As the voice of Georgia’s rivers, we help everyone enjoy, connect with and advocate for economically vital and clean flowing rivers.
- Be the hub that connects people to rivers, watershed groups, related resources and other members of the network so they can be effective advocates.
- As a statewide watchdog on water policy, continue advocacy efforts to ensure strong protections for Georgia’s rivers.
“I have gotten to know the staff and members of the Georgia River Network and have been inspired by their passionate dedication to Georgia’s water resources and to sharing river adventures with its citizens.” ~ Karen Hill, Georgia River Network Member
- To see how we are fulfilling our mission in tangible ways, view more Georgia River Network testimonials here.
Georgia River Network was born on the banks of the Oconee River near Dublin, dreamed up by a group of guys who loved fishing and paddling and who wanted to protect Georgia’s river treasures.
It was the late 1990s, and after a decade of aggressive population and development growth, rivers across the state were running red with dirt from hasty, sloppy construction projects. We Georgians were using 10% more water than the national average while in the middle of the most significant drought in our history.
“I have been a supporter of the Georgia River Network ever since the first Paddle Georgia over 10 years ago. It was that experience that raised my awareness the Georgia River Network and their activities in working to protect the rivers and streams in our state from misuse and preserve them for generations to come.They are a good crew and I am proud to know them and support them in their work.” ~ Doug Mathews, Georgia River Network Supporter and Paddle Georgia Participant
Our waterways were under attack, not only from development, but also in the Georgia legislature, where the laws protecting the state’s rivers, streams, wetlands and even drinking water supply reservoirs were being weakened again and again.
Over a decade later, Georgia River Network has seen some change for the better, but meaningful change is slow.
Our staff and board envision a day when Georgia’s rivers are a focal point of our communities, a place we bring our families to have fun, be together, celebrate and relax. We hope to see these rivers being used to enrich our lives, fuel our economy in creative ways, and provide clean, healthy drinking water to all Georgians for years to come.
And we couldn’t do this important work without the support of Georgia’s concerned and dedicated citizens. Thank you for helping us to protect our precious water legacy.
We hope you’ll consider becoming a member of Georgia River Network so we can continue our mission together.
Rena Peck Stricker – Executive Director
Rena Peck Stricker joined Georgia River Network as its Executive Director in March, 2019. Prior to coming to GRN, Rena spent 17 years as contract ecologist to Coca-Cola, developing projects help the company achieve its “water neutrality” goals, as well as creating plastics recovery initiatives to reduce marine debris. Rena also worked for nine years as a restoration ecologist for The Nature Conservancy, and served as Director of Science and Development for The Georgia Land Trust.
In addition to her professional career, Rena has served on the boards of the Southeast Watershed Forum and Wilderness Works, which connects Atlanta’s homeless children with nature. She holds a Master’s Degree in Renewable Natural Resources from the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and a Bachelors’ Degree from The University of Georgia. Rena is certified as an ecologist by the Ecological Society of America and is trained as an Alliance for Water Stewardship associate.
Dana Skelton – Director of Operations
Dana has been with Georgia River Network since 2002, serving at the Director of Administration and Outreach from 2002-2015 and Executive Director from March, 2015 – 2019. Dana graduated from Clemson University with a B.A. in Spanish and International Trade and a Masters in Parks, Recreation and Tourism. She has worked for ZooAtlanta’s Education Department, Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper as Director of Education and Monitoring, and the Georgia Stream Buffer Initiative coordinating stream buffer projects on farm land. She became interested in river work after seeing Joe Cook’s slide show on his 100 day journey down the Chattahoochee River. She has also served on the boards of Georgia Adopt-A-Stream, RiversAlive, the Upper Oconee Watershed Network, Athens Land Trust and Wild Intelligence. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, yoga and gardening.
“It is always a pleasure to work with Georgia River Network either as a participant in one of their events or as a collaborator working on a common goal. Everything they do is highly organized and well run by helpful staff and volunteers.” ~ Gina Rogers, Georgia Water Coalition coordinator and Conservation Issues Coordinator for Georgia Wildlife Federation
Gwyneth Moody – Director of Programs and Outreach
Gwyneth Moody, native to Athens Georgia and daughter of an outfitter on the Broad River- grew up paddling Georgia’s rivers. After earning a Master’s degree in Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development from the University of Georgia she found her dream job with Georgia River Network, a local non profit, coordinating the Hidden Gems Paddling series and providing technical assistance to water trail groups throughout the state. Thus far she has assisted the development of Water Trails on the: Yellow, Broad, North and Middle Oconee, Ochlockonee, Alapaha, Satilla, South and Flint Rivers and is currently working intensively on the Upper Oconee Water Trail and Georgia’s Little River Water Trail. She serves on the Georgia Trails Alliance Board and continues to provide support to Georgia’s water trail groups around the state. She also teaches salsa dance classes with the group SALSAthens.
Joe Cook – Guidebook Author and Paddle Georgia Coordinator
Joe Cook is a 1988 graduate of Berry College where he studied communications and agriculture. Joe is the Advocacy and Communications Coordinator for Coosa River Basin Initiative and has served that organization in various ways since 1995 as a board member and past Executive Director/Riverkeeper. On the side, he is a nature/landscape photographer and writer whose work has been published in numerous national and regional magazines and is featured in three books, Wildflowers of the Appalachian Trail, Wildflowers of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains and River Song-A Journey Down the Chattahoochee and Apalachicola Rivers. He has studied and reported extensively on water resource issues in Georgia since 1994 as well as organized rallies such as last years tire roll around the Capitol and the building of the Scrapitol the previous year. Joe became Paddle Georgia Coordinator for Georgia River Network in 2005 and has conducted this event every year since introducing thousands of people to Georgia rivers.
Board of Directors
Kit has been a member of GRN since 2012 and has participated in every Paddle Georgia Summer event from 2012 – to present. Additionally, he participates in Weekend For Rivers as well as Hidden Gem & Spring & Fall Paddle Georgia events. He spent the majority of his working career in Pharmaceutical Marketing (Domestic & International) and Pharmaceutical Sales Management. In addittion to serving on the GRN Board, he volunteers for Ocmulgee Water Trail Partnership (OWTP) and Tax-Aide Tax Preparation.
Steven Cousins is an advocate for the protection and restoration of Georgia waterways, and has been paddling Georgia rivers for the past twelve years. He has a heart and concern for the environment, and is a supporting member of several Riverkeeper organizations throughout the state. Steven retired from the Coca-Cola Company in late 2017, where he was an Equipment Quality Manager with governance responsibilities to ensure that vending machines, coolers and dispensers are environmentally sustainable and conform to low-carbon requirements.
Mickey Desai – President
Mickey Desai currently Chairs the Metropolitan Counseling Services Board of Directors, is a member of the Georgia Lakes Society Board of Directors, and is a member of the United Way’s Volunteer Involvement Program (V.I.P.) Alumni Association, the premier board development program in Atlanta. Working in the nonprofit sector since 2001, he helped resurrect the Atlanta Nonprofit Professionals group and organized the Stetson University Alumni Association across the state. In 1995 he received his Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver, and he holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Stetson University. He has had a varied and diverse career path, choosing nonprofit causes specifically for strength of passion and demonstrated return on investment. His personal interests revolve around causes that develop personal strength, integrity and critical thinking skills. Mickey is the founder of The Nonprofit Snapshot.
Alicia Evans was born and raised in Atlanta, lives along the Chattahoochee River in Roswell, and has been sharing her passion for rivers with others while working at Chattahoochee Nature Center since 2007. As the Senior Director of Community Programs, she ensures that all members and visitors have a top-notch educational experience during their visit to CNC. Prior to her career, Alicia was a guide in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area for three years, where she fell in love with water, wilderness, and the “art” of canoeing. She earned her BSFR in Wildlife Biology from the Warnell School of Forest Resources at the University of Georgia.
Jim was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and he graduated from Duluth High School before going on to receive his accounting degree from Georgia State University. He currently lives with his wife Debbie Lynn and their two German Shepherds and two cats. He has participated in Paddle Georgia for 11 years, and he is a founding member of Atlanta United FC. His interests include paddling, soccer, disc golf, and anything sports related. His greatest accomplishment is his daughter Autumn Marie Fountain.
Dr. Robert Fuller grew up on the shores of Tampa Bay, Florida, where he spent nearly as
much time in and on the water as he did on dry land. His work in the 1960’s as a Force Recon Marine included diving work in the Philippines and Vietnam. His career has spanned
commercial diving, tugboat operations, utility contracting, consulting civil engineering,
photogrammetric aerial photography, and university teaching. He holds BS and MS degrees in engineering and a PhD in Geography. His dissertation combined satellite imagery, aerial
photography, geographic information systems, and spatial modeling to produce watershed
models. For seventeen years, he conducted water quality monitoring on Lake Lanier, its
tributaries, and a variety of streams and reservoirs throughout northern Georgia. He developed and directed the University of North Georgia’s Water Lab, the Predatory Beetle Lab, and the Environmental Leadership Center. He chaired UNG’s Faculty Senate for four years and held the rank of full professor until his retirement in June, 2017. He was awarded professor emeritus status following retirement. During his 2012-2013 sabbatical, he paddled a canoe alone 1510 miles, performing water quality testing from the mountains of north Georgia to the Florida coast and then returning home by paddling back upriver on another river system, a trip that took four and a half months and spanned three states, two river systems and the Gulf of Mexico.
Tammy Griffin – Secretary
Tammy Griffin has been coming on Paddle GA since 2010. She is a paralegal at King and Spalding and lives in Loganville.
Greg is an avid fisherman and paddler and is passionate about Georgia’s rivers. As an adult Boy Scout leader, he led annual canoe/camping trips for the Troop on six of the major Georgia rivers. Greg is the Technical Director at ERM – a globally recognized leader in sustainable development, adaptation and resiliency,water resource management and corporate water stewardship, sustainable agriculture, and related policy and finance solutions. He has extensive experience in successful business case development, strategic planning, financing sustainability solutions, supply chain assessment, risk assessment, and large project and program management. He has managed NGO and government partnership development, mergers & acquisitions programs, investor and customer engagement, people and department management, and capability program development and execution in over 100 countries.
We welcome Susan to the Board. Bio coming soon!
Tami is an Educational and Non-Profit Consultant & Coach and holds a Phd in Public Communication. She is the Board Chair for the Fayette County Hospital Authority; Past Chair, Southern Conservation Trust, and an Assistant Professor at UWG.
Keith Parsons is a river and wetland ecologist. Moving to Georgia in the late 1950s and spending his formative youth in the then still wilds of Cobb County around woods and creeks, his innate connection to earth and water were solidified. Four years of military service provided a certain maturity and focus, which later sustained him working through a BS in biology at Georgia State University and additional graduate studies at Mississippi State University and later Emory University. Primed with academic credentials, he accepted a position at Georgia Tech as a research associate on a major National Science Foundation grant studying the ecology of the Ogeechee River. He later moved to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa but continued the work on the Ogeechee. The research funding finally ran dry in 1988, and he returned to Atlanta accepting a job as a wetlands ecologist with the Georgia DOT and later with Georgia DNR from where he retired in 2012. He has served as an advisor/contact for wetland and river issues with the Sierra Club, as well as, on the initial formative committee with the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. He is the co-founder, along with Marty Kearns, of the Georgia River Network. He and his wife, Shirl, have volunteered with the Smithsonian Institution since 1993 to support coral reef research in Belize where they spend a month each year. They have held the volunteer sweep spot for Paddle Georgia since 2011. Addressing the Ecological Society of America in 1976 in Athens, Dr. Eugene Odum said an ecologist should experience tropical rain forests, coral reefs and Copper Hill, Tennessee. This is a trifecta Keith has notched on his belt of life.
Terry Pate – Treasurer
I was born in Mississippi and have an MBA from Delta State University. I have lived in Georgia since 1983. I am a Certified Public Accountant with a private practice in Norcross Georgia. I have worked in industry and public accounting for more than 40 years.
In 2009 my oldest daughter called and told me to turn the TV on PBS. They were showing a program about a week long kayaking trip. It was the first Paddle Georgia trip on the Chattahoochee. Meghan wanted me to go on the trip with her. At first, I said I didn’t have time. After I thought about it, how many times does your 30-year-old daughter want to spend a week with you camping and paddling? We signed up and have been on every Paddle Georgia since. I was very impressed with the trip. Over the years we have met great people and we always have a wonderful time.
Over the years since my first Paddle Georgia I have seen Georgia River Network introduce people to our waters while working to protect our rivers and streams. I encourage everyone visiting this website to get involved and become a member of Georgia River Network.
Vincent Payne was born in England but raised in Georgia. He lives in Douglas County on the Dog River. Vincent has a B.S. in Secondary Education from the University of West Georgia. He works for PepsiCo as a Regional TPM Manager coaching the use of continuous improvement tools like Total Productive Maintenance, Lean Six Sigma and High Performance Work Systems. Vincent has paddled Georgia rivers and lakes since the seventies and is past president of and now on the Board of Directors of the Georgia Canoeing Association. He also coaches dragon boat teams for PepsiCo at Lake Lanier and other venues in the Southeast. You may recognize Vincent as the safety leader for Paddle Georgia.
Bonny Putney – Vice President
Bonny is a 30 year Lake Lanier resident and outdoor enthusiast. Her corporate background was handling hazardous waste and materials, conducting workshops and handling corporate clients. She also worked for Chattahoochee Riverkeeper for 5 years as the Headwaters Outreach Manager. Bonny currently participates in the Lake Lanier Association on Shore Sweep, Georgia Canoe Association on river clean up events, Rivers Alive Advisory Board, and Friends of Gainesville Park Board. She has worked with various groups, including the Lake Lanier Association, to make the Shore Sweep one of the 3 biggest cleanups annually in Georgia. Her cleanup activities brought her to the Rivers Alive Advisory Board, where she developed friendships with many of her fellow board members, including Dana Skelton. In early 2005, at a board retreat, Dana asked her if she thought a week-long paddle down the Chattahoochee River would be something people would like to do. Bonny remembers writing her a check that day. Per Bonny, her life changed with Paddle Georgia. She now can’t imagine not have kayaking, her friends and her love of the rivers. Since her first Paddle Georgia experience, her life has been centered around protecting and enjoying rivers in the Southeast. She is a certified Recreational Kayak Instructor and can be found on the Chattahoochee River and other rivers paddling most weekends. She has paddled 8 Paddle Georgia trips and enthusiastically recruits new paddlers and promotes and supports Georgia River Network (GRN) and especially Paddle Georgia. With more time and freedom, she expects to be able to help with more protection and promotion of all of Georgia’s rivers and the many GRN programs. She has paddled with Paddle Florida on the Suwannee River, the 130 mile Keys Challenge, the Apalachicola River from Woodruff Dam to the Gulf, and actively helped create the New Upper Chattahoochee Paddle Trail above Lake Lanier.
We welcome Thom to the Board. Bio coming soon!
Tim is a native Georgian, grew up in Atlanta and Dunwoody, studied at Elon College and DeKalb College. He worked in Scotland for two years with Youth with A Mission, but has spent most of his career working in the family business with his father, Carroll, and his brother, Josh. They own Arrow Adhesives Co., a 54-year-old company that manufactures of solvent cement for pvc pipes. Tim lives in Marietta and has participated on many Paddle Georgia trips.