WSP Team Members

Jesse Baltutis, B.Soc.Sc.(H), M.Sc.
Research Associate—Transboundary Governance

Jesse Baltutis joined the POLIS Water Sustainability Project in November 2011 as its Water Policy and Governance Project Coordinator. In September 2013 he started his PhD in the University of Victoria's Department of Geography, and now works at POLIS in a more limited researcher role. From 2011 to 2013, Jesse’s work focused on policy development and stakeholder engagement around the Water Act modernization process in B.C., network development and issue identification regarding the water-energy nexus in B.C., as well as developing POLIS' transboundary water management research. He has also worked with the United Nations Environment Programme in Kenya and Friends of the Earth Middle East in Palestine. In 2009, he completed his Masters of Science in Environment and Development, where his research focused on fairness and equity in transboundary water management in the Jordan River basin.

Kelly Bannister, B.Sc., M.Sc., PhD
Water Ethics & Values Initiative

Dr. Kelly Bannister is Co-Director of the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance and heads the Water Ethics and Cross Cultural Values Initiative at the POLIS Water Sustainability Project. She is an ethnobiologist with post-doctorial training in applied ethics. Her work encompasses collaborative biocultural diversity research and education, biodiversity law and policy, and biocultural ethics.

Her focus is on ethical and legal issues in research involving biodiversity and Indigenous cultural knowledge. She works in collaboration with a number of non-profit, Indigenous, and community organizations and has extensive experience in ethics policy analysis and development within Canada and internationally. Her policy work has explored local to international governance mechanisms (e.g. codes of ethics, ethical guidelines, research agreements, community research protocols) to address power relations and facilitate equitable research practices between universities, rural communities, and Indigenous peoples.

Kelly has particular interests in cross-cultural values, intercultural communication, and conflict resolution within human-ecosystem relationships, including our relationships to, with, and through water. She brings these collaborative dimensions of interrelating to the concept
and practice of watershed co-governance.

Oliver M. Brandes, BA(H), Dip.RNS, M.Econ., JD
Co-Director & WSP Lead, POLIS Project on Ecological Governance, Centre for Global Studies, University of Victoria

Oliver M. Brandes is an economist and lawyer by training and a trans-disciplinarian by design. He serves as Co-Director of the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance, based at the University of Victoria’s Centre for Global Studies, where he leads the POLIS Water Sustainability Project. His work focuses on water sustainability, sound resource management, public policy development, and ecologically based legal and institutional reform.

Oliver serves as the Associate Director of Strategic Partnerships and Public Policy at the University of Victoria’s Centre for Global Studies. He is an Adjunct Professor at the Faculty of Law and School of Public Administration, and is a fellow of the Environmental Law Centre. In 2012, he co-developed B.C.’s first water law course at the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Law. He also has affiliations at the University of Manitoba and Brock University. Oliver is a founding member of the national Forum for Leadership on Water (FLOW), which he currently co-chairs, and is an advisor to numerous national, provincial, and local water organizations, governments, and funders. He is currently a technical advisor to the B.C. Ministry of Environment, supporting the ongoing development of the provincial Water Sustainability Act.  

Laura Brandes, B.Sc.(H)
Communications Director

Laura Brandes leads the Water Sustainability Project's communications, outreach, and knowledge mobilization activities. Bringing her expertise as a writer, editor, and science communicator, her work focuses on disseminating new policy research and effectively engaging communities, governments, and practitioners on water conservation and policy issues. Laura has researched and written about a range of environmental and conservation issues, including watershed governance, the water soft path, sustainable stormwater management, natural heritage systems, food security and sustainable food systems, invasive species, and renewable energy initiatives. Laura completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph where she studied wildlife biology and musicology. She is an alumna of the Banff Centre's Science Communications program. She is also a co-founder of A Place to Listen, a monthly experimental music concert series in Victoria, B.C., where she often performs as part of the A Place to Listen Ensemble.

David B. Brooks, PhD
Research Fellow—Water Conservation & Water Soft Path Planning

Dr. David B Brooks recently retired after 14 years with the International Development Research Centre. IDRC is a Canadian crown corporation that supports research on international development proposed and carried out by people in developing countries. He was educated in geology and economics, and now advises several Canadian non-governmental organizations on Canadian and international issues related to fresh water. David is the Director of Soft Path Research at the POLIS Water Sustainability Project and also works with the International Institute for Sustainable Development. His past positions have included: Founding Director of Canada's Office of Energy Conservation, Principal with the firm of Marbek Resource Consultants Ltd., and Senior Advisor–Fresh Water at Friends of the Earth Canada. His main research interests are water soft paths and water demand management in the Middle East, with particular emphasis on Israel and Palestine. Among his books are Zero Energy Growth for Canada (McClelland & Stewart, 1981), Watershed: The Role of Fresh Water in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (IDRC Books, 1994, co-author), Water: Local-Level Management (IDRC Books, 2002), and Making the Most of the Water We Have: The Soft Path Approach to Water Management (Earthscan, 2009) which he co-edited with Oliver M Brandes and Stephen Gurman.

Randy Christensen, JD
Research Associate—Water Law

Randy Christensen is a lawyer with a focus on water law and policy, qualified to practice in the United States and Canada. He has been a lawyer with Ecojustice Canada (formerly the Sierra Legal Defence Fund) for nearly 15 years and served as managing lawyer for its Vancouver office for several years. Randy has been lead counsel in numerous cases in Canadian courts. He has also made many appearances before administrative and international tribunals. Randy served as a member of the Canadian Delegation to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development from 2007 to 2010. He began working as a research associate with the POLIS Water Sustainability Project in 2012.

Rod Dobell, PhD
Research Fellow—Public Policy

Rod Dobell has been an associate of the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance since 2002, and is the Academic and Policy Advisor to the POLIS Water Sustainability Project. The past few years, his research has focused on regional oceans governance, and costal and marine spatial planning through the Centre for Global Studies, the Centre for Co-operative and Community-Based Economy, and the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance at the University of Victoria. Rod has a PhD in economics from MIT and taught economic theory at Harvard for five years before returning to Canada as Professor of Political Economy at the University of Toronto. Subsequently, he alternated academic work with executive appointments at the Government of Canada, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and as President of the Institute for Research in Public Policy. He returned to the University of Victoria to take up the Francis G. Winspear Chair for Research in Public Policy, and is now a Professor Emeritus of Public Policy and Senior Research Associate at the University of Victoria’s Centre for Global Studies.

Michael M'Gonigle, M.Sc.(Econ), LLM, JSD
Research Fellow—Political Ecology

Dr Michael M’Gonigle is the founder of POLIS. At the University of Victoria, he holds the Eco-Research Chair in Environmental Law and Policy and is cross-appointed between the School of Environmental Studies and the Faculty of Law. A lawyer and political ecologist, his work with Greenpeace in the 1970s led to the international moratorium on commercial whaling, during which time he also co-founded Greenpeace International. In the 1980s, he was a leader in wilderness conservation and forestry reform in British Columbia. As Chair of the Board of Greenpeace Canada, he initiated its forests campaign in 1990. A co-founder of SmartGrowth BC, Forest Futures (Dogwood Initiative), and the Sierra Legal Defence Fund. His work on campus sustainability reflects his search for new strategies for policy change, in this case by creating a micro-level, place-based example of “comprehensive local innovation” that has broader ripple effects. Michael has written widely on environmental and resource management issues (particularly in forest policy), international and environmental law, and theories of ecological political economy (political ecology). He is author, most recently, of Planet U: Sustaining the World, Reinventing the University (with Justine Starke) (New Society Publishers) (2006).

Michele-Lee Moore, PhD
Research Associate & Strategic Faculty Advisor—Watershed Governance

Michele-Lee Moore is an Assistant Professor in the University of Victoria’s Department of Geography. She joined the POLIS team as a research associate and strategic advisor in September 2012. With a passion for creating positive transformative change and a belief that public policy and institutional structures and processes are the areas where she can best contribute to that change, Michele-Lee’s research focuses on global and local water governance, networks, social innovation, and resilience. Her current research program is examining how innovation in water governance is generated, supported, adopted, or institutionalized by Canada’s water-related activities at the global level. Michele-Lee is also part of the Resilience Alliance Young Scholars (RAYS) research collective. Previously she worked with the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience, and at the B.C. Ministry of Environment. Michele-Lee holds a BSc in Ecology, an MSc in Geography, and a PhD in Global Governance.

Jon O'Riordan, PhD
Strategic Advisor–Water Policy

Dr. Jon O'Riordan is a former Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management in the British Columbia Provincial Government. He has completed 35 years in the public service, mainly with the Provincial Government, in environmental management and land and resource planning. In his most recent position at the Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management, he was responsible for completing six regional land and resource management plans. Dr. O'Riordan joined the Water Sustainability Project as a strategic water policy advisor in 2007, where he focuses on provincial water policy reform and the ecological governance of water management.

Natasha Overduin, BPAPM, M.A.
Program Manager & Research Associate: Joint program of the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources and the POLIS Water Sustainability Project

Natasha Overduin discovered the wide and complex field of water governance and management during her undergraduate studies at Carleton University in the Bachelor of Public Affairs & Policy Management program. She then spent three seasons working in the pristine Peel Watershed in the Yukon. This experience inspired her to pursue graduate research in the Water, Innovation, and Global Governance Lab at the University of Victoria's Department of Geography. Natasha joined the POLIS team in September 2013, where her work focused primarily on supporting capacity-building for watershed governance through workshops and events, research, advising, project coordination, communications, and partnership-building. In 2016, Natasha took on the role of Program Manager for a new joint initiative of the POLIS Project and the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources. This initiative seeks to advance meaningful co-governance of watersheds in B.C. Natasha works remotely from her home in the Columbia Basin (Golden, B.C.), where she is an active volunteer in local, community-based initiatives. While away from her desk, Natasha is likely to be found outside, enjoying the beautiful watersheds of the Columbia headwaters.

Rosie Simms, B.A. & Sc. (H), M.A.
Water Law and Policy Researcher/Coordinator

Rosie joined the POLIS Water Sustainability Project in June 2015 as the Water Law & Policy Researcher/Coordinator, bringing her interests in water governance and the intersection between natural resource governance and First Nations rights. In February 2015, she completed her MA at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia, where her research explored histories and interactions between First Nations and water governance in British Columbia. Prior to her MA work, as part of the McGill Panama Field Study Semester, Rosie completed research and media outreach concerning conflicts between Canadian mining development and Indigenous rights in Panama. She has also has facilitated several outdoor leadership and education programs in the Rocky Mountains and with Students On Ice Expeditions.

Kirk Stinchcombe, BA, MES, MBA, PMP
Strategic Advisor–Water Conservation

Kirk Stinchcombe is a founding partner and sustainability specialist with Econics, a company that works with water service providers to help them set rates, control water demand, forecast revenue, manage their infrastructure, and sustain their watersheds. Before starting Econics, he was Manager of Operational Policy with the British Columbia Ministry of Environment’s Water Stewardship Division. He also spent much of the last decade in Australia, where he led large-scale demand management projects as part of the “Millennium Drought” response. Kirk has published and spoken internationally on topics including rainwater harvesting, water-use accounting, community-based social marketing, and water pricing. He advises the POLIS Water Sustainability Project on water conservation, social marketing, water reuse, and water-use accounting.

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