River Summit 2015 Speaker Biographies


River Summit 2015 logo


Jumpto: Kelly Bajic | Siavash Beik | Keith Bowers | Pam Holocher | Jim Lake | Chad Pregracke | Jeffrey Reutter | Dawn Ritchie | John Sampson | Carrie Vollmer-Sanders | Captain Dave Spangler | Matthew Wirtz


Kelly Bajic, Engineer, Fort Wayne City Utilities

Kelly Bajic is an engineer with Fort Wayne City Utilities who is the assistant project manager for the Three Rivers Protection and Overflow Program or 3RPORT and manages many of the Long-Term Control Plan projects within the combined collection system.


Keith Bowers, FASLA, RLA, PWS

For nearly three decades, Keith Bowers has been at the forefront of applied ecology, land conservation and sustainable design. As the founder and president of Biohabitats, Keith has built a multidisciplinary organization focused on regenerative design – the blurring of boundaries between conservation planning, ecological restoration and sustainable design. Keith Bowers, courtesy photo.Using living-systems as the basis for all of its work, Biohabitats applies a whole-systems approach to all of its projects. Keith has applied his expertise to more than 600 projects throughout North America.

His work has spanned the scale from site-specific ecosystem restoration projects involving wetland, river, woodland and coastal habitat restoration to regional watershed management and conservation planning, to the development of comprehensive sustainability programs for communities and campuses throughout the country. Keith is also the founder and partner of Biohabitats’ sister company, Ecological Restoration and Management, Inc. ER&M provides professional installation and management services for restoration projects throughout North America.

Keith currently serves the Theme Lead for Ecological Restoration under IUCN’s Commission on Ecosystem Management. Keith served on the Board of Directors for the Society for Ecological Restoration and the Wildlands Network. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects and is a Professional Wetland Scientist. He holds a B.S. in Landscape Architecture from West Virginia University and an honorary degree from the Conway School of Design.


Siavash Beik, P.E., CFM, D.WRE, CM S4S

Siavash is the Christopher B. Burke Engineering, LLC (CBBEL) Vice-president and its Principal Engineer. He is considered a national leader in promoting flood resiliency, flood risk management, and emergency action/emergency response planning for flooding from natural causes or dam and levee failures. He offers more than 35 years of professional experience in water resources engineering, planning and management, hydrology and hydraulics, and project management. He has been the principal editor, author, or co-author of a number of technical guidebooks, including the Indiana Drainage Handbook, Indiana Dam Safety Inspection Manual, and Indiana hydrologic/hydraulics modeling guidelines.

Siavash holds a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University Of Kansas and is active in many national and state professional organizations. He currently serves as the ASFPM National Technical Policy Committees Coordinator and as a national ASCE instructor of the US Army Corps of Engineers’ HEC-HMS computer program.


Pam Holocher, Deputy Director Community Development/Planning and Policy

Pam Holocher has been employed as a planner with the City of Fort Wayne, Indiana since 1978. She currently is one of four Deputy Directors in the Division of Community Development and heads up the Planning and Policy Department. Her expertise includes strategic planning, extensive citizen involvement and outreach, multi modal transportation planning and implementing sustainability and livability initiatives. Her ability to implement initiatives that have been bringing about transformative change within the community is one of her strongest attributes. She is a certified planner, AICP, and a member of the American Planning Association as well as the Congress for New Urbanism.

Recent accomplishments include the completion of Plan-it Allen, the city/county comprehensive plan and Fort Wayne Bike and Pedestrian Connectivity plans. Plan-it Allen is the first city/county comprehensive plan in the region and focused on sustainability and livability principles. The Bike Plan recommended the construction of over 130 miles of bike infrastructure to enable cyclists accessibility to important destinations such as work and shopping, while the Pedestrian Plan identified and prioritized major roadway segments that were in need of pedestrian infrastructure. Both plans were adopted by City Council and are currently being implemented. Pam has also overseen the completion of a myriad of neighborhood and sub area plans and managed various strategic projects throughout her tenure with the City of Fort Wayne.


Jim Lake, WLEB Programs Consultant-4R Stewardship Certification Program

Jim spent 43 years in several professional positions at the local, state and national levels helping to advancing efforts to improve soil and water conservation efforts. He has served on the staff of the Allen County, Indiana Soil and Water Conservation District, the Purdue University Agronomy Department, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources-Division of Soil Conservation, the Indiana Department of Agriculture, the National Association of Conservation Districts and the National Conservation Technology Information Center. He retired in August, 2013 and now works part-time as a program consultant for the Tri-State Watershed Alliance supporting cooperating partners with the implementation of the 4R Stewardship Certification Program for Nutrient Services Providers and assisting NRCS’s with outreach and implementation programs in the western basin of Lake Erie. He holds a BS. Degree in Agricultural Education from Purdue University.


Chad Pregracke

Chad was the recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service, America’s version of the Nobel Prize. Chad accepted this award in the United States Supreme Court in Washington D.C. with other award recipients: Rudolph Giuliani, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Lilly Tartikoff. In 2013, he was named CNN Hero of the Year. Chad is also the author of “From the Bottom Up: One Man’s Crusade to Clean America’s Rivers.” He is the president and founder of Living Lands and Waters.


Jeffrey M. Reutter, Ph.D., The Ohio State University

Jeffrey M. Reutter began working on Lake Erie at Stone Laboratory in 1971 and has directed 4 programs at The Ohio State University since November 1987: F.T. Stone Laboratory, the Ohio Sea Grant College Program, the Center for Lake Erie Area Research, and the Great Lakes Aquatic Ecosystem Research Consortium, a consortium of top scientists at 12 Ohio colleges. He also served as acting director for all or parts on 1984, 85, and 86. He received his BS and MS from OSU in fisheries management and his Ph.D. from OSU in Environmental Biology. He has been a member of the Ocean Research and Resources Advisory Panel, serving many federal agencies and offices, where he chaired the Education Sub-Panel and served on the Research to Application Task Force. He served for 21 years on the Council of Great Lakes Research Managers for the International Joint Commission in US State Department with 6 years as US Co-Chair, and has been the President of the National Association of Marine Laboratories (NAML) and the Ohio State Chapter of the Scientific Research Society, Sigma Xi. He is the US Co-Chair of the Great Lakes Regional Research Information Network (GLRRIN), the Lake Erie Millennium Network, and the Objectives and Loadings Task Team for Annex 4 (nutrients) of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. He served for 12 years on the Board of the Great Lakes Protection Fund and is currently a trustee for The Nature Conservancy in Ohio, the Alliance for the Great Lakes, and the Cleveland Water Alliance. Dr. Reutter is an aquatic biologist and limnologist, the author of over 150 technical reports and journal articles, and a frequent lecturer on issues related to the changing Lake Erie ecosystem, harmful algal blooms, nutrient loading, aquatic invasive species, linking environmental health and coastal economic development, Great Lakes research needs and priorities, the importance of science education and research, and the importance of scientists communicating with the public. While at OSU he has aided in the development of over 20 endowments and supported over 2200 students with scholarships, fellowships, and part-time work. He has been the principal investigator on over $50 million in grants and contracts.


Dawn Ritchie, City of Fort Wayne Rivergreenway Manager

Dawn received her B.S. in Education at Indiana University-Bloomington in 1991 and her M.P.A. in Environmental Policy and Natural Resource Management from IU-B in 1995. She has worked for the City of Fort Wayne since 1994. From 1994 – 2005, Dawn worked in the Solid Waste Department. Since 2005, she has been the Greenways Manager in the Public Works Division.

In the role as Greenways Manager, Dawn oversees the 85-mile Regional Fort Wayne Trails network, including the 25-mile Rivergreenway. She is involved with the planning, design and construction of over 100 additional miles of trails in Fort Wayne. Her department also oversees the trail maintenance and volunteer programs.

Dawn’s interests include traveling, hiking, camping and sports. She sits the board for the Greenways Foundation, Inc. She serves as an ad hoc board member for Fort Wayne Trails, Inc. Finally, she serves on her neighborhood association board as Treasurer. Dawn’s passions include greenways, parks, conservation and animal rights.


John Sampson, President/CEO Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership

John strategically leads the Partnership’s mission to generate business investment in Northeast Indiana through supporting collaborative relations with stakeholders, facilitating regional communications and expanding all channels of business development. Prior to joining the Partnership, John served as the Vice President for External Affairs for Indiana Michigan Power and AEP President-Indiana. He has also previously served as site vice president and plant manager of the Donald C. Cook Nuclear Plant, in Bridgman, Michigan and as maintenance production manager at the Washington Nuclear Project No. 2. John holds a B.S. in aerospace engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy. He is married to Pam and has two children, a grandson and a granddaughter, all calling Indiana “home”.


Carrie Vollmer-Sanders, Western Lake Erie Basin Project Director

Carrie Vollmer-Sanders is the Western Lake Erie Basin Project Director for The Nature Conservancy. Carrie leads the Conservancy’s efforts in this basin to promote a healthy Lake Erie by working with agricultural and conservation groups, researchers, and government agencies to improve nutrient management and water flow practices. Prior to joining The Nature Conservancy in 2010, Carrie worked for Michigan Farm Bureau as their Agricultural Ecology Specialist. She has a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and Biology Education and a master’s degree in Agricultural Economics, focusing on environmental economics, both from Michigan State University. Carrie received the Champion of Change Award from the White House in 2014 for her leadership in helping the agricultural industry develop, launch and administer the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program. She farms with her parents, husband and two sons in northwest Ohio and live in Angola, Indiana.


Captain Dave Spangler, President, Lake Erie Waterkeeper Inc.

Captain Dave Spangler has been a fishing charter boat captain on Lake Erie since 1970. This summer will mark his 23rd season running charters on the lake. Spangler is involved and holds several positions in various organizations including: President, Lake Erie Waterkeeper Inc.; Vice President, Lake Erie Charter Boat Assn.; Secretary, Lake Erie Improvement Assn.; Board Member of the Ottawa County Visitors Bureau; Advisory Council Ohio Sea Grant; and he was the 2014 Lake Erie Charter Captain of the Year.


Matthew Wirtz, Deputy Director of Fort Wayne City Utilities

Matthew Wirtz is the Deputy Director of Fort Wayne Utilities. In his position, Matthew serves as the Chief Engineer and manages the organization’s water, stormwater and wastewater engineering departments. In that role, Matthew directs the planning and implementation of the Utilities’ regulatory compliance and oversees Fort Wayne’s program to reduce combined sewer overflows to the city’s three rivers.


Related information


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *