Natural Resources Development and the Administrative State: Navigating Federal Agency Regulation and Litigation

Denver, Colorado
February 28 - March 1, 2019


HADASSAH (DESSA) M. REIMER is an attorney in the Jackson Hole, Wyoming office of Holland & Hart LLP. Her practice focuses on federal environmental regulation and litigation before the Interior Board of Land Appeals and the federal courts, including environmental impact assessment, endangered species, and public land permitting requirements. Dessa also has an active Indian law practice. Dessa represents a variety of clients including conventional and renewable energy developers, mining companies, and water resource providers, as well as Indian tribes. Dessa has co-authored three papers for past RMMLF Annual Institutes, served as chair of the Public Lands section for the 2013 Annual Institute, and currently serves as a Trustee for the Foundation.

CARLOS R. ROMO is Counsel with Lewis Bess Williams & Weese P.C., in Denver, CO. Carlos practices at the intersection of energy and environmental law. He has helped clients in a variety of industries navigate complex regulatory requirements and has particular expertise in Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, and National Environmental Policy Act permitting and oil and gas. Carlos’ substantive knowledge of natural resources and administrative law issues allows him to counsel clients on both litigation and transactional matters. His clients include oil and gas companies, renewable energy developers, utilities, trade associations, pipeline operators, ski areas, land owners, investors, and resort operators.


JACOB P. ARECHIGA is a Special Counsel in Duane Morris LLP’s Austin, Texas office. His practice is focused on complex commercial matters in the energy and electric power industries. He works with executives, managers, and counsel in these and other industries to address contested legal matters and mitigate risks associated with capital investments, transactions, and daily operations. Mr. Arechiga also works with clients to ensure compliance with a broad range of rapidly changing federal, state, and local regulatory requirements. In addition, he represents clients in administrative hearings before state agencies and appeals before federal courts. Mr. Arechiga is a 2009 graduate, with honors, of the University of Texas School of Law, where he was a member of the Texas Environmental Law Journal, and a graduate of Princeton University.

DEANA M. BENNETT is a Shareholder with the law firm of Modrall Sperling, in Albuquerque. Deana's practice focuses on federal environmental law and federal Indian law. Deana's experience includes permitting and environmental compliance under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and other related federal statutes. Her experience also includes working with renewable resource developers with siting issues on public, tribal, state, and local land. It is not surprising that Deana's practice focuses primarily on public lands. Deana calls the West home, from New Mexico to Alaska. Her early childhood was spent travelling in a Volkswagen bus from Yellowstone National Park to Everglades National Park, where her father was a Park Ranger. After leaving the Park Service, her father worked for the Bureau of Land Management until he retired. Deana is a true coal miner's daughter; her mother worked in an underground coal mine in Wyoming for several years, while her father attended the University of Wyoming. Before attending law school, Deana retraced some of her childhood adventures—working in Yellowstone, working at a ski area in Utah, and working on a luxury passenger train in Alaska, where she bought her own 1979 Volkswagen bus. 

SUSAN JANE BROWN is a staff attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) in Portland, Oregon.  Her primary focus of litigation is federal public lands forest management, but her practice includes cases involving the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, National Forest Management Act, and other land management statutes. She is a former Co-Chair of the National Advisory Committee for Implementation of the National Forest System Land Management Planning Rule and is also heavily engaged in collaborative forest restoration in the Upper John Day Basin in eastern Oregon.

MEGAN CERONSKY is Executive Director of the Center for Applied Environmental Law and Policy, in Denver, CO. During the Obama Administration, Megan served as Special Assistant to the President and Associate Counsel to the President, overseeing a portfolio including energy, climate change and environment, lands, and natural resources. Megan first joined the White House as Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Energy and Climate Change. Previously, Megan was Director of Regulatory Policy and Senior Attorney with the Domestic Climate and Air program at Environmental Defense Fund and before that practiced energy and environmental law at Van Ness Feldman, LLP.  Megan clerked for the late Honorable Blane Michael on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.  

VARU CHILAKAMARRI is an appellate attorney in the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. She handles complex civil and criminal environmental appeals involving a broad range of issues, including questions concerning justiciability, statutory interpretation, constitutional law, and the Administrative Procedure Act.  She also serves as the Division’s Counselor for Animal Welfare Matters, where she has assisted in the development of the Division’s animal welfare litigation program. Varu previously served as the Acting Chief of Staff to the Assistant Attorney General for the Division from 2015-2016. Prior to that, she served on detail to the Office of the Associate Attorney General, as well as the White House Counsel’s Office. Varu joined the Justice Department in 2006 through the Attorney General’s Honors Program as a Trial Attorney in the Civil Division’s Federal Programs Branch. Varu clerked for Judge R. Guy Cole in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and Judge Timothy B. Dyk in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Varu graduated with honors from Georgetown University Law Center, where she was an Articles Editor for the Georgetown Law Journal. She earned degrees in Environmental and Political Science from the Ohio State University.

KEVIN D. COLLINS is a Partner with Bracewell LLP in Austin, TX. Kevin is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney from the Eastern District of Texas, and has expertise in managing the problems that arise during government investigations. His goal is to help clients avoid significant penalties or uncertain litigation by negotiating a favorable outcome. Kevin has focused on process safety since he assisted the Baker Panel investigate and issue its report on safety culture and corporate oversight of BP's North American refineries in 2005. This focus results in four main areas: (1) responding to government investigations after industrial accidents; (2) representing clients during OSHA (process safety management standard) and EPA (RMP) enforcement proceedings; (3) improving safety culture in refineries and chemical plants; and (4) preparing for industrial accidents by helping clients to develop useful business-continuity plans, legal resource handbooks, release-reporting guides, and meaningful tabletop exercises and emergency field drills. He is a member of the AIChE, speaks often on the criminalization of process safety, and is an adjunct faculty member of The University of Texas at Austin.  

R.J. COLWELL is an Associate with Vinson & Elkins, L.L.P. in Houston, Texas.  R.J.’s practice focuses on energy regulation before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and other federal agencies.  R.J. assists pipeline companies and shippers in regulatory and litigation matters, including rate regulation, compliance with FERC regulations, and certificate matters.  R.J. also assists clients in the negotiation of various agreements related to the production, gathering, transportation, and storage of petroleum and natural gas (to include LNG), and advises clients on the sale or acquisition of petroleum and natural gas assets.  Prior to joining V&E, R.J. served as an Honors Attorney and then an Attorney-Advisor at the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington, D.C.  As an Attorney-Advisor, R.J. served as program counsel to the Office of Fossil Energy, advising on a wide broad range of oil, natural gas, and coal issues and policies.  R.J. also represented the Department in utilities matters before state public service commissions across the country.  Before law school, R.J. served in the U.S. Army as a Field Artillery Officer, and spent a year as a ski bum in Keystone before developing a passion for energy and administrative law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

NADA WOLFF CULVER is Senior Counsel and Director of the BLM Action Center at The Wilderness Society, providing technical advice and support to citizens and conservation groups working to protect their public lands. The Wilderness Society’s mission is to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. The BLM Action Center, located in Denver, Colorado, assists and encourages people to participate in land use planning processes and management decisions, including those addressing transmission, renewable energy, fossil fuel development and protection of wilderness. The BLM Action Center also seeks to influence national policy on management of our federal public lands. Before joining The Wilderness Society, she practiced law in the private sector for more than 10 years, working on a variety of environmental issues including energy development and environmental remediation, and was a partner with the law firm of Patton Boggs. She is a graduate of Northwestern University and the University of Pennsylvania School of Law.

CHRISTINE DAWE is the Director of Ecosystem Management Coordination for the United States Forest Service, Department of Agriculture. She is responsible for national policy and oversight for the National Forest Management Act, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), land management planning, litigation, environmental justice, and other programs. Christine came to the agency in 2005 after spending 10 years working in the international pharmaceutical business and has held a variety of positions working in New Mexico, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, and national headquarters in Washington, DC. She started her Forest Service career in the Southwest working in NEPA and planning, including implementing new National Forest Management Act regulations. Christine spent five years as the Director of Renewable Resources Management for the Northern Region of the Forest Service where she worked closely with industry to improve national policy and practice in delivering a sustainable flow of wood supply from National Forests. Christine is an agency expert on forest management reform and served as the agency liaison to the Western Governors Association focused on Governor Bullock’s Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative and western working lands issues. Christine is currently leading the agency’s efforts on efficiency in environmental analysis and decision making. She attended Rutgers and West Chester Universities for her undergraduate work in exercise physiology and sports medicine.  She received her Master’s degree in environmental planning for natural resource management at the University Of Pennsylvania.

WENDY HARVEL was licensed as an attorney by the State of Texas in 1996. She is in private practice in an of counsel role with Coffin Renner LLP, specializing in utility regulatory law. She served as an administrative law judge at the Texas State Office of Administrative Hearings from 2000-2018, where she was both a master administrative law judge and the head of the public utility team, supervising the work of other public utility administrative law judges. She is a mediator, and has mediated disputes in all types of administrative cases, from health care licensing to complex public utility law. Prior to serving as an administrative law judge, Wendy was in private practice in Washington, DC and in Austin. She is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law and the University of Michigan. Her husband and fellow law school classmate is Blake Hawthorne, the clerk of the Supreme Court of Texas.  They have two daughters.

KENT HOLSINGER is the founder and Managing Partner of Holsinger Law, LLC, Denver, CO. Kent’s emphasis is on lands, wildlife and water law.  His efforts have been recognized in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, New York Times, the New Yorker and on National Public Radio, among many others.  Kent has helped draft legislation and has testified before Congress and the Colorado General Assembly many times. He is frequently cited as an expert in the media and in trade publications and has authored publications on the use of water for oil and gas operations, hydropower, wildlife law, water quality and politics and the media.  Kent previously served as the Assistant Director for Water at the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and worked in Washington, D.C. for U.S. Senator Wayne Allard and Congressman Bob Schaffer. He was named to 5280’s Top Lawyers in Colorado for the past two years and as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers.  Kent served as president of the Colorado Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society and was nominated by Governor Hickenlooper to Colorado’s Conservation Easement Oversight Commission where he served as Vice-Chairman.  He is a member of the National Western Association and Secretary to the Board of Western Energy Alliance. 

TINA HYMER is Senior Counsel at Chevron in San Ramon, California. She is the former Deputy Assistant General Counsel for Standards of Conduct, U.S. Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. She received her JD in 2002 from American University, Washington College of Law.

SAM KALEN is the Winston S. Howard Distinguished Professor, at the University of Wyoming College of Law. Prior to joining the faculty, Professor Kalen practiced in Washington, D.C. for over 20 years, both in the private and public sectors. He practiced at an energy, environment, and natural resources law firm, and worked in the Solicitor’s Office at the Department of the Interior. He also has held various teaching positions at the University of Baltimore, Florida State University, Washington & Lee University, and Penn State University. Immediately after law school, Professor Kalen began his career as a law clerk for Justice Warren D. Welliver of the Missouri Supreme Court. Professor Kalen’s research focuses on the fields of energy, environment, public lands and natural resources, administrative law, and constitutional law. He has published a variety law review articles, chapters in books, and is a co-author on two books. He also is active in the American Bar Association’s Section on Environment, Energy, and Resources.

POE LEGGETTE recently received special recognition from the Board of Directors of the Independent Petroleum Association of America.  Poe has represented IPAA for over 25 years and, according to the Association’s citation, has saved the oil and gas industry over $25 billion dollars in needless regulatory costs and in unlawful royalty demands. Poe is the national head of the Baker & Hostetler Energy Practice Team and is based in the firm’s Houston office. That practice was named a 2015 Practice Group of the Year by Law360. Before entering private practice, Poe served as Assistant Solicitor for the U.S. Department of the Interior. He has worked on federal administrative law issues since 1977, when he graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law.  Additional information about his practice may be found in a predictably stuffy web biography found at

MATT LEPORE is the strategic advisor and legal counsel for Adamantine Energy, in Denver, CO. Matt’s skillset and experience broaden and deepen Adamantine’s capacity to fulfill its mission: to transcend conflict around energy projects and forge enduring solutions. Matt works with clients at the leadership, executive and board levels, guiding them to evolve their business strategies to reduce and transform their political and policy risk. Prior to joining Adamantine, Matt was the director for five and a half years of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), the agency that regulates oil and gas exploration and production in Colorado. As director, Matt saw the passions on all sides of energy development projects — and developed deep expertise on how to navigate those passions to find the pragmatic middle.  Matt worked to prioritize transparency, access and participatory inclusion for the public and other stakeholders as values in the Commission’s processes and decision making. Prior to his tenure as director, Matt was a Colorado assistant attorney general and was counsel to the COGCC. Matt represented the Commission before the state trial and appellate courts and advised the Commission on regulatory and enforcement matters as well as agency rulemaking. Matt also has nearly 20 years’ experience in private law practice focused on environmental and natural resources law, first at Holme Roberts & Owen, LLP, and later at Beatty & Wozniak, P.C. Matt earned his B.A. degree, summa cum laude, from the University of Colorado, Boulder and his J.D. degree from Stanford University. In 2011-2012 Matt was chairman of the Colorado Bar Association Environmental Law Section. Matt is currently the Vice Chairman of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC), and past Chair of the IOGCC Legal and Regulatory Committee. Matt is a Colorado native who enjoys skiing, cycling, and backpacking with his family and friends in Colorado’s high country.

LAURA LOPEZ is a corporate and securities associate at Jones & Keller, in Denver, CO. Her focus includes securities offerings, corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, and finance. Prior to joining Jones & Keller, Ms. Lopez was a Fellow with the Denver City Attorney’s Office-Municipal Operations Section where she worked on public finance, real estate, and corporate governance issues arising out of multi-million-dollar public-private partnership transactions. Ms. Lopez is actively involved in the Colorado legal community and currently serves on the Executive Committee for the Colorado Pledge to Diversity and the Center for Legal Inclusiveness. She is also a mentor for Law School Yes We Can. During law school, Ms. Lopez gained invaluable experience working at Newmont Mining Corporation, clerking at an international law firm, and serving as a Judicial Intern at the Colorado Court of Appeals. Additionally, she participated in the Jessup International Moot Court Team, the Civil Litigation Clinic, and the Student Bar Association. Ms. Lopez is an alumnus of the University of Denver-Sturm College of Law and Oklahoma State University.

PHIL LOWE is an attorney advisor with the Department of the Interior’s Rocky Mountain Regional Solicitor’s Office, in Lakewood, CO. Formerly a hydrogeologist and environmental scientist in the environmental management and licensing section of a major electrical utility, as an attorney he was part of the environmental practice groups of two large law firms in San Francisco and Denver. At the Regional Solicitor’s Office, he advises Interior agency clients on legal and policy matters related to conventional and renewable energy development on public lands and has extensive litigation experience before the Interior Board of Land Appeals and federal courts. Phil also advises Bureau of Land Management clients on NEPA and FLPMA issues associated with environmental impact statements and environmental assessments for a variety of land planning actions and project level records of decision. He has a 1981 B.S. with honors from Rutgers University (where he won several athletic and academic awards) and a 1989 J.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. 

JANE C. LUXTON is a member of Clark Hill’s Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources Practice Group based in the Washington, DC office and chairs the firm's Administrative Law Practice.  Jane has extensive experience in environmental, regulatory, policy, and litigation matters, including federal and state environmental laws as well as international environmental regimes.  From 2007-2009, she served as general counsel of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  Her previous government service includes appointments as a Senior Trial Attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, and Attorney Advisor at the Federal Trade Commission.  She is a recipient of the Attorney General’s Award and the Commerce Department’s Gold Medal Award for her work while in government service.  During her time in private practice, Jane has regularly been recognized as a leading practitioner of environmental law by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, was featured in Chambers Women in Law Profiles, and is listed in The Best Lawyers in America and the Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers rankings.  She is a graduate of Harvard University and Cornell Law School.  More information, including publications, is available at 

MATTHEW J. MCKEOWN is the Regional Solicitor, Rocky Mountain Region, for the U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of the Solicitor, in Lakewood, Colorado. In this capacity, Matt oversees the legal work for every Interior Department agency within his region. Prior to taking his current position, Matt was Associate Solicitor for Mineral Resources, Associate Solicitor for Land and Water, and Deputy Solicitor. Matt also served as Principal Deputy Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. Before commencing federal service, Matt spent seven years as a Deputy Attorney General for the State of Idaho. Matt received his law degree from the University of Oregon and his bachelor’s degree in English (with a Film and Communications focus) from McGill University in Montreal.

THOMAS P. MCLISH is a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP in Washington, DC. Mr. McLish represents clients in complex civil litigation, primarily focusing on cases involving the Federal government, including government contract disputes, allegations of fraud or false claims, and 5th Amendment “takings.” He has represented owners, contractors and design engineers in complex lawsuits concerning the construction of large projects throughout the country, as well as health care companies, defense contractors and suppliers of commercial items and services. Mr. McLish litigates before Federal appellate and district courts, the Court of Federal Claims, federal boards of contract appeals, state courts and arbitration panels. He has handled disputes involving many U.S. agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Navy, Air Force, Army, the Army Corps of Engineers, Interior, Agriculture, NASA and the General Services Administration. From 1990 to 1995, Mr. McLish was a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Division, Commercial Litigation Branch. In that position, he handled civil contract, fraud and federal labor law disputes, including major weapons system procurement, construction and Fifth Amendment “takings.” From 1989 to 1990, he was a law clerk to the Honorable Robert P. Patterson Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

JUSTIN PIDOT is a Professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law in Denver, CO. He graduated with high honors from Wesleyan University before attending Stanford Law School, where he graduated with distinction and was editor in chief of the Stanford Environmental Law Journal. Professor Pidot served as the Deputy Solicitor for Land Resources for the Department of the Interior during the Obama Administration. He also clerked for Judge Judith W. Rogers of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Prior to joining the University of Denver faculty, he was an appellate litigator at the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where he presented argument in more than a dozen federal appellate cases and acted as the staff attorney on two cases before the United States Supreme Court. Professor Pidot also completed a fellowship at the Georgetown Environmental Law & Policy Institute. Professor Pidot’s scholarship and teaching focus on environmental law, natural resources law, and federal courts.

CONNIE L. ROGERS is a partner with the law firm of Davis Graham & Stubbs, LLP, in Denver. She advises companies in project development, litigation, and transactions, primarily on federal public lands and Indian lands, with particular emphasis on compliance with federal land management statutes, the National Environmental Policy Act, species protection statutes, federal Indian law and cultural resource and religious freedom concerns, and state and local permits. Prior to resuming her practice at Davis Graham & Stubbs, LLP in the fall of 2010, Ms. Rogers served as Deputy Solicitor for Energy and Mineral Resources at the U.S. Department of the Interior, where she was the lead Interior lawyer on all manner of issues relating to the development of renewable and conventional energy and mineral resources on Interior-managed lands. Ms. Rogers’ project development experience includes renewable/conventional energy and mineral and infrastructure projects on public and Indian lands; environmental and cultural resources compliance in federal permitting; financing, due diligence, land acquisition, and leasing for wind, solar, transmission, and biomass projects; special use authorizations for educational and research facilities on federal lands; working with stakeholder groups; and defense of legal challenges to project approvals. Ms. Rogers is a trustee of the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation and is vice-chair of the Public Lands Committee and a former co-chair of the Native American Resources Committee of the American Bar Association’s Section on Environment, Energy and Resources. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Center of the American West. Ms. Rogers has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in the field of Native American Law and Who's Who Legal: Mining 2015. She was named to the Denver Business Journal’s 2014 list of Top Women in Energy. She received her JD in 2000 from Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., magna cum laude, Order of the Coif.

BARCLAY T. SAMFORD is a Senior Trial Attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division, in Washington, D.C. and Denver, CO. His practice focuses on administrative, federal public land, and natural resources law litigation in both federal district court and in the federal courts of appeal on behalf of a wide range of federal agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Mr. Samford’s principal practice areas include the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Forest Management Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Mr. Samford graduated with honors from Cornell University and with distinction from Stanford Law School. Prior to joining the Department of Justice, he served as law clerk to Judge John C. Porfilio of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and for Justice Raymond Austin of the Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation. Mr. Samford teaches Natural Resources Law as an adjunct professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and has taught at the National Advocacy Center, the University of Hawai’i William S. Richardson School of Law, and Harvard Law School.

MICHAEL SCHON is Deputy Chief Counsel at the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center in Washington, D.C., the litigation arm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Mike oversees the Chamber’s environment and energy litigation, along with an array of civil litigation topics in the federal and state courts. Schon has extensive experience litigating and counseling on environmental and regulatory matters. He previously was vice president and counsel with the Portland Cement Association (PCA), where he planned and directed PCA’s federal regulatory advocacy and litigation, emphasizing environmental and workplace safety issues. Earlier, Schon was a senior associate with the international law firm Baker Botts LLP. There he represented top energy and manufacturing companies in environmental and regulatory litigation and provided environmental compliance counseling services. Schon focused on Clean Air Act and CERCLA matters and was recognized as a “Rising Star” in environmental litigation by Washington, D.C.’s Super Lawyers Magazine in 2014 and 2015.  Before entering the private sector, Schon served in the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice through the Attorney General’s Honors Program. He received a Special Commendation for Outstanding Service to the Division. Schon started his legal career clerking for Judge Patricia K. Norris of the Arizona Court of Appeals after earning his J.D. cum laude from Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and his B.A. magna cum laude in philosophy from Northern Arizona University.

PAUL M. SEBY is a Shareholder with Greenberg Traurig LLP, in Denver. Mr. Seby is a leading environmental and natural resources practitioner in the Rocky Mountain region, with nearly 25 years' experience analyzing a myriad of environmental issues. He has vast experience counseling clients in both responsible actions and, when necessary, prosecuting cases to enforce and overturn administrative agency regulations and decisions. He represents clients in federal and state agency proceedings and in appearances before the U.S. Supreme Court, several U.S. Courts of Appeal, and the Colorado Supreme Court, among others. His notable recent representations include litigation surrounding the EPA Clean Power Plan, Waters of the U.S. Rule, and O&G Methane regulations, and the BLM Hydraulic Fracturing and Venting and Flaring Rules. Mr. Seby counsels public and private clients in the energy, mining, manufacturing, and service industries on how to navigate and successfully operate within the complex framework of state and federal environmental regulations and policies. Bearing in mind that a successful outcome is often a combination of traditional and non-traditional legal and policy strategies, he leverages his experience to negotiate with government agencies and adversary groups. Whether a lending transaction or other business venture or issues of state sovereignty, clients across the country trust Mr. Seby to draw upon his comprehensive understanding of how government programs and agencies function to identify existing and potential pitfalls they may face in achieving their business goals. He efficiently and effectively guides his clients in developing practical, workable solutions that overcome legal and business challenges, and has been recognized for his work by many leading legal publications.

SHANISHA Y. SMITH is an associate at Baker & Hostetler LLP in Houston and Denver. Shanisha focuses her litigation practice in the energy and natural resources industry. She represents clients in oil and gas litigation and environmental disputes governed by the Mineral Leasing Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the False Claims Act, the Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Management Act, and numerous other environmental statutes and related regulations. Shanisha holds an LL.M. in Energy, Environmental, and Natural Resources Law from the University of Houston Law Center. While obtaining her LL.M., she worked at the Texas Railroad Commission and the Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos during the Mexico Energy Reform. Shanisha also has a wealth of experience working in courts. She has had the opportunity to work with a Texas state civil court judge, a federal magistrate judge, two federal district court judges, and a federal appellate circuit judge. Prior to joining Baker’s Energy Team, Shanisha clerked for the Honorable Judge George C. Hanks, Jr. of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Shanisha is originally from the Eastern Shore of Maryland and loves to travel.

PILAR THOMAS (Pascua Yaqui) is Of Counsel at Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP in Tucson Arizona, where she provides strategic legal advice to tribal governments and tribal enterprises on energy planning and policy, renewable energy project development and finance; federal and state energy regulatory, programs and policy efforts. Ms. Thomas previously served as the Acting Director and Deputy Director for the Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs at the U.S. Department of Energy, where she was responsible for developing and implementing policy and program efforts within the department and across the federal government to achieve statutory policy objectives, particularly the promotion of energy development, electrification, and infrastructure improvement on tribal lands. She spearheaded federal agency efforts to coordinate and collaborate on tribal energy development efforts, in partnership with the White House Council on Native American Affairs, the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce and Environmental Protection Agency. She is also the former Deputy Solicitor of Indian Affairs for the U.S. Department of the Interior, where she provided legal advice to the Secretary, Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs, and other department officials on decisions related to tribes and matters related to federal Indian law, tribal law, administrative law, Indian lands and natural resources, treaty rights and water rights.  She has served as the Interim Attorney General and Chief of Staff to the Chairwoman of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, of which she is a member.  In 2002, Pilar was appointed to the position of trial attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division, Indian Resources Section. Her practice included Indian treaty rights, water rights, and regulatory litigation. Ms. Thomas graduated from the University of New Mexico School of Law, magna cum laude, with a certificate in Indian Law. She received her bachelor of arts in economics from Stanford University.

REBECCA W. WATSON is a shareholder in the law firm of Welborn Sullivan Meck & Tooley, P.C. in Denver and serves on the Board of the Rocky Mountain Mineral Foundation as Vice President and President-elect (2019-2020).  Rebecca has a distinguished 40-year career representing natural resource, oil and gas and renewable energy clients and in high-level public service in the federal government. As Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management of the U.S. Department of Interior in the George W. Bush administration, she had oversight over 3 energy resource bureaus including BLM, led 12,000 employees and managed a $1 billion budget. Prior to that, she served as Assistant General Counsel for Energy Policy at the U.S. Department of Energy. Rebecca was named the 2011 Distinguished Natural Resources Practitioner-in-Residence at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, her alma mater, and has been repeatedly nationally recognized as a top energy and natural resources lawyer. She speaks and writes frequently on public land and energy topics.  Rebecca is a Trustee on the Board of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West museum in Cody, Wyoming and serves on the Jefferson County, Colorado Open Space Advisory Committee.

MARY WHITTLE is a Partner with Guerrero & Whittle PLLC in Austin, TX. Mary is a seasoned trial lawyer who has tried cases in state and federal court. She provides results-driven advice designed to put her clients in the best position to resolve a dispute on their terms. She has a breadth of experience, having worked as a government lawyer, a private practitioner, and as an attorney for the nation’s premier non-profit environmental law firm. Mary started her legal career in 2001 as a trial attorney at the United States Department of Justice in Washington D.C., where she successfully litigated a variety of complex cases around the country. She worked closely with client agencies to understand how a case might impact their mission and the importance of setting a precedent, receiving multiple commendations, including a nomination for the prestigious John Marshall Award - the highest award offered to government attorneys. In private practice as a partner at Perry & Haas, Mary was one of a team of lawyers who represented families in six of the major cases arising out of the BP Texas City Refinery explosion, achieving substantial settlements for all the clients in only four months from the explosion. Mary established her own solo practice from 2011-2013, partnering with other law firms in complex civil litigation matters and providing expertise in environmental law. In 2013, Mary joined Earthjustice in Philadelphia, where she represented national environmental organizations, tribes, and community groups in precedent-setting matters before various federal district and appellate courts, including in direct enforcement actions against some of the nation’s largest and most powerful utilities and industry groups. After leaving Earthjustice in 2017, Mary founded Guerrero & Whittle PLLC. Mary enjoys taking on high-stakes cases and sticking with them through trial and appeal when warranted. She is also adept at resolving complex matters, coming up with creative solutions that meet her clients’ needs in negotiation, mediation, or arbitration. Mary was born and raised in Texas, lived and worked in Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania, and eventually convinced her husband to move to Austin to raise their three children. She is an advocate for children with special needs and learning differences, having two dyslexic children of her own, and she loves being outdoors with her family and dogs. 

EZEKIEL J. WILLIAMS is a partner with Lewis, Bess, Williams & Weese P.C. in Denver, Colorado and Adjunct Professor of Administrative Law, University of Denver Sturm College of Law, Denver, CO.  He specializes in oil and gas, energy, federal lands, and natural resources law and litigation.  Zeke advises oil and gas companies on how to obtain, perfect, develop, and defend federal, fee, state, and Indian oil and gas leases in the Rocky Mountain states.  He has litigated and arbitrated disputes involving oil and gas leases, federal exploratory units, title issues, operating agreements, accounting procedures, gas gathering and processing dedications, net profits interests, royalty obligations, produced water processing agreements, and exploration and development agreements.  Zeke has extensive counseling and litigation experience with the National Environmental Policy Act, Federal Land Policy Management Act, National Forest Management Act, Mineral Leasing Act, Endangered Species Act, National Historic Preservation Act, Clean Water Act, Administrative Procedure Act, and other laws.  Zeke advises oil and gas companies, midstream companies, renewable energy developers, ski areas, trade associations, and others on how to participate strategically in the preparation of NEPA documents, federal land use plans, and environmental permits that will govern their future actions.  Zeke teaches Administrative Law, Environmental Law, and Natural Resources Law as an adjunct professor at the University of Denver College of Law, is a former Trustee of the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, and frequently speaks and writes on energy and natural resources issues.  He graduated with honors in 1994 from the University of Denver College of Law where he was the Articles Editor of the Law Review, and has an undergraduate degree from Montana State University.  After law school, Zeke worked as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Bobby R. Baldock of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

KENNON L. WOOTEN is a Partner with Scott Douglass McConnico in Austin, TX. Kennon joined the firm in May 2011, after serving as the rules attorney for the Supreme Court of Texas. Kennon joined Scott Douglass & McConnico LLP in 2011, after serving as the Rules Attorney for the Texas Supreme Court, working at Baker Botts LLP, and clerking for former Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson of the Texas Supreme Court.  As Rules Attorney, she handled inquiries relating to rules and assisted the Court with promulgating and amending rules.  At Scott Douglass & McConnico, her docket includes a broad range of civil litigation and appeals involving, among other things, allegations of breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, business tort, personal injury, Medicaid fraud, and professional malpractice.  Her education includes the University of Texas at Austin (BA with highest honors, 1999) and the University of Texas School of Law (JD with honors, 2004).  She served as the Head Teaching Quizmaster in law school.  Kennon also has served as a member of the Texas Commission to Expand Civil Legal Services, a member of the Texas Supreme Court Task Force for Rules in Expedited Actions, the President of the Austin Young Lawyers Association, and the Chair of the State Bar of Texas Court Rules Committee.  She currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Austin Lawyer, Secretary of the Texas Legal Service Center, and Secretary of the Austin Bar Association.  She is also a member of the American Law Institute, Supreme Court Advisory Committee, Editorial Board for The Advocate, and the State Bar of Texas Court Rules Committee.  She is a frequent CLE speaker and has published a book and law-review articles on discovery practices.  She received the Travis County Women Lawyers Association Litigation/Appellate Attorney Award in 2018, a “Standing Ovation” State Bar Volunteer Award in 2017, and a Special Commendation of the Texas Supreme Court and State Bar in 2011.   She was named as a Texas Rising Star in 2008, 2009, and 2013-2017.

EVAN YOUNG is a Partner with Baker Botts LLP, in Austin, TX. His practice focuses on trial and appellate litigation. He is Chair of the firm's Supreme Court and Constitutional Law Practice. Mr. Young has argued cases before both the Supreme Court of the United States and the Supreme Court of Texas. Ranging from those courts to state trial courts, he has represented clients across the country before every level of the state and federal judiciary. Before joining Baker Botts, Mr. Young worked as a lawyer in the judicial and executive branches of the federal government. He served as a law clerk to Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and then to Justice Antonin Scalia at the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2006, after his clerkship with Justice Scalia ended, Mr. Young became Counsel to the Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice, serving in the Office of the Attorney General under Attorneys General Alberto R. Gonzales and Michael B. Mukasey. While on the Attorney General’s staff, he accepted a detail to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, where he was the Deputy Rule of Law Coordinator. In that position he worked to assist the Iraqi government in its efforts to strengthen its legal regime, including, for example, its courts and prison system. He returned to Texas and joined the Austin office of Baker Botts in 2009. Mr. Young is currently the Chair of the State Bar of Texas Business Law Section. He was nominated by Governor Abbott and confirmed by the Texas Senate as a member of the Texas Judicial Council, and was appointed by the Texas Supreme Court to the Supreme Court Advisory Committee. He has taught Federal Courts at the University of Texas School of Law every spring semester since 2015, and was voted Professor of the Year in 2016. He is an Elected Member of the American Law Institute and a frequent speaker at legal conferences.

DAVID A. ZISSER is a shareholder in the Denver law firm of Jones & Keller, P.C., who specializes in representing individuals and entities in investigations and litigation involving the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Colorado Division of Securities, and FINRA.  He also has had substantial experience defending private and class action litigation seeking damages under federal and state securities laws, shareholder derivative actions, and common law and statutory claims governing the conduct of all types of business entities. Before moving to Denver in 1981 to begin private practice, David was an attorney with the SEC’s Division of Enforcement in Washington, D.C. David is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He is included consistently in Colorado Super Lawyers by Thomson Reuters in the specialty of Securities Litigation, and has earned an AV® Preeminent Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell. David has spoken on securities law issues at the Rocky Mountain Securities Conference and the CBA Securities Law Subsection. David received his law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center, and his undergraduate degree from the Johns Hopkins University.