Founder & Executive Director
James is the Founder and Executive Director of Clean Lakes Alliance. His connection to the lakes runs deep, as he grew up swimming, waterskiing, and sailing on Lake Mendota. As a lifelong Madison resident, he has seen many changes in the Yahara lakes over the years, and is excited to have the opportunity to work on their behalf.
Currently, his projects include the Yahara CLEAN Compact, marketing and promoting various lake events, creating more community engagement within the watershed, and continuing to expand the alliance of organizations, people, and businesses that care for our lakes.
James has experience working for both nonprofit and for-profit organizations, including Capital Newspapers and Downtown Madison, Inc. While working with Hype Communications on a project for Mad-City Ski Team, James identified the community’s untapped passion for the lakes.
James wrote a business plan for Clean Lakes Alliance in the summer of 2010 and started recruiting the founding board members. The first board meeting convened in January 2011. Now, James directs the strategic mission of the organization in close collaboration with the 50-person Community Board.
Under James’ leadership, Clean Lakes Alliance has received national recognition including the North American Lake Management Society Technical Merit Award in 2014, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Citizen-Based Monitoring Program of the Year in 2018, and GuideStar’s Platinum Level “Seal of Transparency” in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.
Currently, he serves on the Board of Trustees of Taliesin Preservation in Spring Green and is a member of Wisconsin Union Director’s Advisory Board. He is a member of Wisconsin Realtors Association, Downtown Madison Rotary, Capital Neighborhoods Inc., James Madison Park Master Plan Stakeholder Committee, the Nolan Waterfront Group, Dane County Board’s Healthy Farms Healthy Lakes Task Force, and a Steering Committee for the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission.
James has been recognized for his significant community achievement and leadership as one of In Business Magazine’s 25 most influential people of 2015, Yahara Lakes Association’s Person of the Year in 2016, Madison Magazine’s 2016: One’s to Watch, and Madison’s Super Single in 2015.
James is married to Gabriel Neves, and lives in Madison. They enjoy spending time with their seven nieces and nephews, traveling, and of course, swimming, boating, paddling, and sailing on the local lakes.