J. Carl Ganter: Co-Founder and Director

J. Carl Ganter is co-founder and director of Circle of Blue, the center for frontline reporting, research, and analysis on water resource issues and their relationship to food and energy in a changing climate. Ganter is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster, and photojournalist whose work has appeared in most major magazines, newspapers, and television and radio networks, including Time, National Geographic, and Rolling Stone. He earned his MSJ in investigative and magazine reporting at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism after graduating with honors from the University’s American Studies Program.

Carl is the past vice chairman of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Water Security, and served as a member of the Forum’s Global Future Council on the Environment and its New Vision for Agriculture and Water initiatives. He has presented or moderated sessions at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Aspen Ideas Festival, Techonomy, DLD, Global Entrepreneurship Summit, Aspen Environment Forum, World Water Week, Fung Global Institute, Concordia Summit, Impact Summit, International Water Summit, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and others. He is a recipient of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Centennial Innovation Award.

Eileen Ganter: Co-Founder and Creative Director

Eileen nurtures the creative ethos of Circle of Blue by cultivating the lyrical ingredients of journalism to supporting the human factor in all aspects of our work. Eileen has an MA in radio and television production from the University of Detroit. She is a writer, director, and narrator who produced and hosted regional and national programming for 13 years at Interlochen Public Radio, a National Public Radio affiliate in Northern Michigan. Eileen has won Telly Awards for her script writing and documentary work, and her association with Circle of Blue follows many years of independent multimedia journalistic projects and a life-long love of the Great Lakes. She holds an undergraduate and a masters degree (summa cum laude) in film and video from the University of Detroit. Dedicated to seeing our world from new perspectives, she gave this project its name. “In the long view,” Eileen says in our flagship video, “we are defined against the edge of space as a simple circle of blue.”

Matthew Welch: Operations Director

Matthew manages the logistics of research, analysis, reporting, and grant writing for Circle of Blue. Matthew has a BA in international studies from DePaul University, an MBA from the Ross School of Business, and an MS in sustainable systems from the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan. He has more than 18 years of experience in general management, sustainable development, and consulting. In that time, Matthew has lead strategy, partnership, and stakeholder-engagement development for the sustainability efforts of the U.S. dairy industry; run a profitable retail food business; assisted small-scale agribusinesses in Peru with the U.S. Peace Corps; conducted revenue-generation projects for nonprofit organizations; and consulted for Fortune 500 companies, social enterprises, and start-up businesses, including Pepsico, Ecolab, and Proctor & Gamble. He is co-author of Hybrid Organizations: New Business Models for Environmental Leadership.

Keith Schneider: Senior Editor and Chief Correspondent

Keith manages story development for Circle of Blue. As senior editor and chief correspondent for our Global Choke Point project, Keith has reported on the intensifying confrontation between water, food, and energy from six continents. Keith holds a BA from Haverford College, and he is a nationally known journalist, online communications specialist, and environmental policy expert. He has won numerous awards for his work as a journalist, program innovator, and editor, including two George Polk Memorial Awards for environmental and national reporting (1984 and 1988), which are among the most prestigious in American journalism. For more than a decade, Keith was a national correspondent for The New York Times, where he continues to report as a special writer on energy, urban affairs, real estate, business, technology, environment, agriculture, and cultural trends. Before joining Circle of Blue, he was media and communications director at the US Climate Action Network and communications director at the Apollo Alliance. Keith developed one of the first independent online news desks as the founder and executive director of the Michigan Land Use Institute. A sought-after public speaker on global trends in energy, water, and food, and on the role of original reporting and online communications in the public interest, Keith writes from his home in Northern Michigan, where he has lived since 1993. Read his personal site at Modeshift.org.

Brett Walton: Senior Reporter

Brett writes about agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and the politics and economics of water in the United States for Circle of Blue. Brett also writes the Federal Water Tap, Circle of Blue’s weekly digest of U.S. government water news. He has an MA in Central Asian studies from the University of Washington and a BA in English from the University of Richmond. He is the winner of two Society of Environmental Journalists reporting awards, one of the top honors in American environmental journalism: first place for explanatory reporting for a series on septic system pollution in the United States (2016) and third place for beat reporting in a small market (2014). Brett has received fellowships from SEJ (2013) and the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources (2011). He is a frequent public speaker on U.S. water issues. Prior to Circle of Blue, Brett worked on a NASA-affiliated water data research project. Brett lives in Seattle, where he hikes the mountains and bakes pies.

Laura Herd: Project Manager, and Producer

Laura is the Project and Content Manager, for Circle of Blue, overseeing projects for its publication desk, the technical aspects of its website, content management, and developing social media strategies. Laura joined Circle of Blue in 2015. Her first project with Circle of Blue was to develop and implement the complete redesign of the Circle of Blue’s website. Laura also served as a project manager for the 2017 WATERSHED Conference at the Vatican. By nature Laura is an event producer; she co-created and ran the Traverse City Wine & Art Festival from 2009-2013.

Laura has a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Social Relations from Earlham College. She attended Earlham on a service learning scholarship due to her extensive work with youth programs prior to college. While studying at Earlham Laura was actively engaged in the local community, creating programs for underserved youth and working at Girls Inc. After college she served as an AmeriCorp Vista for 3 years. Laura spent 4 years at Michigan State University Extension creating and running after school and summer programs for youth, including her award winning Girls Groups, support groups for middle school girls. Laura lives in Traverse City, Michigan. You can find her remodeling her own home, gardening or wandering the shores of Lake Michigan.

Connor Bebb: Senior Operations Associate

Connor Bebb assists in daily operations, aids in research, oversees social media outlets and develops social media strategies at Circle of Blue. His work on the team serves to promote Circle of Blue content and support ongoing projects through research. He graduated summa cum laude Bachelors in Freshwater studies at Western Michigan University, where he was awarded the 2019 Presidential Scholar in environment and sustainability. Connor also graduated with highest honors from Northwestern Michigan College where he served as President of the Student Government Association and worked on numerous college committees, all aimed at improving the college as a whole as well as the general student experience. Connor was a member of the Michigan All-Academic Team. In 2009, he and five other students were selected globally to work with National Geographic to develop and produce high school level curriculum through the Jason Project.

Jane Johnston: Communications Associate

Jane writes The Stream and covers domestic and international water issues for Circle of Blue. She is a recent graduate of Grand Valley State University, where she studied Multimedia Journalism and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. During her time at Grand Valley, she was the host of the Community Service Learning Center podcast Be the Change. Currently based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Jane enjoys listening to music, reading and spending time outdoors.

Christian Thorsberg: Fellow

Christian Thorsberg is an intern this spring with Circle of Blue, and a fourth-year student at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He will graduate this June with majors in Journalism and Creative Writing, and will attend Medill’s MSJ program to concentrate in magazine and environmental writing. He is passionate about making urgent climate and cultural phenomena that often appear slow or invisible, and examines such topics in his reporting, poetry, and fiction writing. In 2020, Christian was awarded the Best of Medill award for video journalism. His work has been published by Stories From the Border, WFMT Chicago, STITCH Magazine, Helicon, and others.”

Katie Riles: Intern

Katie Riles is an intern this summer with Circle of Blue and is finishing her Bachelor’s in Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Michigan. She is excited to apply her expertise in geospatial data visualization and analysis to the emerging water stories covered by Circle of Blue. She loves the outdoors and is passionate about educating people on the dangers that climate change poses to those spaces. Katie is currently in Ann Arbor, MI and likes to run, hike, and climb in her free time.

Ava Mastrianni: Intern

Ava Mastrianni is an intern this summer at Circle of Blue and will be entering her 3rd year at the Ohio State University in the fall. She is an Environmental Policy and Political Science double major interested in exploring the intersectionality of addressing environmental and social issues and hopes to pursue a career in environmental law in the future. She is looking forward to interning this summer and working to increase Circle of Blue’s online presence. In her free time you can find Ava spending time outdoors, reading, or grabbing a cup of coffee.