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Board Members and Staff

Board Members

Jessie Allen
ECWA Board Member

 

Jessie first became involved with ECWA through a summer internship as part of her graduate studies at Duke University. Professionally, she works on large-scale hydrologic models but maintains a passion for watershed management in her local Ellerbe Creek Watershed.

Jessie loves walking along South Ellerbe Creek trail and imagining the possibilities for innovative stormwater management throughout the watershed. If she’s not out for a stroll, she is likely gardening or helping her neighbors solve their drainage problems.

 

Kerry Condon
ECWA Board Member

 

Kerry Condon Photo

Kerry is a graduate student at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. Prior to returning to North Carolina, Kerry worked in Providence, Rhode Island, on issues in education policy. Kerry connected the colleges and universities with K-12 schools in collaborations aimed at improving college access, readiness, and degree attainment. Kerry joined ECWA through the Sanford Board Leadership Initiative and hopes to get to know Durham better and learn from ECWA’s dedicated board.

When not writing policy memos or researching legislation, Kerry can be found on the streets of Durham in search of coffee or running through her neighborhood’s trees.

 

Meredith Emmett
ECWA Board Member

 

Meredith Emmett has lived in the Ellerbe Creek watershed for over 30 years. The water in her backyard finds its way into the Creek and her family takes almost daily walks in the 17-Acre Woods. As President of Third Space Studio, Meredith is a consultant to dozens of nonprofits – in North Carolina and across the country – as they focus their intended impact, design ambitious strategies, and develop the resources and capacity needed for success. Meredith also teaches nonprofit management at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University and is one of the lead instructors for the Institute for Conservation Leadership’s Executive Leadership Program. Meredith is happy to be bringing what she has learned from environmental leaders across the country to ECWA and to her own backyard.

 

Katie Kovach
ECWA Board Member

 

Katie Kovach Selfie

Katie has lived most of her life in the Piedmont of North Carolina, growing up in Asheboro. Katie’s professional background is rooted in science and education, having NC Environmental Educator Certification, a B.S. in Botany and Biology from NCSU and an M.S. in Forestry from Virginia Tech. Needless to say, she loves plants.

Katie currently works with Schoolhouse of Wonder and Central Park School for Children. Katie began working with ECWA as a volunteer by developing an online field guide, and has continued to be involved with ECWA's educational outreach. When not out in the woods, Katie enjoys crafting botanical goodness, creating art, climbing trees, and spending time with her cats and family.

 

Daniel Kulenic
ECWA Board Member

 

Daniel was introduced to ECWA while co-producing the Bull City Food & Beer Experience. He chose ECWA as the beneficiary with some guidance from others and before truly understanding the energy and the passion behind the organization and the mission. Once meeting all of the volunteers and members and learning more about whom and what ECWA is he found an opportunity to give back the city he loves so much through an organization that appreciates being outdoors in a learning and safe environment.

Daniel lives in Durham with his wife Kate, two daughters Colby and Rowan and their dog Jasmine.

 

Heather Linton
ECWA Board Member

 

Heather Linton portrait

Heather has been a fan of ECWA for many years. She especially likes the birding hikes, but has been involved with cleaning up the 17-Acre Wood near her former house. She has lived in Durham for over 20 years, most of this time in the Watts-Hillandale neighborhood, and now she lives downtown in the Durham Central Park Co-housing Community. Heather is an environmentalist as well as a CPA. She founded the Linton & Associates, PA CPA firm in 1989. This is an unusual combination in the financial field.

Speaking of the financial field, Heather is on the Finance Committee of ECWA, and she brings a financial perspective to her work on the board. She has degrees in philosophy and art history from the University of Delaware, and an MBA with a concentration in accounting from UNC-CH.

 

Jeff Masten
ECWA Board Member

 

Jeff Masten spent his childhood appreciating the woods, streams and rivers in rural New Hampshire, where he developed a strong sense of environmental stewardship for the land and water. Jeff brings that same environmental ethic and desire to make a difference to Durham and to the Ellerbe Creek.

Jeff is partner in the LandSpring Group, a local enterprise that supports private, foundation, nonprofit and government conservation initiatives. Jeff is the former Director of Conservation Strategies at Triangle Land Conservancy responsible for land acquisition, conservation planning and stewardship activities. His 12 year experience at TLC included partnership projects with Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association, the conservation of thousands of acres in Durham including the development of the Horton Grove Nature Preserve, doubling the size of the Stagville State Historic Site and planning and land acquisition for the future New Hope Creek Preserve.

Jeff has been a Durham resident since 1997 with his wife Betty and three children Andy, Margaux and Abby. He has a BS in Finance from Northeastern University and a Master’s in Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

 

Ian Pond
ECWA Board Member

 

Ian is a keen kayaker on flat and whitewater and has explored many of the local rivers and lakes by boat. An exploratory trip down the Ellerbe from Red Mill Road introduced him to the trash islands including a huge one at the trestle. With that memory, when Ian was approached my fellow Northgate Park resident Mike Shiflett to help with Big Sweep it was an easy leap for Ian to lead a clean up on the Ellerbe – the hook was cast!

Ian’s passion for the Ellerbe is the physical creek and it’s cleanliness but he is willingly involved in land based clean ups too and is on the Land Stewardship Committee.

Ian is President of Northgate Park Neighborhood Association and has lived in the neighborhood with his wife Carol since 2008, Carol being a native of Northgate Park.

 

Peter Raabe
ECWA Board Member

 

Peter settled in Durham in 2007, discovering an awesome and quirky community. He currently the NC Conservation Director for American Rivers and has worked for the organization since 2001 in various capacities.

He has been a river lover since birth, growing up only 3 blocks from the Mississippi River in New Orleans. He loves walking, running and biking along the Ellerbe Creek greenways and looks forward to the completion of that trail. He is passionate about Durham and believes that Durham’s future and the creek’s future are intertwined, what is good for one is good for both.

He lives and works in the Ellerbe Creek watershed. He is an aspiring gardener and enjoys home improvement work. Before joining American Rivers headquarters staff in Washington, D.C., he worked for River Network focusing on organizational development and policy coordination of watershed groups throughout the country.

Peter also has experience as a staffer in the U.S. Senate, a wealth of political campaign experience, and event planning experience. He has a B.A. in American Government and Environmental Studies specializing in watershed protection from Franklin and Marshall College.

 

Mike Shiflett
ECWA Board Member

 

Mike is Clinical Laboratory Scientist and Medical Technologist. He is CEO of American Labor, a distributor, seller and repairer of haemostasis laboratory equipment and President of LAB ACM Inc., a laboratory service consulting company.

He is deeply committed to community activism and has served as President of the Watts Hospital Hillandale Neighborhood Association, the Durham InterNeighborhood Council (INC), chaired the Durham Housing Appeals Board, Kids Voting and as well as serving on the boards the Triangle Success Forum, the Community Association Institute (CAI) of the Carolinas, the Citizens Advisory Board for KB Homes, Seniors Staying Put, Coordinating Council for Senior Citizens, Retired and Volunteer Senior Program and the national board of Community Association Institute and Community Association Volunteer Leader as Chair.

Mike is currently enrolled in the Duke University Certificate Program for Non-profit Management, serves on several committees of the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce and is a Registered Parliamentarian. Mike joined the ECWA board in 2009 and was one of the first volunteers to work with Steve on the Albany to Maryland trail over 10 years ago.

He has been a member of the Open Space committee of the Durham Open Space and Trails committee since 2009 and joined the WakeUp Water Quality Team in April 2014.

He has five children. He enjoys riding his motorcycling in Durham's country side, playing poker and gardening. He and his wife (Cheryl) have six rain barrels, three watergardens and installed a residential rain garden at their home many years ago.

 

Perry Sugg
ECWA Board Member

 

For a young boy growing up in small eastern North Carolina town with no nearby public parks or official nature preserves, any patch of woods or small creek or open fields within biking distance was my world to explore. Regards for safety and trespass concerns never crossed our minds. These adult burdens were not part of the lexicon for boys my age fraught with curiosity and itching for adventure, or just plain and simply bored to action. No matter whether the destination du jour be the privet-filled cemetery woods or the dirty creek running through town or the farm fields and open woodlands just beyond town limits, each supplied the elixir to feed the imagine. Freedom and independence rested in the delving into the unknown and the challenge of finding our way in sometimes unfamiliar territory.

Aside from the obvious concerns with environmental threats in my community and the values I place in protecting our important natural resources, it's that feeling of adventure I experienced a young boy in the 'wild' that I want to help ensure today's and future youth have that same opportunity. In this regard, ECWA is a perfect fit and I'm proud to serve on the Board and help any way I'm able.

Perry Sugg lives in the Watts-Hillandale neighborhood of Durham with his teenage daughter. Professionally, Perry manages stream and wetland restoration projects for the NC Ecosystem Enhancement Program. When not gardening, or watching sports, you may find him 'adventuring' nearby in ECWA's 17-Acre Woods.

 

Steve Hiltner
ECWA Executive Director Emeritus

 

Steve Hiltner
Steve Hiltner

Steve has degrees in botany and water quality. In addition to his work in founding and nurturing the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association, he has also enjoyed previous lives as a horticulturist, piano teacher, composer and jazz musician. 

Steve served on the Durham Environmental Affairs Board, and leads periodic plant walks along the West Ellerbe Creek Trail and at Penny's Bend.

In a region dominated by trees, his particular passion is bringing back the colorful wetland, prairie and savannah plant communities that historically graced the Durham area. Steve lives with his wife and two young daughters in Princeton, NJ.

 

Officers

Steve Cohn
ECWA President

 

Steve is the Director of Duke University Press and a former long-time member of the Board of Directors of the Watts-Hospital-Hillandale Neighborhood Association, for which he served as chair of the Parks Committee as well as the liaison with ECWA.

Steve is a frequent user of the West Ellerbe Creek Trail and got involved with ECWA because he was tremendously impressed by the vast amount ECWA was accomplishing with such a small group of active volunteers. He brings to the board not much knowledge of the natural environment, but lots of interest in the functioning of small organizations as they grow and develop.

 

John Dorney
ECWA Vice President

 

For a short bio of John please check again later.

 

Stan Holt
ECWA Treasurer

 

For a short bio of Stan please check again later.

 

Juliann Lanser
ECWA Secretary

 

Juli grew up in the shadow of the Santa Cruz Mountains and spent a lot of her childhood trying to get there on her sparkly purple Schwinn. She moved to Los Angles to attend UCLA to study English Literature and on her first day thought "I definitely don't want to grow old here." She then spent the next 22 years exploring possible places where she would want to grow old, before she finally found Durham and moved here in 2007.

 

Juli became an ECWA member almost immediately upon arrival, and she and her dog spend a lot time of time in the 17 Acre Woods. She is excited about being the secretary of an organization that is not only committed to protecting Ellerbe Creek, an important and much-loved natural resource, but that also cares about providing access to nature for Durham's residents. Juli telecommutes back to her longtime job in California for a global media localization company.

 

Staff

Chris Dreps
ECWA Executive Director

 

Chris Dreps Selfie

Chris Dreps works with ECWA’s staff and scores of volunteers to protect and restore Ellerbe Creek. He spends his time helping to strengthen ECWA’s organizational capacity, creating a vision for watershed restoration, and building innovative partnerships with government, businesses, agencies, foundations, and private landowners. It is a fun and challenging job working with ECWA’s great people.

Chris has been working to protect watersheds for 20 years. In his previous job, he directed the nonprofit Upper Neuse River Basin Association, working with local governments to coordinate a regional watershed management planning process. Chris has also worked for a private consulting firm in Seattle, Washington and the National Park Service in Tucson, Arizona. He has done volunteer work outside of the USA as a Peace Corps Volunteer Central African Republic, a Peace Corps Response Volunteer in Honduras, and was a Mennonite Central Committee volunteer on a rural water harvesting project in Guerrero, Mexico.

 

Rachel Cohn
Office Administrator & Development Assistant

 

Rachel Cohn
Rachel Cohn

Rachel was born and raised in Durham and grew up spending time along Ellerbe Creek. She has worked and volunteered for a variety of non-profit and international organizations, ranging from NC Cooperative Extension to the United Nations Development Program. Rachel has traveled extensively in the United States and Latin America, studying, farming, volunteering, working, and exploring along the way. She holds Bachelors degrees in Environmental Studies and Biology from Oberlin College and a Masters in Sustainable Development with a concentration in NGO Management from SIT Graduate Institute.

 

Robert Meehan
Creek Smart Technician

 

Robert Meehan is ECWA's Creek Smart Technician, installing rain gardens and rain water harvesting cisterns at residences in the watershed. He has a degree in biology from UNC-Asheville and teaches ECWA's Creek Smart classes. An avid naturalist, Robert is also likely to be found looking under rocks or leading a bird hike.

 

Kat Selm
Stewardship Coordinator

 

Kat Selm Portrait

Kat Selm was born and raised in the wilds of western North Carolina where she was taught a great appreciation for nature. She attended UNC Asheville for biology and botany where she published on the relationship between beavers and the endangered shrub Virginia Spiraea. She has since worked for The Highlands Biological Station botanic garden and The Bureau of Land Management in NV. She’s also performed reclamation monitoring for an environmental consulting group in WY, UT, and CO, and served an Americorps term at The Nature Conservancy as a bog and wetland steward back in her beloved home state. She is currently working on her MS degree from NC State University in Natural Resources and GIS.

 

Cherri Smith
ECWA Director of Conservation

 

Cherri Smith
Cherri Smith

Cherri Smith came to Durham in 1985 to attend Duke University in what was then called the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (currently the Nicholas School of the Environment). After completing an internship with state government as part of this curriculum that involved extensive field work throughout the state, she fell in love with North Carolina and decided to stay and find work here. She also fell in love with Durham and has called this city home for 32 years.

She’s recently retired from state and local government after 30 years in various agencies including the Division of Water Resources, State Parks, Wetlands Restoration Program, Durham City-County Planning, Durham Parks and Recreation, and the Clean Water Management Trust Fund. She’s grateful for the opportunity to work with the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association to pursue her interest in the environment in such a dynamic community.

 

The Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association bylaws call for the creation of a board of directors to help guide and govern the organization.  The board consists of the four officers and from six to sixteen board members.  Each board member is elected to a two-year term.

 

The ECWA Board of Directors has created several staff positions to assist in planning, organizing and executing ECWA's initiatives. Staff includes an Executive Director, a Director of Conservation, a Stewardship Coordinator, a Development Assistant and Office Administrator, a Creek Smart Technician, and an Americorps Service Member.