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America's Watershed Initiative
Galt House Hotel | Louisville, KY | September 30-October 2, 2014

Speaker Information

Ray LaHood

Senior Policy Advisor, DLA Piper

Former Secretary, US Department of Transportation


Ray LaHood is the former US Department of Transportation Secretary.


With a 36-year career in public service, Secretary LaHood has extensive experience on major national policy issues, among them transportation and infrastructure. He served as the 16th Department of Transportation Secretary from 2009 to 2013 and quickly became known as a bipartisan leader and skilled conciliator in a highly partisan environment.


Secretary LaHood’s tenure was marked by landmark efforts to improve safety in every mode of transportation, from aviation and rail to pipelines and automobiles. Under his leadership, improvements to America’s infrastructure included building or replacing 350,000 miles of highway, repairing 20,000 bridges and renewing or constructing 6,000 miles of rail track. Secretary LaHood also achieved more stringent fuel efficiency requirements from automakers, took steps to address airline pilot fatigue and turned the problem of distracted driving into a national concern. As Secretary of Transportation, he oversaw an agency with more than 55,000 employees and a US$70 billion budget in charge of air, maritime and surface transportation.


Before heading the US Department of Transportation, Secretary LaHood served from 1995 to 2009 in the US House of Representatives on behalf of the 18th District of Illinois and also served on various House committees, among them the powerful House Appropriations Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. He served as chief of staff to US House Minority Leader Robert Michel from 1982 to 1994. He was director of the Rock Island County Youth Services Bureau from 1972 to 1974; chief planner of the Bi-States Metropolitan Planning Commission from 1974 to 1977; and district administrative assistant for US Congressman Tom Railsback from 1977 to 1982.


He is married to Kathy LaHood, and they have four children and eleven grandchildren.

Brigadier General Duke DeLuca

Commander, Mississippi Valley Division, USACE

President, Mississippi River Commission


Brigadier General Duke DeLuca assumed command of the Mississippi Valley Division, Vicksburg, Miss., September 24, 2013.  He also serves as president-designee of the Mississippi River Commission. DeLuca came to MVD from Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., where he was the commandant of the United States Army Engineer School, United States Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence.


As MVD commander, DeLuca is responsible for a $2 billion civil works program. In addition, he plays a vital role in managing the Corps water resources program in the Mississippi River Valley.


DeLuca was commissioned from the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at the University of Pennsylvania in 1983 after earning bachelors of science degrees in economics and mechanical engineering. He also earned a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University in 1993.


DeLuca has served from platoon level through combatant command in Army, Joint, multi-national and Interagency environments. He has commanded from company through division level, including command of a battalion and a brigade in combat. He has run multi-billion dollar annual construction programs in Iraq and in a region including the northeast United States, Europe and Africa supporting foreign militaries, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force, the Department of Defense family and several other federal agencies. DeLuca is an engineer and a Eurasian foreign area officer, a graduate of the Defense Language Institute and has served in fellowships at Columbia University, the George C. Marshall Center for European Security Studies and Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.


A life of Army service has allowed DeLuca to work professionally in 29 states of the United States and 23 countries, including three years in formally declared combat zones. It has offered opportunities for both remarkable experiences and for the ability to work with the finest and most amazing American citizens and foreign partners.


His awards include the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Bronze Star Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Joint Service Achievement Medal with oak leaf cluster, Army Achievement Medal, Combat Action Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge and Ranger Tab.


The Mississippi Valley Division is responsible for water resources engineering solutions in a 370,000-square-mile area, extending from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and encompassing portions of 12 states.  Work is carried out by district offices located in St. Paul, Minn.; Rock Island, Ill.; St. Louis, Mo.; Memphis, Tenn.; Vicksburg, Miss.; and New Orleans, La.


Since 1879, the seven-member Presidentially appointed Mississippi River Commission has developed and matured plans for the general improvement of the Mississippi River from the Head of Passes to the Headwaters. The Mississippi River Commission brings critical engineering representation to the drainage basin, which impacts 41% of the United States and includes 1.25 million square miles, over 250 tributaries, 31 states, and 2 Canadian provinces.


Brigadier General John R. McMahon, P.E. (Ret.)

Korea Relocation Program Manager, CH2MHILL

Former Commander, Northwestern Division, USACE


John R. McMahon joined CH2MHILL International Services in December 2013 as the Program Manager for the Korea Relocation Program in Pyeongtaek, Republic of Korea (ROK), a $10.7B program to expand Camp Humphreys and consolidate the US Forces Korea footprint on the peninsula.  In this role, he works with the US and ROK government agencies to lead, manage and drive the program to completion through a consortium of one US and four ROK engineering firms, comprised of 360 US and ROK team members.   


John retired from active duty on 1 August 2012 after 35 years of service.  His last command was the Northwestern Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, assumed on November 20, 2009.  In his last assignment, he oversaw an annual program of more than $4 billion in civil works, environmental restoration, and military construction in more than a dozen states, primarily within the Columbia-Snake and Missouri river basins. John orchestrated Corps of Engineers’ efforts with those of other federal, state and local agencies, the Army and Air Force, the Administration and the Congress. 


As Division Commander, he was responsible for providing guidance and direction to five operating district commands located in Portland, OR, Seattle and Walla Walla, WA, Kansas City, MO, and Omaha, NE, with a combined professional workforce of nearly 5,000. Key missions include support to military installations and civilian communities throughout the region, managing the nation’s water resources infrastructure for economic growth, environmental sustainability, and strengthening national security.  John led the Corps’ response and recovery efforts to the unprecedented Missouri River Basin flooding of 2011.  


Prior to this assignment, John served in numerous stateside and overseas assignments such as Director of Engineering, U.S. Forces Afghanistan; Division Commander, U.S. Army Engineer Division; South Pacific, San Francisco, CA; Chief of Staff at Corps Headquarters in Washington D.C.; Commander and District Engineer, Japan Engineer District, Camp Zama, Japan; and Brigade Engineer, 3rd US Infantry Division (3ID), in the liberation of Kuwait.  In each of these roles, John always led from the front, stayed focused on the mission and the people assigned to execute it, and used his influence to improve conditions with a long view.


John is a registered Professional Engineer in Virginia.  He was commissioned through the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) Program at Syracuse University where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering in 1977. He subsequently earned master’s degrees in Applied Mathematics at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA, and in National Resource Strategy from the National Defense University. 


John is married to the former Catherine Helen Kuttas of Satellite Beach, Florida, and they have four married children and two granddaughters.  They now call Rockledge, Florida, their home.

Nancy DeLong

Global Director, Sustainable Agriculture Systems, DuPont Pioneer


Nancy directs DuPont Pioneer efforts in conservation-based agriculture to help farmers and ranchers protect their freedom to operate and improve their livelihoods while being the best stewards of natural resources. She works to support policy and programs that operate within a sustainable framework to ensure that DuPont Pioneer focuses resources to enhance Pioneer’s effectiveness as a thought leader and advocate. Nancy began her career at Pioneer in 1990 holding diverse roles throughout the organization. 


Prior to joining Pioneer, Nancy worked in the financial and insurance services industry in human resources and has worked as a college career counselor.  Nancy has a bachelor of science, with honors in Psychology from The University of Iowa, and a master of science in Counseling and Guidance from the University of Nebraska-Omaha.


She serves on the Conservation Technology Information Center board of directors, the Sand County Foundation Board, the H.A. Wallace Endowed Chair Advisory Committee, the Dallas County Conservation Board in Iowa and the National Cover Crop and Soil Health Working Group.  Nancy & her husband have restored 15 acres of native Iowa eco-type savannah.

Mayor Greg Fischer

Mayor, Louisville, KY


Committed to growing jobs and creating a culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, accessibility, and transparency, Greg Fischer was elected Louisville’s 50th mayor in 2010 and is now seeking a second term. Since taking office, Mayor Fischer has pursued three top goals: making Louisville a city of lifelong learning, a much healthier city and an even more compassionate community


Mayor Fischer was named a 2013 “Public Official of the Year” by Governing Magazine, the only U.S. mayor to earn the distinction. Greg is an entrepreneur who started several businesses including SerVend International and Iceberg Ventures, a private investment firm. Greg graduated from Trinity High School and Vanderbilt University. He and his wife Alex have four children.


Mayor Fischer’s accomplishments include:

•       Regaining the 42,000 jobs lost to the long recession, including creating 12,400 new jobs in 2013 alone.

•       Launching full-speed-ahead construction of the two Ohio River bridges while opening the pedestrian and bicycle friendly Big Four Bridge

•       Bringing innovation and efficiency to city government by using data to increase performance through LouieStat, championing the Louisville Water/MSD consolidation, and reaching a deal to bring $27 million in efficiencies to city facilities with no upfront costs.

•       Earning “International Model City of Compassion” recognition for Louisville in part by creating the Give A Day week of community service, which drew more than 144,000 volunteers and acts of compassion in April, 2014.


Ben Grumbles

President, U.S. Water Alliance


Ben Grumbles is President of the U.S. Water Alliance, an environmental nonprofit, 501(c)(3), based in Washington, D.C., that educates the public on  the value of water and the need  for “One Water” solutions as part of a national water strategy. Mr. Grumbles has served as Assistant Administrator for Water at U.S. EPA, Director of Arizona’s Department of Environmental Quality, and Environmental Counsel and Senior Staff Member on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Science Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. He’s a member of the Virginia Water Control Board and the National Academy of Science’s Water Science and Technology Board.   He has a Master’s Degree in environmental law from George Washington University, a J.D. from Emory University Law School, and a B.A. from Wake Forest University.  Ben lives with his wife and kids in the Spout Run watershed of the Potomac River, Arlington, Virginia and grew up in the Beargrass Creek watershed of the Ohio River, Louisville, Kentucky.


Michael Reuter

Director, North America Freshwater Program


Michael Reuter is director of The Nature Conservancy’s Freshwater Team in North America, and for more than two decades has worked to protect the vital great rivers of the world for people and nature. In the United States, Michael and his colleagues are focused on creating shared solutions for some of the nation’s most significant freshwater challenges – protecting water supplies, reducing flood risk, and building smarter infrastructure.


Michael’s career-long passion for the Mississippi River – and the common land- and water-use dilemmas that affect billions of people who depend upon large freshwater ecosystems globally – spurred him to develop the Great Rivers Partnership in 2005. Through this effort, Michael has promoted comprehensive, collaborative approaches to management of the Yangtze and Mekong rivers in Asia, the Niger, Zambezi, and Ogooué rivers in Africa, the Colorado and Mississippi rivers in North America, and the Magdalena, Paraguay-Parana and Tapajós rivers in South America. 


Michael’s roots in the Midwest shaped a keen interest and expertise in finding sensible, economically viable solutions that reduce agricultural impacts on water and wildlife while maintaining yields for farmers. He has played leadership roles in national initiatives such as the Keystone Field to Market Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture.


Michael is a member of the founding steering committee for America’s Watershed Initiative and serves on a variety of boards, including the International Society for River Science, Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service, Alliance for Water Stewardship, and the Illinois Valley Central Educational Foundation. Michael has received the Silver Eagle Award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and One Conservancy Award from The Nature Conservancy. He holds a B.S. degree in Agricultural Economics from Iowa State University and a Master of Liberal Studies from Bradley University. 

Michael lives in St Louis, Missouri, with his wife and three children.


Charles C. (Chuck) Somerville, PhD, FLS.

Dean, College of Science, Marshall university


Chuck Somerville is a Professor of Biological Sciences and Dean of the College of Science at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia.  He earned his PhD in Marine Microbiology in 1989 and worked at the Biological Station in Roscoff France, the EPA Environmental Research Laboratory in Gulf Breeze Florida, and the US Air Force Environics Lab in Panama City Florida before joining the faculty at Marshall University in 1997.  He served as chair of the Department of Biological Sciences from 2005 to 2009, and has been dean of the College of Science since 2009.  He currently serves on the Executive Committee for the Ohio River Basin Consortium for Research & Education (ORBCRE), the West Virginia Science & Research Council, the West Virginia Environmental Quality Board, and is currently Chair of the Steering Committee for the Ohio River Basin Alliance (ORBA).  His research interests are in biodegradation/bioremediation of anthropogenic contaminants in aquatic environments, and microbial community structure and dynamics in large rivers.  In 2011 he was elected as a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London.

Harald (Jordy) Jordahl

Director, America’s Watershed Initiative


Harald (Jordy) Jordahl is the first director of America’s Watershed Initiative, starting the position in January 2013, having previously worked with the Initiative as a consultant on America’s Great Watershed Initiative Summit held in St. Louis in September 2012. 


In this position, he works with America’s Watershed Initiative Steering Committee and leads the initiative working with diverse coalition of businesses, agencies and organizations committed to developing collaborative solutions to challenges facing water resources throughout the entire Mississippi River watershed (


The steering committee includes representatives from The Nature Conservancy – Great Rivers Partnership, Iowa Soybean Association, City of Dubuque, Iowa, Mississippi River Commission/US Army Corps of Engineers, Upper Mississippi River Basin Association, the Mississippi River delta region, Ohio River Basin Alliance, Mississippi River Valley Flood Control Association, Ingram Barge Company, State of Wyoming Engineer’s office, Big River Coalition, and Caterpillar, Inc.


Prior to this position, Jordy worked on resource policy issues with state, local, federal and tribal governments while serving in legislative, executive, administrative and advocacy positions including policy advisor to the Governor, legislative policy aide, director of intergovernmental relations for the Wisconsin Department of Administration, and director of government relations for The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin.  His interests have focused on advancing projects affecting working landscapes and the connections between conservation and communities, agriculture, forestry and transportation.


Jordy’s first exposure with the Mississippi River came on duck hunting trips with his dad to pool #9, often ending with a fresh catfish sandwich at the Bright Spot in DeSoto, WI.   Jordy lives in the upper Mississippi River watershed in Madison, Wisconsin with his three children, wife and hunting dogs and also manages family agricultural, timber and recreational properties in western and northern Wisconsin.


Anne Murray Allen

Vice President of Organization Design and Integration, Conversant


Anne Murray Allen is Conversant’s VP of Organization Design and Integration. Anne’s career working in organizations has been both as an insider and as a consultant to large multinational organizations. She is a systems-thinker who has had bottom-line experience in a variety of organizational functions.


Anne has taught graduate level management classes and has presented at conferences around the world. She co-authored the 2005 Reflections Journal article, "The Nature of Social Collaboration: How Work Really Gets Done." She published an article in the July 2012 edition of OD Practitioner on culture integration when merging organizations. She is a past recipient of an American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) Torch Award.


Anne served in several executive positions within Hewlett-Packard (HP) including Senior Director of Knowledge and Intranet Management; Director for Strategic Change which included an assignment leading the culture integration between HP and Compaq companies; leading the strategic planning process in both division and companywide positions; production management; and information technology management. Anne has an undergraduate degree in psychology and an MBA, and is currently working on her Doctorate in Social Science.

Jennifer Simpson

Chief Innovation Officer, Conversant


Jennifer Simpson is Conversant’s Chief Innovation Officer and has dedicated her life and career to improving lives, strengthening communities, and adding value to organizations. Jennifer is responsible for developing innovative customer solutions and keeping our work on the cutting edge of business and science.


A dynamic leader, Jennifer has an impressive track record of engaging multiple stakeholders to produce results and accelerate business success. She specializes in translating organizational vision into practice, and mindfully managing change dynamics to build on and strengthen organizational capacity in times of transition.


Jennifer has developed and delivered high-ROI projects in business areas including: Finance, Human Resources, R & D, Service Operations, IT, Global Operations, and Executive Management in a wide range of Fortune 500 and Global Philanthropic organizations.


Jennifer’s lifework is to create a world where individuals thrive in healthy, rewarding, and successful organizations and communities. Jennifer is author or editor of two books and multiple journal articles and book chapters. Her varied background includes more than twenty years of experience working in and with organizations across the


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