Mashal Awais

Watershed Specialist

Mashal Awais joined Bayou City Waterkeeper in February 2021 as its Watershed Specialist. Mashal utilizes her skills as an environmental scientist to partner with communities in the pursuit of healthy waters and communities throughout the Lower Galveston Bay Watershed.

Having received her Masters in Environmental Analysis from Rice University, she has worked alongside environmental justice communities advocating for communities’ right to clean air and water. Prior to joining Bayou City Waterkeeper, Mashal’s work focused on risk management in disaster recovery and mitigating health impacts from environmental pollution for fenceline and underinvested communities. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from UT-Austin.

Mashal supports local environmental education efforts and youth-based climate resilience initiatives throughout the region. She has been living in the Houston area since 2008. As an immigrant from Lahore, Pakistan, she enjoys the richness and diversity of Houston, meeting new people, finding new music and art. 

You can reach her at

Ayanna Jolivet Mccloud

Executive Director

Ayanna Jolivet Mccloud joined Bayou City Waterkeeper in June 2021. She brings over twenty years in nonprofit administration, leading programs and building infrastructure at environmental and cultural institutions. She recently worked at Houston Botanic Garden as director of education and public programs, overseeing the launch of the organization’s first-ever educational offerings including virtual lectures and tours, a community garden, classes, a docent program, school programs, and a summer camp. In addition to program development, Ayanna brings experience in capacity building, development, and fundraising at institutions including University of Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Project Row Houses. Ayanna studied Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Building on her background in arts, Ayanna uses creative thinking in advocating for and connecting with the environment.

A native Houstonian, she is also an interdisciplinary artist and makes art and writes about nature, diaspora and equity. She and her family enjoy her subwatershed, Braes Bayou along with other water bodies throughout Greater Houston and the habitat that they support.

You can reach her at

Kristen Schlemmer

Legal Director & Waterkeeper

Kristen Schlemmer joined Bayou City Waterkeeper in July 2018 and works to advance water, climate, and infrastructure justice across our watershed. A lawyer licensed in Texas, she represents the organization in federal court and state administrative proceedings, uses the law as a tool to strengthen our broader programmatic work, coordinates our legal and scientific experts and team of interns and fellows, and serves as a resource for local communities, our non-profit partners, governmental leaders, and media.

Kristen went to UT-Austin for undergrad and graduated from Tulane Law in New Orleans. She clerked for two federal judges at the district and appeals court levels before returning to her hometown to work at Susman Godfrey, where she learned to try cases to a jury and argued countless motions. Kristen transitioned into public interest environmental law at Irvine & Conner, a small local land use and environmental boutique, before joining Bayou City Waterkeeper.

Kristen grew up playing in the forested wetlands and drainage ditches of Kingwood in northeast Harris County after spending her early childhood on the beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She speaks imperfect Spanish with a Brazilian accent, is a Texas Gulf Coast Master Naturalist, serves on the local board of New Leaders Council, a national organization dedicated to dismantling racism and social injustices by training a new generation of local leaders, and regularly participates in local creative writing workshops. Kristen and her family live a short walk from Buffalo Bayou.

You can reach her at


Kelley McIntire

Legal Fellow

Kelley joins Bayou City Waterkeeper with experience working in governmental, nonprofit, and private sectors of the law. While she was an undergraduate student at Emory University, she studied abroad through wildlife field studies programs in Australia, Namibia, and Botswana. She later graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a minor in Environmental Science. Most recently, she received her Juris Doctor degree from Emory University School of Law, where she studied environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Endangered Species Act. With Bayou City Waterkeeper, Kelley works to pursue legal avenues to promote conservation and secure environmental justice.

Mai Ton

Water Justice Fellow

Mai Ton grew up in Sugar Land and attended college in Houston, forging her relationship to the greater city landscape. She began working within the Houston environmental advocacy scene through the Houston Flood Musuem’s project on the flooding and toxicity within the Pleasantville neighborhood. Her work centered on a humanistic and story-telling approach to the ways people build relationships with their environment. Under the guidance of Dr. Ballestero of the Rice Anthropology Department, she expanded her work into aquifer and underground water justice advocacy. She has a vested interest in water access, indigenous rights, and climate justice. She hopes to utilize creative and ethnographic methods to educate and fight for a better world.

In her free time, Mai enjoys upcycling old or thrifted clothes, making rugs, and painting. She earned a BA for Anthroplogy, Asian Studies, and Visual Arts from Rice University.

Board of Directors

Popken Passport Photo

David Popken

David, an avid sailor and fisherman, serves as Board Chair. He and his wife, Kris, live on Galveston Bay in Seabrook, where he serves as a member of the City of Seabrook’s Open Spaces and Parks Committee, Galveston Bay Cruising Association, Galveston Bay Foundation, and Audubon Society. David joined the board in 2018.

Jorge Bustamante

Jorge, currently serving as Vice Chair, joined the board in 2019. As Project Manager for Harris County Precinct 2, he lives in the Near Northside and utilizes his e-bike and public transit to move around town. Prior to joining BCWK, Jorge was founding member of the Houston Department of Transformation.


Rachel Powers

Rachel is BCWK’s Board Treasurer. A long-time Houstonian, and passionate advocate for clean water and the environment, she currently serves as Executive Director of Citizens’ Environmental Coalition, working to foster dialogue and collaboration on environmental issues. Rachel joined the board in 2019.


Libby Viera-Bland

Having joined the board in 2021, Libby is passionate about understanding how the narratives of place differ based on whose voice is prioritized. As a Neighborhood Development Project Manager for Project Row Houses, she is working to build initiatives around affordable housing and supportive services that can contribute to a culture of health. Libby currently serves as board secretary.

Phil 2021

Phil Beckett, PhD

As CEO of HASA, Phil leads a non-profit community collaborative initiative to enhance access to health and medical care for residents of Central Texas. Trained in biochemistry and agriculture, he is a long-time advocate for environmental health and sustainability. He brings strong collaborative skills to the table to further a holistic vision of healthy and safe communities. Phil joined the board in 2021.

Lindsay 2021

Lindsay Dofelmier

Currently a Senior Associate with Hogan Lovells, Lindsay has worked on an array of environmental issues in Texas and Colorado. Prior to joining Hogan Lovells, she clerked for the Honorable Melinda Harmon in Texas and was a legal fellow for Defenders of Wildlife. Lindsay joined the board in 2021, and is a member of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Clear Sky First Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy.

Advisory Board

John Jacob, PhD  •  Martin Hamilton  •  Vaness Hamilton • Alex Kaplan • Sharron Stewart