Our Story

Testing the Waters

When I was young, my grandparents bought a small cabin on a shallow bay on the south Puget Sound so that the grandchildren could grow up playing around and safely exploring the water. As we grew older, my grandpa allowed us to row a tiny aluminum boat around the bay but warned us against going past the point. We dreamed of venturing out of the bay into the uncertainty of the wide channel beyond, but we knew we needed more time to prepare.

Only after my grandpa taught us how to navigate the currents, inlets and shorelines of the open water did we feel the confidence to strike out on our own. Gliding past the point for the first time on our own was a glorious and defining experience and one that my grandpa made possible. 

At Big Water Consulting, we seek to take our responsible and appropriately cautious clients beyond their traditional limits so that they can reap the benefits of exploration and boundary testing while developing a greater understanding and appreciation of where they have come from… as we did when we looked back on our cozy, safe little bay from the vantage of the rolling waves of the big water.

– Kevin Klingbeil, Owner of Big Water Consulting


Our Mission

Big Water Consulting is a consulting firm located in Seattle, Washington which specializes in helping tribal, governmental and nonprofit clients collect, analyze, manage, share and act on relevant data. Our goal is to help these organizations, through the development of good data practices, to more effectively monitor and evaluate their work, improve decision making, generate more support and manage more efficiently. Big Water Consulting and its partner organizations seek to identify lasting solutions that: promote self-sufficiency; incorporate the highest appropriate level of technology; identify and mobilize available resources; reflect our clients’ organizational and cultural values; and diminish the need to hire a contractor to provide similar services in the future.


Our Team

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Heather Bell

Research Director

Heather Bell is the Research Director with Big Water Consulting. She holds degrees in Geography from the University of South Florida (Ph.D. and M.A.) and a B.A. in Philosophy from Grinnell College. Heather has 14 years of experience combining quantitative, qualitative, and geospatial approaches to support improved policy and decision making.

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Zhen Han

Data Manager

Zhen Han is the Data Reporting and Analytics Manager for Big Water Consulting. She holds a Ph.D. degree in Ecology from Cornell University and a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from Zhejiang University, China.

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Kevin Klingbeil

Managing Director

Big Water Consulting is owned by Kevin Klingbeil, a geographer, Indian housing lawyer and former manager for the U.S. Census Bureau. Kevin has represented tribal housing clients in government-to-government consultations and served as a technical expert for the IHBG Formula Negotiated Rulemaking Committee’s Data Study Group in 2014-2016. Prior to working in the fields of Indian housing law and federal data collection, Kevin practiced environmental, natural resources, water and property law.

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Harry Maher

Data Analyst

Harry Maher is a Data Analyst with Big Water Consulting. Harry was born and raised in the New York City suburb of New Rochelle, New York. He went to Grinnell College in Iowa where he received his degree in Psychology with a Neuroscience Concentration.

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chelsea Sweeney

Data Analyst

Chelsea Sweeney is a Data Analyst with Big Water Consulting. She holds a Master of Public Administration from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Arizona.


To apply for a position or an internship with Big Water, please visit the Join Our Team page.