Laura HuffmanAdjunct Instructor
Laura Huffman is the state director for The Nature Conservancy in Texas where she heads a statewide team of scientists, conservation experts and support staff whose work protects the integrity of Texas’ vast natural resources and most iconic landscapes. Huffman is also founding director of the Conservancy’s North America Cities program, created to support cities as they integrate natural infrastructure into local planning and development initiatives in ways that safeguard people and reduce vulnerability to climate change.
In her role as Texas state director, Huffman establishes conservation strategy and provides public policy leadership in order to advance The Nature Conservancy’s mission to protect the land and water on which all life depends. Under her leadership, the organization has been instrumental in the development and subsequent passage of the RESTORE Act, a landmark piece of federal legislation that dedicates 80% of penalties resulting from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill to affected Gulf Coast states. She has also worked closely with Texas legislators to draft legislation with far-reaching ramifications for statewide water conservation and spearheaded the expansion of water protection funds in Central Texas. Since 2000, these citizen approved water funds have generated nearly a billion dollars to protect drinking water in Austin and San Antonio, two of the fastest growing metro areas in the country. They have also emerged as a proven best practice for cities needing a practical, customizable way to protect water quality and quantity.
A native of Austin, Huffman has a long and distinguished record of public service. Prior to joining The Nature Conservancy, she served six years as assistant city manager for the City of Austin. During her tenure, she negotiated more than $5 billion in economic development agreements, oversaw the redevelopment of major portions of the city and secured long-term commitments to protect the city’s water supply. She also served as deputy city manager for San Marcos, Texas, where she spearheaded important watershed protection initiatives that strengthened the city’s economy and protected its natural assets.
Huffman currently serves as board chair for the Texas League of Conservation Voters and as an ECO Advisory Board member for South by Southwest. She also sits on the board of Ballet Austin. In 2015, she joined the New York University faculty as adjunct professor of Resilient Cities, a class created to examine the ways in which people can make growing cities safer and more sustainable.
Huffman earned a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Texas A&M University. An Austin native, she enjoys running, swimming and hiking with her husband and four children.