Meet Shannon Cunniff

Shannon is the deputy director for the Mississippi River Delta Restoration and Resilience Project at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). Working closely with the senior director, Shannon focuses on improving strategic and tactical effectiveness of the EDF team. She works on setting team goals, objectives and strategies; translating those into work plans; and evaluating progress to ensure timely, high-quality products. She manages staff scientists, policy analysts and consultants to solve complex problems and execute tasks.

Shannon is no stranger to flood risk reduction and environmental restoration. Much of her 27 years experience, including 11 years as a senior executive, involved developing and implementing national policy, managing federal water and environmental programs, and solving multifaceted issues.

“Throughout my federal career, I have worked at the intersection of water resources and environmental protection. I joined EDF to address these issues from another perspective and to use my skills, knowledge, contacts and creativity to secure a robust future for the Mississippi River Delta,” said Shannon. “This region is so important to the cultural, biological and economic integrity of our nation. We need to implement wiser approaches now to ensure the delta continues to provide diverse, valuable services for generations well into the future.”

Prior to EDF, Shannon worked at the Department of Defense, guiding development and implementation of its Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan. Most relevant to her Mississippi River Delta work, Shannon worked at the Bureau of Reclamation, managing research and policy programs addressing environmental, water supply and energy challenges, and for several years, she worked on the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration. Shannon served as the deputy director of the Interagency Floodplain Management Review Committee, formed by the White House in the wake of the 1993 Midwest floods, to address national policy and program implementation issues related to flooding and flood risk management. Before that, Shannon served as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s national expert on federal water resources programs, served as EPA’s liaison to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and Federal Emergency Management Agency, and led EPA’s oversight of National Environmental Policy Act compliance by federal water and energy agencies. Early in her career, Shannon worked on coastal and water resource projects as a district ecologist for the Corps. Not one for idle hands, Shannon also chairs the Environment and Energy Conservation Commission for Arlington County, Va.