May 21, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

Sara O’Brien appointed to lead Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board

2 min read
Gov. Tina Kotek: "Oregonians deserve leaders who can chart a proactive path to protect and improve management of our state’s limited water resources for the benefit of healthy ecosystems, thriving communities, and a strong economy."

Sara O’Brien was appointed to lead the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Gov. Tina Kotek announced May 8.

O’Brien (she/her) brings to her new role 24 years of experience building and sustaining collaborative conservation partnerships. As executive director of Willamette Partnership, O’Brien led the nonprofit through a strategic transformation to build organizational capacity and better support community partners.

Prior to her time with Willamette Partnership, O’Brien worked at Defenders of Wildlife as director of conservation strategies and at the University of Arizona as a scientist, researching and evaluating natural resource policy alternatives in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, with a focus on climate, drought, and wildland fire.

“Our state must prioritize policies that will build resiliency for Oregon’s natural and working landscapes in the face of accelerating impacts from a changing climate,” Gov. Kotek said. “Oregonians deserve leaders who can chart a proactive path to protect and improve management of our state’s limited water resources for the benefit of healthy ecosystems, thriving communities, and a strong economy.

Gov. Kotek also announced the appointment of Ivan Gall to lead the Oregon Water Resources Department. He most recently served as the interim deputy director of water management for the department.

Gall (he/him) has been a member of the OWRD team for nearly three decades. During his time with the state agency, Gall has served as a hydrogeologist, region and section manager, and administrator, before most recently serving as interim deputy director. Gall supported OWRD in the transition from a focus on water allocation to one of balancing instream and out-of-stream uses, and most recently working to reduce groundwater uses to stabilize over-allocated aquifers.

“These two new directors I am appointing are ready to take this charge head on. I expect them to work collaboratively with Oregon’s federally recognized Tribal nations, local communities, water users, and other natural resource partners to prepare our state for the future of water resource management,” Gov. Kotek said.

The Oregon Senate will take up their confirmations during May legislative days, which span from May 29 through May 31, 2024.

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