Meet the Water Challengers

Advanced Berm Technology

Team Members: Jon Adams and Don Adams

JonAdamsWe are a family-owned Louisiana company that cares about the future of this state, and the restoration and protection of our coast is part of that future. We develop technologically advanced products that reduce coastal erosion faster and for less cost than any existing solution. Through the Water Challenge, we are fine tuning our business plan to gain resources and contacts to overcome the current barriers in coastal restoration.

Goods that Matter

Team Member: Tippy Tippens


We are a New Orleans-based industrial design studio that works with U.S. artisans and manufacturers to create sustainably made home goods products. We are proud to be a Benefit Corporation, which is a for-profit corporate entity that includes positive impact on society and the environment in addition to profit as its legally defined goals. To date, we have donated $23,000 to wetland restoration, oil spill cleanup, disaster relief, education, and literacy groups. Through the Water Challenge, we hope to increase the sales, reach, and donations of BirdProject Soap. Learn more about Goods that Matter.

Greenman Dan, Inc.

Team Member: Dan Johnson

GreenmanDanGreenman Dan is a New Orleans landscape and rainwater management company that provides solutions to reduce flood risks, runoff pollution and subsidence by controlling and using rainwater. All properties should be part of the solution to keep rainwater from reaching storm drains, where the problems related to improperly managing rain water become intensified. In the Water Challenge, I am working with others to help quantify the social impact our efforts provide. Learn more about Greenman Dan, Inc.

Grounds to Ground

Team Members: Yvette Tablada and Andres De La Puente

YvetteTablada-AndresDeLaPueGrounds to Ground is a mission-driven company focused on creating a more sustainable community by recycling coffee grounds into soil conditioner and pest repellents. Our product does not have any pesticides, thus it does not contaminate the groundwater entering our waterways. The Water Challenge has helped us hone our focus and goals for the next year to grow our company in a scalable manner. To date, we have recycled over 8,000 pounds of coffee waste, are found in 10 local retailers and are honored to have been one of ten ventures selected to pitch at the social enterprise business competition PitchNOLA. Learn more about Grounds to Ground.

Groundwork New Orleans

Team Member: Alicia Neal

AliciaNealGroundwork New Orleans is an environmental nonprofit dedicated to the belief that by changing places, we can change lives. Groundwork New Orleans engages youth, volunteers, businesses and local organizations in projects that improve quality of life, restore the ecological function of the physical environment, and lay the foundations for sustainable development. In the Water Challenge, I am working on capacity building, product development and sales, and solidifying our programs. Learn more about Groundwork New Orleans.

Harry Vorhoff, attorney at law

Team Member: Harry Vorhoff

HarryVorhoffAs an attorney, I provide legal services related to water management and coastal restoration and protection. I am passionate about the long-term sustainability of Greater New Orleans and am using my license to practice law to do my part. Through the Water Challenge, I am developing an understanding of the legal services market and identifying the segments that I can best serve.

Hike For KaTREEna

Team Member: Connie Uddo

ConnieUddoHike For KaTREEna is a nonprofit established in 2007 to replant the 100,000 trees lost to Hurricane Katrina. To date, we have planted 27,500 trees, and we are proud to have served on the NFL Environmental Super Bowl Committee and broken the record for most trees planted in a Super Bowl host city in 2012. Through the Water Challenge, we are working on changing the name of the organization without losing our credibility and identity and developing a three-year vision and business plan. Learn more about Hike for KaTREEna.

Kumari Media, LLC/ iSeeChange

Team Members: Julia Kumari Drapkin, Dan Leininger, Lindsey Wagner, and Lily Bui

iSeeChange is launching a groundbreaking media platform and network that combines citizen science, participatory public media partners, and cutting-edge NASA satellite data to connect communities to each other and their changing environment. We’ve adapted the iSeeChange Almanac so it can provide weather feeds worldwide. We are now working with our sensor network prototype team at Berkeley, surveying our users on how to improve the Almanac. We also had our first team meeting with NASA in order to develop our citizen science app. Learn more about iSeeChange.

Magnolia Land Partners

Team Members: Mark Bernstein and Will Donaldson

MarkBernsteinMagnolia is developing a financially sustainable model for critical wetland restoration projects in Louisiana.  We fund these projects through the sale of wetland mitigation credits, where we earn credits for our restoration work that are sold to developers needing to offset any negative impact to wetlands resulting from their projects. We’ve secured our first set of restoration properties and are forming some exciting partnerships with other organizations. Learn more about Magnolia Land Partners.

RiverBottom Tech

Team Member: John A. Tesvich

JohnTesvichThe company will focus on bringing new ideas and technology to address the coastal restoration and sustainability issues in coastal Louisiana. It aims to provide engineers and planners new tools to move sediments required for coastal restoration. The company recently finished construction of a pilot demonstration sediment harvesting device. The Water Challenge is helping RiverBottom Tech develop a plan to attract strategic partners and potential investors.

Urban Conservancy

Team Members: Dana Eness and Travis Martin

DanaEnessWe strive daily to achieve our goals of local control, responsible development, quality of life, access to information and local economies. In the Water Challenge, we are developing a program called the Front Yard Initiative (FYI), which incentivizes New Orleans homeowners to replace impervious front yard surfaces with intelligent green space to reduce street flooding, subsidence, and runoff pollution while increasing pedestrian access, and public health. Learn more about the Urban Conservancy.

Wetland Resources, LLC

Team Members: Gary Shaffer and Demetra Kandalepas

We seek to provide hurricane protection and recover ecosystem services by restoring wetlands, mainly Baldcypress-Water Tupelo swamps. Our goal is to plan and protect at least one million trees in the next decade. In the Water Challenge, we are focusing on strengthening our image to make our company attractive to investors.

Zach Hughbanks Design & Consulting, LLC

ZachHughbanksTeam Member: Zach Hughbanks

My company is the intellectual property developer and holder for multiple ongoing projects. As part of the Water Challenge, I am working on a low-noise, environmentally-friendly airboat, as well as business and marketing development for these projects.