Leadership & Staff

Our Staff

Mark Howarth 
Executive Director


Mark has helped advance leadership collaboration between all of the Lake stakeholders including FirstLight, the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC), the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) the five surrounding town municipalities and the CLA Board of Delegates.  His tenure at Candlewood Lake Authority began in 2008 as Director of Education and Public Outreach.   Since that time, he has actively expanded community awareness and engagement to preserve and protect the Lake.   Mark earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Connecticut.  His family history on Candlewood Lake dates back to the 1940s, a short time after the Lake was built.


J. Neil Stalter 
Director of Ecology & Environmental Education


J. Neil Stalter, MPA is the Director of Ecology. Neil was recently certified as a Certified Lake Manager (CLM) by the North American Lake Management Society. He earned a Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University’s (NY) School of International and Public Affairs where he was awarded an Environmental Fellowship. Neil holds a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Rochester (NY). His history with lakes dates all the way back to growing up on Conesus Lake in Finger Lakes region of NY.


Dee Wright
Administrative Coordinator


Dee Wright joined CLA in 2023. She has over 25 years of administrative and communications experience, including the web and social media. Dee spent most of her career with Praxair, Inc., in Danbury. She lives in the Northwest Corner and has three kids and a Bernedoodle.

CLA Marine Patrol

Nicholas Mellas 
Chief of Marine Patrol

Marine Patrol Staff:  The CLA Marine Patrol has over 20 seasonal, part-time officers who work during the boating season.


Board of Directors

Martin O’Connor
Chairman - Sherman


Martin is currently employed at Vialto Partners, a spinoff from PricewaterhouseCoopers and holds the position of VP Global Real Estate & Facilities.  He has extensive experience in real estate, financial planning, budgeting, and sourcing.  He is recognized for his ability to move business forward through collaborative thinking and relationship building with all levels of management.  Martin resides in Sherman [Atchison Cove] where he held several board positions from Harbor Master to President of the Tax District.  In 2020 he was elected as the Town of Sherman's Delegate to the CLA.  In 2021 he moved into a board position of Secretary to the CLA until 2024 when he became Chair of the CLA.  He expects to leverage his knowledge and experiences in driving the strategic initiatives of the CLA. 


Marianne Gaffey
Vice Chairman - Brookfield


Marianne has held leadership roles at the American Red Cross, YMCA of Greater Danbury, Brookfield Craft Center and the Congregational Church of Brookfield. Her extensive experience includes Board leadership, resource development, volunteer management, financial sustainability and education outreach. The Candlewood Lake Authority Board of Delegates elected her Chair in 2020. Her priorities for CLA include building public awareness of conservation and recreation and enhancing partner relationships to support the evolving needs of the Lake.


Joan Archer
Secretary - New Fairfield


Joan brings public service and leadership experience from the Candlewood Isle Tax District, where she served most recently as President, as well as the Town of New Fairfield's Inland Wetlands and Conservation Commission and LawHelpNY. She was elected Vice Chairman in 2020 after joining the Board of Delegates in 2019. Joan is currently leading the Public Awareness Committee.


William Meikle
Treasurer - Brookfield


Will has been a member of the Candlewood Lake Authority since 2020 as a delegate from Brookfield. He has been a member of the Finance, Public Safety and Human Resource committees during his tenure. Prior to joining the CLA, Will was a global Finance and Operations Executive with IBM, a Fortune 100 technology company. Will is an experienced executive with strong background in providing trusted advisor support to Senior Executives in sales, general management, or deep functional expertise. He is a recognized leader with experience in sales operations, business operations, finance/planning, and pricing. He is known as a proactive builder of successful professional organizations with new innovative approaches and a transformational focus on his changing customer needs.

Douglas Cushnie

Steve Kluge
New Milford

William Licht
New Fairfield

Jeff Main
New Fairfield

Will Meikle

Chris Robinson

Daniel Rosemark

Phyllis Schaer

Ed Siergiej

Mark Toussaint
New Milford

Joseph Wodarksi
New Milford


Cathleen Donahue
New Milford

Mark Rasmussen