Lauren Ris, Deputy Director, Colorado Water Conservation Board
Heather Dutton, Manager, San Luis Valley Water Conservation District
Robert Sakata, President of Sakata Farms
As the Deputy Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Lauren supports the Director and the agency’s staff in carrying out CWCB’s mission. She works on a number of issues and policies including Colorado’s Water Plan implementation, state and federal legislative activities that impact the agency, and water projects and negotiations with statewide significance. Prior to taking on this role, she was the Assistant Director for Water for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources where she coordinated water policy development and implementation across the Department’s divisions in coordination with the Governor’s Office. She also served as a Legislative Liaison for the Department where she oversaw legislative affairs for Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Division of Forestry. Prior to working for the State of Colorado, Lauren has experience in the federal and non-profit sectors. Lauren has a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science and Natural Resources Policy from the University of Michigan.
Heather Dutton grew up on a potato and barley farm in the San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado, where she gained a love for the outdoors.
Heather is fortunate to work as the Manager of the San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District. In this role, she manages an augmentation program for domestic, commercial, and municipal wells in five counties of the San Luis Valley. One of the greatest rewards of this position is the opportunity to work with friends in the water community to find creative ways to manage water and natural resources in the Rio Grande Basin. She was also appointed to the Colorado Water Conservation Board in 2017.
Heather previously worked to improve the health of the Rio Grande as the Director of the Colorado Rio Grande Restoration Foundation and the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project. She now serves on the Board of the Colorado Rio Grande Restoration Foundation in addition to the Boards of the Rio Grande Watershed Conservation and Education Initiative and the Rio Grande Watershed Emergency Action Coordination Team.
Heather earned a Masters of Agriculture and Bachelor of Science Degrees in Natural Resources Management and Rangeland Ecology with a concentration in Restoration Ecology from Colorado State University. She is happiest when exploring the surrounding mountains on foot, bikes, and snowmobiles with her husband, Tanner.
Robert T. Sakata is President of Sakata Farms in Brighton, Colorado, which was started by his father, Bob. Growing up on the family farm, his parents were a great example of how important involvement in the community is. Following their footsteps, Sakata is founding President of the Board of Directors for the Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association, which aims to fill a need for a common voice representing produce growers across the state.
Sakata also serves on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Water Congress, the Fulton Irrigation Company, the New Brantner Irrigation Ditch Company and the Brighton Ditch Company. He is the agricultural representative on the Metro Basin Roundtable, and is on the Board of Trustees for the National Onion Association.
Sakata served Colorado on the Water Quality Control Commission for 15 years appointed by three different governors. While studying at the Molecular Cellular & Developmental Biology Department at University of Colorado, Sakata worked for AMGEN when they opened their research labs in Boulder. Currently Sakata Farms grows onions, winter wheat, grain corn, and pinto beans on his family farm.