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#UGRWCD staff


SONJA CHAVEZ, General Manager

Sonja joined the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District as General Manager in December 2019.

Sonja received both her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Biology and a master’s degree in Limnology (the study of freshwater systems) from the University of Colorado. Her areas of expertise are in water quality, water resources management, funding acquisition, environmental and natural resource sciences, and policy and planning.  Previously, Sonja managed her own private water consulting firm and served as the Water Resource Specialist for the Colorado River Water Conservation District (Colorado River District).


JOHN McCLOW, General Counsel

John is a graduate of Colorado Law. He has represented the District since 1991, becoming full-time General Counsel in 2006. His work has consisted, in part, of water court litigation, including basin-wide plans for augmentation, and legislative advocacy. John has served on numerous boards, commissions, and organizations involving Colorado water, including the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Upper Colorado River Commission, and Colorado Water Congress.

Beverly Richards, Senior Water Resource Specialist/Office Manager

Beverly has been with the District since 2005.  Since joining the District, she went on to receive her Master’s Degree in Environmental Management and Planning.  Beverly works as the senior water resource specialist and her duties include contract management; grant, cloudseeding, and augmentation program management; watershed management planning; reporting, tracking, and researching historical hydrology within the basin; and providing GIS support. 

Sue Photo 4 Final

Sue Uerling, Administrative Assistant/Communications Support Specialist

Sue joined the staff in September 2020 as the Administrative Assistant and has since taken on additional duties of communications and outreach for the District. She serves as the front-line contact with the public and assists with Board meeting preparation tasks and office administration. Sue has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and has spent 30 plus years in a variety of administrative and managerial roles, primarily for nonprofit organizations.

Cheryl Cwelich, Water Resource Specialist

Cheryl joined the staff in January 2022 and is responsible for managing the Wet Meadow & Riparian Restoration Program and assists with Watershed Management Planning. In addition, she provides technical, financial, and managerial assistance along with policy development for environmental, recreational, agricultural and municipal water projects. Cheryl has a bachelor’s degree from Western Colorado University, graduating summa cum laude with an emphasis in Water Policy and Resilience.

2023 Alana Nichols

Alana Nichols, Water Resource Fellow

Alana joined the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District as a Water Resources Fellow in March 2023.  Alana received her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science with an emphasis in Administration and Policy from Northern Arizona University. Alana grew up in the Gunnison Valley participating in various outdoor activities including skiing, climbing, trail running, backpacking and biking. Her active upbringing has always made her a nature enthusiast. When Alana was sixteen, she worked a summer job as a Youth Conservation Corps member for the Gunnison Ranger District which led her to pursue a degree in Environmental Sciences. She also served as a summer Range Technician for the Gunnison Bureau of Land Management (BLM) which sparked her interest in water policy and water resource conservation. She was hooked and from that point on, she decided to focus her studies on water resources.

The purpose of the UGRWCD Water Resources Fellowship is to train the next generation of water resource professionals interested in Colorado River Basin water resource issues. Alana’s duties include assisting the UGRWCD staff with various programs, research and planning including drought contingency and watershed management planning, wet meadow and riparian restoration activities, field research, water policy research, education and outreach. Upon completion of her fellowship, she intends to further her education at the graduate level.