Our Team

Meet the Water Center's dedicated staff
Howard Neukrug

Howard Neukrug

Executive Director

hneukrug@upenn.edu

Bio

Howard Neukrug is the former Commissioner and CEO of Philadelphia Water, where he was responsible for all aspects of utility operations, environmental compliance, engineering, financing, budgeting, capital and strategic planning, customer service, human resources, and legal and policy decisions for its drinking water/wastewater/stormwater system serving 2.3 million people. At Penn, he is the director of the Water Center and teaching courses on the water industry and the role of water in urban sustainability and resiliency. He is also a Principal with CASE Environmental, LLC, where he provides consulting services to cities and utilities in urban planning, systems design, sustainability, organizational development, strategic planning and trends and innovations in the global water industry.
Brenton McCloskey

Brenton McCloskey

Director of Strategic Development

brentonm@sas.upenn.edu

Bio

Brenton joins the Water Center after serving as the Assistant Vice President for Strategic Partnerships and Government Relations at University of the Arts in Philadelphia working to strengthen relationships, build long-lasting partnerships, and increase funding for programmatic and capital projects on campus. Prior to expanding his philanthropic and partnership building skill set at UArts, he served as a Natural Resources Manager at the Environmental Finance Center (EFC) at University of Maryland assisting communities in the development of sustainable environmental policy and financing programs relating to water quality, green infrastructure, and climate change resiliency. In addition, before joining the EFC, he served as Associate Director for Environmental Restoration Financing and Policy at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources where he led a team of natural resource managers, restoration specialists, and policy experts working to revitalize the Chesapeake Bay. Brenton brings a diverse set of skills to the Water Center in the areas of environmental policy, fundraising, and partnership building. He received his MS in Environmental Science and Policy from John Hopkins Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.
Ellen Kohler

Ellen Kohler

Director of Applied Research and Programs

ejkohler@sas.upenn.edu

Bio

Ellen joins the Water Center after serving as the Program Director for Water Resources at the University of Maryland’s Environmental Finance Center. Her work there focused on water resource management issues challenging communities in the mid-Atlantic region, particularly supporting multi-municipal collaborations to improve water quality and integrated water planning to address drinking water, wastewater and stormwater management. Addressing these challenges has required rethinking financing strategies that provide more equitable outcomes for communities continuing to experience environmental burdens. She brings more than 25 years of experience addressing the legal, regulatory and policy context of water quality and natural resource challenges. Her career began at the US Department of Justice in Washington DC as a trial attorney in the Environmental and Natural Resources Division handling wildlife litigation. After a move to northern Michigan, she started a business providing natural resources policy and legal services for a range of clients including watershed groups, conservation organizations, tribal governments and local governments. Returning to the mid-Atlantic region in 2012, she helped lead a team developing a funding mechanism for source water protection in the Brandywine-Christina watershed as the project manager for the Delaware Chapter of the Nature Conservancy and provided consulting services to several watershed associations and conservation organizations who all shared a commitment to improving water quality in the Delaware River basin. She received her JD from the University of Colorado at Boulder and her MS from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources (now Environment and Sustainability).
Erica DePalma

Erica DePalma

Senior Water Systems Program Manager

edepalma@sas.upenn.edu

Bio

Erica DePalma earned her Master in Applied Geosciences with a focus in hydrology from the University of Pennsylvania. She has conducted water resource projects all over the world and currently leads a variety of the Water Center’s grant funded projects, particularly those focused on water affordability and water equity. Ultimately, she seeks to contribute professionally to mitigating the strain systemic injustices have on ensuring access to plentiful high-quality drinking water. Erica holds a Bachelor of Science from Fordham University and her previous work experience includes natural resource stewardship and fluvial geomorphology research within the NYC Department of Environmental Protection’s Stream Management Program.
Miriam Hacker

Miriam Hacker

Senior Research Implementation Lead

hackerm@sas.upenn.edu

Bio

Miriam Hacker comes to the Water Center with a background in civil engineering from the University of Washington and a passion for understanding social implications from water and wastewater issues. Her professional experience includes stormwater regulation at a local level and strategic coordination in international development. Her doctoral research in civil engineering investigated the coordination of temporary accommodation for people seeking asylum in Germany, Sweden and Lebanon. Most recently, her work as a postdoctoral researcher with the Swiss Federal Institute for Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) focused on the socio-technical barriers for adoption of on-site water reuse at a city level in the United States. As cities look to adapt water and wastewater infrastructure to climate change, Miriam’s passion lies in the organizational and institutional response to these initiatives and impacts for the local community.
Emma Denison

Emma Denison

Communications and Student Coordinator

Bio

Emma comes to The Water Center from the Delaware Riverkeeper Network where she worked first as the Member Programs and Development Associate, and then as the Administrative Coordinator. Her previous work experiences range from planning community recycling events, fundraising for non-profits, managing grant budgets, and developing communications materials. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies with a minor in Chinese.
Jazmin Ricks

Jazmin Ricks

Research Program Coordinator

Bio

Jazmin Ricks graduated from Vanderbilt University’s BA program in Medicine, Health, and Society (MHS) in 2016 and from the University of Pennsylvania’s Master of Public Health (Environmental Health) program in 2021. Jazmin’s professional interests revolve around the field of Environmental Epidemiology and the effect that physical, biological, and chemical factors can have on the public’s health. As a Program Coordinator at the Water Center, Jazmin supports the aims of the Director of Programs and Applied Research and oversees the center’s applied research and programming efforts. Overall, Jazmin seeks to promote water equity and quality as well as advance environmental justice for all Pennsylvanians. 
Andrew Kricun

Andrew Kricun

Senior Advisor

Advisor

Bio

Andrew Kricun is a Senior Advisor at the Water Center at Penn working on various projects related to the Delaware River watershed. Following a long career at the Camden County Municipal Utility Authority (CCMUA) where he recently retired as the Authority’s CEO, Andrew (Andy) Kricun is currently Managing Director with Moonshot Missions, a non-profit focused on providing technical assistance to water utilities in underserved communities, and Senior Fellow with the US Water Alliance. Andy is committed to social justice, with a particular emphasis on water equity. He believes very strongly that everyone, regardless of where they live or what they look like, is entitled to safe drinking water and clean waterways at an affordable rate. He also believes that no community, household or person should be subjected to a disproportionate environmental burden. Beyond his equity and utility work with the Water Center, Andy also serves as Chair of the NJ Environmental Justice Advisory Council’s water equity committee; Co-chair of the Jersey Water Works water equity initiative; Trustee of the NJ Conservation Foundation; and is a former Director at the National Association of Clean Water Agencies. Andy has over 35 years of wastewater and biosolids management experience. He graduated with honors from Princeton University with a degree in chemical engineering. He also holds a professional engineer’s license in civil engineering and is a board-certified environmental engineer.
Joanne Spigonardo

Joanne Spigonardo

Senior Advisor-Alumni and Corporate Engagement, Student Advising

Bio

Joanne is senior advisor at The Water Center at Penn.  She focuses her efforts on alumni and corporate engagement.  Joanne leads efforts to grow the Penn Alumni Water Forum with special events and global outreach to regional clubs. In addition, Joanne acts as an advisor to students for careers and internships. She is available for weekly office hours. In her former roles, Joanne served as Senior Associate Director at the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) at Wharton.  Joanne was also part of the Communications Office. She held positions as business manager of the Wharton Seminars for Business Journalists and for the Wharton Alumni Magazine. Joanne also served as the media relations coordinator. When with Alitalia Airlines, Joanne worked as a sales representative. Joanne graduated from The University of Pennsylvania with a BA and later graduated from the Wharton Aresty Institute of Executive Education. Joanne has certification in HR Management.  She has a strong background in development, management, marketing, and Italian language and culture. As a Wharton Mentor, she coached new employees on professional development, and is active in Penn’s Grievance panels.  Joanne was on the board of governors for the University Club. Joanne is chair of the Delaware County Penn Alumni Interview Program and oversees alumni volunteers. As an alum of Penn and Wharton, and also a parent of two Penn graduates, she is a strong advocate in promoting Penn. At Wharton IGEL, Joanne had been in partnership with GreenBiz, Sustainable Brands, the Ethical Corporation, Pira Packaging International, Public Relations Society of America, the Green Sports Alliance, World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia, the Italian Consulate, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Sonoma County Winegrowers Association, and the Nature Conservancy, as well as, many other NGO and government offices. She has brokered hundreds of corporate relationships for Wharton. Joanne is the author of her book, White Widow, published on Kindle and Amazon. The book is a fictional novel about 19th-20th Century Italian immigrants. https://www.amazon.com/White-Widow-Joanne-Natale-Spigonardo/dp/B085DT65DB
Tony Sauder

Tony Sauder

Senior Advisor

Advisor

Bio

Tony Sauder is a registered professional engineer and geologist with more than 30 years of experience in water resources, hydrogeology and environmental engineering. At Penn, he serves as an academic advisor and lecturer in the Masters of Applied Geosciences (MSAG) program. For the past 15 years, he has brought practical experience to his hydrology classes from working at Pennoni on challenging water supply and stream restoration projects. Previously, he lived and worked internationally for over 10 years on projects involving water supply and sustainable development in Chad, Sudan, and Honduras. He has mentored projects with Engineers without Borders’ (EWB) in Honduras, Guatemala and Cameroon and serves with the Global Water Alliance. Tony received a dual master’s degree in Civil Engineering and Engineering Geology from Drexel.
Shandor Szalay

Shandor Szalay

Senior Advisor

Senior Advisor

Bio

Shandor Szalay’s work focuses on helping cities to develop and deploy integrated solutions to water quality and flooding problems that include connected networks of urban greening, floodplain restoration, and smart stormwater systems, among other technologies.  Shandor’s focus is finding ways to target these investments where they will be the most successful, equitable. and cost-effective at scale and over the long term. His specific research interests include understanding the effects of operations and maintenance, design, and siting choices on the performance of green infrastructure systems, the use of alternative project delivery models such as public/private partnerships for accelerating investments in flood mitigation and water quality, and analytical methods for optimizing stormwater management systems to reduce sediment pollution due to stream channel erosion. Before joining the Water Center Shandor was a Principal at AKRF where he directed the firm’s Water Resources Practice. Shandor is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY.
Joanne Dahme

Joanne Dahme

Senior Advisor

Advisor

Bio

Joanne most recently served as the Philadelphia Water Department’s Deputy Commissioner for Communications and Engagement (DCCE) and was responsible for developing and implementing strategies that enhanced PWD’s image, services and engagement with its customers, all residents, elected officials, media and key stakeholders. Joanne directed the planning, development and implementation of programs designed to inform and serve water, wastewater and stormwater customers and the public and to increase the PWD’s credibility and accessibility. In October 2019, Joanne established Mayfly Communications, a professional service that specializes in public engagement, education and communications around environmental policies and regulatory challenges with a focus on water resources.
Scott Moore

Scott Moore

Senior Fellow

Water Resource Specialist

Bio

Scott Moore is a political scientist whose work focuses on water politics and policy, especially in China and South Asia. Scott is currently a Senior Fellow at the Penn Water Center as well as Director of China Programs in the Office of the Provost at the University of Pennsylvania. Until 2018, Scott was a Young Professional and Water Resources Management Specialist with the World Bank Water Global Practice, where he co-led a study of China’s water sector with the Development Research Center of the State Council and was a co-author of two flagship reports, High and Dry: Climate Change, Water, and the Economy, and Uncharted Waters: the New Economics of Water Scarcity and Variability. Previously, Scott served as Environment, Science, Technology, and Health Officer for China at the U.S. Department of State, where he worked extensively on the Paris Agreement on climate change, and prior to that was Giorgio Ruffolo Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Harvard University. He has published widely on the full range of global water issues in leading publications including Nature, Foreign Affairs, and The New York Times. He is also the author of Subnational Hydropolitics: Conflict, Cooperation, and Institution-Building in Shared River Basins, published in 2018 by Oxford University Press. Scott holds a doctorate in Politics and a master’s degree in Environmental Change and Management from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and a bachelor’s degree from Princeton.
Kristin Skiendzielewski

Kristin Skiendzielewski

Senior Advisor

Senior Advisor

Bio

Kristin comes to us as a senior advisor with a strong commitment to the intersection of public and environmental health. She has served the Philadelphia community as a licensed Master level Social Worker for 9 years and has completed her second Master of Public Health in Epidemiology in 2021 at Temple University. Her recent work with the Water, Health and Applied Microbiology Laboratory at Temple University has focused on the utilization of quantitative microbial risk assessment to estimate acute gastrointestinal illness risk in urban recreational waters impacted by pollution in Philadelphia. She hopes to promote an equitable water future for all populations that maintains balance with the surrounding ecosystems and to use data to develop effective solutions for surface water pollution in a changing climate.
Karl Russek

Karl Russek

Senior Advisor

russek@sas.upenn.edu

Bio

Karl Russek has over 25 years of experience in the areas of legacy pollutants, natural resources damage assessment, emerging environmental risks, industry/regulatory interface, and stakeholder management in the United States and globally. He holds a Master of Science degree in Environmental Quality Science from the University of Alaska where he focused assessment and restoration of freshwater systems. He most recently founded and managed the international environmental business for a leading global insurer.
Alex Cartwright

Alex Cartwright

Water Resource Analyst

Research Assistant

Bio

Alex is currently a graduate student in the Master of Environmental Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania, concentrating in Resilience and Adaptation. He hopes to influence resilient urban development, promote regenerative food systems, and work to protect our precious water and land resources. Alex joins The Water Center at Penn to support research that investigates water system infrastructure, policy, and funding, including Philadelphia’s Green City, Clean Waters program. He holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Economics from The University of Texas at Austin.
Rui Jiang

Rui Jiang

GIS Analyst

Research Assistant

Bio

Rui Jiang is currently a graduate student in the Master of Science in Applied Geosciences Program at the University of Pennsylvania, concentrating in Environmental Geology. For her undergrad, Rui graduated from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with a degree in Environmental Sciences. She also conducted undergraduate research to determine the origin of the world’s largest sailing ship ballast piles, driven by her interest in archaeology. Rui hopes to apply her GIS skills and use her knowledge on environmental issues to make the Delaware River “swimmable.” At the same time, while at the Water Center, she wants to gain experience from experts and develop skills for the future.