Douglas Jester, Chair

Partner at 5 Lakes Energy and specializes in utility regulation and energy policy, research, and modeling

Douglas Jester is a partner at 5 Lakes Energy and specializes in utility regulation and energy policy, research, and modeling.

Prior to joining 5 Lakes Energy, Douglas served as senior energy policy advisor at the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor, and Economic Growth, where he applied scientific, engineering, and economic principles to the …

formation and adoption of energy policies for the state of Michigan.

Douglas also served in various capacities at the Michigan Departments of Natural Resources (DNR) and Environmental Quality (DEQ) including Great Lakes ecosystem modeling, Michigan representative on the Great Lakes Fishery Commission’s Lake Erie Committee, and Sea Lamprey Control Advisory Committee, leading strategic planning and budgeting, and as chief information and technology officer.  While at the DNR he personally conceived and led the efforts to develop Michigan’s first-in-the-world automated system to issue hunting and fishing licenses for which he was recognized by the Smithsonian Museum and ComputerWorld Magazine in 1994.  

Beyond his state of Michigan experience, Doug was director of government application solutions for MCI, chief technology officer and member of the Board of Automated License Systems, Inc., a multi-year consultant to Verizon where he developed the company’s Smart Grid product architecture, design and implementation plans; and managing editor of the North American Journal of Fisheries Management for the American Fisheries Society.

Douglas holds degrees from New Mexico State University and Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University.  He is an adjunct faculty member at Michigan State University and spent a sabbatical year at the Institute of Animal Resource Ecology at the University of British Columbia.

He and his wife, Colleen, long resided in East Lansing, Michigan, where he was active in the community and formerly served as mayor. They now reside adjacent to Lake Michigan near Northport.

Benjamin Muth, Vice Chair

Ann Arbor-based attorney

Benjamin Muth, an attorney based in Ann Arbor, teamed up with the National Wildlife Federation as the lead organizer of the “Oil and Water” film tour in Charlevoix, Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor, and Chicago in 2015-2016, which advocated for a shutdown of the Line 5 pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac. Muth also assisted the implementation of the Line 5 Michigan Business Coalition. And he conducted voter outreach and a candidate education campaign in Ohio surrounding harmful algal blooms.

Joel Evenhouse, Treasurer

Registered investment adviser at Betterment

Joel Evenhouse is a registered investment adviser at Betterment in Traverse City, Michigan, working in the traditional financial services and investment management industry for most of his career. Joel is an outdoor enthusiast who likes to mountain bike, ski, SUP, fish, and explore all the area beaches. Joel earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Hope College.

Sarah Naperala, Secretary

Organizational Consultant

Sarah Naperala has over 20 years of experience and has worked in the not-for-profit, research, technology and education fields. Most recently, she held leadership positions for over eight years as Human Resources Director and Special Projects Manager at Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy (GTRLC).Today, Sarah supports non-profits as a consultant for various needs, including but not limited to: providing guidance and training to develop people (board and staff) and systems (policies, procedures, practices) to meet the goals of … 

the organization; leading focus groups and gathering data to support project evaluation and decision making (public engagement and internal capacity audits); fund development review, training, and preparation of fund development strategic plans; guiding land trust’s to assess and prepare for first-time or renewal of Land Trust Accreditation status. 

In addition to her commitment as a member of the FLOW Board of Directors, Sarah volunteers in various roles for the Traverse City Area Public Schools, and as community coordinator for the Orchard Heights Neighborhood of Traverse City, Michigan. She recently collaborated with neighbors, city staff, city commissioners and funders to develop a site plan and implementation schedule to improve a 3-acre neighborhood city park. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan Technological University and resides in Traverse City, Michigan with her husband, and two children.


JoAnne Cook

Chief Judge and Appellate Judge

JoAnne Cook, a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa/Chippewa Indians, is from Peshawbestown, Michigan. Her previous professional experience includes one term on Tribal Council (2012-2016) and with Tribal Courts as a Tribal Court Judge for two tribal communities (1994-2011). She received her Business Administration degree from Ferris State University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Wisconsin School of Law.

JoAnne Cook was involved in the organization anddevelopment of two alternative courts: Peacemaking and Healing to Wellness Court (Drug Court). The alternative courts utilize tradition and culture which allows for healing and restoring balance for those involved.  She has begun consulting with native and nonnative communities who are either developing Peacemaking or a Healing to Wellness Court. 

She believes tradition and culture is vital to the Anishinabe way of life and has continued her learning about the 3 Fires people. JoAnne has presented to various communities on the way of life and culture of the Odawa. In addition, she previously taught Business Law for Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) and a course at NMC Extended Education, titled Native Law and Culture. JoAnne is currently teaching a short course, History of the Anishinaabek for NMC Extended Education.

Phil Ellis

Clinical Psychologist

Phil Ellis is trained as a Clinical Psychologist and recently returned to part-time clinical work. He enjoys hiking, fly fishing, and spending as much time outdoors as possible. Phil believes that our resources are precious and that we are responsible to protect and steward them, now and for the benefit of future generations.

Brett Fessell

River Restoration Ecologist for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians

With degrees in fisheries, Brett Fessell’s work over decades has ranged from negotiating tribal treaty rights to watershed restoration. Although forged in formal Western science-based education and technical training, his career was truly honed and tempered through immersion within the intricate Indigenous perspectives of the natural world.

The insights and abilities gained through life and work have afforded Brett a unique capacity in relating common and familiar perceptions of river health and service with the vastly unfamiliar, complex and multi-scale processes, functions and unperceived values of rivers, their watersheds and the life upon which they depend. Relevant specialties include: Watershed and river ecology, hydraulics and hydrology, geomorphology, grant writing, administration, project management and associated education and outreach.

Brett earned a Bachelor of Science in Fishery and Wildlife Management from Lake Superior State University and a Master of Science in Fishery Management from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Larry LaSusa

LaSusa Law Offices, PLC

Lawrence R. LaSusa is the founder and principal attorney of LaSusa Law Offices, PLC. Mr. LaSusa has extensive business and litigation experience. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois (B.S. 1983), and the DePaul University College of Law (J.D. 1986). From 1987 to 1990, he served as an Assistant Attorney General of Illinois, concentrating in securities …

fraud, investment fraud, financial institution regulatory enforcement and employment matters.

From 1991 to 2000, he served as the Chief In-House Litigation Counsel to two different multi-billion dollar companies: Homart Development Co., a commercial real estate development subsidiary of Sears Roebuck & Co., and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wisconsin. Mr. LaSusa’s practice specializes in complex business litigation, corporate transactions and intellectual property matters. He maintains an active trial practice in federal and state courts.

He has personally handled litigation recovering and saving his clients tens of millions of dollars. Mr. LaSusa is admitted to practice law in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as every United States Federal District Court in each of those states. He is a member of the American Bar Association, State Bar Associations of Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, Chicago Bar Association, and Grand Traverse-Leelanau-Antrim County Bar Association, on which he is the Chairman of the Continuing Legal Education Committee and a member of the Board of Governors. Mr. LaSusa has authored numerous articles for national and regional business and legal publications, dealing with intellectual property, trademark, trade secret and employment matters.

Renee Huckle Mittelstaedt

Former President, CEO, Huckle Media, LLC

Renee Huckle Mittelstaedt is a fifth generation northern Michigander whose love of the region’s lakes and rivers influenced the return to her childhood hometown of Traverse City. She is the current chair of FLOW’s Board of Directors.

Renee spent more than 20 years in the media industry …

most recently as President and CEO of Huckle Media, LLC., which published daily and weekly newspapers, shoppers, magazines and websites in southern Minnesota. She served as a director on the national Inland Press Association and Foundation boards and co-chaired the Inland Family Owner’s Committee and annual conference. In addition to serving as Editor and Publisher of the Northfield (MN) News, she also held several community leadership positions including president of the Northfield Area United Way Board, and director of the Northfield Rotary Club and Downtown Development Corporation. Her media career began at the University of Michigan newspaper before joining Gannett’s Lansing State Journal.

Beyond supporting FLOW’s mission to protect the Great Lakes, Renee’s community involvement in Traverse City includes serving on Impact100 Traverse City’s board of directors, Rotary District 6290’s Life Leadership Conference staff and committee, and as a volunteer for Safe Harbor. She is a certified ski instructor and coach for the Grand Traverse Ski Club and enjoys skiing, singing, boating, biking and traveling.

Renee holds an undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Michigan, and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas. She lives on Old Mission Peninsula with her husband and daughter.

Craig Sharp

Axiom Wealth Partner

Craig is one of the founding members of Axiom Wealth Partners, aligned with the Rockefeller Global Family Office.  He has worked in the financial services industry for over 23 years serving individuals, families, nonprofit organizations and corporate retirement plan clients.

As an advocate for community and the environment, Craig serves on the board of directors for the Michigan Trails Fund and is a former board chair of the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities in Traverse City. Craig lives and works in Grand Rapids, Michigan with his wife, Michele Ferenchick.  Craig and Michele, along with their adult children, Maddy and Jacob, have also been rooted in Frankfort, Michigan  for …

almost 30 years.  The couple opened a restaurant, the Coho Café, in 1996 and purchased a home in town shortly thereafter.  They spend as much time as possible there during all seasons.

In his spare time, Craig enjoys riding his bike on the roads and trails of northern Michigan and swimming in every lake and river he can find.  Craig has a BA degree from Hope College and a Master’s Degree from the University of Michigan.

Mike Vickery

Emeritus Professor at Alma College

Mike Vickery is past chair of FLOW’s board and as an advisor on strategic environmental communication, community engagement, and organizational capacity-building. He is an Emeritus Professor of Communication, Public Affairs, and Environmental Studies at Alma College where he was founding chair of the Department of Communication and served as Co-Director of the …

Center for Responsible Leadership.

Mike holds a PhD in Communication. His graduate work focused on public discourse and controversies related to technical and social value-conflicts. He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses at the University of Texas-Austin, the University of Arizona, Texas A&M University, and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. His areas of teaching, consulting, and applied scholarship include environmental rhetoric, risk communication, public health communication, and organizational communication.

Lisa Wyatt Knowlton

Wyatt Advisors

Lisa’s education doctorate includes specialties in management and policy. She holds a Masters of Public Administration and Bachelor of Arts in International Relations. 

Twice she has served as CEO; with a trade association and a foundation. Additionally, her work history includes extensive assignments as senior counsel for a broad range of management and leadership issues in the private and public sectors. Past clients have included the Gates, W.K. Kellogg, …

Ford and Ball Foundations as well as renowned associations, non-governmental organizations and network charities such as Feeding America. 

She has managed complex change initiatives and has served as a strategic planner, facilitator and trusted advisor. As a Kellogg Leadership Fellow, Lisa worked in Central America, Europe and Asia focused on microenterprise. Her areas of specialization include organization effectiveness, leadership, change management, systems thinking and strategy. Lisa is a learning leader. 

She speaks Spanish, is an adjunct university faculty (Notre Dame and Grand Valley State University) and authored a text on logic models used by Harvard University, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Bank, Packard Foundations and leading development institutions worldwide.

Lisa is managing principal for Wyatt Advisors, a resource for effective people and organizations. Lisa is an advocate for adoption, Great Lakes protection and avid cyclist. She is a board member with a refugee-serving collaborative. Recently, she established an education fund for girls in Peru.