Elizabeth (Betsy) Nicholas, Executive Director
Betsy Nicholas is the Executive Director of WATERKEEPERS® Chesapeake, the regional coalition of 19 Waterkeepers protecting the rivers and streams of the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays Watersheds. She has been leading this organization since 2012. She is also the founder of the Fair Farms campaign - building a movement of Marylanders of all stripes, working together for a new food system — one that is fair to farmers, invests in homegrown healthy foods, and restores our waterways instead of polluting them. Previously, she worked as a trial attorney in the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of U.S. Department of Justice for several years. Prior to that, she was the General Counsel for Chattahoochee Riverkeeper in Atlanta, Georgia for more than five years. Betsy was also an environmental associate for law firms in New York and Washington, DC. Her experience includes, all types of stormwater pollution, industrial agriculture, regenerative agriculture, clean water act litigation, legislative advocacy, endangered species act conservation, hydropower licensing and a host of other issues that come with 20 years of environmental work. Like most clean water advocates, she also loves to get out on the water when she can.
Alicia LaPorte, Fair Farms Campaign Manager
Alicia LaPorte started in August 2017. Alicia has nearly a decade of experience working to promote public health, support sustainable agriculture, and protect our environment by implementing campaign strategies that combine direct grassroots and coalition organizing with smart marketing and communications tools. Alicia worked for more than 7 years at The Pew Charitable Trust as both a digital campaigns expert and as a senior outreach associate for the Campaign on Human Health & Industrial Farming. She spent the past two years learning from the ground up about farming, meat production, and the business of responsibly-produced food. Alicia managed on-the-ground operations of the mobile farmers market at Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture, a Fair Farms partner. She also worked as a butcher’s apprentice at a sustainably sourced delicatessen and at a hog farm and sustainable agriculture education center in Italy. Alicia provided consulting support to George Washington University’s Antibiotic Resistance Action Center and to Niman Ranch, a leading meat company that sources from over 720 independent farmers and ranchers committed to sustainable & humane practices.
Katlyn Schmitt, Staff Attorney
Katlyn joined our staff in 2016 to provide legal assistance to our Waterkeepers and to work on our legal action and legislative priorities. Katlyn graduated in 2015 from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law with a Certificate of Specialization in Environmental Law. Her work there focused heavily on water pollution issues and the implementation of the Clean Water Act. She has years of policy experience under her belt working as Chief of Staff for a Maryland State Delegate, and working for a United States Senator and a Member of Parliament in England. Katlyn received her B.A. in Political Science magna cum laude from Messiah College.
Lacey Gaechter, Development & Communications Manager
Lacey joined our staff in 2018 to oversee Waterkeepers Chesapeake's fundraising and communications efforts. Her professional background is primarily with environmental nonprofits, and she most recently worked on renewable energy projects on Native American reservations, especially in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains. She is currently pursuing her Doctor of Public Health degree in Environmental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health - where she is a Center for A Livable Future-Lerner Fellow. She has her Master's in Kinesiology & Health from the University of Wyoming. Her studies focus on the human, environmental, and farmed animal health impacts of industrial food animal production. The thing this western woman loves most about the east? You guessed it - the water!
Shelby Kalm, Outreach Coordinator, Fair Farms Campaign
Shelby joined our staff in 2017 after a 2016 internship with the Fair Farms campaign. She is a graduate of St. Mary’s College where she received her undergraduate degree magna cum laude in Public Policy and Art History. Her culminating thesis focused on urban agriculture. While at St. Mary's, she worked at the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission. Post-grad she then worked as the Sustainability Coordinator at her alma mater. During that time she worked closely with the Campus Community Farm which supplies the campus dinning hall and local food banks.
Cindy Wallace, Administrative Manager
Cindy joined the Waterkeepers Chesapeake team in February 2018. Cindy returns to the Waterkeeper movement after a few years working for a sustainable home furnishing start-up retail business. Prior to that, she helped one of our member organizations, South River Federation, in its early days of moving from a sole volunteer organization. She brings extensive administrative experience and knowledge from a wide variety of companies, non-profits and is a US Navy Veteran. Environmentalism runs in her blood and she has a passion for the Waterkeeper movement. When not working, you will find her biking, paddling, gardening or working on any number of creative projects.