James Kraft, Executive Director, joined the Washington Water Trust in 2020. James is a native of Seattle, WA, and attended Harvard College where he majored in East Asian Studies. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1982, James worked for Milbank Tweed in New York City, and then returned to Seattle in 1984 to work for Burlington Northern Inc. For 27 years, James was general counsel for Plum Creek Timber Company, a Burlington spinoff that went public in 1989. In that role, he helped lead the company’s efforts to be a leader in environmental forestry and helped negotiate numerous habitat conservation agreements and major conservation easements across the country. James led the efforts to conclude pioneering habitat conservation plans for the spotted owl and 285 other species in the central Cascades and bull trout in Montana, and a unique collaborative agreement with the USFWS, the USFS, the state DNR, and Plum Creek under Section 7 of the ESA that protected threatened grizzly bears in the Swan Valley of Montana. He also negotiated the second-largest conservation easement in the United States covering 363,000 acres in Maine.
James has been a long-time advocate for the environment and the arts and currently serves on the board of Long Live the Kings, Seattle Theatre Group, and previously on the board of Pacific Northwest Ballet. James also previously served as Executive Director of Cultural Access Washington, a non-profit dedicated to expanding access to cultural opportunities in King County for underserved schools and citizens generally.