School navigation

Northwest Environmental Defense Center (NEDC)

About NEDC

Organizational Structure

NEDC is a non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization. In addition to their dedication to the protection of the environment and natural resources of the Pacific Northwest, NEDC’s Board of Directors bring a wide range of experience and knowledge to the organization. While many members of the Board of Directors, including the President, are practicing attorneys, there are always several student board members who bring unique perspectives to the Board.

The NEDC staff is comprised of an Executive Director, Staff Attorney, Legal Fellow and a Law Clerk who manage the daily obligations of the organization. The strength of the organization, however, is the student volunteers. NEDC students currently work as members of one or more of our project groups, including: Lands and Wildlife, Water, Air, and Sustainable Agriculture. The groups are coordinated by Project Group Coordinators who are responsible for evaluating notices of proposed agency actions and requests for assistance from other environmental groups to determine whether NEDC should be involved in a given project. Project Group Coordinators then discuss potential projects with student volunteers, allocate project assignments based on student interest as well as board member priorities, and work with students on projects.

NEDC Staff:

Mark Riskedahl, Executive Director
Mark grew up in a little house on the prairie in rural North Dakota.  He received a B.A. from the University of Minnesota and his J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School.  Before attending law school, Mark worked in the social services, primarily with people dealing with autism.  During law school, Mark worked as the NEDC Law Clerk, a Project Coordinator, and Student Director.  Following graduation, Mark helped institutionalize NEDC’s influence on the Pacific Northwest by creating the Executive Director position.  Since that time NEDC has grown to a staff of four, with a broad number of student volunteers and hundreds of members and supporters across the country.

Andrew Hawley, Staff Attorney
Andrew is from Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.  Andrew earned his law degree in 2003 from Lewis and Clark Law School.  At Lewis and Clark, he volunteered with the Public Interest Law Project and worked for the Northwest Environmental Advocates and Defenders of Wildlife.  Andrew was a clinical student with the Earthrise Law Center.  Before coming to NEDC in 2008, Andrew worked for Defenders of Wildlife in Washington, DC.  Bar Admissions: Oregon, California, and District of Columbia.  Court Admissions: U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Marla Nelson, Legal Fellow
Marla relocated to the West coast from Minnesota.  She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Biology from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota in 2006 and her J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School in 2012.  Prior to law school, Marla spent one year teaching English in Japan and two years doing grants and contracts work with a nonprofit foundation in Minneapolis.  During law school, Marla volunteered with NEDC as a student board member and Student Co-Director, competed on Lewis and Clark’s National Environmental Moot Court Team, and was a clinical student with Earthrise Law Center.  Marla joined NEDC in September, 2012.  Bar Admissions: Washington.  Court Admissions: U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington.

Jeff SpeirLaw Clerk
Jeff grew up among the forests, creeks, and rolling hills of North Carolina’s Piedmont region.  He remained nearby for college and earned his B.A. from Wake Forest University in 2009.  Upon graduation, Jeff ventured west to California to work for an environmental non-profit organization.  There, he learned more about renewable energy, conservation, and law.  His exposure to new surroundings and new people further strengthened his desire to be a lifelong environmental advocate.  To that end, Jeff began his studies at Lewis and Clark Law School in 2012.  In his first year, he was involved with NEDC as a volunteer in its Air Group and a Student Board Member.  Jeff is continuing his work with NEDC as the 2013-14 Law Clerk.