In November, Channelkeeper’s Board of Directors elected Brad Newton as its new board president and his term began on January 1st. Brad has served on the board since 2016 and is the founder of Newton Geo-Hydrology Consulting Services, LLC. He has a B.A. in geology, an M.A. in groundwater hydrology, and a Ph.D. in surface water hydrology, and he is a licensed professional geologist with 33 years of experience in environmental consulting. We recently caught up with Brad to learn more about his life-long interest in earth surface processes, his commitment to service, and his plans for supporting the exciting next phase of Channelkeeper’s work.
1. Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What interests you?
I’m still growing up and hope it never stops. I was born in Wyoming into a family that has lived in Wyoming for many generations. My youth was spent on the sands of Huntington Beach, California, and I migrated north to Santa Barbara in the early 80s.
2. Was there a defining moment in your life that inspired you to work with water?
My excitement about the earth and earth surface processes was first ignited by a high school teacher named Carol Stadum. She taught geology and invited me to join her class. She took us to fossils digs all over Southern California. She was more than just passionate about geology; she was an outstanding teacher! I joined the Geology Club and became president for one year. I eventually earned my BA in geology at UCSB, but my excitement about hydrology began when I worked in the geothermal energy exploration industry.
3. What excites you about Channelkeeper? Why did you choose to become a board member?
My family elders were always involved in service organizations throughout my life. It has been natural for me to give back to my community. Channelkeeper sparked my interest when one past board president, Tim Robinson, and one current board member and co-founder, Ken Falstrom, began sharing about our mission and inviting me to donate. The Santa Barbara Channel is a globally unique ecosystem of biodiversity and human interaction. Channelkeeper monitors and collects data from the watersheds that provide fresh water and nutrients to the channel, and undertakes other critical activities offshore. As an earth surface processes scientist, the physical processes that impact the health of the channel are well within my expertise, particularly the interface of the terrestrial and oceanic environments.
4. How will your background in hydrogeology influence your role as board president?
As board president, my science background merges with all aspects of the organizational operations. Our staff is world-class, and our board fully supports their efforts and vision. Our board is comprised of individuals with a wide range of expertise, including finance, business operations, legal, science, marketing, and networking. I am so thankful that our Board is fully engaged in contributing their expertise to SBCK. No one person can run the show, and my role may largely be to encourage consensus while utilizing individual contributions.
5. What great things do you hope to accomplish as board president?
Channelkeeper is currently at a pivotal transition. With a new Executive Director, Ted Morton, our staff, and many years of healthy operations, Channelkeeper is poised to look to the distant future and imagine a place regarded globally as a model example of preservation and restoration. The journey there is the focus of our new, to-be-developed, Strategic Plan. As board president, my role is to support the journey for this exciting new phase of Channelkeeper activity.
6. Do you have a favorite aquatic pastime?
I regularly run our local trails, board surf and body surf when there is a swell, fishing, and scuba diving are always fun, as well as sailing and boating. If there is an adventure to be had, I’ll often jump on and enjoy the ride!!
7. If you were a marine organism what would you be and why?
Phytoplankton! Definitely Phytoplankton! Primary production is fundamental to life on this planet, and Phytoplankton is a major contributor to the primary production that supports all life. Besides, “phyto” is a cool nickname.