infrastructure projects, community organizing, and urban planning.  Ryan has training in land use law, stream monitoring, biodiversity assessment, watershed management and planning, and 15 years of experience in the environmental nonprofit field.  He joined the Alliance’s Board of Directors in early 2014, after having served as our first paid Coordinator when we were housed as a program of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater.

Katherine Meierdiercks, Ph.D., Vice President
Siena College

Dr. Katherine Meierdiercks is Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and Sciences at Siena College, Loudonville NY, where she teaches courses in watershed management; environmental field techniques; environmental research methods; Geographic Information Systems (GIS); and analysis techniques for soil, air, and water. She received her B.S. in Civil Engineering from Tufts University and her Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from Princeton University. For the past several years, she and her students have been collecting field data and doing GIS mapping in the Kromma Kill watershed, a tributary to the Hudson River.

Phil DeGaetano, Treasurer
Albany County Water Quality Coordinating Committee

Phil DeGaetano holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Manhattan College and a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering from RPI.  Since 2003, he has worked with the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission, providing assistance to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation in review and revision of New York State’s Water Quality Standards and advice related to New York State’s involvement in the NY/NJ Harbor and Estuaries Program.  From 2011-2013, he worked with the Interstate Environmental Commission (IEC), providing programmatic, technical and financial management assistance.  From June 2012 to September 2013, he served as Executive Secretary of the IEC. In 2003 he retired from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation as Assistant Director of the Division of Water. During his 35 year career in the Division of Water he worked in varying other capacities related to water quality management including the NY/NJ Harbor Estuary Program, Long Island Sound Study, supervision of the state’s water quality standards program, non point source program and Division of Water’s public information/education efforts.  He supervised the development of initial MS4 and Construction Stormwater Permits.  He joined the Alliance’s Board of Directors in early 2014.

Emily Svenson, Secretary
Gordon & Svenson LLC

Emily Svenson is an environmental and land use attorney with the Law Office of David K. Gordon in Poughkeepsie. Her practice focuses on assisting citizen groups advocating for environmental protection and challenging inappropriate development, as well as working with municipalities to develop land use policy. Svenson began her career in soil and water conservation, first with the New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee working on agricultural pollution control, and later as coordinator of the Lower Hudson Coalition of Conservation Districts focusing on stormwater education. A life-long Hudson Valley resident, Svenson lives in Hyde Park with her husband and two sons. She got involved in Hyde Park government as chair of the town’s Conservation Advisory Council and went to serve four terms as a Town Board member and Deputy Supervisor. She was Hyde Park’s representative to the Fall Kill Watershed Committee and currently represents the town on the Hudson River Drinking Water Intermunicipal Council. Svenson holds a B.S. in Environmental Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a J.D. from Pace Law School.

Christianna Bennett
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 

Christianna is a Landscapist, Urbanist, writer, and Instructor in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, History & Theory. Her interests include ecology, ethics, biomaterials & material hybrids, experimental horticulture, and the history and philosophy of science, technology, and design. Christianna’s recent projects examine pairing adaptive biological membranes (“plant prostheses”) with plant tissue, elsewhere as tissues in the environment, in an effort to preserve the diversity of soft ecologies for future generations. She is currently researching and publishing a text on the legacies of medicine as it exists within – and is extracted from – landscapes. Christianna’s research explores speculative futures of botanical-cyborgs, and the hybridization of landscape-machines – such as landscapes that generate architecture and architectures generative of landscapes. From her expertise in Landscapes, Architecture, Ecology, and History & Theory, she pursues curiosities concerning the emotional power of images and compelling force of aesthetics to provoke hope and imagination about the future of landscapes and ecologies. Her writing emerges as a fresh tangent, for deepening contemplations on the possible futures of practices of horticulture.

Martin Daley
Capital District Regional Planning Commission

Martin is the Director of Water Quality Programs for the Capital District Regional Planning Commission (CDRPC) project manager for the Albany Pool Communities’ Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Long Term Control Plan (LTCP), a 15-year $136m program coordinated by CDRPC. The Albany Pool is comprised of member cities Albany, Troy, Rensselaer, Cohoes, Watervliet and the Village of Green Island. Through more than 50 projects and programs the program will significantly abate permitted CSO discharges to the Hudson River and its tributaries, thus improving water quality and bring the Hudson River into compliance with New York State water quality standards and requirements under the Federal Clean Water Act. Martin is serves as the CEO of the newly formed Albany Pool Communities Corporation, providing administrative oversight to ensure the corporation maintains compliance with all federal, state and local regulations. Martin is also engaged with local and regional initiatives working to protect both natural resources and drinking water supplies. Martin received his bachelor’s Degree in Communications from the College of Saint Rose and his master’s Degree in Regional Planning from the State University of New York. His family lives in the Pine Hills Neighborhood of Albany.

Michael H. Finewood, Ph.D.
Pace University

Michael Finewood is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and Science at Pace University, where he teaches and conducts research in environmental governance, political ecology, water, and sustainability, with explicit attention to environmental justice. Dr. Finewood received his Ph.D. in geography from the University of South Carolina. Over his career Dr. Finewood’s research has focused on how communities perceive and make decisions about water infrastructure, with the goal of improving community engagement and creating equitable outcomes. His current work centers on green infrastructure, stormwater, and the challenges of watershed-based governance. He is also the board secretary of the Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences.

Nicole Laible, M.P.A.P 
Rockland County Soil & Water Conservation District

Nicole V. Laible has served as the Environmental Management Assistant for the Rockland County Division of Environmental Resources (RC DER) since 2014. She is the project manager of four environmental boards and several professional and community science research projects. Nicole manages the Rockland County Soil & Water Conservation District (RC SWCD), Environmental Management Council, Water Quality Coordinating Committee, and Agriculture & Farmland Protection Board. Her main role is District Manager for the RC SWCD where she tracks performance measures, manages state aid, annual reports and grants, coordinates and reviews the annual budget and oversees professional and volunteer water resources projects. In August 2017, Nicole collaborated with many stakeholders to form the Minisceongo Creek Watershed Alliance. Prior to her service with the RC DER, she served two terms with AmeriCorps and later worked as the Assistant Project Manager for Rockland County AmeriCorps while also consulting for the RC SWCD. Later she served as an Estuary Educator at the NYS DEC for the Student Conservation Association. Nicole also served as a board member on the Rockland County Environmental Management Council and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland County. She holds a Master’s of Public Administration and Policy from American University and a B.Sc. degree from SUNY Stony Brook University where she double majored in Marine Sciences and Coastal Environmental Studies.  Nicole joined the HRWA in April 2019.

Tracey Ledder
Delaware Engineering DPC

Tracey is a long-term water enthusiast. She recently returned to the East Coast from Wisconsin, where she was a founding member of a watershed association. She served on the Board,  and acted as technical advisor, setting up volunteer monitoring programs, training volunteers and giving presentations on results. She has  attended several HRWA activities since being in New York, and joined the Board in 2021. She also lived and worked on the Clearwater for a week, as volunteer crew and educator. Tracey is an environmental scientist with 30 years of experience in a wide variety of work environments. She earned her Master of Science in Environmental Science and Engineering at Virginia Tech. Her work ranges from water quality monitoring and laboratory analyses, environmental assessment, grant writing and administration, and project management, to public speaking, writing and editing. She currently assists engineers in water and wastewater infrastructure projects in environmental review under state and federal regulation, permit applications, water and sewer rate restructuring and report preparation, as well as the occasional wetland delineation or water resources monitoring project (whenever possible).

Mary McNamara
Lower Esopus Watershed Partnership

Mary McNamara is an activist working on watershed and water quality issues in the Lower Esopus Creek Watershed. She lives in Saugerties, NY. After participating in Hudson River Watershed Alliance events and tapping into its resources as an active local watershed stakeholder for a number of years, she finally joined the Board of Directors in 2013.

Dan Shapley

As director of Riverkeeper’s Water Quality Program, Dan Shapley coordinates the largest community science water quality project of its kind, sampling hundreds of locations throughout the Hudson River Watershed, primarily to show when and where water is safe for swimming. The data gathered is the basis for advocacy to stop water pollution, by catalyzing needed investments in water infrastructure and watershed management, including drinking source water protection. Prior to his work in the Water Quality Program, he focused on engaging Riverkeeper’s members in activism and volunteerism, including creation of the Riverkeeper Sweep, an annual day of service for the Hudson River.  A lifelong Hudson Valley resident and graduate of Hartwick College, he started his career as a reporter, columnist and editor for the Poughkeepsie Journal, where he won numerous awards for writing about the Hudson Valley environment. From 2007 to 2011, he edited TheDailyGreen.com, an award-winning website devoted to green living. He lives in Rhinebeck with his wife, son and dogs.

Matthew Shook
Palisades Interstate Park Commission

Matthew Shook is the Director of Development and Special Projects for the Palisades Interstate Park Commission. He has worked in and around New York State parks since 2004, when he began his career as a Student Conservation Association intern at Trailside Museums and Zoo at Bear Mountain. He later went on to serve as Assistant Director of the Highlands Environmental Research Institute, a joint PIPC-Rutgers University partnership before joining the PIPC as Program Manager in 2012. Mr. Shook has written and managed grant-funded project ranging from historic restoration efforts and trail construction, to scientific research and habitat management, archival management, staffing, environmental education, and public programming within NY State Parks. In addition to being a Board Member of the Alliance, he is also the Chair of the Board of Strawtown Studio.