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Staff and Board

Sharlene Leurig

President and Interim CEO of Vida Water

Sharlene Leurig is Chief Executive Officer of Texas Water Trade and the President and Interim CEO of Vida Water.

Sharlene founded Texas Water Trade in 2018, bringing a decade of experience in sustainable water finance long-range water planning and water transactions. Previously, she directed the Texas Environmental Flows Initiative, a collaboration of The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, the Harte Research Institute, The Nature Conservancy and several other groups, to purchase water for the bays and estuaries of the Texas Gulf Coast. She also chaired the Austin Water Forward Task Force, which developed a groundbreaking 100-year water plan approved unanimously by the Austin City Council in 2018.

Sharlene is a Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation Entrepreneur and holds a BA in Physics and English from Washington University in St. Louis and a Master in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she was a fellow in the MIT-USGS Science Impact Collaborative. She serves as President and Interim CEO of Vida Water PBC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Texas Water Trade, which aims to provide clean and affordable drinking water for underserved populations in Texas.

Don Perkins

Vida Water Treasurer

Don Perkins has served as the Founder of Gulf of Maine Research Institute since 1995. He is also a board member at Texas Water Trade and serves as Vida Water Treasurer.

Since 2013, Don has served as the Executive Director of the Harte Charitable Foundation, developing their investments in the stewardship of and sustainable development of the Gulf of Mexico. The Harte Charitable Foundation provided catalytic financial support for the launch of Texas Water Trade. Don has led the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) from start-up to internationally-recognized climate change research and adaptation organization. Along the way, Don has spun off a non-profit real estate holding company, a limited liability company real estate holding company, two limited liability start-up companies, and is now raising a Blue Economy impact investment fund.

Tristan “Tris” Castañeda, Jr.

Vida Water Board Member

Tris Castañeda is a board member at Vida Water.

Tristan “Tris” has over thirty years of applied experience in local and state governmental relations. Tris joined Longbow Partners as an equity partner and is responsible for business development, direct advocacy, and counseling Longbow’s clients on environmental, transportation, workers’ compensation, appropriations, tax, economic development, land use, telecommunications, and utility matters in connection with the Texas Legislature and on various permit and rulemaking issues before state agencies.

Over the years, Tris has successfully represented and provided strategic counsel to numerous private sector, public sector, and non-profit interests. Tris has worked in the Texas Attorney General’s Office and as the Vice President of Government Relations for The Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, leading all the advocacy efforts at the state and local level. Tris also has substantial municipal government experience, having worked as a Special Assistant to former San Antonio Mayor, Henry Cisneros.

Priti Joshi

Vida Water Board Member

Priti Joshi is a board member at Vida Water.

Priti leads the Global Strategy & Operations function at Bumble where she is responsible for setting the multi-brand investment strategy across audience, channel, and geographic investments. She works with the Bumble executive leadership team to identify and launch international and category expansion opportunities. Prior to that role, Priti created the Marketing Analytics team, powering Bumble with data and insights to fuel growth for existing and new markets, bringing science to the art of business strategy, and using creative insights from data and market research to ensure sustainable growth.

She has been featured in the Austin Business Journal, CNBC, Wall Street Journal, BBC, Fast Company, NYTimes, Vogue India, Business Insider and Exhibit on behalf of Bumble. Prior to her roles at Bumble, she spent the better part of a decade working in management consulting at McKinsey & Company, where she helped answer strategic marketing and growth questions for consumer-focused companies. Priti earned her undergraduate degree at UT Austin and her MBA at Wharton.

Holly Kuzmich

Interim Board Chair

Holly Kuzmich is a board member at Vida Water.

Holly serves as a Managing Director of the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, a global venture philanthropy firm supporting early-stage, high-impact social enterprises. She plays a lead role in sourcing new investments and working with the leadership of those organizations as an operating partner and board member as they grow to build capacity and achieve their maximum impact. As a member of the Foundation’s senior leadership team, based in Dallas, Texas, Holly plays a lead role in increasing the Foundation’s presence, portfolio investments, and donor partnerships in Texas and the Southwest region. Holly currently serves on the board of grantee Child Poverty Action Lab.

Holly has 25 years of public policy and leadership experience. As Executive Director of the George W. Bush Institute, Holly led the team in developing and implementing major policy and programmatic initiatives on key issues of national and global importance. She oversaw the organization’s strategy on leadership development, with four leadership programs graduating over 1,000 alumni to date from around the world. Domestically, she led their efforts to push for comprehensive immigration reform and developed key alliances and partnerships in support of that effort. Globally, she shepherded the Bush Institute’s public-private partnership on global health that scaled up screening and treatment for cervical cancer for millions of women in sub-Saharan Africa.

She is a veteran of the White House, U.S. Department of Education, and Capitol Hill, where she developed her expertise in education policy. She served on the White House Domestic Policy Council staff and then as Deputy Chief of Staff and Assistant Secretary for Legislation and Congressional Affairs at the U.S. Department of Education. Prior to that, she worked for two United States Senators on domestic policy issues. She has also consulted on education and workforce issues with major foundations, companies, non-profits, and policymakers.

Holly also served as a Resident Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School, a Pahara Institute Fellow, and an Aspen Global Leadership Network member. She serves on the boards of the Gates Policy Initiative, the Institute for Citizens & Scholars, and the Dallas Assembly, and is an alumnus of the Texas Lyceum. She is a graduate of Northwestern University.

Leslie Llado

Vida Water Board Member

Leslie Llado is a board member at Vida Water.

Leslie is a hydrogeologist and environmental scientist who is now focused on building social impact initiatives around the globe. She recently joined the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as Program Manager where she focuses on strategy, planning, and management for the genomics, epidemiology, and modeling division of their global health team. Previously, Leslie led Splash International’s award-winning, mission-aligned social enterprise, which she launched for the organization in 2019 to create and sell handwashing stations that improve health outcomes for kids in low- and middle-income countries. In just a few years, Leslie scaled this business to sell 7,000 stations and generate $3M in blended revenue from sales, impact investments, and grants. And prior to that, she used her unique blend of scientific research and business-focused strategy skills to work on community development initiatives in rural Ethiopia and environmental sustainability projects in Texas.

Marcela Navarrete

Vida Water Board Member

Marcela Navarrete is a board member at Vida Water.

Marcela Navarrete recently retired as VP – Strategic, Financial and Management Services at El Paso Water. In her two decades at El Paso Water, Navarrete worked her way up from accountant to be the first woman Chief Financial Officer and also led strategic and management services with scope that includes accounting, procurement, land management, customer service, information technology and human resources. She is credited with driving efficiencies and maintaining the utility’s AA+ bond rating while keeping El Paso Water and wastewater rates among the lowest in Texas. Navarrete holds an accounting degree from The University of Texas at El Paso and is a Certified Public Accountant. She has served on many community and professional Boards and in 2016 was named a Woman of Impact by El Paso Inc.

Sharlene Leurig

CEO of Texas Water Trade

Sharlene Leurig is Chief Executive Officer of Texas Water Trade.

Sharlene founded Texas Water Trade in 2018, bringing a decade of experience in sustainable water finance long-range water planning and water transactions. Previously, she directed the Texas Environmental Flows Initiative, a collaboration of The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, the Harte Research Institute, The Nature Conservancy and several other groups, to purchase water for the bays and estuaries of the Texas Gulf Coast. She also chaired the Austin Water Forward Task Force, which developed a groundbreaking 100-year water plan approved unanimously by the Austin City Council in 2018.

Sharlene is a Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation Entrepreneur and holds a BA in Physics and English from Washington University in St. Louis and a Master in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she was a fellow in the MIT-USGS Science Impact Collaborative. She serves as founding Board Chair of Vida Water PBC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Texas Water Trade, which aims to provide clean and affordable drinking water for underserved populations in Texas.

Nicole Beckstrom

Development Associate

Nicole Beckstrom is the Development Associate at Texas Water Trade.

Nicole comes to Texas Water Trade with a background in sustainability and experience working within the nonprofit sector. She earned a BS in Sustainability with a focus in ecosystems from Arizona State University. After she graduated, Nicole completed a service year with AmeriCorps with 4-H Capital in Austin, TX. She then became the Garden Science Educational Specialist at 4-H Capital. Nicole is passionate about building sustainable communities, connecting people to resources, and empowering others to be changemakers.

In her free time, Nicole likes to explore the many parks in Austin, play trivia with friends, and hang out with her cat, Stella.