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.
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".
Vice Chairman; 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.
Events Chair: 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.
Secretary: 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.
Projects Chair: Chris Nelson
Chris brings over 30 years of diverse landscape operations, maintenance, and design to the team with a broad range of experience that includes master planning of parks, recreation/playground design, lake and stream restoration projects, historic building restoration, wetlands preservation, forest restoration, invasive species control, community gardens, park programs, irrigation design and water management, concessions/vending, trail/path circulation planning, pedestrian signage/messaging, facilities management, landscape operations/turf management, special events coordination, recycling programs and other sustainable initiatives, contract negotiations, and security operations.
Chris has a career full of experiences working with community-based organizations as well as other nationally-recognized conservancy and park organizations. In the role as Executive VP / COO for the Piedmont Park Conservancy, Chris had for over fourteen years played a significant role in the preservation and restoration of Piedmont Park, including the work outlined in the 2005 $40 Million Master Plan, which was completed in 2011 and expanded the park by 53 acres. A key part of this vast project was the North Woods Stream Restoration project, which included the remediation and re-naturalization of the Clear Creek and its tributaries. In January, 2014, Chris joins the 38 year old Chattahoochee Nature Center as the Executive Director.
Liza Littrell is a corporate real estate Asset Manager and First Vice President at SunTrust Bank. She is responsible for oversight of SunTrust’s owned and leased real estate branch and office locations, as well as the investment and wealth offices in the northeast and on the west coast. Prior to joining SunTrust, Liza spent over a decade in aviation corporate real estate, working for both Delta Air Lines and the Atlanta Airport.
Liza holds a BA degree in Business Administration with a French minor from the University of Kentucky and an MBA in Finance from Georgia State University. Her public service includes longtime volunteer work with Atlanta Habitat for Humanity. She also serves as the educational chair for the Georgia Chapter of CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment Member), a commercial real estate affiliation. Liza lives in Cobb County and enjoys recreational hiking.
Sally Bethea is the founding director and riverkeeper of Chattahoochee Riverkeeper; she served in this capacity for 20 years until 2014, when she retired and became a senior adviser to the organization.
Sally has an undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a master’s degree in city planning from Georgia Tech, and an honorary doctorate from LaGrange College — as well as more than 30 years of experience in environmental issues. She has served on the national boards of Waterkeeper Alliance and River Network, the Georgia Board of Natural Resources (1999-2007) and EarthShare of Georgia. Currently, she is a member of the board of trustees of LaGrange College.
In 2012, Sally received the James R. Compton River Achievement Award from River Network for leading, educating and advocating for clean water in the Chattahoochee River Basin and throughout the country. Also in 2012, she was named a “Hero of the New South” in the Eco-Preservation category by Southern Living magazine. In 2008, Georgia River Network established the Sally Bethea River Champion Award and recognized her as its first recipient. That same year, she received the Ullman Innovative Leadership Award presented by the Georgia Center for Nonprofits. Sally was named one of the 100 Most Influential or Most Notable Georgians by Georgia Trend magazine in 2002-2008 and 2012-2014,
Terri Thornton founded Thornton Communication in 1998 to serve the media relations needs of Atlanta-based businesses, organizations and institutions. She is one of the few public relations professionals with a background in both broadcast news and the print media. In addition to spending more than two decades as an award-winning TV and radio reporter and producer, she’s written several magazine articles and cover stories. She is also a contributor to PBS MediaShift and serves as a freelance editor for a prominent trade publication.
As the owner of Thornton Communications, she has identified and placed clients’ stories with leading national and local newspapers, magazines, TV stations and Web sites. Her experience in crisis communications helps clients navigate controversy and intense media scrutiny.
Sally Sears is an award-winning news reporter and a Founding Board Member of the South Fork Conservancy, a public-private partnership restoring urban creeks and re-connecting people to the watersheds in their back yards.
The Trust for Public Land named her its 2015 TrailBlazer for her leadership of the vision of the South Fork.
Her work is an outgrowth of 25 years of news reporting in growing cities across the South. Special televised reports on solutions to north Georgia’s growth issues of water, land use and traffic helped her find the broader community connections to create cooperation among partners. Current television reports include commentary and specialized news reporting on CBS 46.
She's also a founding chair of the DeKalb County watershed oversight committee.
Sally 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.