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Riverkeeper welcomes new chair, vice-chair and directors

Riverkeeper welcomes new leadership

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Vice Chair Kate Sinding Daly and Chair Ernest Tollerson

New leadership will help Riverkeeper seize important clean water opportunities in the year to come

Ossining, NY — With one of its most successful years in more than five decades of clean water advocacy drawing to a close in June, Riverkeeper elected new directors and leadership to its Board and is gearing up for the opportunities ahead.

Riverkeeper members advanced a Board of Directors slate to guide the organization toward new levels of achievement in the coming fiscal year and beyond. They bring wide-ranging experience in law, communications and community activism to help guide the organization. Eight were elected to three-year terms.

The Board elected Ernest Tollerson, who had served as secretary, as its new chair, while Kate Sinding Daly was elected vice chair. Nicholas Groombridge was elected secretary and Jonathan Spanier was re-elected treasurer. President and Hudson Riverkeeper Paul Gallay was re-elected for another term.

New to the Board is Lisa Benenson, Vice President, Communications & Strategy, at the NYU Brennan Center for Justice and the former Chief Communications Officer at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Benenson also worked at the United Nations, serving as the Deputy Director of Communications for UNICEF.

Mary McNamara — who was recently honored as Riverkeeper’s “Hudson Hero” at Riverkeeper’s Fishermen’s Ball — was chosen to be the Advisory Board representative to the Board of Directors, a non-voting position. In 2015, McNamara lead the fight against a private water bottling facility in Ulster County and continues to advocate for shared water resources.

“The Riverkeeper Board has added extraordinary talent to its ranks in Lisa Benenson and Mary McNamara,” said Tollerson. “Both share a passion for the environment and are great communicators. The leadership skills they bring will move Riverkeeper forward in our ongoing efforts to defend the Hudson River estuary and clean drinking water.”

Those elected by members to three-year terms include Christine Churchill, Karenna Gore, Alexandra Herzan, Timon Malloy and Judith Mogul, who were selected to fill board vacancies in September 2017. Spanier was re-elected to another full term on the Board and Benenson is serving her first term.

Renowned painter and video artist Ellen Kozak, who joined Riverkeeper’s Board in January 2018, was also elected to a three-year term. Kozak’s work has shown in national and international exhibitions, and appears in collections at The Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, Smithsonian Institution, and New York Public Library among others.

Outgoing Board Chair Joseph Boren served in that capacity since 2015 and was honored as a “Big Fish Emeritus” by well-wishers at the Fishermen’s Ball in May.

“As chair of Riverkeeper’s board for three years, Joe was collegial, avuncular and a good listener,” Tollerson said. “He brought a first-among-equals approach to interacting with the board and helping the board fulfill its responsibility to shape Riverkeeper’s strategic goals and aspirations.”

Toren Kutnick remains the Young Advocates Council representative, a non-voting position. Riverkeeper’s Board now comprises 21 members, including Toren Kutnick and McNamara.

Vice Chair Sinding Daly expressed confidence in Riverkeeper’s evolving leadership: The diversity of talent and experience reflected on Riverkeeper’s board is both a tribute and service to an organization that continues to fulfill a unique and potent role in defending and protecting the health of the Hudson River, its surrounds, and all those who depend on it.”

The past year has been one of many accomplishments for Riverkeeper, one in which we helped stop a potentially ruinous plan to anchor crude oil barges and tankers at multiple locations up and down the Hudson and organized an unprecedented, seven-community intermunicipal drinking water protection council. We also held our largest ever Riverkeeper Sweep shoreline cleanup; successfully lobbied for legislation to reduce water pollution caused by the improper disposal of unused medications; and gained groundbreaking increases in energy efficiency to help foster the closure of the Indian Point nuclear plant.

In court, Riverkeeper won victories in our fights to protect the Hudson River and Valley from industrial agriculture waste, prevent the expanded flow of fossil fuels, and make New York City waters swimmable again. Finally, we partnered with local grassroots groups to co-create new visions for the restoration of Newtown Creek and the Flushing waterways, and participated in the largest study of industrial and pharmaceutical contaminants ever performed on the Hudson River.

Riverkeeper’s staff of 30 will add a new member in August — an FAO Schwarz fellow focused on environmental education and our signature annual volunteer event, the Riverkeeper Sweep.

“Riverkeeper’s new fiscal year, which began July 1st, will provide unprecedented opportunities to make the Hudson River safer for swimming and boating, improve drinking water quality and restore our river’s importance as essential habitat for a rich web of life,” said Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay. “Our staff is thrilled and grateful to have such a strong and engaged board of directors as we enter this, our 53rd year, as New York’s Clean Water Advocate.”

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Riverkeeper is a member-supported watchdog organization dedicated to defending the Hudson River and its tributaries, and protecting the drinking water supply of more than nine million New York City and Hudson Valley residents. Since its beginnings more than a half century ago, Riverkeeper has helped to establish globally recognized standards for waterway and watershed protection and serves as the model and mentor for the growing Waterkeeper movement that includes more than 300 programs around the globe. Visit us at


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