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Who We Are

Executive Council

Robert Johansson, Co-Chair

Dr. Robert Johansson was selected as Chief Economist at the Department of Agriculture (USDA) in July 2015.  As Chief Economist, he is responsible for the Department's agricultural forecasts and projections and for advising the Secretary of Agriculture on economic implications of alternative programs, regulations, and legislative proposals.  He is responsible for the Office of the Chief Economist, the World Agricultural Outlook Board, the Office of Risk Assessment and Cost-Benefit analysis, the Global Change Program Office, the Office of Environmental Markets, and the Office of Energy Policy and New Uses. Since 2001, he has worked as an economist at USDA (both at the Economic Research Service and in the Office of the Chief Economist) in the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget, and at the Congressional Budget Office.  In 2011 he was appointed senior economist for energy, environment, and agriculture on the President’s Council of Economic Advisers where he also participated on the White House Rural Council and the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Dr. Johansson served as Deputy Chief Economist at the USDA from 2012 to 2014.  Since 2015 he has been serving as USDA’s Chief Economist. Dr. Johansson received B.A. in economics from Northwestern University and then served with the U.S. Peace Corps as an extension agent in several African countries from 1990 to 1995.  After returning to his home State of Minnesota, he entered the graduate program in Agricultural Economics at the University of Minnesota at received his M.S. in 1997 and Ph.D. in 2000. His research has spanned a wide range of issues, including biofuels policy, water quality and quantity policies, regulatory economics, food security, and regional modeling of agricultural systems.

Roger Pulwarty, Co-Chair

Dr. Roger S. Pulwarty is the Senior Advisor for Climate Research in the NOAA Climate Program. His research and publications focus on climate, impacts assessment, and adaptation in the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean. Roger is a lead author on a number of national and international climate assessments, including the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Global Assessment of Disasters, the UN IPCC Special Reports on Water Resources and on Extremes. He is a Convening Lead Author on Adaptation Planning and Implementation in the 2014 IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. Dr. Pulwarty has acted in advisory capacities on climate, natural resources and disaster risk reduction to several national and international agencies, including the Organization of American States, the Caribbean Economic Community (CARICOM) the Global Framework on Climate Services, the UNDP, UNEP and the InterAmerican Development and World Banks. He co-chairs the UN World Meteorological Organization Climate Services Information System implementation team and the White House Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Sustainability Task Force on the Water-Energy-Food nexus. Roger has provided testimonies before the U.S. Congress, on climate, adaptation, and natural resources, served on science advisory committees of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and is regularly called on by media outlets, including the New York Times and the BBC. He is the co-recipient of NOAA Administrator and Department of Commerce awards for linking science and decision making, and is the recipient of the 2014 Gold Medal in Applied Sciences and Technology from the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. Roger is Professor-Adjunct at the University of West Indies, and the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Tony Willardson, Co-Chair

Tony Willardson was named as Executive Director of the Western States Water Council (WSWC) in July 2009.  The Council, representing 18 states, was created by western governors in June 1965, and members are appointed by their governors. Formerly the Deputy Director, Tony joined the Council in 1979. He holds a B.A. in political science from Brigham Young University, and an M.S. in public administration from the University of Utah.  He is a member of the National Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration (Pi Alpha Alpha).  He oversees publication of a weekly newsletter, Western States Water, which he edited for many years.  He is the author of numerous articles and reports covering a wide range of water resource issues, including drought, water project financing and cost sharing, ground water management and recharge, water conservation, drought, water use fees, remote sensing of water use and inter-regional water transfers.  He is one of the principal author’s of the Western Governors’ Association’s 2006 Report, Water Needs and Strategies for a Sustainable Future and the subsequent 2008 Next Steps Report, as well as the related WSWC 2010 Progress Report.  He also was a contributing editor to the WGA’s December 2012 report, Water Transfers in the West:  Projects, Trends, and Leading Practices in Voluntary Water Trading. He oversees development of the Council’s Water Data Exchange (WaDE).

Program Office Staff

Veva Deheza, Executive Director

Veva Deheza is responsible for the implementation of the Public Law that authorized NIDIS in 2006.  She supports agency congressional, legislative, and policy priorities to achieve the NIDIS mission, goals, and objectives. Veva is a NOAA/NIDIS co-lead on the National Drought Resilience Partnership (NDRP), an Administration initiative under the President's Climate Action Plan.  She serves as the NIDIS liaison for the Western Governors’ Association (WGA)/NOAA MOU and the Western States Water Council.  She oversees a staff that coordinates all NIDIS regional drought early warning systems around the country, ensuring that regional successes and lessons learned are connected and linked to each other to create an integrated national drought early warning information system.

Before joining NIDIS, Veva was the Section Chief of the Office of Water Conservation and Drought Planning at the Colorado Water Conservation Board for seven years.  As Section Chief, she oversaw and managed the comprehensive revision of Colorado’s 2010 Drought Mitigation and Response Plan, and authored the Water Adaptation section of Colorado’s first Climate Action Plan in 2007. Before coming to Colorado, Veva worked in Austin, TX as a water resources planner and general manager for a Texas groundwater conservation district. Contact Veva.

Kathryn Bevington, Website Content and Development Coordinator

Kat partners with NIDIS' team of web developers and scientific experts to strategize, refine, and develop written and visual materials for the U.S. Drought Portal.  She brings to NIDIS over seven years of experience creating engaging, accessible science content and digital experiences that speak to a variety of audiences.  Prior to working with NIDIS, Kat worked at the National Ecological Observatory Network developing web and print communication resources and improving the usability of online interactive data visualization tools in conjunction with staff from the National Geographic Society's FieldScope Program.  She has also held positions at the Museum of Science in Boston, Milwaukee Public Museum, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Australian Museum.  Kat received her B.S. in Geology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her M.A. in Museum Studies with a Geology Research Concentration from the Cooperstown Graduate Program. Contact Kat.

Sandy McClellan, Budget Analyst

Sandy is a 10-year Air Force veteran who brings a diverse background of knowledge with her to include, program coordination and financial management. Prior to joining NIDIS Sandy worked for ZeL Technologies, LLC out of Hampton Virginia for 15 years on a variety of tasks. Her most recent position was as the Program Coordinator at NOAA for a government/military contract, where she managed multi-million dollar contracts, coordinated with workforce teams and subcontractors to meet customer needs and deliverables, performing budget allocation, analysis and reporting. She also volunteers in the local community as a child mentor and a single mom’s life coach. Contact Sandy.

Elizabeth Ossowski, Program Coordinator

Elizabeth is responsible for coordinating the work of the NIDIS Executive Council and Working Groups. Prior to joining NIDIS, she served as a Robert Bosch Foundation Fellow at adelphi, a Berlin-based international think tank, conducting research on climate risk insurance, environmental conflict and state fragility, and the water-food-energy nexus. Before that, she worked as an Advisor for External and Intergovernmental Affairs in the Commissioner's Office at the Bureau of Reclamation and in the Immediate Office of the Secretary at the Department of the Interior. She served as Special Assistant to the President and Director of Presidential Correspondence at the White House during President Obama's first term, and before that, worked in his former Illinois Senate office. She also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Burkina Faso. She holds an M.S. in Public Policy and Management and a B.H.A. in English and Drama from Carnegie Mellon University. Contact Elizabeth.

Britt Parker, Regional Drought Information Coordinator

Britt is the Regional Drought Information Coordinator for the Pacific Northwest and Missouri River Basin Drought Early Warning System.  Before joining NIDIS, Britt served as a senior climate and international specialist with the NOAA Office for Coastal Management and Coral Reef Conservation Program. In this role, she worked with federal, state and local management partners in the US and internationally, to understand and incorporate climate information into their planning and decision-making processes. She worked with partners to promote resilience-based management, an approach that uses knowledge of current and future drivers of system condition and function to prioritize and adapt management actions that sustain system resilience and human wellbeing in a changing climate. During this time, she also managed a multi-year project in the Pacific Islands to strengthen climate early warning systems for marine, inundation and drought events that impact food and water security in partnership with national Meteorological Services Offices. She holds an M.S. in Marine Science from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, the College of William and Mary and a B.A. in Art and Architectural History from the University of Houston.  Contact Britt.

Amanda Sheffield, Regional Drought Information Coordinator

Amanda serves as the program point of contact for the California-Nevada Drought Early Warning System (DEWS). Before joining NIDIS, Amanda was a postdoctoral scholar at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego with the California-Nevada Applications Program (CNAP), a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Regional Integrated Science and Assessments (RISA) program. Within CNAP’s climate portfolio Amanda worked in regional climate research and translation of drought science, including stakeholder engagement within the CA-NV DEWS. She holds a M.S. and Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science from Colorado State University and a B.S. in Synoptic Meteorology from Purdue University. Contact Amanda.

Christina Stone, Communications Coordinator

Christina is the Communications Coordinator for the NIDIS program. She brings with her over a decade of experience, specializing in environmental management and communication.  Along with her experience in filmmaking, writing, photography, and social media, Christina uses her expertise with languages, cultural cognition, and psychology to develop customized communications plans for diverse audiences.  Christina began her career as a linguist and communications specialist in the U.S. Air Force, having served in military intelligence for eight years.  She holds four degrees; two associates’ in communication as well as her B.Sc. in Environmental Management from University of Maryland University College, and her Masters of Environmental Management from Yale University. Contact Christina.

Elizabeth Weight, Regional Drought Information Coordinator

Elizabeth is the Regional Drought Information Coordinator for the Intermountain West and Southern Plains Drought Early Warning Systems (DEWS). To this position, she brings more than 20 years of international water management and research experience in 14 countries in Asia and Africa. Before joining NIDIS, she served as the Global Uptake Coordinator at the CGIAR’s International Water Management Institute in Sri Lanka, where she led the Institute’s engagement strategies that supported evidence-based policies and investments in 11 countries. She also led monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment for the Water, Land, and Ecosystems program, a multi-institutional research program that works with more than 450 partners in 26 countries. Elizabeth received her B.A. in International Relations from Connecticut College and Master of Environmental Management from Duke University, Environmental Economics and Policy concentration. Contact Elizabeth.

Molly Woloszyn, Regional Drought Information Coordinator

Molly serves as the program point of contact for the Midwest Drought Early Warning System (DEWS). Before joining NIDIS, Molly was an extension climate specialist with Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) and the Midwestern Regional Climate Center (MRCC), where she provided science-based information and educational opportunities to stakeholders across the Midwest on the topics of extreme weather, climate variability, and climate change. Through her role with the MRCC, she was involved in assisting with efforts for the Midwest DEWS. She holds a M.S. in Atmospheric Science from Colorado State University and a B.S. in Meteorology from Northern Illinois University. Leadership

Steve Ansari, Drought Portal Manager

Steve is the US Drought Portal Program Manager at the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) in Asheville, North Carolina. Steve has a background in a variety of GIS, data management and visualization activities within NOAA, including Radar, Satellite, Severe Weather datasets, as well as the primary author of the NOAA Weather and Climate Toolkit software application.  Prior to joining NIDIS, Steve was the NCEI Project Manager for the operations, software development and hosting of  Contact Steve.