2012 Weekend for Rivers Speaker Biographies

Tonya and Taylor Bechtler
Sally Bethea
Juliet Cohen
Dorinda Dallmeyer
Ben Emanuel
Jamie Higgins
Gary Hopkins
Allison Hughes
April Ingle
Vic Johnson
Philip Juras
Chris Manganiello
Lisa McAdams
Richard Milligan
Wayne Morgan
Tara Muenz
Keith Parsons
Allyson Read
Christine Rodick
Gordon Rogers
Judy Aspinwall Sharpton
Diane Shearer
Steven Scurry
Julie Stuart
Jason Ulseth
Randy Vining
Patricia Wissinger
 

Tonya and Taylor Bechtler

Tonya and Taylor are a mother and daughter team who love rivers and who come on Paddle Georgia every year with their family.


Sally Bethea

Sally Bethea is the founding director of Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, a 5,000-member nonprofit environmental advocacy organization established in 1994 whose mission is to protect and restore the Chattahoochee River, its tributaries and watershed.

She has an undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a masters degree in city planning from Georgia Tech, and an honorary doctorate from LaGrange  — as well as 30 years of experience in environmental issues. Sally has served on the national boards of Waterkeeper Alliance and River Network, and the Georgia Board of Natural Resources (1999-2007). Currently, she is a member of the board of Earth Share of Georgia.

In 2008 , Georgia River Network established the Sally Bethea River Champion Award and recognized her as its first recipient. She also received the 2008 Ullman Innovative Leadership Award presented by the Georgia Center for Nonprofits. From 2002 through 2007, Sally was named one of the 100 Most Influential or Most Notable Georgians by Georgia Trend Magazine. In 2001 and 2002, she was named one of the 100 Most Influential Atlantans by the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

She has lived in Atlanta’s Ansley Park neighborhood for three decades and is the proud mother of two grown sons, Charles and Robert.
 

Juliet Cohen

Juliet is General Counsel for Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper since August 2008. Before joining the organization, she worked as a Staff Attorney for the 11TH Circuit United States Court of Appeals. Juliet graduated Magna Cum Laude from American University Washington College of Law in 2004 and served on the American University Law Review. She earned a Bachelor of Environmental Science and Political Science from the University of Miami, Florida in 1995. Prior to studying law, Juliet worked on coastal protection programs in Charleston, South Carolina.

Dorinda Dallmeyer

Dorinda directs the Environmental Ethics Certificate Program at the University of Georgia. For her edited anthology Bartram's Living Legacy: the Travels and the Nature of the South, she was nominated for a Georgia Author of the Year Award. Her next book "Altamaha: A River and Its Keeper," a collaboration with former Altamaha Riverkeeper James Holland and Georgia author Janisse Ray, will be released by the University of Georgia Press in June 2012. A member of the GRN board of directors, she is a veteran of Paddle Georgia 2010 and 2011.


Ben Emanuel

Ben is the Associate Director of Water Supply at the Decatur office of American Rivers. Prior to starting with American Rivers in 2011, he worked for the Altamaha Riverkeeper as its Oconee River Project Director, based in Athens, Georgia. In 2010, he helped spearhead a community response to a severe toxic chemical spill in Athens' Trail Creek following a fire at a local chemical plant. During his time with ARK, Ben also worked for the statewide Georgia River Network. Prior to that, he was the news editor at Athens' alternative newsweekly, Flagpole Magazine, and was part of a river study project called the Georgia River Survey.
 

Jamie Higgins

Jamie Higgins is new to film making, but within a space of less than two years she has already created more than 20 videos. Jamie has also been a leader in the paddling community where she served on the board of the Georgia Canoeing Association for 4 years, led the paddling safety team for the first 5 years of Paddle Georgia and was appointed to the Georgia State Water Planning State-wide Committee to represent the interest of the paddling community.  Her first film “Save the French Broad: A Paddling Adventure!” was screened in four film festivals. Another short paddling film about the beautiful Ocmulgee River was featured in the Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Earth Day Video contest and aired on Earth Day 2011. She concentrates on making videos about kayaking and the environmental impacts of the rivers she loves.

Jamie has developed a unique way of capturing the beauty and the excitement of paddling and the river by mounting her waterproof camera to the bow of her kayak. This unusual perspective gives the audience the feeling that they are in the cockpit of the kayak themselves. The audience not only sees and hears what the paddler experiences, but they also develop an intimate connection with the river.
 

Gary Hopkins

Gary is co-founder and President of Plastek Werks, Inc. and Storm Water Systems, Inc, but first and foremost he is an advocate for our world’s waterways. Gary doesn’t refer to Storm Water Systems as a “Green” company, but instead as a “Blue” company, with one clear purpose: Clean water now and for the future.

Gary’s life has always involved a passion for the environment and preserving it for future generations. More specifically, Gary has always had a passion for our world’s waterways. For the last 20 years, Gary has combined his expertise in plastics welding with his passion for preserving the environment to build environmental products for companies that want to protect groundwater, soil and air from contamination by hazardous chemicals.  In 2007, Gary extended his passion for protecting our water when he and his long-time business partner started Storm Water Systems to manufacture and install products that intercept trash and other pollutants mobilized by stormwater runoff to keep them from entering our waterways.

He continues to raise awareness about the numerous threats facing our world’s water in his day-to-day life. Whether he is in the office or in the field, on the road, or giving educational speeches to community groups, Gary continues to devote his life to protecting and preserving the world’s waterways.

Allison Hughes

Allison Hughes is a State Coordinator for Georgia Adopt-A-Stream, which is based in the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. She received her Bachelors of Science from the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and her Masters of Education from Georgia College and State University. Through her position at Georgia Adopt-A-Stream, she is able to travel throughout the State of Georgia sharing her love of and dedication to clean and healthy waters through educational workshops and presentations.


April Ingle

April joined Georgia River Network (GRN) as the Executive Director in June, 2003. In this position, she is responsible for working with the GRN Board of Directors and staff to oversee and develop GRN’s programs, projects, administration, and fundraising to meet the organization’s mission to protect and restore Georgia’s rivers. She also serves on the Leadership Team and chairs the Communications Committee of the Georgia Water Coalition, a coalition of 180+ organizations and businesses with the common goal of clean water for current and future generations. She also monitors and lobbies the state legislature and participates in policy decisions within various state and federal agencies.

Formerly, April served as Public Relations Specialist, then Executive Director of the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts. April also served as the Coordinator of the St. Joseph River Watershed Initiative and as an environmental educator in Connecticut and Maine. April received her Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University in 1996, where she majored in Natural Resources & Environmental Science with a specialization in aquatic resources.

Victor Johnson

Victor Johnson lives on the South Fork Broad River north of Athens with his wife and their animals. He is a reformed geologist practicing country law in Danielsville, Georgia, ranging from land use and government law to civil litigation. A long time board member of the Broad River Watershed Association, he’s also (among others) a board member of the Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation and United Way of Northeast Georgia, and helps with many community programs and projects. He’s over-educated, with a B.S. in Natural Resources and B.A. in Economics from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, and an M.S. in Geology and J.D. in law from the University of Georgia. Though he has lived or worked in five southeastern states, Georgia is home (you always come back to the best).
 

Philip Juras

A native of Augusta, Georgia, Philip has long been interested in the natural landscape. In 1990 he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in drawing and painting and in 1997 a Master of Landscape Architecture degree, both from the University of Georgia. His MLA thesis examined the pre-settlement savannas that once flourished across the southeastern Piedmont, a subject that has informed much of his artwork since then. Now living in Athens, Georgia with his wife Beth Gavrilles, Philip focuses primarily on remnant natural landscapes that offer a glimpse of the Southeast before European settlement. He combines direct observation with the study of natural science and history to depict, and in some cases recreate, these landscapes. The sensory impressions conveyed by his paintings invite the viewer to step through the picture plane and into the landscape beyond.

In 2011 Philip exhibited more than 60 paintings at the Telfair Academy in Savannah, Georgia, and the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, Georgia, portraying the southern wilderness as William Bartram experienced it in the 1770s.  In conjunction with the exhibit, the book Philip Juras: The Southern Frontier, Landscapes Inspired by Bartram’s Travels was published by the Telfair Museums and is distributed by the University of Georgia Press.


Chris Manganiello

Chris is GRN’s Policy Director--his job is to serve as a voice for people who believe in maintaining high water quality standards, smart water supply solutions, and healthy rivers.  Chris grew up in the Potomac watershed of suburban Maryland and graduated from Eckerd College with a B.A. in history and political science.   For about four years, he guided adventure trips and taught basic stream and forest ecology to students in Pisgah National Forest, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and DuPont State Forest.

Chris’ travels, teaching, and conversations with others have informed his understanding of our region’s complex human and natural past.  These experiences inspired him to enter graduate school to study environmental history at Western Carolina University (M.A.) and the University of Georgia (PhD). His research has interpreted the policy implications of endangered species management in peopled landscapes as well as how a “green-conservative” coalition fought the Tennessee Valley Authority in the 1970's.  But it was the crystal clear waters and artificial reservoirs he encountered in the southern Appalachians that led him to study water management in the American South.  He is currently working on a book about the region’s water history, tentatively titled Southern Water, Southern Power.


Lisa McAdams

Lisa and her husband and I have been performing together professionally as the acoustic duo “Mountain Hoodoo” for 10 years, and have enjoyed great amateur success with their music.  They're stayed very busy Rabun County and the surrounding areas, performing at restaurants, festivals, churches, weddings, parties and special events.  They have performed at many local  festivals such as Foxfire, The Mountain Man and at Piedmont College’s Bluegrass Festival where they were interviewed for Georgia Public Radio. 


Richard Milligan

Richard is a student in Geography at the University of Georgia and founding member of the Georgia River Survey, an independent organization that has undertaken ecological surveys by canoe of several rivers in the state. A sometimes contributor to Briarpatch and Flagpole Magazines, he is working to broaden the Georgia River Survey’s ecological work to include social and cultural analysis of life along Georgia’s major rivers. Richard also works with the Athens Immigrant Rights Coalition and Freedom University, organizations working for justice in immigrant communities here in Georgia.
 

Wayne Morgan

Wayne is a nature photographer from southeast Georgia whose passion is photographing the Satilla River. He has been doing photography since around 1999 and this river has always been a big part of his life. Growing up he and his dad would fish this river for redbreast bream, catfish, warmouth perch and largemouth bass. For many years logging has been allowed around the Satilla that was once wide and deep enough to float rafted logs for about 100 miles during a freshet (highwater). Now the swamps have been drained from the logging and it depends mostly on rainwater and natural springs to keep it moving. When there is enough water this dark tannic acidic water makes for some beautiful and peaceful trips in the middle of nature. He has photographed many types of birds including turkey, hawks, owls, herons and egrets along with other wildlife such as deer, squirrels, otter, raccoons, fox and alligators and also the scenery of the Satilla.

Tara Muenz

Tara Muenz is a State Coordinator for the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream program within the Environmental Protection Division of DNR.  She obtained her B.S. from Miami University of Ohio and her M.S. in conservation Ecology from the Odum school of Ecology at UGA. She has worked in freshwater and marine environments all over the State studying indicators of ecosystem health using signals from freshwater mussels, turtles and amphibians. She loves to explore the ecosystems of the Southeast, and especially likes to open up this beautiful world to others.

Keith Parsons

Keith is first and foremost a river aficionado, aquatic ecologist, biologist, salt marsh zealot, and fly fishing maniac…take your pick. Branded a “non-essential, faceless bureaucrat” by Newt Gingrich, an ex-history professor, Keith has soldiered on in state government over the past 25+ years in order to 1) pay the bills and 2) make a difference… time will tell.  Adjunct to bill paying and bureaucratic ballyhooing, serendipity has provided opportunity to volunteer with the Smithsonian over the past nineteen years at the Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystem field station in Belize, experience and explore well known, as well as little known natural habitats throughout Georgia, and co-found the Georgia River Network.  

Allyson Read

Allyson Read is the Biologist for the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA), a unit of the National Park Service that manages a 48-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta, Georgia.   She received her Masters of Science in Wildlife Ecology and Management from the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia in 2007.   Born and raised in the Atlanta area, she and her family have a long history along the Chattahoochee River.  She has been active in the environmental field for most of her life having established theNational Wildlife Federation Schoolyard Habitats for two local school and was Program Manager at the Dunwoody Nature Center before pursuing the master’s degree in wildlife management.   Her present and past involvement includes the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance, the Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council, the Atlanta Audubon Society, the Blue Heron Preserve, the Georgia Wildlife Federation, and the Southern Conservation Trust.   She has been at CRNRA for 4 years and loves the diversity and challenges offered by this position.  Her work includes management and monitoring of the water quality of the river and its tributaries, native and exotic vegetation, wildlife, wetlands and floodplains, rights-of-way and easements, and responding to the many sundry and often amusing happenings that occur in an urban National Park.

Gordon Rogers

Gordon was raised in South Georgia, the son of Rev. Sam and Helen Rogers of the South Georgia United Methodist Conference. He graduated high school at Glynn Academy in Brunswick and attended college at Oxford College of Emory University (Oxford), the University of Georgia (Athens), and Skidaway Institute of Oceanography (Savannah). Following his formal schooling, he was employed for ten years by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources at their Coastal Resources Division office in Brunswick, first as a fisheries statistician and later as a marine biologist and analyst. There he conducted basic research, management-oriented research, and marine policy development. Gordon then entered the private sector, as an owner-operator of a waste and recycling facility based in Brunswick. He has also fished professionally: tournaments, instruction, and charters. He was the Executive Director of the Satilla Riverkeeper from 2004 to 2009.  He became Riverkeeper and Executive Director of Flint Riverkeeper in 2009.
 

Steven Scurry

Steven grew up in a family that was seriously interested in genealogy and he was told stories of his ancestors throughout his childhood. His Uncle Charles Mallard Bondurant was very interested in the Indian connection to the family and took Steven on day trips exploring old southern landscapes and southern fields for treasures. Steven is a graduate of UGA, with a degree in Anthropology. The summer after High School and prior to college, Steven traveled the “reservation road” across the nation where he met, befriended, and listened to stories of Native American history.


Judy Aspinwall Sharpton

Judy Sharpton is the owner of Growing Places Marketing. She writes a monthly column on store development titled Retail Ready™ for Green Profit magazine and contributes feature articles on garden center development to a range of trade publications.

Judy is a avid gardener with a special interest in native plants, organic vegetable gardening and the value of all gardens, wild and tame. She is currently developing her last garden overlooking 65 acres of salt marsh near Savannah, GA. Judy grew up on the Altamaha River and has recently returned to the river as the source of exploration and understanding of her family history.
 

Diane Shearer

Diane is a retired public school teacher and writer. She is a member of Atlanta Audubon, Georgia Ornithological Society, Georgia Sierra Club's Smart Energy Committee, and serves on the board of directors for the Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island. Her first attempt at expressing her love for the Alapha River was a column she wrote for Facing South in the early 1980's called "In Praise of Rivers."
 

Julie Stuart

The revolution will not be televised—but it could be visually mapped, laminated, overnighted, mounted on a wall, and used to ignite a movement once Julie Stuart gets involved. Recognized in Harvard Business Review for her graphic facilitation work before anyone could agree on what to call it, Julie has facilitated high-stakes meetings for such clients as Accenture, GE Energy, the American Institute for Architects, Victoria's Secret and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Part strategist, part business truth-teller, part idea taxonomist, part champion of insights, Julie combines the right questions with a few well-placed scribbles to envision what’s really possible for her clients—and to map out how to make what matters happen.

Jason Ulseth

Jason Ulseth is the Technical Programs Director for Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, an environmental advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the Chattahoochee River Basin.  Jason holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health from the University of Georgia and has nearly 10 years of experience working in environmental issues.  Among other various certifications, Jason is a certified Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Trainer and is a member of the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Advisory Board.

Randy Vinings

Randy is a part time kayak fishing guide on the rivers in middle Georgia as well as a member of Ocean Kayaks Pro Staff.  His specialty is fishing for shoal bass using kayaks to access their mostly inaccessible shoal habitats.  The shoal bass is a special bass which is overlooked by many and can only live and reproduce in free flowing rivers.  He grew up here in middle Georgia fishing these rivers with his Grandfather, who taught Randy the value of these rivers, how to fish them and given a passion to protect them.

Patricia Wissinger

Patricia is the superintendent of Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.  She holds a bachelors of science in earth science from Western Carolina University and earned a master’s degree in public policy from Western Carolina’s UNC-Asheville campus. She is an avid hiker who also enjoys traveling. She and her husband Gordon reside in the historic district of Marietta, Georgia.