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.
Naomi was born and raised in Hinesville, Georgia. She graduated from Long County High School, and is now completing her associate degree in fish and wildlife management at Ogeechee Technical College. Growing up, she raised chickens, peacocks, ducks, geese, rabbits, and even some fish. Currently, she raises chickens and rabbits for food and as a hobby. She always had a passion for animals. Her other hobbies are making digital art and painting ceramic objects. After completing her degree program, she would love to continue working with wildlife. During her internship at ORK, she will collect and record litter collection and water quality monitoring data, conduct citizen science monitoring for wildlife, recruit volunteers for the Adopt-a-Landing program, and work closely with ORK staff members.
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 and will finish by August of 2021. 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.
Associate professor & biology graduate program director at Georgia Southern 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