Clay BarberEnvironmental Projects Coordinator
Clay joined the Sound Rivers team in August 2019 as our new Environmental Projects Coordinator. Having spent most his life along the rivers and coasts of Eastern North Carolina, like much of his family, he developed great respect for the precious wetlands, waterways, and estuaries that are the lifeblood of this state.
Clay has earned two degrees from East Carolina University; a B.S. in Recreation and Park Management and M.S. in Sustainable Tourism. In his college years he helped launch a non-profit eco-tourism center on the southern end of the Outer Banks called the Hatteras Island Ocean Center. He formed an internship program where students create recreational and educational programs that teach visitors about the natural environments, culture, and history of the Outer Banks. During graduate school he assisted multiple departments with research projects ranging from reports on the importance of public recreation to sustainability, to an economic impact study of boaters using the NC section of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) for transportation and leisure.
After college he pursued his passion for outdoor recreation and tourism as a River Guide and Assistant Manager for Knee Deep Adventures, a mobile paddle sport rental company in Greenville, NC that specializes in providing safe, memorable paddle experiences to people of all skill levels. He is also a BSA Eagle Scout and credits his love for the outdoors to being engaged with nature and adventure at a young age. Clay looks forward to taking on the role of Environmental Projects Coordinator, and being able to fight for clean, accessible water.
Jillian HowellPamlico-Tar Riverkeeper/Environmental Project Manager
Jillian grew up in Saugus, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. She received a B.A. in environmental studies and global studies from Colby College in 2012 before returning to Boston to work for an environmental consulting firm, ATC Group Services. She spent five years as a project scientist for ATC, performing site assessments and environmental due diligence, overseeing hazardous material remediation, and conducting environmental sampling programs at properties throughout New England. Jill spent the last two years in New Haven, Connecticut at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She graduated in May 2019 with a Masters of Environmental Management, with her coursework focused on environmental justice. In Summer 2018 she interned with the Spokane Riverkeeper, working mostly on salmon related issues in the upper Columbia River Basin.
Jill is looking forward to leaving behind New England winters, taking on the role of Environmental Project Manager with Sound Rivers, and exploring the rivers and coast of eastern North Carolina.
Lesley CastleStaff Accountant & Business Manager
Lesley joined Sound Rivers (formerly the Neuse River Foundation) in 2013. She assisted the Executive Director with the merger of the Neuse River Foundation and the Pamlico-Tar River Foundation in the spring of 2015. Lesley is the Staff Accountant and Business Manager and she works behind the scenes to keep everything running as smoothly as possible.
Lesley is a graduate of North Carolina State University. She lives in Raleigh with her dogs and cats. Lesley loves reading and being outdoors playing fetch with her dogs and working in her yard. Lesley is originally from Michigan and she grew up near Lake Michigan and the Grand River and loves being on and around the
water – so do her golden retrievers.
Contact Lesley: email@example.com
Katy Langley HuntLower Neuse Riverkeeper
Katy joined Sound Rivers as Lower Neuse Riverkeeper on June 26, 2017 and is based in New Bern. As Lower Neuse Riverkeeper, Katy is Sound Rivers’ primary representative for the Neuse River basin from Lenoir-Wayne County line eastward to the mouth of the Neuse River.
Katy worked as an Environmental Science Technician for Kleinschmidt Associates in Lexington, SC, for 18 months prior to moving to New Bern in 2016. Her responsibilities there included aquatic vegetation surveys, insect sampling, water quality testing, shoreline inventory and cultural studies. She also monitored migrating fish patterns at the Columbia, SC dam.
Katy graduated with a B.S. in Earth and Environmental Science from University of New Orleans in August 2015. She conducted undergraduate research on Lake Pontchartrain, examining the relationship between water quality and rain events, and monitored changes in water quality due to new management practices. She worked closely with the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation which helps promote water quality improvements throughout the Lake Pontchartrain water basin. She was a Natural Resource Management Intern at the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, leading citizen science projects which helped educate diverse groups on science and nature, and was a Student Ambassador for the U.S. Department of the Interior at the University of New Orleans.
Katy lives in New Bern’s historic Riverside neighborhood, about two blocks from the Neuse River. She has a long time passion for water and the environment, is a dog lover, an avid kayaker, and a U.S. Department of Interior Certified Motorboat Operator.
Contact Katy: firstname.lastname@example.org
Corinne Everett BelchDirector of Development
In January 2017 Corinne Everett Belch joined Sound Rivers as our new Director of Development. Corinne grew up just outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and has a lifelong passion for the environment – her first involvement in politics came at age seven with a letter to President George H.W. Bush regarding her concerns about the Everglades.
After graduating with a B.A. in Art History from Hollins University in 2006, Corinne started a career in the non-profit sector in Durham, North Carolina. Most recently she was the Communications and Development Coordinator for Music Maker Relief Foundation. She has 10 years of non-profit experience helping organizations grow and meet their goals, and she is excited to get to know Sound Rivers’ wonderful supporters. Corinne enjoys kayaking, cooking, and reading. She and her husband Jeremy live in New Bern with their two rescue dogs.
Heather Jacobs DeckExecutive Director
Heather joined the staff in July 2003, and over the years has led our advocacy, volunteer and educational programs. With over 15 years of experience, as the Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper and now Executive Director, she is a sought-after expert on river environmental issues. She has been appointed to numerous commissions and working groups related to North Carolina’s water policies and management of the watershed and currently sits on the state’s Sedimentation Control Commission. Heather has a master’s degree in environmental management from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, where her concentration was in water and air resources with an emphasis on water quality and wetland ecosystems.
Her undergraduate degree from Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pa., is in biology with a minor in economics. From 2000-2002, Heather served as a Peace Corps volunteer for agro-forestry and environmental education in El Salvador. She resides in Washington with her husband and daughters.
Contact Heather: email@example.com
Matthew StarrUpper Neuse Riverkeeper
Matthew began his involvement with the Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation working on our Muddy Water Watch program, aimed at reducing sedimentation pollution. In 2012, he was hired as a program coordinator responsible for organizing Neuse River Cleanups, annual events that remove river trash and debris from Falls Lake to the river’s mouth at Pamlico Sound.
Matthew was named Upper Neuse Riverkeeper in 2013. He has also led the very successful RiverKids program, which last year reached over 5,000 K-12 students throughout the Neuse River Basin, and has been deeply involved in the NRF’s work on fracking. He holds a B.S. degree in environmental management from the University of Maryland. He spent six years in the Army and N.C. National Guard, including a tour of duty in Iraq. Matthew is married with three children, coaches youth soccer, and lives just a few miles from Falls Lake.
Contact Matthew: firstname.lastname@example.org
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