The St. Johns Riverkeeper: Lisa Rinaman
The St. Johns Riverkeeper is the chief advocate and public’s voice for the St. Johns River. Responsibilities include: holding regulatory agencies and those polluting the river accountable; identifying and advocating for solutions that will protect and restore the river; working with government entities, businesses, community leaders and citizens to resolve problems that impact the river’s health; and communicating with the media and the public to educate and raise awareness about important river-related issues.
As a former senior staff member for Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton, Lisa Rinaman has extensive experience building consensus around issues and helped implement numerous environmental initiatives and policies. Lisa was instrumental in leading the effort to develop and implement irrigation, fertilizer and Florida Friendly landscaping ordinances to better protect the St. Johns and local waterways. She also played a key role in securing state funding for water quality improvements, organizing the city’s successful Manatee Protection Plan, and pushing for programs necessary to fulfill the River Accord restoration plan for the Lower St. Johns River.
Before being named the St. Johns Riverkeeper, Lisa served as a valuable member of the St. Johns Riverkeeper Water Policy Group (WPG), a group that advocates for water conservation and reuse and policies that are more protective of our water resources.
Office: (904) 256-7591
Executive Director: Jimmy Orth
In addition to assisting the Riverkeeper in the field, Jimmy Orth maintains overall responsibility for budgeting, staffing, program development, fundraising, and public relations. A native of Jacksonville, Jimmy has extensive experience working on environmental issues in Northeast Florida through his involvement with other environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, where he served as an executive committee member for over eight years and as a regional chairman. In 2003, Volunteer Jacksonville awarded Jimmy its Nature of Caring award. Jimmy received his undergraduate degree from Florida State in Marketing, and his master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of North Florida.
Mobile: (904) 485-0164
Office: (904) 256-7591
Education Director: Emily Floore
Emily develops and provides river-related educational programs and resources for elementary, middle, and high school age children and the general public. Growing up in Charleston, SC, Emily has been raised around the water and received her Bachelors of Arts in Political Science from College of Charleston. Her love for the outdoors has driven her to pursue careers in environmental education to get students outside and on the water. For over 8 years, she has worked for non-profits in Charleston, SC, Chestertown, MD, and Bivalve, NJ taking students on sailing classrooms focusing on estuary and river health, the environment, and history. In 2013, Emily moved to Jacksonville to pursue a second degree in Coastal Biology with a minor in Chemistry from University of North Florida. She is looking forward to combining her degrees to raise awareness and conservation efforts for the St. Johns River through education programs for present and future advocates.
Office: (904) 256-7022
Education Specialist: Jamie De Nisco
Jamie works with the Education Director to organize, coordinate, and provide environmental education programming for K-12 students within the St. Johns River watershed. Jamie is a Jacksonville, FL native, and received her Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science from Florida Southern College in Lakeland, FL. Her love for native wildlife led her to begin her career as a natural resource intern for the City of Jacksonville, and later as a Shorebird Biologist for Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. She took opportunities within these roles to lead nature walks, train volunteers, and educate the public on the importance of our ecosystems. She is looking forward to continuing her passions in inspiring students and the general public through education and advocating for the St. Johns River.
Middle Basin Coordinator: Gabbie Milch
Gabbie’s focus in the St. Johns Middle Basin is to assist the community to engage and learn about the quality of the River from Orange County to Lake George. She believes that the St. Johns River should be safe for kayaking, as well as swimmable and fishable. She wants to engage volunteers, members, and the community to participate in activities such as clean ups, River-Friendly Landscapes projects and riparian habitat restorations, riverfront hikes and other social learning activities. She was an UF IFAS Horticulture Agent / Master Gardener Coordinator, Florida-Friendly Landscaping Agent. She worked in the past for the St. Johns River Water Management District as a Watershed Action Volunteer Coordinator (WAV) in the middle basin and is familiar with water quality and quantity issues of the St. Johns. She graduated from Rollins College with a BA in Environmental Studies and has completed MS work at UF in Agricultural Education and Communications program. She loves to kayak, identify plants and animals, hike and photograph the beauty of nature.
Mobile: (407) 607- 2965
Office Manager: Sara Schmalfeld
Sara’s responsibilities include managing all of the St. Johns Riverkeeper membership relations and databases, assisting with event planning and execution, as well as assisting our Outreach Director with communications and design. Sara holds a Bachelors in Elementary Education from Florida State University and has previously worked in non-profit, private schools doing everything from finance to communications for 13 years.
Sara grew up on Amelia Island where spent her childhood playing on the beach and strolling through the marsh. This experience created a love of nature and the environment that has only expanded over time. Outside of work, Sara enjoys being a Girl Scout troop leader to her two daughters, loves photography, and reading as many books as she can.
Mobile: (904) 240-8865
Office: (904) 256-7591
Outreach Director: Karen Estella Smith
As Outreach Director, Karen is responsible for engaging the community through events, programs, and campaigns to raise awareness about the issues affecting the health of the St. Johns River. In addition, she helps provide experiences that connect people to the river, develop partnerships, and foster relationships that activate and empower residents throughout the entire watershed in support of the organization’s advocacy priorities.
Karen is a native of Jacksonville, FL. She graduated from the Florida State University with a degree in English Literature, after which she completed post-graduate studies in London in the area of Museum Studies. She is currently pursuing her master’s in biology in an inquiry-based program called Project Dragonfly, where she is focusing on Conservation and Environmental Justice. The program is based out of the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens. Karen’s career began in public affairs and communications. Her professional background includes having worked on Capitol Hill, the Florida Department of Education, and with the Magnet School Program in Duval County Public Schools. She has also worked with various nonprofit organizations in the Jacksonville community.
Her favorite memories of the St. Johns are family fishing trips that she still takes with her cousins. But, more recently you could find her in the tributaries collecting water samples for her graduate research.
Communications Specialist: Rebecca Vecera
Rebecca is a content creator whose focus is to engage our members (and future members!), and equip you with the knowledge you need to be a more River Friendly citizen. Her responsibilities include print and digital design, email distribution, website maintenance, social media and public relations. Rebecca has a background in nonprofit communications and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Florida State University.
Rebecca grew up in Clay County and loves to get outdoors for a hike or paddle along the watershed. She looks forward to supporting education, outreach and advocacy efforts to preserve the health of the River for generations to come.
Office: (904) 256-7613
Board of Directors
Marty Jones, Chair
Stephanie Freeman, Vice Chair
Kenyon Merritt, Secretary
Steve Cobb, Treasurer
Dr. Gerry Pinto
Jim Schwarz, Emeritus Member
St. Johns Riverkeeper Legal Committee
Hank Coxe, Chair