Utton Center Staff
The Utton Center staff is dedicated to working on the projects and maintaining the mission of the Utton Center. The staff is comprised of the following individuals:
Denise Fort, Director of the Utton Center
Denise Fort, Director
Denise Fort has an extensive background in environmental and natural resources law - about 25 years of practice, politics, reflecting and writing about policies, all animated by a belief that society must turn toward a more sustainable relationship with its environment. She believes that law plays a critical role in establishing the institutions that govern those relationships.
In 1995, she chaired the Western Water Policy Review Advisory Commission, a presidential panel appointed to review the role of the federal government in western water issues. She has also been active in the National Research Council, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences.
Fort began her career as an environmental attorney with New Mexico Public Interest Research Group and Southwest Research and Information Center, then became a special assistant attorney general in the state's Taxation and Revenue Department. When she was 31, she was appointed Secretary of the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration. She moved on to head the state Environmental Improvement Division.
In 1987, Fort turned her focus to teaching, spending a year as a research associate at UNM's Institute of Public Policy and the UNM School of Law. She then served as executive director of Citizens for a Better Environment and as a consultant for the Natural Heritage Institute, both in California, before returning to New Mexico. In 1991, she became director of the Water Resources Administration Program at UNM and joined the law school faculty at that time.
At the law school, she brings her extensive background experience to the classroom and to work with individual students. She focuses her teaching on environmental law and upper-level seminars on a broad range of natural resources topics.
Darcy Bushnell, Ombudsman Program Director
Darcy S. Bushnell, Program Director, Joe M Stell Water Ombudsman Program
Darcy S. Bushnell joined the Utton Center in December of 2007 as Program Director for The Joe M Stell Water Ombudsman Program. The Ombudsman Program provides impartial adjudication information and procedural guidance to unrepresented water right claimants to water rights in the state of New Mexico. Since the inception of the Program, it has continued to grow, having started out in the Lower Rio Grande adjudication and expanding into five adjudications in areas around New Mexico by 2008.
Darcy directs the daily operations of the Ombudsman Program and determines the direction of the Program in meeting its ever expanding requests for services. She works closely with the New Mexico courts and the Office of the State Engineer. She also participates in the UNM School of Law Natural Resources Program and in the Spring of 2009 co-taught the UNM Law School course, Practical Applications of Water Law.
The adjudications served by the Ombudsman Program include:
- Lower Rio Grande Adjudication (LRG)
- Nambe/Pojoaque & Tesuque Adjudication (Aamodt or NPT)
- Rio Gallinas River section of the Pecos Adjudication (Lewis)
- San Juan San Juan River Basin Adjudication
- Zuni River Adjudication
Prior to joining the Utton Center, Darcy was a Staff Attorney with the Pecos River Adjudication Bureau at the Office of the State Engineer for four years. She participated in the adjudication of water rights in the Carlsbad Irrigation District, performed assessments of the Hondo River stream system and other subsections of the adjudication and assisted in the management of the Bureau. In this role, she had extensive contact with pro se defendants. After graduating from law school, Darcy served for thirteen years as Water Rights Adjudication Judicial Clerk for several members of the federal judiciary in New Mexico. She worked on the adjudications of several stream systems including Red River, Jemez, Taos, Zuni, Chama, Nambe-Tesuque-Pojoaque, Zuni and Truchas/Santa Cruz. As the Judicial Clerk she became very familiar with adjudication procedure, case management and water legal issues.
Darcy is a 1989 graduate of the University of New Mexico School of Law. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Anthropology from Beloit College in Wisconsin in 1976. She is a member of the New Mexico State Bar Association.
- Professor Barbara Cosens, JD, LLM
- Vickie Gabin, JD
- Greg Haller, JD
- Elizabeth Kistin Keller, PhD
- Adrian Oglesby, JD
- John Bryan Verheul, JD
- Margaret J. Vick, JSD