The College of the Environment Advisory Board includes renowned environmental experts, philanthropists and leaders in both business and government. They have generously agreed to support the College in critical decision making and assist College leadership in connecting with the broader community.

Brian baird

Brian Baird

Former member of Congress (WA-3)

Brian Baird is a retired six-term member of Congress. A social scientist and licensed psychologist, Brian’s background combines proven management, communication and strategic skills with the knowledge and relationships developed during twelve years in the House of Representatives. In Congress, Brian focused on science and technology, energy, health care, oceans, foreign policy, fiscal discipline and Congressional integrity. Prior to his service in Congress, Brian worked as a Ph.D. psychologist in clinical and academic settings. In more than fifteen years teaching at the university and community college levels, Brian has been a department chair, published in scientific journals and written a best-selling textbook.

Fraser Black

Fraser Black

President, Pioneer Square Investments and chair, Equal Opportunity Schools

Fraser Black is an angel investor focused on early stage startups and real estate projects. He has over 30 years of financial and general management experience in leadership positions at high-growth companies, including: CFO at ONYX Software, group manager at Ashton-Tate and financial analyst at Salomon Brothers. Fraser has served on the boards of the following businesses: Lumera Corp. (LMRA), Planner Systems, Ballard Mill Properties, Plexera, Washington Securities and Imprev. He is an active philanthropist in the education and environmental fields, having served as board member or advisor with the following non-profit organizations: Equal Opportunity Schools (chairman), Social Venture Partners (chairman), The Seattle Foundation (vice chair) , IslandWood, Powerful Schools and the Business Partnership for Early Learning. In addition to working to promote equity in education, Fraser feels passionate about creating and encouraging access for all children to the wonders of nature and the great outdoors. Fraser has an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and a B.A. from Harvard College. He lives in Seattle with his goddess of a wife, Deirdre Black, with whom he shares three children and a pug named Moose.


Jabe Blumenthal

Co-chair, Climate Solutions and co-founder and co-chair, Washington Progress Alliance

A Seattle native and resident, Jabe became Microsoft’s first program manager, designing the company’s first version of Excel. He later taught mathematics and physics at Lakeside High School in Seattle, where he headed the Science Department for nearly a decade. He has since focused his energies on environmental issues, especially climate change and progressive politics. He is on the board of Climate Solutions, the Washington Environmental Council, Carbon Engineering and Washington Progress Alliance.

Nelson Del Rio

Nelson Del Rio (’84)

Chairman, The Del Rio Family Foundation and managing director, Prosperity of the Commons International

Nelson Del Rio gained success in business by finding new models for owning, financing, developing, managing and operating public goods—an early impact investor and public-private partnership pioneer. A high school dropout, Del Rio came to the UW as a teenager with encouragement from the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity and scholarship support. He graduated magna cum laude with great distinctions in economics three years after enrolling, then graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School, became a Wall Street merger and acquisition attorney, and then moved on to a successful business career, philanthropy and best of all a wonderful family. Nelson, along with his wife Suzanne, has created the Del Rio Global Citizens Scholarship and the College of the Environment Del Rio Environment Scholarships to support students in the UW’s Educational Opportunity Program. He and Suzanne are UW Benefactors. Del Rio currently splits his time between Redding, California and Seattle, Washington.
Photo: Karen Orders


Gene Duvernoy

President, Forterra

Gene Duvernoy, president of Forterra (formerly the Cascade Land Conservancy), has devoted more than 30 years to land conservation and community building. Under his leadership, Forterra has risen to national prominence by creating bold, innovative and successful programs that are improving the quality of life for all residents. Duvernoy serves on numerous national, state and regional boards. Prior to leading Forterra, Duvernoy’s work experience included positions in government, research, public policy and the law. Duvernoy and his family reside in Seattle.


John Eyler (’69)

Retired President and CEO, Toys “R” Us

John Eyler retired from Toys “R” Us, Inc. as president and chief executive officer in July, 2005, having joined the company in January 2000. Eyler’s career has involved executive roles at many retail companies and service on the boards of many non-profits. Eyler manages a charitable foundation that he created upon his retirement with a primary focus on improving the lives of children. He also has significant interests in environmental issues, leadership and challenges. A graduate of the University of Washington in 1969 with a degree in Finance, Mr. Eyler received an MBA from the Harvard University Graduate School of Business in 1971. He is a native of Mercer Island, Washington and, with his wife Gail, resides in New York. Eyler and his wife have three sons, four grandsons and one granddaughter.


Denis Hayes

President and CEO, The Bullitt Foundation

Denis Hayes is known as a practical visionary who has devoted his career to the promotion of environmental values. Denis is probably still best known for having been national coordinator of the first Earth Day when he was 25. It is now the world’s most widely observed secular holiday. During the Carter Administration, Denis directed the federal National Renewable Energy Laboratory. He has been a visiting scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a senior fellow at the Worldwatch Institute, an adjunct professor of engineering at Stanford University, and a Silicon Valley lawyer. Hayes is currently the President of The Bullitt Foundation, a post that he has held since 1992. In November 2009, the Foundation made a gift of $2 million to endow the Harriet Bullitt Chair in Conservation in the College of the Environment.
Photo: Robert Stone


Pat Hughes (’57)

Founder and CEO, American Piledriving Equipment Inc.

Pat Hughes is a graduate of the Foster School class of 1957 with a B.A. in Business. His career has been and still is in the rock and gravel industry and machinery manufacturing. Pat is presently a partner in Iron Mountain Quarry, Renton Concrete Recyclers, Washington Rock Quarries and North East Materials Group.


Martha Kongsgaard

Chair, Puget Sound Partnership Leadership Council

Martha Kongsgaard was born and raised in Napa, California, to a family of jurists, grape growers and cattle ranchers. Martha married Peter Goldman, an environmental public interest lawyer, and collaborated with him to found the Kongsgaard-Goldman Foundation. The foundation gives grants to a variety of nonprofit environmental, social justice and arts organizations in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, many of which affect Puget Sound. Martha serves as Chair of the Leadership Council of the Puget Sound Partnership, as co-Chair of the Puget Sound Institute and also on the boards of the many other environmental and social justice organizations. Martha is a graduate of UC Berkeley, and holds a law degree from the University of Puget Sound/Seattle University Law School. Martha and husband Peter have three sons and live in West Seattle.


Colin Moseley

Chairman, Green Diamond Resource Company

Colin Moseley is chairman of Green Diamond Resource Company, a privately held business with timberland holdings in Washington and California and of Simpson Investment Company, a forest products company with wholly owned manufacturing subsidiaries in Washington. Representing the fifth generation of family ownership of Simpson, Colin is an ardent spokesman for the industry and sustainable forestry. Colin and his wife Martha are active board members with a number of Seattle-area non-profit organizations. Colin is a graduate of Williams College and earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. He, Martha and their family reside in Seattle.


William (Bill) Ruckelshaus

Strategic director, Madrona Venture Group and
Former administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

William D. Ruckelshaus is currently strategic director with the Madrona Venture Group, and a principal in Madrona Investment Group, L.L.C. (MIG), a Seattle based investment company. He was deputy attorney general of Indiana from 1960 through 1965. He was a member of the Indiana House of Representatives and its majority leader from 1967 to 1969. The President appointed him for the years 1969 and 1970 as assistant attorney general in charge of the Civil Division for the U.S. Department of Justice. Mr. Ruckelshaus became the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s first administrator when the agency was formed in December 1970, where he served until April 1973. In April 1973 he was appointed acting director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and in the same year was appointed deputy attorney general of the United States Department of Justice. In 1983, Mr. Ruckelshaus was appointed by President Reagan as the fifth EPA administrator until 1985.

Currently, he serves on the board of TVW, Long Live the Kings, Meridian Institute and The Energy Foundation. He is the founding director and board member of the Initiative for Global Development and chairs the William D. Ruckelshaus Center. He is a board emeritus member of World Resources Institute and the University of Wyoming, Ruckelshaus Center. President Clinton appointed him as the U.S. envoy in the implementing of the Pacific Salmon Treaty and he was appointed by Governor Gary Locke as the chairman of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board for the State of Washington and in May, 2007 appointed by Governor Christine Gregoire as chairman of the Leadership Council of the Puget Sound Partnership. On June, 2001, he was appointed by President Bush as a member of the Commission on Ocean Policy which was created by Congress in 2000. Mr. Ruckelshaus and his wife, Jill, reside in Seattle, Washington. They have five children and 12 grandchildren.

Usha Varanasi

Usha Varanasi (’68)

Affiliate professor, University of Washington
Retired director, NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Dr. Usha Varanasi earned a B.Sc. from Bombay University in India, an M.S. in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 1964, and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Washington in 1968. Usha joined the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) research facility in Seattle, first as a visiting scientist and then as a research chemist in 1975. Her research demonstrated how marine organisms accumulate and process hydrocarbons, the toxic components of petroleum products. Usha became the first woman to lead one of NOAA’s nine major fisheries field stations in 1994, and held the position of Science and Research Director of NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center until her retirement in 2010. Based on their widely recognized expertise in oil spill detection and rapid analysis, Usha and her team were at the forefront of the agency’s seafood safety response after environmental catastrophes, including Exxon Valdez oil spill, the first Persian Gulf War, Hurricane Katrina and 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. She has published over 150 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals, edited and co-authored two books and is deeply committed to the education of students in the sciences.

Usha is an affiliate professor in the UW’s Chemistry department, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences and School of Law. In 2011, she was appointed a distinguished scholar in residence in the College of the Environment and was elected a member of the Washington State Academy of Sciences. Usha is an avid gardener and resides in Seattle with her husband Rao, a fellow UW graduate.


Maggie Walker, Chair (’74, ’87)

Civic leader

Maggie Walker was born and raised in Summit, New Jersey. She attended Vanderbilt University and the University of Washington, where she earned degrees in both history and journalism. For fifteen years, Maggie worked in the commercial furnishings and design industry in the Northwest, and later as a design and art consultant and active non-profit volunteer. She is a co-founder of Social Venture Partners, a UW Laureate, and has one daughter, Kina, a graduate of Colorado College. She resides in Seattle. Maggie serves on various boards and leadership committees at the University of Washington. She is also currently the president of the Seattle Art Museum board of trustees,  chair of The Bullitt Foundation’s board of trustees, co-chair of the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) board of trustees, past chair of the Washington Women’s Foundation (founding member and first chair) and first vice-chair of The Seattle Foundation Board of Trustees. She is also currently co-chairing the Central Waterfront Partnerships Committee.


Christopher Williams

Deputy superintendent, City of Seattle, Parks and Recreation

Christopher Williams has devoted his professional life to public service and is recognized both for his leadership and his responsiveness to the public he serves. He currently serves as acting superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation. Christopher grew up in Seattle and is proud to be a product of the park system he is now privileged to serve. Christopher is a graduate of Columbia University, and holds an MBA from Seattle University. During the course of his varied career, Christopher also spent eight years as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.


Ed Woollen (’67)

President, GMDS-USA

Since graduating from the University of Washington, School of Oceanography, in 1967, Edmund (Ed) B. Woollen has enjoyed a rich and varied career as a U.S. naval officer, and as a business executive developing and supporting major surveillance and information systems for the United States government agencies and other governments globally.

His orientation has always been on regional scale, information-rich military and environmental surveillance programs which provide government users with information and tools essential to predict future conditions and plan policy responses. As an example, Woollen was the primary architect for the System for the Vigilance of the Amazon (SIVAM) acquired by the Government of Brazil to monitor the health of the rainforest and human effects in the Amazon Basin. Other systems include ocean and atmospheric modeling to predict short term weather patterns and longer term climatic changes and a number of intelligence and surveillance systems. In his career after the U.S. Navy, Ed was successively employed by the Hughes Aircraft Company (now part of the Raytheon Company), Ocean Technology, Inc., the Raytheon Company and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) from which he retired in 2012. He is currently president of GMDS-USA, developing large-scale projects for Middle East and North African government clients.

Emeritus Members

Doug Walker

1950-2015, founding co-chair
Doug Walker

Doug Walker, along with his wife Maggie, was a founding co-chair of the College of the Environment Advisory Board until his tragic death in an avalanche on December 31, 2015. Doug was founding partner and retired CEO of WRQ, an integration software company that served Fortune 500 companies and had customers in 51 countries. He was an active supporter of charitable, environmental and community organizations. Doug chaired the Governing Council of The Wilderness Society and was President of The American Alpine Club. He served on the boards of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Past Chair), Seattle Parks Foundation, Green Diamond Resource Company, Conservation Lands Foundation, Forterra, UW College of the Environment, Outdoor Alliance and The Sierra Club Foundation. He graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in Mathematics from Vanderbilt University and attended the University of Washington Graduate School of Mathematics. Doug was an avid hiker and mountain climber and a year-round bicycle commuter. He is survived by his wife Maggie and daughter Kina. Read more about Doug’s life and impact on the College.