Invited Speakers 2024


Rukaiyah Adams

Chief Executive Officer of The1803 Fund
Website: 1803 Fund

Regard The Water, Regard Ourselves

Over the last century, Portlanders have impacted river life and human life in similar ways. Despite deep connection to the Willamette River and widely held understanding of the importance of healthy river systems, the Portland Harbor Superfund site—a 10-mile stretch of the lower Willamette River—remains. We bicker. We pollute. We delay costly clean up. In many of the same ways, we also bicker, pollute and delay costly clean-ups in human habitats. The effort to rebuild the Albina neighborhood in Portland is inextricably connected to environmental remediation, particularly in the effort to clean up the Portland Harbor Super Fund site. This talk is a plea from humanity to science—for the knowledge necessary to restore natural habitats, wild spaces and rivers, will also be helpful in restoring human habitats, particularly in cities. It is often said that justice is love in public. In this talk, I make the case that science is love in public policy.

Rukaiyah Adams serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the 1803 Fund, an organization that seeks to grow shared prosperity, through the alignment of financial investments and investments in community-based organizations. It is not a conventional investment firm, and it is not traditional philanthropy—the work of the 1803 Fund includes aspects of both. The professionals that work with Rukaiyah describe the work as “investing for the people.”

Prior to joining the 1803 Fund, Ms. Adams was the Chief Investment Officer at Meyer Memorial Trust, one of the largest charitable trusts in the Pacific Northwest. Ms. Adams' team was at the forefront of socially responsible investing, including crafting language to describe the nascent practice. She devised and wrote the field-leading concepts for social responsibility in the “affirmative covenant” investment framework and for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the “people, products, and shared prosperity” framework.

Ms. Adams serves on the boards of the Albina Vision Trust, the Self Enhancement, Inc. Foundation, Oregon Health and Science University Foundation, and Oregon Public Broadcasting, where she is also the current chair. She also serves on the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission. She has engaged in pro bono legal work on behalf of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, the Homeless Prenatal Program in San Francisco, and the Children’s Defense Fund.

Ms. Adams has given two Ted talks. Her 2016 Ted talk, “A Homegirl’s Guide to Being Powerful,” about her path to becoming a more thoughtful investor and the role of investment capital in achieving social justice has more than 14,000 views. Ms. Adams holds a Bachelor of Arts with academic distinction from Carleton College, a Juris Doctor from Stanford Law School, where she was on the Law and Policy Review and the Co-President of the Law Student Association, and a Master of Business Administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.


Dr. Daniel Schindler, Professor

School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington
Website: Alaska Salmon Program

Habitat mosaics: the space and time scales where important ecological dynamics are expressed in salmon rivers of western Alaska

Efforts to restore the capacity of rivers to support productive and sustainable fisheries, and other ecosystem services, are hampered by incomplete understanding of how watersheds function across spatial scales ranging from meters to hundreds of kilometers, and across temporal scales ranging from minutes to centuries and beyond. This presentation will provide a series of case studies from the salmon-producing rivers of western Alaska to highlight the remarkable diversity of relevant space and time scales for expressing ecological variation important for sustaining commercial and subsistence fisheries.

Feeding behavior of juvenile salmon demonstrate that intact watersheds express meter-scale habitat heterogeneity that young fish actively exploit to capitalize on contrasts in where different resources (e.g. food and water temperature) are located. Critically, the spatial arrangement of alternative resources shifts among years in response to changing climate conditions, yet the overall ecosystem shows little variation in how productive it is among years. At spatial scales of 100s of kilometers and at time scales of decades to centuries, salmon population dynamics show few coordinated responses to changes in overriding climate. The productivity of salmon stocks in neighboring rivers appear to march to the beat of their own drums. While this response diversity to changes in climate complicates fishery management, it also stabilizes fisheries that integrate across production at regional scales.

A major challenge for watershed and river management and restoration is to develop robust strategies for dealing with future climate conditions and their effects on aquatic ecosystems. A common approach is to develop process-based prescriptive management plans based on specific forecasts of future ecosystem states. This approach is likely prone to failure as our ability to forecast future responses of ecosystems is distinctly limited. An alternative approach is to focus on maintaining and restoring the processes that generate heterogeneity in watersheds that produce the ‘options’ rivers and their biota have for adapting to ongoing climate change.

Daniel Schindler is a Professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington. He is a principal investigator of the UW Alaska Salmon Program which has studied the ecology of salmon and their watersheds in western Alaska since 1946. His research is focused on freshwater ecosystems and their watersheds, addressing questions ranging from understanding basic ecological and evolutionary processes, to the effects of climate change, watershed development, and fisheries on ecosystem dynamics and natural resources. He is a previous recipient of the Frank Rigler Award from the Society of Canadian Limnologists, the Carl R. Sullivan Fishery Conservation Award from the American Fisheries Society, and the G.E. Hutchinson Award from the Association for the Science of Limnology and Oceanography. He was elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences in 2018 and recognized as a Fellow of the American Fisheries Society in 2021.



Dr. Jack Schmidt, PhD

Center for Colorado River Studies, Utah State University
Website: Center for Colorado River Studies

The Future of the Colorado River: how we got here and what the water crisis means for river ecosystems

Natural runoff of the Colorado River in the 21st century has been 13% less than the average for the mid- and late 20th century and 30% less than in the early 20th century when basin-wide agreements about water supply allocation were negotiated. Basin-wide consumptive water use peaked in 2000 and had declined by 16% by 2020, the last year when basin-wide data are available. Estimated basin-wide consumptive use in 2020 was still 6% greater than the 21st century average natural water supply. Overconsumption in the 21st century was sustained by draining most of the basin’s reservoir storage. Between January 2000 and April 2023, the amount of water stored in Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the two largest reservoirs in the United States, declined by 33.5 million acre feet. As of April 2023, total basin-wide storage was sufficient to support the 21st century average rate of basin-wide consumption for only 15 months. Runoff in spring 2023 was the largest since 2011 and the second largest of the 21st century, providing a short-term reprieve to the water supply crisis. However, it would take 4 to 6 equally wet years in succession to refill the basin’s reservoirs to their 1999 condition if basin-wide consumptive use is not further reduced. Increasing evapotranspiration and dry soils associated with global climate change makes a succession of unusually wet years unlikely. To stabilize reservoir storage, basin-wide use needs to equal modern runoff. To recover reservoir storage, basin-wide use needs to decline even more. Future policy debate about reservoir operations will inevitably concern whether most, or all, reservoir storage should be in Lake Mead or in Lake Powell. The choice of one or the other will result in significantly different environmental and recreational outcomes for Glen Canyon and the Grand Canyon.

Jack Schmidt is Director of the Center for Colorado River Studies and Emeritus Janet Quinney Lawson Chair in Colorado River Studies. His research career at Utah State University has focused on understanding how water resource development affects river ecosystems and how adverse environmental impacts can be mitigated. Between 2011 and 2014, he served as Chief of the US Geological Survey Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center.