Association of State Wetland Managers, Inc. - Staff

Marla J. Stelk, ASWMMarla J. Stelk, Executive Director ()

Marla is the Executive Director at the Association of State Wetland Managers (ASWM) where she has worked on wetland policy and management issues since 2013. Marla has over 25 years of experience working on wetland, water, and wildlife issues, climate change, environmental policy and research, land use planning, communications and organizational leadership. Marla has led research at ASWM on topics such as ecosystem service valuation for wetland restoration, the role of wetlands in floodplain and natural hazard management, wetlands and watershed health, wetland mapping and communications. Prior to coming to ASWM, Marla worked for a variety of environmental and social nonprofit organizations helping to build organizational capacity, manage projects and improve internal processes. Marla earned her MA in Community Planning and Development with a focus on Land Use and the Environment at the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service and her BA in Environmental Issues from Colorado College.

Donna DowningDonna Downing, Senior Legal Policy Advisor 

Donna Downing is the Senior Legal Policy Advisor at the Association of State Wetland Managers. Donna was the Jurisdiction Team Leader in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds from 2007-2020. Donna worked on a variety of issues at EPA, with a focus in recent years on the geographic scope of the Clean Water Act (CWA) in light of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions. She also served as EPA’s staff lead for CWA section 401 water quality certification, and on wetland-related legal issues. Prior to joining EPA in 1998, Donna worked for the U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment and in private law practice. She has a BA magna cum laude from Harvard University, an MPP from the University of California at Berkeley, a JD cum laude from Georgetown University Law School, and an LLM in Environmental Law summa cum laude from George Washington University Law School. Donna has been an adjunct professor at George Washington University Law School since 1996, teaching environmental law. In what’s left of her time, she moonlights as a professional potter and an unprofessional horse trainer. Donna also enjoys traveling and has traveled by reindeer sled in the Swedish Arctic, gone winter camping with dog sleds in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Wilderness Area, and bicycled the Burma Road in China.

Brenda ZollitschBrenda Zollitsch, Senior Policy Analyst ()

Brenda is Senior Policy Analyst at the Association of State Wetland Managers. Brenda’s areas of expertise include water resource policy, wetland policy and management, stormwater management, and collaborative environmental policy implementation. At ASWM, Brenda designs and conducts research and policy analysis on wetland and other aquatic resource issues; analyzes federal policy changes; manages projects; designs training for wetland professionals; coordinates webinars; and makes presentations on ASWM’s work to a variety of audiences. Brenda has led many major multi-year projects for ASWM, including projects on CWA Section 404 Assumption, wetland regulatory capacity building, pipeline permitting, developing high quality wetland training, status and trends analysis of all 50 state wetland programs across the United States and national comparative analysis of stream identification, delineation and mitigation practices in the U.S. Brenda earned her PhD in Public Policy from the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service in 2012, focusing on environmental policy and collaborative environmental management. She has her double Master’s degree from Boston University and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine. Brenda has more than 25 years of organizational leadership experience and a strong background in academic and action research, facilitation, training and communications. In addition to her work for ASWM, Brenda serves as adjunct faculty at the University of Southern Maine teaching public policy and assists water resource collaborations as a professional facilitator. Brenda is a Switzer Environmental Fellow and has been instrumental in developing regional approaches to stormwater management in the State of Maine.

Audra MartinAudra Martin, Policy Analyst 

Audra is a Policy Analyst at the Association of State Wetland Managers, where she conducts research, analyzes policies, and evaluates state and tribal aquatic resource programs and program needs. Previously, Audra worked on water quality issues with NEIWPCC, a northeast regional commission. Her experience includes conducting webinars and meetings in support of state wetland programs, developing policy position papers, and managing federal grant projects. In the past 10 years she has provided a range of support to government and nonprofit agencies addressing natural resource management on a local to global scale. She holds a Master of Environmental Management degree. 


Dawn Smith, ASWM

Dawn Smith, Communications Specialist ()

Dawn works on multimedia projects, focusing on webinars and short videos. After working in the corporate world for several years, she is redirecting creative energies towards social media, documentaries and short film communication formats.  A lifetime resident of Maine, she has an appreciation for the preservation of local heritage and natural treasures, primarily from behind the lens. Working with the Association of State Wetland Managers, she has gained a greater appreciation for the local and national efforts to preserve and rebuild the wetland ecosystems that are all around us.  


Marti NorthoverMarti Northover, Accounting and Human Resources Manager ()

Marti Northover is the ASWM Accounting and Human Resources Manager. Marti has over 30 years of professional experience in accounting, logistics and advertising. Marti has an undergraduate degree in Geography  from Framingham State University in Framingham, MA and masters degree in Environmental Science from Clark University in Worcester, MA. Professionally Marti has taught environment related courses at colleges in MA, was owner of an historic inn, worked as the Director of Accounting and HR at a logistic company in MA and a homeless shelter in ME. Six years ago Marti moved to Alfred, ME, where she lives with her husband Vernon, enjoying the lake life and her chickens, ducks and nice garden. Currently Marti is the Treasurer of the Parson’s Memorial Library Board of Trustees and is an Associate Member of Alfred Conservation Commission.


Laura Burchill, ASWM

Laura Burchill, Office Manager ()

Laura is the Office Manager in the Windham office and has been with the Association since 2004. She is responsible for maintaining the membership information; assisting with the many tasks involved in preparing for webinars and workshops, preparing Association publications as well as general office duties. She has 30+ years’ experience in graphic design and also works part-time for Parent & Family, a local publication.  She lives in Windham, Maine with her husband Dave and their canine companion Jay. 



Sharon Weaver, Webmaster ()

Sharon is the Publications Specialist and Webmaster for the Association in the Berne, New York office, where she has worked for the past 20+ years. Along with general office tasks, she works on the layout and design of Association publications, reports, and brochures. She helps coordinate ASWM workshops and symposia. She manages the ASWM website, which includes daily updates and prepares and designs new webpages. When she is not entertaining company, she enjoys some alone time with her husband, Ken, and grown children Karla and Pieter.  She adores her dog and cat, who complete the family nest.



Tessa Paulsen, Intern ()

Tessa is ASWM’s newest intern. Ms. Paulsen graduated from University of New Haven in CT with a Bachelor of Arts in Marine Affairs with a minor in Sociology. She will be attending the Portland State University in Portland, OR to complete a master’s degree in environmental science and natural resource management. Tessa’s main career goal is to work on science communication and outreach with communities that have a history of distrust of government policy. This includes commercial fishers and indigenous peoples. During her time at ASWM, Tessa will be performing a literature review of hydrological dynamics in relation to silviculture management practices and coastal wetlands, as well as testing and assisting with the development of training modules on beavers and wetland restoration best practices, in addition to other activities in support of ASWM’s mission.