Shannon Cunniff

Deputy Director, Water Program

Areas of expertise: Ecosystems, rivers and deltas, natural infrastructure, climate resilience


Shannon focuses on improving strategic and tactical effectiveness of EDF's Water Program team. She is also heading development of EDF's natural infrastructure program. Shannon works on setting goals, objectives and strategies; translating those into work plans; and evaluating progress to ensure timely, high-quality products. Given her experience with multiple federal agencies, she provides advice on tactics for working with these agencies to resolve issues and secure action. She manages staff scientists, policy analysts and consultants to solve complex problems and execute tasks. Shannon has held senior environmental positions in several federal agencies addressing water resources management.


Prior to EDF, Shannon worked at the Department of Defense as the executive director for Chemical and Material Risk Management, where she guided development and implementation of DoD’s Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan.

Shannon’s government service has included senior positions in which she was responsible for a variety of water resources, environmental and science policy issues. Those positions include:

  • Director, Research and Natural Resources, Bureau of Reclamation
  • Director, Policy, Bureau of Reclamation
  • Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Water and Science
  • Deputy Director, Interagency Floodplain Management Review Committee

Most relevant to her Water Program responsibilities, Shannon worked at the Bureau of Reclamation where she managed research and policy programs; addressed environmental, water supply, and energy challenges; and for several years, 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 the EPA’s liaison to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Federal Emergency Management Agency, and led EPA’s oversight of the 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.


M.A. in Geography, UCLA

B.A. in Biology, UCLA


  • Making Sense of the Changing Global Supply Landscape: New Rules and Reformulations”. With Dr. Carole LeBlanc. Defense AT&L. July/August 2011. Pg. 16-20.
  • Controlling Acquisition Risks via Scanning for Emerging Contaminants”. With David J. Asiello. Defense AT&L. July/August 2009. Pg. 22-27.
  • “Identifying Emerging Contaminants”. The Military Engineer. Vol 101. No. 657. January/February 2009. Pg. 45-46.
  • “California – DoD Prioritization Protocol to Address Perchlorate”. With Laurie Racca, Clare Mendelsohn, John Bishop, Baha Zara, and Rick Moss. EM - The Magazine for Environmental Managers. December 2008.
  • “Emerging Contaminants: a new frontier for the Department of Defense”. EM – The Magazine for Environmental Managers. October 2007. Pg. 6.
  • Book Review of Greening of the US Military: Environmental Policy, National Security, and Organizational Change. Survival. Issue 4. 2007. Pg. 169.
  • Perchlorate: Challenges and Lessons”. With R.J. Cramer and H.E. Maupin. Pg. 1-14 in Baobua, G. and Coates, John D.  in Perchlorate – Environmental Occurrence, Interactions, and Treatment. 411 pg. Springer Press. 2006.
  • “Reflections on Leadership”. Women in Natural Resources. Vol 21. Number 1. Fall. 1999.
  • “Use of RiverWare to Assist Floodplain Management”. With D. Frevert and T. Fulp. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Association of State Floodplain Managers. 1999.
  • What’s Happened in Floodplain Management since the 1993 Mississippi Flood?” With Gerry Galloway, John Kelmelis, Michael Robinson, Harold Shoudy. Natural Hazards Observer. Volume XXII. No. 5. 1998.
  • Stream Corridor Restoration Handbook. 1998. (with 14 federal agencies as authors).
  • “The Future of Federal Water Resource Development”. With J. Bernard, D. Brady, and P. Christiansen. Conference on Management of Landscapes Disturbed by Channel Incision. 1997.
  • “The Nexus of Agency Reinvention and Water Resource Management: Incorporating a watershed approach into agency activities”. Watershed '96
  • “Meeting the Water Resource Management Challenges of the 1990sIndian Journal of Water and Power. Spring 1996.
  • “Water Resources Partnerships”. Western Wetlands and Water Quality Workshop. 1995.
  • Sharing the Challenge: Floodplain Management Into the 21st Century. Report of the Interagency Floodplain Management Review Committee. June 1994.
  • “The National Environmental Policy Act and Watershed Management”. Watershed '93.
  • Joint USACE/EPA Guidance Documents for Dredged Material (With Palermo, Mathis, Wilson, Southerland, Chase) in Proceedings of the 26th Annual Dredging Seminar and Western Dredging Association XIV Annual Meeting. May 25-28, 1993.
  • Implementation of Habitat-based Evaluations: Issues and Concerns. Coastal Zone '87. 5th Symposium on Coastal and Ocean Management.
  • “Multi-scalar Analysis of Barrier Beach Vegetation”. U.S. Navy's 1983 Mugu Lagoon/San Nicholas Island Ecological Research Symposium.
  • The Invasion and Ecology of the Marine Weed, Sargassum muticum”. 1983 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers.
  • Reconnaissance of Barrier Beach Vegetation at Point Mugu, California. 1982 Graduate Student Meeting of the California Botanical Society.



  • Shannon Cunniff

    Shannon Cunniff


Washington, D.C. office

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Media Contact

Elizabeth Van Cleve
202-572-3382 (office)
202-553-2543 (cell)
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