Blogs > Keeping Current > Dan Shapley and Robin Meadows named interim leaders of Riverkeeper

Dan Shapley and Robin Meadows named interim leaders of Riverkeeper

With Paul Gallay stepping down after 11 years as President and Hudson Riverkeeper, Riverkeeper’s Board of Directors has named Dan Shapley as interim Hudson Riverkeeper and interim Vice President of Programs, and Robin Meadows as interim Chief Administrative Officer. Shapley and Meadows will lead Riverkeeper while the organization searches for its next president. The changes take effect July 1.

“Paul’s 11 years of leadership made it possible for Riverkeeper to vigorously pursue the two main tracks of its mission — safeguarding drinking water for millions in the New York metro region and tackling the major challenges facing the Hudson, its tributaries and waterfront communities,” said Ernest Tollerson, chair of Riverkeeper’s Board of Directors. “Under Paul’s tireless leadership, Riverkeeper expanded its capacity to integrate social justice and climate justice into Riverkeeper’s agenda.”

“When it comes to expertise and leadership, we’re pleased to have — forgive the pun — a deep well of talent,” he said. “Vice Chair Kate Sinding and I are pleased that Robin and Dan were willing to step up and take on these interim leadership roles.”

As President and Hudson Riverkeeper since 2010, Gallay embodied the precision of an attorney, the knowledge of a tough regulator and the passion of a community advocate. He tirelessly led Riverkeeper as the organization took on some of its biggest challenges and toughest adversaries. By standing shoulder-to-shoulder with grassroots advocates, Gallay strove always to make sure the most consequential decisions reflected the concerns of those with the most at stake.

Gallay focused the Riverkeeper team on results: Closing the destructive Indian Point nuclear reactors, banning fracking in New York State, preventing the fossil fuel power play to establish the Hudson as a virtual pipeline for crude oil. He sought solutions: Inspiring volunteers to remove 305 tons of trash from the shores of the Hudson, lobbying for new restrictions on plastics to prevent waste, supporting water testing to show where pollution puts people at risk, making sure communities benefited from billions in new state commitments to upgrade their failing sewers, fighting the dirtiest and most dangerous energy sources, and promoting the renewable sources that can replace them. He worked: If there was a fight on the Hudson, Riverkeeper was in it, and when Riverkeeper showed up, the community knew it had a tenacious ally. Now, he’ll bring those qualities to one of the great challenges of our time — one of the greatest challenges of any time.

Since 2018, while working full time at Riverkeeper, Paul has also taught US Water and Energy Policy at Columbia University. After he announced that he was stepping away from Riverkeeper, he was asked to initiate a Resilient Coastal Communities Project within the Columbia Center for Sustainable Urban Development (now part of the university’s groundbreaking new Climate School), to foster better, more nature-based approaches to coastal protection and climate mitigation. “With the Resilient Coastal Communities Project, I’m excited to continue working on an issue that has been a focus for me at Riverkeeper, and which is of urgent importance to tens of millions of people – finding just solutions to sea-level rise, storm surges and flooding that preserve habitat and protect people.”

A former news reporter and lifelong Hudson Valley resident, Shapley is guided by facts and inspired by teamwork. He brings to the role of interim Riverkeeper and Vice President of Programs a zeal for protecting people from water hazards and an abiding joy in the wonders of wildlife. In nearly 10 years working for Riverkeeper, Shapley has led teams that launched the Riverkeeper Sweep, implemented Captain John Lipscomb’s vision to engage community scientists to test water quality, partnered with Newburgh advocates and leaders to respond to the contamination of the city’s drinking water with toxic PFAS, and supported state agencies in launching the Drinking Water Source Protection Program. He worked with community advocates to found the Wallkill River Watershed Alliance and with local elected leaders to found the Hudson River Drinking Water Intermunicipal Council — transformative organizations that are inspiring novel solutions to some of the region’s toughest water problems.

Robin Meadows, Riverkeeper’s Chief Financial and Operating Officer, is a non-profit change leader who is committed to building the internal strength of the organization. For nearly five years she has led Riverkeeper’s operations, including finance, human resources, information systems/technology, operations and facilities. In her interim role, she will also lead Riverkeeper’s Development and Communications and Marketing teams. Robin is a passionate advocate for staff, driver of financial sustainability, and has a vision for improved systems. She has played a pivotal role in creating and implementing Riverkeeper’s new strategic plan, driving progress within diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice, and will continue to build and foster a collaborative, supportive and empowering workplace.

Robin Meadows said: “Riverkeeper’s staff makes the extraordinary work we do possible. I live in the Hudson Valley and for years before I joined the organization, my family and I were awed and inspired by the incredible achievements and impact of the Riverkeeper team. I could not be more proud to have the opportunity to step into this role, and ensure that we are as effective and empowering internally, as we are externally. I thank Paul for the incredible work he has done to get us here, and I look forward to co-leading with Dan in our interim roles. This is an exciting time at Rivekeeper and I could not be happier to help continue to move the organization forward.”

Dan Shapley said: “We’re working toward a vision as simple as it is difficult: ensuring that water sustains all of us, humans and wildlife alike, in the face of climate extremes, an onslaught of toxic chemicals, and a set of laws that has too-often resulted in unjust harms to people and the disruption and destruction of ecosystems. It’s a privilege to do that in one of the most extraordinary places on Earth, working to protect the river that flows both ways. It’s a pleasure to do that with Robin and our staff team. We’ll need a team of teams to succeed. I’m committed to doing my part, and I’m humbled by the opportunity to fill this role for a community, staff team and mission that I am deeply committed to.”

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