Heather Lukacs

Heather Lukacs's picture
Basic Info
Wild Gift Class Year: 
Better World Expertise: 
Community Engagement/Activism
Conservation & Stewardship
Public & Institutional Policy
Current Occupation: 
Project Director, Water Justice Non-Profit Organization

Since 2003, Wild Gift has inspired my advocacy work, research, and guiding - encouraging me to re-evaluate my life's path and set ambitious goals to align “my greatest passion with the world's deepest needs.” Currently, I work for a non-profit organization and local communities to secure access to safe, affordable drinking water in the Salinas Valley of California. In 2014, I completed my PhD in Stanford University's Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources. My dissertation focused on grassroots community groups working to restore and protect rivers and streams in Appalachia. I have conducted research on topics ranging from the role of post-construction support in the sustainability of rural water supplies in Boliviapoint-of-use water treatment, community-based natural resource management, place re-making and watershed protection, and arsenic transport in sediments and water. From 2009-2012, I co-facilitated a regional clean water alliance for the New River as West Virginia Program Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. Prior, I worked as a lecturer in MIT's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, where I also received undergraduate and masters degrees.

My love for rivers and sharing this with others has spurred me to continue to paddle and guide whitewater rivers - with friends, commercial clients, and to volunteer on the river on the Wild Gift annual float.