Welcome to our new Board Members!

Colorado Water Trust is thrilled to welcome four new members to the board of directors.

Michelle Johnson

Michelle JohnsonMichelle is the president of Martin and Wood Water Consultants, Inc., a water resources consulting firm in Golden, Colorado. She has over 20 years of experience in expert witness services related to water rights, planning and development of water resources, and project management. In this capacity, Michelle has worked on projects in all of Colorado’s river basins and has served as a long-time consultant to several municipalities, water districts, non-profit groups, and federal agencies. Michelle earned her bachelor’s degree in Geology and master’s degree in Hydrogeology from Portland State University and is licensed as a Professional Engineer in Colorado. She graduated from the Colorado Foundation for Water Education’s Water Leaders Program in 2019 and is designated as an Engineering Expert Witness by the American Council of Engineering Companies. When Michelle is not thinking about water, she can be found mountain biking, fly fishing, rock climbing, and going for walks with her husband and Labrador Retriever.


Zane Kessler

Zane Kessler is the Director of Government Relations for the Glenwood Springs-based Colorado River District. In this role, Zane manages the District’s state and federal advocacy efforts and oversees the organization’s work with partners, municipalities and counties on the Western Slope. Zane brings nearly 20 years of natural resource policy experience to the District’s team, including six years as staffer in the United States Senate, where he managed a variety of policy and outreach initiatives in the agriculture, infrastructure, energy and natural resource arenas. Zane is a believer in the power of coalition. Prior to joining the Colorado River District, Zane served as Executive Director of the Carbondale-based Thompson Divide Coalition, a broad alliance of “strange bedfellows” – West Slope counties and municipalities, ranchers and mountain bikers, sportsmen and environmentalists – who banded together to secure long-term protections for nearly 200,000 acres of public lands in the heart of America’s most-visited National Forest.


Kirsten Kurath

Kirsten KurathKirsten is a shareholder at Williams, Turner & Holmes, PC, a Grand Junction law firm. She grew up in a small town in Connecticut and spent lots of time in New Hampshire and Vermont as well. Her parents uprooted her as a sophomore in high school and moved the family to the Sonoran Desert in Tucson. There, after the initial shock, Kirsten fell in love with the desert and her husband. Kirsten obtained her undergraduate degree in cellular and developmental biology and was a research technician and manager of a cancer research lab for several years before deciding to go to law school. Kirsten’s practice focuses on water law, and she represents clients on water related issues from ditch disputes to water court applications to adjudicate and protect water rights. She assists energy companies, gravel pit operators, irrigation districts, water districts, ditch companies, water users associations, domestic water providers, farmers and ranchers, subdivision developers and individuals with their water related needs.

Kirsten always tries to give back to her community and, in addition to the Colorado Water Trust, currently is on the Advisory Council for the Colorado Mesa University Ruth Hutchins Water Center and the Board of Directors for Colorado Legal Services, Inc. She is also a member and Vice Chair of the Colorado River Basin Roundtable. Kirsten and her husband have two grown boys. Now as empty nesters they enjoy their time between Grand Junction and Crawford and hope to be exploring more soon in a van her husband is outfitting.


Chris Sanchez

Chris SanchezChris, a Colorado native, is a hydrogeologist and President of BBA Water Consultants, Inc., where he has specialized in water resource consulting, ground water supply development, water rights augmentation plans, and water supply planning since 1994. At BBA, Chris is leads a variety of client projects related to ground and surface water supplies in Colorado and provides expert testimony in various State and local jurisdictions. He attended Colorado College where he studied geology and has taken graduate level coursework at Colorado School of Mines and University of Colorado. Chris has provided multiple presentations to professional organizations and the Colorado Bar Association, helping to inform the community about Colorado water issues and operations. He enjoys the diversity of projects and talented people that he interacts with at BBA.

Chris Chairs the Colorado State Board of Examiners of Water Well Construction and Pump Installation Contractors. He was initially appointed to this position by Governor Hickenlooper in 2018 and reappointed by Governor Polis in 2022. In this role, Chris helps to protect the ground water resources of Colorado through rulemaking processes and contractor licensing matters. Chris is a Trustee at Fountain Valley School of Colorado where he has chaired the Land Management Committee and helped to steward the school’s 1100-acre ranch campus and water rights; he is now the Chair of the Committee on Trustees. Chris is married and has two daughters in college, and when not working can be found hiking, biking and fly-fishing in the Colorado outdoors.


In addition, we are pleased to share that Julie Nania has moved into the role of Vice President and Brad Weinig is our new Secretary.

Three of our long-standing board members’ terms ended this year: Barbara Biggs, John Currier, and Dave Taussig. Barbara Biggs, John Currier, Dave Taussig
Their guidance and expertise over the past 10+ years was instrumental in bringing Colorado Water Trust to where we are today. We are so grateful for their many years of dedication to Colorado Water Trust and to the health of Colorado’s rivers!

Read the bios of all current Colorado Water Trust board members.