Who We Are

Our Staff

Mashal Awais

Community Science Manager

Mashal Awais joined Bayou City Waterkeeper in February 2021. 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 mashal@bayoucitywaterkeeper.org

Danielle Garcia

Water Justice Specialist

Danielle Garcia joined Bayou City Waterkeeper as the Water Justice Specialist in 2022. She received her Masters of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy from Texas Southern University in Houston.

During her time at Texas Southern University, she specialized in sustainable environmental and land use planning, while focusing on research pertaining to sustainable development, environmental justice, climate change mitigation, rural planning and development, community resiliency, and social equity. Prior to attending Texas Southern University, Danielle attended The University of Texas at San Antonio where she received her Bachelor of Arts. in Geography and Environmental Sustainability. Her time at UTSA was spent focusing on GIS Analysis and Latin American Studies analyzing social justice and environmental health and equity issues in the Latinx community.

She looks forward to building new frameworks for water justice advocacy in greater Houston through research, analysis, mapping and visualizations, and community engagement.

You can reach her at danielle@bayoucitywaterkeeper.org.


Ayanna Jolivet Mccloud

Executive Director

Ayanna Jolivet Mccloud has led programs at environmental and cultural institutions for over twenty years before joining Bayou City Waterkeeper in 2021. She builds frameworks for new ways of advocating for water that center justice, community, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and narrative change. 

She has managed outreach initiatives as director of education and public programs at Houston Botanic Garden leading the launch of the organization’s first-ever educational offerings and as founder of labotanica, an interdisciplinary studio at Project Row Houses. She also brings experience in capacity building, fundraising, and communications at institutions including the University of Houston, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and smaller organizations in Houston, Miami, and New York.  

Ayanna is an active member of the Water Equity and Climate Resilience Caucus and is on the Board of the Houston Climate Justice Museum. She studied Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and makes art and writes on nature and diaspora. A native Houstonian, she enjoys exploring waterways throughout Greater Houston with her son.

You can reach her at ayanna@bayoucitywaterkeeper.org.

Kristen Schlemmer

Legal Director & Waterkeeper

Kristen Schlemmer is a lawyer who works every day to secure water justice in her hometown of Houston. As Bayou City Waterkeeper’s Legal Director since 2018, her work confronts the many facets of water injustice, from water pollution and infrastructure failures, to wetlands destruction and flooding, to inequities in climate mitigation and disaster recovery. In 2021, Kristen helped secure a $2 billion consent decree that will transform Houston’s wastewater infrastructure over the next generation.

Before joining Bayou City Waterkeeper, Kristen’s legal work included developing a precedent-setting legal theory for families flooded during Harvey, defending the city of Houston’s equal rights ordinance, and representing marine mammal scientists in seeking better living conditions for a captive orca. She previously worked at Susman Godfrey LLP and Irvine & Conner PLLC and clerked for two federal judges.

Her perspective is shaped by her childhood in Houston and South America, previous translation work with Brazilian human rights organizations, earlier advocacy focused on wildlife and farmed animals, legal education at Tulane in post-Katrina New Orleans, and motherhood. She is a Texas Gulf Coast Master Naturalist and serves on the local board of New Leaders Council. Kristen and her family live a short walk from Buffalo Bayou.

You can reach her at kristen@bayoucitywaterkeeper.org.

Our Staff

David Popken

David, an avid sailor and fisherman, serves as Board Chair. He started his own business, a residential remodeling and home building company, in  Houston in 1983, retiring in 2019. He and his wife 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.

Rachel Powers

Rachel is BCWK’s Board Treasurer. A long-time Houstonian, and passionate advocate for clean water and the environment, she was recently the Executive Director of the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition, working to foster dialogue and collaboration on environmental issues. Previously she held positions at the Houston-Galveston Area Council and the Harris County Flood Control District. Rachel joined the board in 2019.

Hugo Colón

Hugo is a Houston-based Landscape Designer and Community Planner interested in the interaction between urban environments, people, and water.  As a Senior Landscape Designer at Asakura Robinson, Hugo manages multiple park, infrastructure, and planning projects that seek to address issues of ecosystem diversity, resilience, and mobility in the Houston area. Hugo joined the board in 2022.

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 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.

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.

Tanweer Kaleemullah

Tanweer is a husband and father of three children. He currently works as a Program Officer at Episcopal Health Foundation and as an adjunct professor at University of Houston Law Center and South Texas College of Law. Prior to this, he worked for over two decades in public health, various healthcare systems, and a nonprofit, and he is a former high school teacher. His work in recent years has been focused on population health, more specifically addressing the social determinants of health. Tanweer joined the board in 2022.

Jolea Payne

Jolea is the Director of Development Operations for KIPP Texas Public Schools where she leads the team responsible for maintaining data and communications systems that support successful fundraising across the state.  Her career in the nonprofit sector began as an intern for West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, a community-based, environmental justice organization in Southwest Atlanta. Jolea joined the board in 2022.

Ken Teague

Ken is retired, after 39 years studying in and working professionally in coastal and wetland ecosystems of the Northwest Gulf of Mexico. He worked as a Hydrologist at what was then the Texas Water Commission for 2 years, followed by 28 years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 6, in Dallas, in the coastal and wetlands programs. Ken continues to very actively review and comment on USACE public notices, NEPA documents for proposed coastal projects, and to TCEQ on various coastal water quality matters.