by Brook Lenker, Executive Director, FracTracker Alliance
FracTracker continues to evolve to meet the growing demands of a nation – and world – confronted with unconventional gas and oil drilling and the accompanying challenges. The summer of 2012 has been a busy one, and while it’s officially ended, it heralded several new beginnings for FracTracker.org.
FracTracker has incorporated and filed for nonprofit status with the Internal Revenue Service. The organization’s name is the FracTracker Alliance. The word alliance was chosen because it illustrates that we are ‘allied’ in a ceaseless quest with others to obtain, analyze, map, and share insightful and objective information relating to every facet of shale gas activity. While we appreciate the strong foundation that the University of Pittsburgh provided us, we’re now an independent entity and hope to thrive in service of a public that can benefit from the resources we provide. This change wouldn’t have been possible without the cooperation and affirmation of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies who is our administrative host or, for the legal junkies, our supported organization. Nor would it have been achievable without the faith and financial support of the Heinz Endowments, an ongoing champion of FracTracker.
A strong organization needs a strong Board of Directors, and we have a winning lineup. John Dawes, Executive Director of the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds, serves as our President. Mike Kane, President of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies is our first Treasurer. From the gas fields of Colorado, we’ve recruited Judy Jordan to be Secretary, a private consultant with a wealth of experience on shale gas issues and non-profit management. (Update: May 1, 2013 – Judy Jordan no longer serves on our Board of Directors.) Two accomplished researchers, Dr. Ben Stout of Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia and Dr. Sara Wylie of Northeastern University in Boston add additional expertise to the inaugural board. Last, but not least, Caren Glotfelty, Director of the Environment Program for the Heinz Endowments, shares her pervasive wisdom as an ex-officio board member.
Accompanying the new board is a new staff – well, sort of. Matt Kelso and Samantha Malone, two stalwarts of FracTracker operations at the University of Pittsburgh have officially moved to the FracTracker Alliance. We’re lucky to have them. Matt is the Manager of Data and Technology, while Sam serves as the Manager of Science and Communications. Karen Edelstein, our multi-skilled liaison representing FracTracker on a contractual basis in New York is now our part-time Program Coordinator in the empire state. To the west, talented Ted Auch, a soil scientist from Cleveland, joins the team on October 1 as our Program Coordinator in Ohio. I have the pleasure of working with all of them in my capacity as Executive Director. Of course, we all need a place to work, so we have four offices – in Camp Hill, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Ithaca, NY; and, Warren, OH – from which to serve you.
Our expanding presence outside of Pennsylvania is largely attributable to two new funding partners. The George Gund Foundation and Park Foundation are supporting our activities in Ohio and New York, respectively, and we are very appreciative.
We’re also very excited about the new mapping platform built on Esri technology and described more completely in this separate story. Amongst other benefits, the mapping tool will simplify visualization of the most commonly requested data, initially for Pennsylvania and adjacent states, and eventually other shale gas basins. I think you’re really going to like it!
So autumn has ushered in many changes at FracTracker, but rather than cooling down, things are warming up. Perhaps it is the pace of the work or just the good feeling one gets from collaborating with great people and brave, committed organizations day-to-day. Whatever the cause, know that FracTracker – now FracTracker Alliance – is ramping up capacity to be a more timely and powerful resource… for you.