The Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds

Staff and Board



R. John Dawes, Executive Director

As Executive Director of the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds since 1994, Dawes has supervised small grants to over 350 environmental and watershed associations throughout the state. The intent is to provide seed money to allow a local group to access agency funding through the Dept. of Environmental Protection, the Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Office of Surface Mining, the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Army Corps of Engineers. This has resulted in over $159 m. in project cost. The majority of this small grants budget is for abandoned mine reclamation.

For five years Dawes was consultant to the Heinz Endowments Environment Program where he supervised grants to regional watershed groups pursuing a DCNR Rivers Conservation Plan. Other duties included participation in sustainable forestry round tables, and the facilitation of a state-wide watershed advocacy group called POWR-the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers.

Professional affiliations:
o Alternate Commissioner on the Governor’s 21st Century Commission on the Environment
o Board member of Penn Future
o Board President of the Progress Fund
o Former, President of the Board of POWR, the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers
o Member of the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network
o Gubernatorial Appointee, then Chair of the CAC of the Chesapeake Bay Commission
o Member of the White House Committee–Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable on Indicators
o Chair of the PA AML Campaign—reauthorization of this fund took place on Dec. 9, 2006 bringing $1.4B to Pennsylvania for historic mine reclamation.
Dawes is the author of a research paper on the value of planted riparian zones resulting in the funding of the largest privately funded initiative for streamside planting in the state.

Dawes graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and a M.Ed. Since 1970, he has owned and managed a purebred Angus farm in Huntingdon County where conservation practices have been implemented, including streambank fencing, forest stewardship planning, a 10kw windmill for electric power production, and spring development using photo-voltaic panels. The farm won the 2007 Governor’s Award for Conservation.

Branden S. Diehl, Grants and Project Consultant

Branden S. Diehl is a 2001 graduate of Juniata College with a major is geology, environmental studies, and surface water hydrology, and having a minor in politics. He was a two-term AmeriCorps member serving a seven county nonprofit. In that position he managed nearly $3.5 million in projects, including a SuperFund site. In 2004, he started Earth Wise Consulting where he assists both for-profit and nonprofits with project development, funding and implementation. Branden’s clients received nearly $3 million in stimulus funds—one client received $2.2 million for the construction of a LEED certified fire station. Branden’s passion for the environment is used at the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds, where his firm assists with grant writing for the Foundation and management of their small-grants program. He is currently overseeing a regional effort that aims to combine several mine pools into one with the resultant outcome being a $19 million treatment system. This project will result in the restoration of 22 stream miles to a fishable status. This project is part of a $3.5 million settlement fund, for which Branden is serving as a grant and project manager. In his spare time, he serves as the Public Information Officer and is a Pennsylvania certified firefighter II at the Saxton Volunteer Fire Company. He is a proud recipient of his Eagle Scout Award, a Top 100 finalist in the Volvo For Life Awards, and recipient of the Commander’s Award for Civilian Service.




Board of Directors

  • R. John Dawes, Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds
  • Brian Hill, RK Mellon Foundation
  • Scott Roberts, former DEP Deputy Secretary of Mineral Resources
  • Dr Neil Korostoff, Pennsylvania State University
  • Michael Kane, The Community Foundation for the Alleghenies
  • Andrew McElwaine, Heinz Endowments as Ex-officio
  • Tim Schaeffer, PA Fish and Boat
  • Julie Lalo, University of Pittsburgh