News & Updates

Recent updates from America’s Watershed Initiative.

JAN. 6, 2022
Contact: Kim Lutz, Executive Director, America’s Watershed Initiative

America’s Watershed Initiative Announces New Board Leadership

Larry Weber, of the University of Iowa, will serve as chair of the nonprofit’s Board of Directors; Dan Mecklenborg, of Ingram Barge Company, will serve as the Board’s president.

ST. LOUIS — America’s Watershed Initiative (AWI), the only nonprofit organization working across the entire Mississippi River watershed and across all sectors—including conservation, agriculture, navigation and recreation, enters 2022 with a new Board of Directors Executive Team in place. 

“While much has been done to improve the health of this great river system, the needs of the Mississippi River and its tributaries are evolving and urgent,” said AWI Executive Director Kim Lutz. “With its geographical and cross-sector representation, AWI’s Board of Directors is well-positioned to help our many partners address those needs whether it’s by helping advance forward-looking infrastructure improvements or supporting the acceleration of world-class scientific research into the river’s health and its drivers throughout all its subbasins.”

AWI’s 17 Board members are leaders who came together because they saw the need for—and the absence of—a collaboration like AWI’s. They share an unshakeable commitment to chart a sustainable path through the 21st century and beyond for the watershed and all who rely on it.

Board Chair

The new Board chair is Larry Weber of the University of Iowa, where he holds the Edwin B. Green Chair in Hydraulics and is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Weber is also former director of the university’s IIHR – Hydroscience & Engineering unit, and in 2009, he co-founded the Iowa Flood Center, an academic center devoted solely to flood-related research and education. In addition to working to help Iowans prepare more effectively for flood events, the center shares knowledge with communities and institutions across the country.

Weber has served on AWI’s Board since 2018. The AWI Board chair is appointed for a 2-year term in a vote by other Board members. The Board voted on its new leadership late in 2021. 

“I am excited to lead this extraordinary group of experts and scientists at this moment in time,” he said “On behalf of America’s Watershed Initiative, I hope to connect people across sectors, amplify the promising outcomes of our current work and draw attention to the needs of this unparalleled river system.”

Board President

Dan Mecklenborg will serve as the Board’s president.

A founding member of the AWI Board and one of the organization’s earliest and strongest advocates, Mecklenborg most recently served as its chair from 2019-21.

He is senior vice-president and chief legal officer of Nashville-based Ingram Barge Company, which transports dry and liquid commodities throughout the nation’s inland waterways.

“The environmental, economic and cultural significance of the Mississippi River cannot be overstated, and I’m proud to support America’s Watershed Initiative’s collaborative approach to ensuring a sustainable future for our nation’s largest watershed,” Mecklenborg said.

Joining on Weber and Mecklenborg on AWI’s volunteer leadership board are:

  • Vice Chair Rainy Inman Shorey, Caterpillar Inc. 
  • Vice Chair Kirsten Wallace, Upper Mississippi River Basin Association
  • Treasurer Michael Reuter, The Nature Conservancy
  • Secretary Rachel Orf, National Corn Growers Association 

America’s Watershed Initiative is made up of public, private and nonprofit leaders working together voluntarily to improve the health of the Mississippi River Watershed by informing, advocating and leveraging improved decision-making about the watershed’s natural resources. AWI is built upon support and guidance from industry and commerce, conservation, local communities, government and academia.

Incubated for a decade within The Nature Conservancy’s Great Rivers Program, AWI incorporated in 2018, established a Board of Directors and, in 2020, hired Kim Lutz as its first executive director. 


America’s Watershed Initiative (AWI) is a collaborative organization working with hundreds of business, government, academic, and civic organizations to find solutions for the challenges of managing the Mississippi River and the more than 250 rivers that flow into it, to ensure America’s watershed remains viable for future generations. Learn more at

“While much has been done to improve the health of this great river system, the needs of the Mississippi River and its tributaries are evolving and urgent,” said AWI Executive Director Kim Lutz.