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.
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.
Advocacy Director: Shannon Blankinship
Shannon’s responsibilities include working with the St. Johns Riverkeeper to evaluate and prioritize issues and emerging threats to the watershed and develop and implement advocacy action plans. Shannon has experience serving as the Outreach Director for St. Johns Riverkeeper for six years.
Shannon is a devoted and energetic advocate for the protection and preservation of Florida’s most treasured natural assets, especially the St. Johns River. She received her Bachelors of Science from Purdue University in Environmental Science and Natural Resources Economics in 2006 before working for the Delaware Riverkeeper Network in Philadelphia. Shannon received her Juris Doctor from Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville with recognized honors in Pro Bono community service and the Environmental Certificate of Law. She is a former elected official in Duval County serving as a Supervisor on the Soil and Water Conservation District.
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.
Education Specialist: Amanda Macek
Amanda is responsible for leading our STEAM boat trips with Duval County 5th graders as well as organizing, coordinating, and providing environmental education programming for K-12th grade classes in Duval, Clay, St. Johns and Putnam Counties. She has always loved the ocean, but grew up in landlocked southeastern Ohio. She obtained her B.S. in Marine Science from Coastal Carolina University in 2015, and has worked as an educator at aquariums and national forests, and as a fisheries biologist for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Amanda firmly believes in the benefits of science and education, and that one cannot succeed without the other. She enjoys working as a link between science and education to inspire the next conservation-minded generation. Currently she is attending Jacksonville University as a graduate student investigating the effects of different circle hook shapes on sharks using recreational and commercial gear to better protect these magnificent top predators. She has two wonderful fur babies, a English bulldog, Bailey, and a French bulldog, Riley, and in her free time enjoys boating on the St. Johns River and collecting shark’s teeth at the beach.
Outreach Director: Kelly Patton Thompson
Kelly’s job responsibilities include expanding the St. Johns Riverkeeper’s geographic outreach efforts by organizing engaging community events and programs, developing partnerships with local organizations and businesses, and connecting citizens to the water through everyday action opportunities along the St. Johns River. A Georgia native, Kelly grew up spending summers on the coast, where her outside experiences kept her closely connected to the water and everything it touched. With a strong passion for marine conservation, Kelly received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. Before joining the St. Johns Riverkeeper team, she started her coastal career as a Naturalist and Sea Turtle Technician on Sea Island, GA (one of Georgia’s 14 barrier islands) and spent four years working in coastal outreach and education with One Hundred Miles, an environmental advocacy nonprofit on the Georgia coast. In coastal Florida, Kelly has also worked with the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program conducting wild bottlenose dolphin research and coordinated sea turtle rehabilitation and education efforts with Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Outside of work, Kelly enjoys nature photography, kayaking, and a good book. With a recent move to Jacksonville, she is looking forward to exploring the natural wonders of Florida and everything the St. Johns River has to offer.
Volunteer Program Manager: Megan Riggs
Megan’s responsibilities include recruiting, training, and retaining St. Johns Riverkeeper volunteers with a variety of skills sets, making sure volunteers are well-prepared and well-informed with sufficient opportunities to get involved and utilize their skills for the advancement of St. Johns Riverkeeper’s mission. Megan is a native to the Jacksonville community and grew up visiting Florida’s springs and enjoying all the natural beauty that Florida has to offer. She has lived overseas in Spain and is fluent in Spanish. She served two years as an AmeriCorps member in both Florida and California where she discovered her heart for service. Megan will go above and beyond to make sure that you are comfortable in any setting while volunteering for the St. Johns Riverkeeper. Megan graduated from the University of North Florida with a Master of Education in Educational Leadership and a Graduate certificate in Non-Profit Management. Megan is an avid traveler and will jump at the opportunity to experience a new culture or setting. She looks forward to hearing from anyone who would like to get involved in advocating for the St. Johns River.
Middle Basin Outreach and Education Coordinator: Gabrielle “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 spends time at the DeLand Office at 117 W Howry Ave, offering activities to expand the knowledge base about the middle basin’s issues and beauty. 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.
Office MANAGER: Carol Bailey-White
Carol manages our membership database and also performs general office duties. Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, she moved to Jacksonville in 1990. She studied sculpture and photography at Bellarmine University in Louisville, but after college started working at the public library and decided to become a librarian, obtaining a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. She retired in 2012 after 21 years with the Jacksonville Public Library. Since retiring, Carol has continued to pursue her lifelong interest in nature and wildlife photography. She is also an avid birder and an active member of the Duval Audubon Society. She and her husband Lee love to spend time visiting Florida’s amazing parks and nature preserves.
Board of Directors
John Trainer, Chair
Stephanie Freeman, Vice Chair
Vince Lamb, Treasurer
Kelly Shefelbine, Secretary
Agnes Danciger, Director
Saundra Gray, Director
Marty Jones, Director
Kenyon Merritt, Director
Ron Littlepage, Director
Seth Pajcic, Director
Jim Schwarz, Director
Kevin Kennedy, Director
Hank Coxe, Director
St. Johns Riverkeeper Legal Committee
Seth Pajcic, Chair