Ogeechee Riverkeeper/Executive Director
Damon grew up in rural south Georgia where he spent his free time outdoors fishing and exploring local rivers and streams. His time in the great outdoors led to an appreciation of the natural world and a passion for understanding how it works, a quest that led him to Georgia Southern University where he earned bachelor’s and master’s of science degrees in biology.
His research has focused on how physical and chemical changes in freshwater ecosystems affect their biological communities with projects, including studies on the connectivity between rivers and floodplains, the effects of beaver dams on freshwater invertebrate communities, secondary production of macroinvertebrates, nutrient monitoring, and water quality monitoring in rivers and streams. Before pursuing a career in science, Damon managed small businesses for over 13 years.
When time permits, the Mullis clan, which also includes his wife, daughter, and a rambunctious canine, enjoys boating, fishing, hiking, birding, camping, and just generally being outside.
Meaghan Walsh Gerard
Communications and Administrative Director
Meaghan was born in Illinois, then grew up along the east coast. Skiing in New England, hiking in Yellowstone, kayaking in Maine and exploring Viking settlements in Newfoundland were all part of a childhood filled with outdoor adventures.
After graduating from college in New Hampshire with a bachelor’s degree in English, she moved to a much less snowy Savannah. While managing a performing arts and historic site nonprofit, she earned a master’s degree in cinema studies. Her research included genre evolution, Southern architecture in film, Gothic structures, and iconography.
Meaghan enjoys reading, writing, and traveling. She has snorkeled at Dry Tortugas, the most remote location in the National Park System; explored the streets of Old Havana, Cuba; floated down the Snake River in the Grand Tetons; walked across a volcano caldera in Hawaii; and climbed to the underground city beneath Edinburgh, Scotland.
Education and Outreach Coordinator
Mel was raised in Athens, Georgia, (still a local at heart!) with roots in the north Atlanta area as well. She spent much of her childhood doing outdoor activities such as gardening, small-scale farming, fishing, spending time in the North Georgia rivers and lakes, hiking and more–a pastime that has carried into her adult life and career.
She received her bachelor’s degree from UGA in anthropology/archaeology and went on to do field work in Belize. During this time, she was based out of the West Coast between the Redwoods of California to Orcas Island, Washington, where she did a mixture of work with local food movements, archaeology research and a YMCA summer camp. Her work with local food movements through the WWOOF program led her to travel internationally.
After several years of national and international travel, both personally and professionally, she found her way back to Georgia to work as an environmental educator at Rock Eagle 4-H Center. Eventually she moved to Statesboro, where she earned her master’s degree in social sciences with a focus in environmental anthropology. Her time in the Coastal Plain has been intertwined with environmental education, events management, sustainability, community outreach and local food movements.
Her other passions include music, art, teaching yoga (RYT 200, Yin 50) and spending time with friends & family.
Samantha is a nomadic military spouse who loves exploring the tide pools, reefs, and forests with her family wherever the U.S. Army takes them. While living in Florida as a child, she experienced sailing amongst manatees and mangroves, snorkeling with stingrays in the Caymans, and science classes at Mote Marine Laboratory, all of which developed into a deep passion for conservation and the environment.
With a bachelor’s degree in education, Samantha has taught in both traditional and outdoor classrooms. She has worked as a local food coordinator bringing together farmers, cooperatives, citizens, and chefs to create a sustainable food system. Throughout the past few years, she has worked in a variety of for-profit and nonprofit roles coordinating programs and strengthening communities.
Currently, she is working on various projects, including a turtle-friendly takeout program on Tybee Island. When she’s not working, you can find her day-tripping the East Coast with her family.
James was born in Gainesville, Florida, but moved to Statesboro at 6 months old. He is currently a high school junior at Bulloch Academy. He is passionate about fighting climate change and plans on pursuing a career in environmental engineering and materials science. His internship with ORK will be focused on litter collection and data analysis, water quality monitoring and community outreach. In his free time, he enjoys listening to music, reading, and spending time with friends and family.
Shawn is a Georgia native and only moved out of the area when he joined the military. He was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas and Fort Stewart, Georgia. He did two deployments: 15 months in Iraq and nine months in Afghanistan. When he got out of active duty, he decided to stay in with the reserves. Altogether, he has been in the military for 15 years. As Teddy Roosevelt said, “The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak, so we must and we will.” He is in his final semester of the fish and wildlife management program at Ogeechee Technical College. He plans to continue his education at Savannah State University in the marine sciences program. Shawn loves kayaking, fishing, tagging sharks, free diving the natural springs in Florida, spending time with his son, Ian, his girlfriend, Holly, two dogs Freya and Copper, hiking in state national parks, climbing and camping.
Board of Directors
Ann Hartzell, Chair
Community activist in Savannah, Ga.
Clay Mobley, Vice Chair
Regional sales manager for Optimum Water
Katherine Cummings, Secretary
Community Organizer, member, Fall-Line Alliance for a Clean Environment
Michael Dayoub, Treasurer
Owner and president of Alpha Financial Management in Savannah, Ga.
Director of Botanic Garden at Georgia Southern University
Checo Colón-Gaud, Ph.D.
Professor & associate dean of biology at Georgia Southern University
Sue Ebanks, Ph.D.
Associate professor of marine and environmental sciences at Savannah State University
Painter and art teacher at the Studio School in Savannah, Ga.
Kirsten Parent (at-large member)
Energy inside sales with Chatham Steel in Savannah, Ga.
Riverfront landowner, retired teacher, and business owner
Attorney with Stack & Associates in Atlanta/Savannah