In honor of International Women’s Day, we interviewed the two amazing women that work directly on our flow restoration projects: Kate Ryan, Director of Programs and Senior Staff Attorney, and Alyson Meyer Gould, Staff Attorney and Director of Policy. Read on to learn more about them, what inspires them, and how they balance it all.
You are both lawyers. What attracted you to water law?
Alyson: Unlike some other areas of the law, water law isn’t usually a zero sum game. A lot of times it involves finding a solution that benefits multiple interests. Reaching such solutions is challenging, but also incredibly satisfying.
Kate: Everyone in Colorado uses water. So when you become a Colorado water lawyer, your clients range from individual farmers and ranchers, to towns and cities, to ski areas or oil and gas companies. And now that I work with the Colorado Water Trust, my primary client is this organization and the rivers and streams that we help to restore. That partnership is very important to me.
What drew you to Colorado Water Trust?
Alyson: Colorado’s natural streams can’t hire a lawyer. So, the Colorado Water Trust helps represent the environment’s interest in finding and crafting solutions.
Kate: I’ve always loved helping my clients use water effectively, and doing that on behalf of the natural environment was always my ultimate career goal.
What is a Colorado Water Trust project that inspires you?
Alyson: I am really excited about projects that combine agricultural interests with environmental benefits. Agricultural producers are both substantial users of water and admirable steward of the land. As such, I think projects that combine the environment and agriculture are a natural fit and have a lot of potential.
Kate: I am repeatedly inspired when working on our 15-Mile Reach and Poudre Flows projects. These are projects where I coordinate the use of water on hard-working rivers together with agricultural, municipal and industrial water users. Environmental water use was barely existent in Colorado until the 1970s, but now we’re sitting at the same table with other water users, giving an equal voice to streamflow that supports a healthy aquatic system and also complements their needs.
You both have families in addition to a career. How do you balance it all?
Alyson: A lot of help from my family! Thank you, grandparents.
Kate: Having two kids and two dogs and two adults in a hard-working family feels hectic. But I prefer a bustling, sometimes disorganized family, because it feels gritty and real and loving. And my kids seem to think my work is interesting and they see me working for a better world, which is a bonus in many ways.
What would you say to any young woman who wants to go into water law or the water industry?
Alyson: Good call. Women are really well represented in the water community and I think it is part of the reason it’s such a great area to work in.
Kate: As a water professional, you will see economic and environmental developments all across our state, and you’ll help to shape our future. Especially in the West, if you want to work in natural resources and you want meaningful societal impact, working in water is a great way to do that.
Is there anything else you think is important to share on International Women’s Day?
Alyson: Many women in our world have no choice but to focus on day to day survival for themselves, their families, and their communities. I would like to recognize and thank all those women who are finding their voices and advocating for the rights of others — including the right to a healthy environment now and for generations to come.
Kate: There is so much heartache in our communities, our state, our world right now. Women are struggling to secure shelter and clean water. I think it is as important now as it ever has been that we each do what we can to preserve a healthy environment that will support future generations of people and the ecosystems we live in. I try not to be discouraged that my work cannot directly support the families of Superior who lost homes, or of Ukraine, who are facing a country lost. Working on Colorado’s rivers gives me purpose, and unites many water users in working towards a common goal.