• John Huber
    President, Louisville Water Company

  • Tom Davis
    Professor and Director of the Center for Desalination Systems, University of Texas at El Paso

  • Gary Wolff
    Environmental Engineer, CEO for California and California State Water Board Resources Control Board

  • Margaret Caldwell
    Director, Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Program


  • Strain
  • Northey
  • USDA
  • NOAA
  • EPA
  • White House Office of Science and Technology Policy


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The Team

The Tulane University Water Innovations team is comprised of a unique group of experts and nationally recognized industry leaders in Social Innovation, Water Resources Law and Policy and in Coastal Research.

Rick AubryRick Aubry
Assistant Provost for Social Entrepreneurship and Community Engagementand Professor of Practice, Tulane University

Rick Aubry is Assistant Provost for Social Entrepreneurship and Community Engagement, and Professor of Practice at Tulane University. Tulane has made social entrepreneurship and community engagement the centerpiece of its strategy, imagining a new role for universities as active participants in the renewal of their communities. The development of grand challenges furthers this mission and is part of Rick's portfolio at Tulane.

Rick is the founder/CEO of New Foundry Ventures, a U.S. based nonprofit which aspires to be “the laboratory for scaling social enterprise”. New Foundry Ventures launches and supports social enterprises which create significant, scaled social impact. Most recently it launched “Emerge”, a social mission-driven business whose goal is to provide better borrowing choices for working people and to end predatory lending practices.

Rick has been a lecturer in management and a member of the Stanford Graduate School of Business faculty. He was CEO of Rubicon Programs, a U.S. social enterprise in Richmond, CA from 1986-2009 serving over 50,000 people confronting homeless, poverty and disabilities. Rick co-authored "Generating/Sustaining Nonprofit Earned Income" and "Nonprofit Management 101" (Jossey-Bass 2004 and 2011). He was selected a CNN/Time Magazine "Principal Voice" in 2008 and Fast Company Magazine "Social Capitalist of the Year" five years running. In 2001, the World Economic Forum selected Rick a Schwab Social Entrepreneur; he served as chair of the WEF Global Council of Social Entrepreneurs 2008-2009. Rick became an Ashoka Senior Fellow in 2009.

Mark S. DavisMark S. Davis
Senior Research Fellow and Director of the Institute on
Water Resources Law and Policy, Tulane University Law School

Mark Davis is a Senior Research Fellow at Tulane University Law School and Director of the Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy at the law school. The mission of the institute is to foster an appreciation of the importance of water resources and the vital roles that law and policy play in their management and stewardship.

Prior to coming to Tulane, Mr. Davis served for fourteen years as Executive Director of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, a broad based organization committed to the stewardship of Louisiana's coast.

Mr. Davis has a BS and JD from Indiana University and an MLT from Georgetown University.


Michael J. BlumMichael J. Blum
Eugenie Schwartz Professor of River & Coastal Studies and
Director of the Tulane-Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research, Tulane University

Dr. Michael Blum is the Eugenie Schwartz Professor of River & Coastal Studies in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and the Director of the Tulane-Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research (CBR). Mike's expertise is in molecular population genetics, molecular ecology, and the ecology of river and coastal ecosystems. For the past six years, he has been leading a federally funded research consortium focusing on water quality and aquatic conservation in the State of Hawai'i. While serving as the Arnold Early Career Professor in Earth and Ecological Science, Mike worked closely with academic, government and industry partners to advance coastal remediation and recovery following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. He has also collaborated on federally funded projects with colleagues at Tulane and partner institutions to develop New Orleans as an urban long-term research area to understand socioeconomic and human health drivers of biological diversity. 

As Director of the CBR, Mike ably represents Tulane on advisory panels with authority or responsibility in the environmental sciences, including the Academic Liaison Group of The Water Institute of the Gulf. He is also leading a major initiative to establish a new riverfront campus and center of excellence for cross-cutting scholarship on energy, environment and sustainability. By addressing long-standing and future needs for environmental innovation, the initiative will contribute to the revitalization of post-Katrina New Orleans, and more broadly, to the resilience and well being of coastal ecosystems and communities on the Gulf and worldwide.


Sharon Courtney
Vice President for Government & Community Relations, Tulane University

Sharon Courtney oversees Tulane's federal, state, local governmental and and community affairs initiatives. Prior to Tulane, Ms. Courtney was a Senior Legislative Assistant to former U.S. Representative John P. Murtha. She has also served as a Legislative Assistant to former U.S. Representative Larkin Smith and in the Governmental Relations Department of the Chemical Manufacturers Association.

Ms. Courtney received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Mississippi and currently serves as President of the Board for ReNEW Schools in New Orleans.


Rebecca OttenRebecca Otten
Program Coordinator – Social Innovation Engagement

Rebecca Otten is the program coordinator for Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (SISE) at the Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching. Rebecca oversees our co-curricular programming and she advises students who declare the SISE Minor. She is also currently pursuing a masters degree in Public Health. Rebecca received a BSM in Management and a BS in Anthropology from Tulane University in 2009. She is actively involved in the Pensiontown Neighborhood, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, and the New Orleans Mission.


Stephanie BarksdaleStephanie Bosse Barksdale
Special Assistant to the President for Social Entrepreneurship Initiatives

Stephanie Barksdale is the Special Assistant to President Cowen for Social Innovation Initiatives and is also the Assistant Director for the Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching – Social Innovation Engagement at Tulane University.

After working in the diplomatic field for several years, Stephanie received her MPA, with a concentration in non-profit management, from NYU Wagner School of Public Service.Stephanie has also worked for The Low Income Investment Fund, Upwardly Global, and the King Hussein Foundation International.

Currently, Stephanie is helping Tulane build upon its strengths in service learning and civic engagement to develop a university-wide, interdisciplinary social innovation and entrepreneurship program. Current initiatives include a speaker series, social venture competitions, engaging student's across the university, and an academic minor in social innovation and social entrepreneurship.Learn more at


Mike StreckerMike Strecker
Executive Director of Public Relations, Tulane University

Mike Strecker, executive director of public relations at Tulane University, joined the university community in 1998. He currently directs Tulane's media relations efforts and provides communications support for Tulane's president and other top administrators.



Rebecca ConwellRebecca Conwell
Project Manager

A consultant to Tulane University, Rebecca Conwell is the member-manager of Twenty-Two Ten, L.L.C., a consulting business specializing in government affairs, project creation and execution, issue analysis and management, and grassroots coalition building. Prior to founding Twenty-Two Ten, Rebecca spent over 14 years at Tulane University serving in various capacities.

Rebecca is a 2014 Tulane University Encore Innovation Fellow and works as a mentor/consultant at Propeller, A Force for Social Innovation.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000