The Endangered Species Act @ 50 Symposium

Meet our Panelists!

Heather Whiteman Runs Him J.D.

Associate Clinical Professor; Director, Tribal Justice Clinic

Heather Whiteman Runs Him joins Arizona Law from the Native American Rights Fund in Boulder, Colorado, where she represented tribal clients on water rights and advised clients on claims relating to water, land, and other natural resource issues.

Heather was a joint lead counsel at the Crow Tribe Office of Executive Counsel and an assistant public defender for New Mexico Public Defenders – Metro Division.

Whiteman Runs Him received her JD from Harvard Law School, her BAFA in studio art and art history from the University of New Mexico, and her AFA in museum studies from the Institute of American Indian Arts.

ESA50 image
picture_website image

Dr. Daniel Bigelow

Dan Bigelow is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Economics at Oregon State University. His research and extension programs focus on local and regional economic development, with emphasis on issues concerning land use, rural and urban real estate markets, land and water policy, and local public finance. He also teaches and advises students in the Applied Economics Graduate Program.

Prior to joining OSU in the fall of 2022, Dan spent three years as a faculty member at Montana State University and four years as a research economist at the USDA’s Economic Research Service. He holds a PhD in Applied Economics from OSU. 

mike-brennan image

Michael Brennan J.D.

Mike is a senior advisor to the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute’s Wildlife Conservation and Mitigation Program. His work focuses on developing innovative conservation strategies to resolve complex threatened, endangered and sensitive species conservation challenges nationwide.


Mike practiced environmental and natural resources law beginning in 1983. His work included service as Executive Assistant to the Director, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service between 1989 and 1993, where he was intimately involved in high-profile conflicts arising under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and other programs. After government service, Mike started the Endangered Species Act practice group for the law firm of Holland & Hart, and subsequently NRI’s Wildlife Conservation and Mitigation Program. He is a nationally recognized expert in matters involving the Endangered Species Act and related statutes.


Mike is an emeritus member of the American College of Environmental Lawyers and an adjunct professor of and senior advisor to the University of Wyoming’s Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources and the Ruckelshaus Institute.

cooksey-bio-photo image

Lucas Cooksey

Project director for the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute, Lucas supports blending policy, planning, and practice into seamless programs that both sustain and enhance active land use alongside meaningful natural resource conservation.

With more than 20 years of experience in Natural Resources Management, his career includes appointments as a Park Ranger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, serving as the U.S. Army Fort Sam Houston & U.S. Air Force Joint Base San Antonio – Natural Resource Program Manager, the Senior Natural Resource Specialist for the U.S. Army Environmental Command, and the Natural Resources Program Manager for the U.S. Army Installation Management Command Headquarters, where he lead the conservation programs on over 75 Army Installations throughout the U.S and abroad.

headshot-katie-wright-color-1-scaled-e1690219906601-274x300 image

Dr. Katherine Wright

Katherine Wright is a PERC senior researcher. She is an expert on water policy and her current work includes exploration of solutions to western water scarcity. Through this work, she aims to facilitate long-term policy solutions that meet the needs of diverse stakeholder groups. Additional work focuses on analyzing the impact of water transfers on development and agricultural stakeholders.

Dr. Wright is also committed to improving the transparency of and data availability related to public water programs. Although her past research focused on water, her work is applicable to fisheries, land use, and other natural resources. She was an Osker Morgenstern fellow for the Mercatus Center for three years and received Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability Outstanding Graduate Comprehensive Exam award. She graduated with a Ph.D. in sustainability from Arizona State University.

Chris Beck

Chris leads a team of 50 employees and contractors who undertake various environmental duties, including preservation of historic structures, tribal and cultural resources, threatened and endangered species, water and stormwater, drinking water, hazardous materials, and hazardous waste management.

Chris has worked and led highly skilled teams of biologists, hydrologists, engineers, and scientists in tackling some of the most difficult issues that have impacted entire ecosystems.

In partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in California, Chris and his team drafted and received formal approval of a 5-year management plan to begin increasing populations of the Mojave Tui Chub in order to downlist (reclassify) the species located on NAWS, China Lake.

Mike Britton

Executive Manager at North Unit Irrigation District (NUID) – the second largest irrigation district in the State of Oregon. The district encompasses 113,000 acres, of which nearly 60,000 are irrigated, serving 950 patrons growing diversified agricultural crops and products. Mike is active in Federal, State, and Regional water issues, participating in Boards, Committees, and Advisory Groups that seek to protect regional water supplies while developing reliable and affordable water supplies for the future. Prior to joining NUID, Mike held regional and corporate-level positions in Engineering, Quality, Production, Environment, Health, and Safety. Most recently, Mike has joined Farmers Conservation Alliance, serving in an advisory role in addition to supporting their Government Relations team.