Patricia Hernandez

- Executive Director -

Patty Hernandez is co-founder and Executive Director of Headwaters Economics. She has played a formative role in building the highly productive team, positive culture, and impactful work for which Headwaters Economics is known.

Patty has 18 years of experience in economic development research, community assistance, technology solutions, and nonprofit leadership. She has led Headwaters Economics’ development of highly regarded interactive data tools—such as Neighborhoods at Risk and Wildfire Risk to Communities—that help communities adapt to climate change. In 2021 she also helped launch a new community assistance program: FloodWise Communities.

With an abiding interest in community development and equity, Patty has worked with a wide network of partners to identify and analyze relevant data for community planning and make it easily accessible. She has worked directly with local governments in 15 states spanning the country; federal agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; national organizations including the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, the American Society of Adaptation Professionals, the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, and the National Association of Development Organizations; and colleagues at academic institutions including the University of Washington, Stanford University, University of Oklahoma, University of Michigan, and Cornell.

To all her work Patty brings a commitment to rigorous research and a deep dedication to helping communities thrive in a changing world. She is one of four principal investigators for a multi-year National Academy of Sciences’ Thriving Communities project, and a co-principal investigator for the Pacific Northwest Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) program. Patty also leads the NOAA Climate Program Office fiscal policy working group and works closely with charitable foundations and leadership of other nonprofits to support sustainable community development.

Patty grew up in Miami, Florida, and holds a master’s degree in ecology. She spent two years in remote parts of Alaska working on public lands management before moving to Helena, Montana.