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High Water Mark is a 100% Native American, Woman-owned environmental consulting company with a specialty in water resources. Owner, Phoebe Suina has 20 years of experience providing environmental and water resources engineering, science, planning and management to New Mexico communities ranging from pueblos to local, state and federal agencies, in addition to private industry. Our focus for consulting services at High Water Mark has been flood disaster and emergency response including: flood hazard mitigation planning, stormwater management, and watershed rehabilitation for the protection of both cultural and natural resources in our clients' communities. 



Phoebe Suina

Owner, Project Manager, and Hydrologist


With a background in environmental engineering and management, Ms. Suina has managed multi-million-dollar emergency and disaster assistance projects for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in addition to her previous career at the US Department of Energy (DOE) and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) for post-Cerro Grande fire erosion, sediment control, debris flow and flood hazard mitigation. She also has led environmental compliance and environmental remediation efforts for over 10 years on DOE and LANL projects. Ms. Suina has also worked for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, where she completed water resources engineering project design, operation and maintenance on the nation’s rivers and waterways.

Ms. Suina currently manages emergency and disaster assistance projects for High Water Mark’s clients. This involves meetings with client and funding agency staff, documentation of all project activities, expenditures and records management, and project closeout. She is meticulous in her record keeping and takes pride in her attention to detail.

Ms. Suina earned bachelor degrees in environmental engineering and engineering sciences and a graduate degree in engineering management, all from the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College. Phoebe is from the Pueblos of San Felipe and Cochiti. She is very active in the traditional culture of her respective Pueblos. She continues to assist and share her knowledge and skills with the Pueblo communities.

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Nicole Shaw, P.E.

Vice President of Engineering


Nicole Shaw is a licensed professional engineer in New Mexico with over 10 years of experience in the engineering industry. She is Diné (Navajo) of the Salt People born for Red Running into the Water.  Ms. Shaw has joined High Water Mark as the Vice President of Engineering to develop and establish the company’s engineering capacity and capabilities. Her experience includes project management, planning, design, construction administration, construction observation, and comprehensive mapping of water and wastewater projects. She has worked on multi-phased water and wastewater system improvements projects for local and tribal communities including applying for and securing funding, coordinating with regional stakeholders, implementing long-term planning, and securing water rights. She has assisted clients in securing and managing over $20 million in grant and loan funding from federal and state funding programs.  


Ms. Shaw holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Northern Arizona University. She is from Tse’ii’ahi (Standing Rock) Chapter. She is passionate about Indian Education and STEM outreach to Native communities. 

Karen Gutierrez

Chief Financial Officer


Mrs. Gutierrez is an accomplished finance and accounting professional with an impressive career spanning over three decades. Her expertise covers both the public and private sectors, with a notable focus on capital project management. She began her career by taking on various roles within Federal contractors. She has honed her skills in critical areas such as cost accounting, federal funding, grant facilitation, and procurement. Karen's dedication to her field is further evident in her certifications as a NM Certified Public Procurement Professional (NMCPPP) and her role as a Chief Procurement Officer (CPO).

Prior to joining the High Water Mark team, Karen had a highly successful tenure as the Assistant Finance Director and Capital Projects Manager for the Village of Ruidoso. During this time, she managed an impressive portfolio of over forty projects, totaling more than $50 million in value. 

Karen's decision to become a part of High Water Mark was motivated by the strong alignment between the company's mission and vision and her personal values and work ethic, which prioritize "Working with Respect and Integrity."

Outside of her professional life, Karen and her husband, Eric, reside in Tularosa, NM. She has a deep interest in learning about diverse cultures, particularly those represented within HWM. Her active involvement in the community reflects her commitment to making a positive impact. Above all, Karen takes great pride in her family and cherishes her role as a grandmother to five granchildren and a mother of four children.

Berta Rodriguez

Office Administrator


Berta the Office Manager at High Water Mark and a Bernalillo native, has extensive experience in government contracting and procurement. Prior to joining the HWM team, Ms. Rodriguez worked with the Valles Caldera Trust as the Procurement Specialist and liaison; managing budgets, purchasing and contracting, as well as administrative tasks. She worked with a number of Federal Agencies, administering several different accounting software and programs to keep track of funds. Berta served as a staffer for US Senator Pete Domenici working on various projects; the purchasing of the Valles Caldera Trust, Silvery Minnow controversy, San Luis water project and numerous other land and water related issues. Berta also has experience in both land and water issues, and experience working with rural and Pueblo communities.

Candace Dahozy

Project Manager

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Candace is from Tohatchi, NM, she is of the Bitter Water Clan, born for the Folded Arms People.
She is a graduate from the New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology where she obtained
her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. Ms. Dahozy’s interests include Transportation,
Geotechnical Engineering, and Water Resources. She is a Sequoyah Lifetime Member for the
American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), where she helps Native American
students pursue their educational goals in the STEM field.

As the Project Manager for High Water Mark, Candace is one of the team leaders for the Village
of Ruidoso sewer line and bridge projects. With her background in federal, state, and tribal
regulations, such as FEMA, NMDHSEM, USACE, NMED, she can perform onsite observations
during construction for environmental and regulatory compliance, inspection of BMPS, erosion
control structures, and other conformities of the SWPPP and Environmental Assessments. She
has assisted the team and clients on documentation for environmental support, navigating
permitting and construction challenges to meet the needs of the client. Candace also manages
the Ruidoso HWM team schedule and quality of services. She has successfully assisted in
completing projects for the Pueblo of Jemez and Pueblo de San Ildefonso.


Kristine Smeltz

Senior Scientist / Engineering Analyst II

Kristine earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Colorado College, and her Master’s Degree in Environmental Policy and Management from the University of Denver. She has earned a professional certificate in Natural Resource Management from the University of Denver. Kristine has several years of experience in the area of environmental studies. She has a broad range of experience which includes water management, field investigations, review of technical documents, and working knowledge of federal and state regulations. She provided project team support for several years with the Department of Energy (DOE) and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) projects in the area of environmental compliance and environmental remediation.

As a member of the High Water Mark team, Kristine continues to provide regulatory technical and management support for environmental remediation projects and issues. Kristine is from the Pueblo of San Felipe. She enjoys running and spending time with her husband and two boys.

Matthew Smith


Senior Program Manager

Mr. Smith has over 14 years of experience as a Wildland Firefighter with the US Forest Service and
Emergency Management, Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) and State Emergency Operations, Logistics, Planning and Recovery through the New Mexico Department Homeland Security (NMDHSEM). He is a dedicated Disaster Recovery Officer with extensive experience, having knowledge to lead and manage different individuals in constantly changing situations, including response and recovery operations to over 300 municipalities, countries, tribes, and State Agencies for COVID-19, and manage recovery projects for over 1,800 subrecipients in Legacy Federal and state disasters and FMAGs.

As the Senior Program Manager for High Water Mark, Mr. Smith will be able to assist in managing
emergency and disaster projects for new and legacy disasters for all High Water Mark’s clientele. He can provide the necessary technical assistance in applying for different state and federal disaster funding, capture disaster damages, document the recovery efforts and costs, and project closeouts. He is experienced with proven problem-solving skills and coordinate with other agency programs to access grant funding for eligible recipients in an often politically sensitive environment for both the state of New Mexico and the different New Mexico Pueblos and Tribes.

Matthew earned his bachelor’s degree in Human Ecology with a focus on Consumer Affairs from The
Ohio State University. He worked on his Master Degree in Architecture at the University of New Mexico,
and admires the design and aesthetics of traditional Southwest Architecture. In his off time, he can be
found enjoying spending time with his wife and two children and the great outdoors of New Mexico.

Christel White

GIS Specialist


Christel provides technical, analytical, and design support for the operation of High Water Mark, LLC’s Geographic Information System (GIS). Her key competencies include IT skills, can build and update and manipulate complex databases, strong visualization skills, analysis, modeling, remote sensing, along with moderate python skills. Previously Christel co-taught and mentored for Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute’s (SIPI) Geographic Information Technology (GIT) program as well as for an environmental company, Kiksapa Consulting LLC, based out of Mandan, ND. The work for Kiksapa Consulting LLC was performed under a NASA Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) in accordance with a NASA grant. Christel would mentor and teach tribal college students and faculty geospatial training and skills at Haskell Indian Nations University (HINU).

Christel holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography from the University of New Mexico. Christel is Onondaga but was raised on her father’s reservation, Cattaraugus Territory, south of Buffalo, NY. Her father is Seneca. She is very passionate about the beadwork skills that have been handed down to her through her Akso:d (grandmother) and her aunt.

Teran Villa

Policy Analyst


Teran Villa is an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Jemez, New Mexico. He also has ties to the Pueblo of Acoma and the Concow Maidu Tribe of California. Teran has extensive experience in tribal cultural resources protection in federal and state undertakings. Additionally, he possesses skills in policy analysis, grant writing, community engagement, planning, strategy and coordination. 

Teran holds a bachelor's in political science and economics and a Master of Public Administration from the University of New Mexico. 

Edmund Vandever

Technical Specialist


Mr. Vandever is a Technical Specialist at High Water Mark, LLC where he provides insight and expertise on documentation for current and future projects. His ability to accomplish a given task and demonstrate thorough concern for all areas (no matter how big or small) is critical. He is a graduate from New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering. As a professional member of American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), he has a passion for educating upcoming professionals in the STEM fields.  

His drive and passion to educate not only himself, but to others as well has played a key role. His knowledge and attention to detail is surely an asset to High Water Mark and to the various communities across New Mexico. In his free time, he enjoys taking long drives enjoying the scenery New Mexico has to offer. 

Lauren Vigil

College Intern


Lauren Vigil is from Tesuque Pueblo and Ohkay Owingeh. She is currently in her third year as an undergraduate student. She has six years of experience in working in Administration, Gaming Commission, and working with the United States Fish & Wildlife in Pueblo de Cochiti assessing water quality, erosion problems and river restoration opportunities. She is currently a student intern with environmental consulting company, High Water Mark, where she works with water resources management, flood mitigation, and building a flood sensor warning system.


For her course of study she is focusing on Business Operations Management and Geographic Information Systems (GIS),  while also minoring in Native American Studies. She enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and hiking the Santa Fe mountains.

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