Published by the Daily Courier-Observer on September 2, 2015
Clayton, NY– Thursday, August 27th, Save The River held its Annual Membership meeting. Among the items acted on was the election of three new Directors who add to the national, geographic, professional and demographic diversity of the now eighteen-member Board of Directors.
“It is great to have Karen Douglass Cooper, Jessica Jock, and Cicely Johnston, each of whom come from previously under-represented regions of the St. Lawrence River, join our Board,” stated Lee Willbanks, Riverkeeper and Save The River Executive Director. “In addition to broadening our geographic scope to now include all of the Upper St. Lawrence, 2 of the 3 are Canadian, these women bring new personal and professional experience to our efforts to protect and preserve this magnificent River.” Jeff Garnsey, newly elected President of the Board added, “I believe we are entering one of the most important and exciting periods in Save The River’s history. We now have a broader base on both sides of our River than ever before. I am excited to be a part of it.”
Ann Ward, Board Member Emerita, stated “for years we’ve tried to increase the number of Canadian members on our Board to more closely match the truly international nature of our work on the River. This is an excellent start.”
Karen Douglass Cooper, who for the last seven years has worked exclusively on projects dealing with fresh water protection throughout the upper St. Lawrence River Watershed Region, said “to share in the international scope of protection and conservation work being undertaken by Save The River is both an honour and a privilege. I am very much looking forward to serving with this wonderful team.” Ms. Cooper is the Communications / Community Outreach Officer for the St. Lawrence Institute of Environment Sciences and Coordinator for the Remedial Action Plan for the St. Lawrence River Area of Concern (AOC) in Cornwall, Ontario. She has also worked on fresh water protection and public education with South Nation Conservation Authority, the Dundas Environmental Awareness Group and the Raisin ‐ South Nation Drinking Water Source Protection Program.
Jessica Jock is a self-professed life‐time river lover. As an Environmental Scientist for the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Environment Division in Akwesasne, she has worked 13 years on various River projects related to Superfund cleanups, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Ms. Jock, stated, “I’m honored to have been nominated by my peers, and to have received the support of the membership. I look forward to serving the mission of Save The River and enthusiastically accept the role to promote good river stewardship for the River communities.” She has presented at local, state, and national conferences on River health, served on committees, and collaborated with many resource agencies and non‐profit organizations. She has volunteered and served on the St. Lawrence River Walleye Association, Inc. and Northern TRIBS Swimming, Inc. board of directors.
Cicely Johnston was born and raised in the Thousand Islands and is the 5th generation in her family‐owned business, Ed Huck Marine of Rockport, Ontario. According to Ms. Johnston, “I started working at the marina quite young and quickly found I shared a passion for the River with other River Rats, whether they were locals, cottagers or boaters. This connection taught me the importance of a clean, sustainable River not only for recreation but commerce as well.” Ms. Johnston is a fundraiser for Queen’s University, holds a certificate in Professional Fundraising from Boston University, and is co‐chair of a Queen’s University Senate Committee, and a board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, South Eastern Ontario Chapter.
In other business conducted at the meeting, members heard from Executive Director Willbanks about some of the many initiatives, partnerships and accomplishments of Save The River in the preceding year. But he did point out that amid the positives, Plan 2014, the new and much needed water levels plan for the River has not yet been approved, legislation banning microbeads from personal care products is still in limbo in New York and there is still a threat of shipments of Bakken and tar sands crude oil on the River. Willbanks noted, “there are still real and significant threats to the health of the River and the communities that depend on it. Save The River remains the voice for the environment, the communities and all those who share the use of the River. We have to stay vigilant and maintain our ability to be that strong voice.”
In addition to the three new Board members, current Directors Jeff Garnsey, John McGrath, Steve Taylor, and Lauran Throop were re-elected for another three-year term. Elected as officers for the coming year were: Jeff Garnsey, President; Lauran Throop, Vice President; Fred Morey, Treasurer; John Peach, Secretary; and Jack Butts, Member-At-Large. The Directors also approved an amendment to the not-for-profit’s bylaws establishing term limits for Board members, limiting all Directors to no more than two, three year terms.
More information about Save The River’s programs and work to protect the Upper St. Lawrence River can be found at www.savetheriver.org.