Board of Directors

IRWP Board of Directors

The IRWP is intentionally structured to involve a wide diverstiy of entities, and thus a diversity of opinions and motivations. Our Board of Directors is comprised of two members in each of the following six stakeholder categories: Agriculture, Business, Conservation, Construction, Government, and Technical/Reserach/Education. Additionally, there are between three and five other members in an At-Large category, designed to give our Board flexibility in growth, as well as to maintain diversity and balance. By encompassing such a broad spectrum of stakeholders, we hope to develop solutions that are ultimately sustainable. 



Scott Carney, Plant Environmental Coordinator, Flint Creek Power Plant, AEP/SWEPCO and AECC

Scott received his BA from Texas Tech University at Lubbock and has served on the IRWP Board since 2010. "I am interested in protecting the Illinois River watershed in order to preserve its essential ecological functions, its recreational, scenic, and social values, and its responsible industrial and municipal uses for the region." Carney is married to his wife, Tonya Carney, and they have three sons. 






Mike Faupel, Chief Operating Officer, The Sustainability Consortium

Mike is a founding board memeber for the Illinois River Watershed Partnership. He is the Chief Operating Officer for The Sustainability Consortium at the University of Arkansas, a multi-stakeholder effort to develop transparent tools and methodologies for reporting environmental and social sustainability attributes for the global consumer packaged goods industry. TSC's work is presently focused on delivering Sustainability Profiles and Key Performance Indicators for a number of consumer product categories that are being used by both manufacturers and retailers to identify best practices and innovation opportunities both internally and externally with the goal of improving product performance from a sustainability standpoint. Prior to joining TSC, Mike enjoyed several years in the value-added agricultural industry, primarily managing quality and food safety projects in the produce and bakery categories. When not at work, Mike enjoys outdoor actvities with his son, is an avid gardner, and indulges his passion for clean water through IRWP's activities. 




Ed Fite, Vice President for Scenic Rivers and Water Quality, Grand River Dam Authority

Ed served as the Administrator for the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission from September 1983 to June 2016. After OSRC was consolidated with GRDA on July 1, 2016, his responsibilities have expanded beyond the Illinois River, Barren Fork Creek, and Flint Creek, along with monitoring the Big Lee Creek, Little Lee Creek, and the Upper Mountain Fork River, to now include the Neosho, Spring, and Elk Rivers and their tributaries, Grand Lake of the Cherokees, and Lake Hudson. Having served many roles related to water quality protection in Oklahoma, Ed regularly partners with federal/state/tribal/local agencies, communities, businesses, and individuals to educate, promote the enjoyment, and mitigate impacts on these rivers and reservoirs. Ed was a key player and technical resource in successful defense of water quality and scenic rivers in the 1992 U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in the Oklahoma vs. Arkansas/USEPA case which effectively affirmed that downstream states' water quality standards must be maintained and protected by upstream states. 



Cliff Gibbs, Arvest Bank and Benton County Cattle Producer

Cliff has worked for Arvest Bank for over 30 years. He graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville with a B.S. in Ag Business. Cliff and his wife, Claudia, have been married for 45 years. They have two wonderful children and two beautiful granddaughters. He is also a landowner within the watershed and owns a cattle ranch. In his spare time, he enjoys outdoor activities of all kinds. 




Tom Hopper, Chairman, Retired, Crafton Tull

Tom received a bachelor of science in civil engineering from the University of Arkansas in 1970. He is a registered professional engineer in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, and Texas, as well as a registered professional land surveyor in Arkansas. He has 38 years of design and construction experience managing commercial, industrial, medical, office, retail, single and multifamily residential developments, as well as water supply and distribution systems, and wastewater collection and treatment systems. Tom is known for his understanding of the land development process from the clients' perspective, as well as his ability to work through complex regulatory difficulties and reach a solution that is acceptable to all parties. 




Jimmy Mardis, Chief Compliance Officer, Denali Water Solutions

Jimmy worked at Tyson Foods for 26 years in the Corporate Environmental Department, where he held several leadership positions including Director of Environmental Engineering and Senior EHS Director. Prior to Tyson, he served as a pilot in the United States Air Force for seven years. Jimmy has a BS in Astronautical Engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy and an MS in Environmental Engineering from the University of Arkansas. Jimmy lives in Rogers with his wife, Terri, and has two children. 




Kurt Price, SVP Private Banking and Treasury Management, Arvest Bank

Kurt is from Siloam Springs and graduated from John Borwn University with a degree in accounting. He has worked for Arvest since May 1990 and served in numerous capacities ranging from internal auditing to Adair County Community Bank President. Kurt's wife, Beth, teaches Language Arts at Siloam Springs Intermediate School and they have three children: Isaac, Grace, and Jude. In addition to serving on the IRWP Board, Kurt is also involved with Siloam Springs Kiwanis. With a dedication to community service, he has also previously served with Adair County Boys and Girls Club, Stillwell Kiwanis, Westville Chamber of Commerce, Arvest Leadership Team, and Adair County Industrial Authority. 




James Simpson, Benton County 4-H Foundation President (Not Pictured)

James is a life-long resident of Cave Springs. James has a Master's Degree from the University of Arkansas in Animal Science and has served on the 4-H Foundation Board as President. He currently serves on the Benton County Farm Bureau Board. James' wife, Linda, works with the Benton County Cooperative Extension. 



Tim Snell, Associate State Director of Water Resources, The Nature Conservancy

Tim is responsible for The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas's Water Resources Initiative. He is developing and implementing water resource strategies that protect Arkansas's aquatic habitats while providing the water that people and businesses need to thrive and prosper. A graduate of Louisiana State University's School of Forestry and Wildlife, he brings experience in fisheries, land management, wildlife management, agriculture, and sustainable forestry to the program. Snell also serves as a Board member for the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust. In the past, Tim has served as Director of Ozark Conservation Programs and Director of the Ozark Karst Program for The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas, Director of Natural Resource Conservation at the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Oklahoma, President of the Rural Opportunity Fund, a revolving loan fund for farmers and agricultural businesses, Vice President and Chair of the Loan Committee of FORGE (Financing Rural Growth and Economy), Board Member for Ozarks Small Farm Viability Project, and Ozark Organic Growers Association. Snell has been a resident of Washington County, Arkansas, for 30 years, is married, and has one son. He is a Life Scout, order of the Arrow Leader, in Boy Scouts of America, hunter, fisherman, and gardener. 





Alisha Staggs, formerly with Walmart Sustainability

Alisha comes to the IRWP Board with 15 years of experience in environmental sustainability, field work, agriculture, and animal care. Most recently, Alisha was Sustainability Manager, Animal Agriculture, for Walmart. She led strategy for both environmental and animal welfare outcomes in Walmart's meat and dairy supply chains. Prior to joining Walmart, Alisha worked in the NGO world for several years. She held roles as Supply Chain Manager for Environmental Defense Fund's corporate partnerships program and as a Program Officer for Agriculture at World Wildlife Fund, where she was commodity lead for dairy. She holds a BS in Field Biology from John Brown University and an MBA from the Walton College Graduate School of Business at the University of Arkansas. Alisha lives in Bentonville and stays busy with her two sons, Leo (3) and Roman (1).




Rick Stubblefield, Former Ozark Scenic Rivers Commissioner (Not Pictured)

Rick is owner of Stubblefield Insurance Agency of Kansas, Oklahoma. He is a former commissioner for the Ozark Scenic Rivers Commission, representing Delaware County. He is  a graduate of John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. Rick and his wife, Suzanne, have two children and two grandchildren. 




Evan Teague, VP of Commodity and Regulatory Affairs, Arkansas Farm Bureau

Evan has been with Arkansas Farm Bureau since 2004 and previously was the organization's first full-time environmental specialist. He is a graduate of Arkansas State University in Engineering and is a licensed engineer, previously working in engineering before joining ARFB. 







Patrick Tenney, Vice President, Baldwin-Shell Construction

Patrick is a graduate of the University of Arkansas's School of Architecture and serves on the Advisory Board of the UA School of Architecture and on the Advisory Board for John Brown University's Construction Management Department. Patrick is also active with both the Springdale and Fayetteville Chambers of Commerce. 






Seth Walters, Director of Environmental Quality, Simmons Foods

Seth is a manager in the Environmental Department at Simmons Foods in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. He joined the IRWP Board in 2016. Seth holds a Bachelor's Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Arkansas and he is a registered Professional Engineer in Arkansas.







 Heath Ward, Executive Director, Springdale Water Utilities

Heath has been Executive Director of Springdale Water Utilities since 2013. Previously, he had 18 years with the poultry industry in operations, wastewater, and engineering. Prior to his industry experience, he served four years in the Army as an M1 Abram's tank officer in Germany, Kuwait, and Macedonia. He is active on many local boards including Boy Scout Troop 122, the Arkansas Air and Military Museum, and Springdale Rotary Club where he will be President in 2019. Springdale Water Utilities serves over 100,000 people in five municipalities and was a 2018 recipient of the Governor's Quality Award for Performance Excellence in Business. It is the first water and wastewater utility to be recognized by the Governor's Quality program in its 24-year history. Heath is married with three children and has resided in Springdale for several years. 





Ralph Weber, Ph.D., Arkansas Master Naturalist

Ralph joined the IRWP Board of Directors in November 2012. He recived his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from Ohio State University and his M.B.A. from Tulane University. Ralph is currently an Arkansas Master Naturalist, served as Past President of the Northwest Chapter of Arkansas Master Naturalists and is the most recent Past President of the State Board of Directors for the Arkansas Master Naturalists. "We all live in a watershed - we need to protect them." Weber is also a Fulbright Fellow, University Zagreb, Yugoslavia (now Republic of Croatia), 1974 to 1977. Ralph and his wife, Carla, currently reside in Bentonville. 


The idea for IRWP began with nine individuals from Northwest Arkansas who recognized that true progress for the Illinois River would necessitate a cooperative effort from the various stakeholders and entities in the watershed. To this end, these individuals formed a steering committee and hosted the Upper Illinois River Summit in September of 2005. They invited key stakeholders and decision-makers to the Summit with the goal of creating an effective watershed partnership and developing a management plan that would address the challenges of rapid development, expanding infrastructure needs, and degrading ecology of the Illinois River Watershed. Delegates to the Summit voted unanimously to establish the IRWP, which was officially formed on December 15, 2005.