Chairman: Bob Kerr


Bob Kerr is one of  Georgia’s leading conservationists. He served three governors in setting policy for water management issues with Alabama and Florida. He was founding director of Georgia’s Pollution Prevention Assistance Division of the Department of Natural Resources, and led the state’s Hazardous Waste Management Authority. Bob was Executive Director of the Georgia Conservancy, his work key to ensuring Congressional designation of wilderness areas in north Georgia and western North Carolina.

Along the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Bob led coalitions of conservation groups to expand federal protection for fragile river environments both urban and rural. His volunteer work includes leadership roles in the Georgia Advisory Board of the Trust for Public Lands (TPL) and National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), a 350,000 member national organization dedicated to the enhancement and protection of the National Park System.

He is a US Marine, educated at George Washington University and Georgia State University.


Vice Chairman; Development & Marketing Chair: Warner McConaughey


Warner McConaughey is founder and president of HammerSmith, Inc, one of Atlanta’s premier residential design and renovation firms. His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Elle Décor, Better Homes and Gardens and Fine Homebuilding, as well as the CMT Networks’s Ultimate Home, CNN, PBS’s The Inspired House, and This Old House. His company has been a pioneer in the residential green building movement, helping establish the EarthCraft House renovation guidelines for green building.

Warner is past president of the Georgia Chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) and is a strong supporter of Atlanta’s historic neighborhoods. HammerSmith has always given back to the neighborhoods by supporting local parks, schools and neighborhood associations. He is a graduate of Stanford University, receiving a BA with honors. His hobbies include running, trail and bridge building and organic gardening. He lives in Druid Hills with his wife Allison and their three young children. He is an Atlanta native who grew up on Peavine Creek, a tributary to the South Fork of Peachtree Creek.


Treasurer: Billy Hall


Billy Hall is the co-founder and CEO of NewFields Companies, an international environmental consulting firm specializing in natural resources management, restoration, and sustainability. His specialty is applied decision consequence analysis, a management approach to resource optimization that combines game and probability theory with the most advanced data and communications tools and engineering and scientific rigor.

Billy has provided strategic planning services for a significant number of Fortune 100 multinationals such as Shell, Bayer, Eli Lilly, Union Carbide, Dow, and DuPont, as well as for government entities such as the US DOD and Park Service, and NGO's such as the Environmental Defense Fund, Southern Environmental Law Center, and Riverkeeper. He has been a strategic planner on environmental projects in over 70 countries, and currently operates offices in 15 cities in the US, Brazil, South Africa, London, China and Australia. He is one of the lead authors of the textbook recently published by Elsevier Press, "Sustainable Land Development and Restoration, Decision Consequence Analysis".


Governance Committee Chair: Angelou Ezeilo

Angelou Ezeilo’s love for the environment stretches far back to when she was a little girl who had the chance to escape the dense urban streets of Jersey City, New Jersey, to summer near Scio, New York. She loved the Salamanders and Tadpoles she and her brother found in a creek on the property.  After practicing law briefly, she worked for the New Jersey Agriculture and Development Committee, leading to her career as an environmentalist. She took a job in the New Jersey Trust for Public Land office, working there and later in Georgia buying land for preservation. She helped build the New York/New Jersey Highlands Program, Parks for People-Newark, the New York/New Jersey Harbor Program in New Jersey, the Atlanta Beltline and the 20 County Regional Greenspace Initiative in Georgia.

Angelou founded the Greening Youth Foundation, charged with providing environmental access to underserved children and young adults through its Public School Initiative and Youth Conservation Corps programs, with services throughout the US and in Ghana, West Africa.

A graduate of Spelman College, she received her Juris Doctorate in Law from the University of Florida, College of Law.  She is a board member of the National Center for Civil and Human Right’s Women in Solidarity Society; Advisory Board Member for the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, The Million Mile Greenway, Keeping It Wild, and Outdoor Afro; and sub-committee member of the National Park Service’s 21st Century Conservation Corps. She lives near a tributary of Lullwater Creek by the Olmsted Linear Parks with her husband James and their two children.


Project Selection Committee Chair: Susan Stainback

Susan Stainback is owner and principal of Sylvatica Studio, a leading landscape architecture and ecological planning firm in Atlanta.  

Projects she chooses elevate the essential character of a place and support natural and social systems, encompassing parks and greenspace for public/private associations in urban settings, riparian and Longleaf Pine ecosystems. She serves on the Ansley Park Beautification Foundation Board, fostering greenspace conservation and ecological restoration in Atlanta. With a BLA in Environmental Design from the University of Georgia and a MLA from Harvard University, Stainback worked for ten years in Boston for well-established landscape architecture firms before returning to Atlanta.

She is active with the Midtown Alliance EcoDistrict Advisory County; the Society for Ecological Restoration International - Southeast Board, and the LongLeaf Alliance.  Her work has proved influential, substantially benefitting natural and social environments in Atlanta and the greater Southeast. Susan is a native Atlantan, and resides in Ansley Park with her husband Phil.


Project Implementation Committee Chair: Dave Kaufman

Dave Kaufman is a GA Tech graduate, engineer and entrepreneur. He has a broad background in technology development and commercialization holding leadership positions in organizations ranging from start-ups to Fortune 50 companies. He has also served as a GA Tech Venture Lab Fellow, helping GA Tech commercialize its intellectual property.

In addition to his professional endeavors, Dave was a team member of the 1992 recovery of the Lost Squadron from the Greenland icecap. Most recently, he authored the visionary book Peachtree Creek in which he explores, via canoe, the history and environmental development of Atlanta’s primary watershed and its possibilities for reclamation. He holds a BME and certificate in finance and accounting from GA Tech. He is also a registered Professional Engineer with the State of Georgia.


Finance Committee Chair: Tony Powers

Tony Powers is a leader in Decatur business and education improvement projects. He is a co-owner and manager of the popular Decatur Intown Ace Hardware, sharing expertise and materials on environmental and community projects benefiting a range of non-profit organizations. He holds a BA degree in Business from the University of Georgia, where he was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi.

Tony’s public service includes leadership in PTA and school councils at several schools in Decatur. A long-time member of the Decatur Planning Commission, he led the Board of the Decatur Education Foundation to raise support for the city’s top-rated schools. He and his wife Leisa are raising their two daughters in Decatur schools and at the hardware store.


Legal Committee Chair: David O. Eldridge

David O. Eldridge is a real estate and environmental attorney, a partner in the firm of Byrne, Davis and Hicks. His passion for the environment includes a decade of service on the Board of Trustees of The Georgia Conservancy and as its legislative liaison for two years. David was President of Friends of the River, and part of the team that sought and achieved passage of the bill creating the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. He also assisted in the passage of amendments to Georgia’s Metropolitan River Protection Act.

David’s service includes help with The Trust for Public Land, The Nature Conservancy and The Georgia Conservancy, on various land preservation and conservation easement projects. He has also served for many years as real estate counsel for Habitat for Humanity in Atlanta, Inc. He is a graduate of Princeton University and a cum laude graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law.


Long Range Planning Committee Chair: Sam Williams

Sam Williams led the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and serves now on Emory University Hospital's board of trustees. Through Sam’s leadership with successive Atlanta mayors, the city is repairing decades of sewer and water system neglect in a partnership with state and federal oversight. He spent 15 years on the Olmsted Linear Park Board. "Seeing the rehabilitation of the park drawing hundreds of visitors each week made me realize the connection through Emory to the South Fork of Peachtree Creek was a natural," he says. 

 Sam treasures his childhood memory of Deerly Creek flowing through ancient Native American mounds near Obion Tennessee. He lives in Buckhead and is a graduate of Georgia Tech and Harvard Business School.


Debra A. Edelson

Debra A. Edelson is a Senior Program Director with the Trust for Public Land where she directs initiatives in Georgia that promote resource conservation, public access to greenspaces, and oversees land acquisition for urban park programs including the Atlanta Beltline. Debra has a varied background and spent four previous years directing the real estate program for Habitat for Humanity, in Atlanta.

Before she moved to Atlanta in 2001, Debra led the development of the New York City Highline park project in her role representing CSX--the railroad company which owned the deteriorating viaduct. She was schooled in NYC transportation and land use policy from her two previous positions in City government where she advised New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani on environmental and transportation policy matters and managed a portfolio of City waterfront and transportation projects. Debra is a Deans’ List Graduate of Barnard College, Columbia University and holds a Masters Degree of Urban Planning from New York University. Debra lives in central DeKalb County near the South Fork with her husband Michael and dog Toby. She is also an appointee to the DeKalb County Planning Commission.


Ruthie Taylor Norton

Ruthie Taylor Norton is Senior Project Manager in Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed's Office of Sustainability, where she develops green policies and sustainable strategies. She encourages collaboration among departments, and throughout the city. She is a 2011 masters' graduate of Environmental Engineering from Georgia Tech, an Environmental Defense Fund Fellow and a LEED Green Associate.  She is on the board of Greening Neighborhoods, and supports energy and water efficient education in Atlanta Schools.

Ruthie is a long-time South Fork volunteer and coordinator. She is passionate about improving our urban greenspace, and her published articles on wastewater treatment support her interest in creek trails and green infrastructure. She lives in Brookhaven on a tributary of the North Fork of Peachtree Creek with her husband Curtis where they have just planted their first garden. They are avid kayakers and venture to whitewater rivers throughout the Southeast.


Joni Winston

Joni Winston lives in Druid Hills and shares with the world her faith in the power of play-filled green spaces, meditation and wellness. She serves on the board of the Olmsted Linear Park Alliance and the Atlanta Symphony, is a member of the Emory Board of Visitors and helped co-chair events with Jane Fonda and the Campaign against Adolescent Pregnancy.

A Wisconsin native, Joni found meditation seven years ago. The result she says was like removing sunglasses in a dark room. The new practice changed her view of the world. She is raising her family of children and dogs in Atlanta, leading tours of the South Fork trails and reminding us to take time for healing and peace through meditation. A stone marker in the Springdale Park playground close to her home reminds passersby that we don’t stop playing because we grow old. Instead, we age when we cease to play.

Claire Sterk

A member of the Emory faculty since 1995, Claire E. Sterk is currently the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and Charles Howard Candler Professor of Public Health. Sterk holds two active NIH grants, and her primary research interests are addiction, mental health, and HIV/AIDS, with a focus on gender, health disparities, and community-based interventions. 

Prior to her appointment as provost in 2013, Sterk had served since 2005 as Emory’s senior vice provost for academic planning and faculty development, charged with overseeing the development of academic/research programs in areas including faculty retention, recruitment and early retirement, and faculty and student initiatives. In that capacity, she also led the Emory Strategic Plan initiative “Strengthening Faculty Distinction” and participated in the review of promotion and tenure procedures.
Sterk is a leading international figure in the field of public health and anthropology.

She has authored two books—Fast Lives: Women Who Use Crack Cocaine and Tricking and Tripping: Prostitution in the Era of AIDS—and published more than 100 articles and book chapters.


Executive Director: Sally Sears


Sally Sears is an award-winning news reporter and former chair of the South Fork Conservancy.  She has served as the South Fork Conservancy's Executive Director for two years now. She is also serving as a leader of the DeKalb County citizens advisory group overseeing the watershed Capital Improvement Project.

Sally’s work is an outgrowth of 25 years of news reporting, most recently for WSB-TV in Atlanta. Her special reports on solutions to North Georgia's growth issues of water, land use and traffic led to her interest in changing the way we treat our very own landscapes. She is a native of Montevallo, Alabama, and a magna cum laude graduate of Princeton University.


Financial Administrator: George Ickes


George Ickes is a retired financial executive, having spent his entire working career at RR Donnelley. He received a B.S. in Finance from the University of Colorado and his M.B.A. from the University of Chicago. He and his wife moved to Atlanta 15 years ago to be close to their twin grandchildren. When George was a little boy, he spent his summers exploring Wisconsin's Fox River. 

George needs to be busy so he volunteered to do the books for Park Pride. He then started working for the Olmsted Linear Parks Alliance in their office ten years ago and now spends the majority of his time maintaining the Park as their Park Director. He also did the books for Trees Atlanta for five years. George currently serves as the Administrator of the South Fork Conservancy. He has been involved with many non for profits over the years and has always gravitated to a financial role. In Atlanta he has served on the local YMCA board and has served as the treasurer of the Atkins Park Neighborhood Association for 10 years of a lifetime commitment. OLPA and The South Fork Conservancy allows him to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the kinds of things he did when was a boy.

Community Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator: Celia Lismore


An Atlanta native, Celia grew up catching Tadpoles and Gerridae in Decatur’s Glen Creek, a tributary to the South Fork. She is one of many locals who didn’t know there was a rich network of creeks in her own backyard. After completing a Masters in Ecological Economics in Edinburgh, Scotland, Celia returned to Atlanta in February 2013. Upon discovering the Conservancy that spring, she quickly learned that our waterways connect our communities in a way our roads never will. An instant South Fork supporter, Celia is now thrilled to be a staff member.