American Rivers welcomes five new board directors

February 14, 2022

Contact: Amy Souers Kober, 503-708-1145

(Washington, DC) – American Rivers today announced that five new members were elected to its board of directors. The new directors bring a breadth of expertise that will be instrumental in helping the organization achieve its vision of clean water and healthy rivers everywhere, for everyone.

“I am thrilled that these dynamic and talented individuals will help chart the course of American Rivers,” said Tom Kiernan, President and CEO of American Rivers. “We are in a critical moment, and their perspective will guide us as we develop bold solutions to address some of the most pressing challenges facing rivers, including climate change, racial injustice and the biodiversity crisis. At a time where we must maximize our impact, I am grateful for the leadership of our strong and dedicated board.”

Aja DeCoteau (Portland, Oregon) is a citizen of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation and has other tribal lineage with the Cayuse, Nez Perce, and Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. She grew up on the Yakama reservation and spent her childhood fishing and harvesting traditional foods with her family. With over twenty years of experience working on natural resource management and policy issues, DeCoteau currently serves as the Executive Director of Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC) in Portland, Oregon. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and Native American studies from Dartmouth College and holds a Master of Environmental Management from Yale University, School of the Environment.

Queta González (Portland, Oregon) is the Director at Center for Diversity & the Environment and Environmental Professionals of Color. She has been facilitating and coaching people in Fortune 500 companies, nonprofit organizations, government, and small businesses for over 30 years. González has developed and delivered trainings across a myriad of cultures and worked in partnership with a wide variety of organizations. She is the first woman of color to run a whitewater rafting company in the Grand Canyon and is a founding board member of Nesika Wilamut (formerly Willamette River Network). González serves on the Oregon’s Environmental Equity Committee and served on the Roadmap to the Outdoors steering team, and on the Governor’s Task Force on the Outdoors. González received the Rosa Parks and Grace Lee Boggs Outstanding Service Award in recognition of her leadership in educating and promoting action to support environmental education and environmental justice at the local, state, or global level.

Dr. Na’Taki Osborne Jelks (Atlanta, Georgia) is an environmental health scientist and educator. She is an assistant professor of Environmental and Health Sciences at Spelman College and Co-Founder of the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, a community-based environmental justice organization. She is known for her activism in environmental justice and urban sustainability, for which she was named a Champion of Change by the White House in 2014. Jelks received her BS from Spelman College, her Master of Public Health in Environmental and Occupational Health from Emory University, and her PhD from the School of Public Health at Georgia State University. She is also an immediate past co-chair of the Proctor Creek Stewardship Council, a grassroots organization focused on restoring the ecological health of the Proctor Creek Watershed in west Atlanta. In 2018, Jelks was named a member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council and currently serves as one of two Co-Chairs. In 2021, Rachel’s Network granted Jelks with the 3rd annual Catalyst Award.

Alyssa Macy (Seattle, Washington) is of Wasco, Diné and Hopi descent and a citizen of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. She is the CEO of the Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters. In her previous role, Macy served her Nation as the Chief Operations Officer where she was responsible for $33 million in tribal programming and services. Her previous experiences include working transportation, campaign management, communications, and international advocacy within United Nations bodies. She is a published writer and co-authored the first ever national report on Native American voting in 2005. Macy is a graduate of Arizona State University where she received her B.S. in Justice Studies and did her graduate studies at the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis.

Mary J. Pavel (Silver Spring, MD) is a member of the Skokomish Tribe of Washington. Upon graduation from Dartmouth, Pavel became the first paralegal with the law firm of Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Endreson & Perry, LLP, one of the most highly regarded federal Indian law firms in the nation. After serving as paralegal for one year, Pavel entered law school at the University of Washington School of Law, and eventually became one of the first Indian women to be made a partner in a National Indian Law Firm in 1999. In 2013, Pavel served as the Staff Director and Chief Counsel for the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. During her tenure, she served two Chairs: Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Senator Jon Tester (D-MT). As Staff Director and Chief Counsel, Pavel directed the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs agenda through the Senate. Pavel is former Dartmouth College Alumni Council member, and a current board member of the Native American Alumni of Dartmouth. Pavel is the Founding President of the Native American Bar Association of Washington, D.C., and a founding member of the Northwest Native American Bar Association.

About American Rivers

American Rivers believes a future of clean water and healthy rivers for everyone, everywhere is essential. Since 1973, we have protected wild rivers, restored damaged rivers and conserved clean water for people and nature. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., and 300,000 supporters, members and volunteers across the country, we are the most trusted and influential river conservation organization in the United States, delivering solutions for a better future. Because life needs rivers. www.AmericanRivers.org