Cassie Renfrow – Executive Director
Cassie Renfrow joined the organization in April 2015 and was named ED in November 2015. Cassie graduated magna cum laude from the University of Alabama with a B.S. in Biology, focusing on freshwater ecology. A native of Columbus, Cassie returned home and began working as a staff naturalist at Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center in 2011. She continued at Oxbow Meadows as a graduate assistant while obtaining her M.S. in Environmental Science from Columbus State University, where she also worked as a Biology lab instructor. After receiving her Master’s, Cassie served as an Environmental Planner and GIS Technician for River Valley Regional Commission, working in the sixteen county area to mitigate non-point source pollution with Georgia EPD Section 319(h) funding. Cassie has served as a certified instructor and Community Coordinator for Georgia Adopt-A-Stream and is continuing that work with our organization. She has also served as an adjunct faculty member at Columbus State University where she taught about sustainability and environmental issues. Cassie is married with two stepsons.
Beth Dreelin, PhD – President
Beth Dreelin grew up in Columbus, GA and has lived most of her life on the Chattahoochee River. She earned a B.S. in Nursing from the University of Florida, M.A. in Theology and PhD in Clinical Psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, and completed a Pre-doctoral Internship and Post-doctoral Fellowship as well as faculty appointment at Emory University School of Medicine. She specializes in treating the psychological aspects of chronic illnesses and currently practices part-time at Endocrine Consultants, Center for Metabolism. She actively manages her timberland company and is involved with Longleaf Pine Ecosystem Restoration. She is the owner and developer of multiple wetland and stream mitigation banks in the Middle and Lower Chattahoochee Watersheds and is engaged in the ongoing restoration of the wetlands and streams. She is currently pursuing a Masters of Environmental Science at Columbus State University. She is the author of numerous publications in her field of psychology and lectures for Roche Pharmaceutical as a behavior change expert. She serves on the Dean’s Council for the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. She is the mother of three children and they enjoy the outdoors together hunting, fishing, and bird watching.
Jessica Hemard, CPA – Treasurer & Secretary
Jessica Hemard received her BBA in Accounting and her Master of Accountancy in Taxation from the University of Georgia. After graduation, she worked for six years at Robinson, Grimes & Company, P.C. in Columbus, Ga. where she gained extensive public accounting experience including tax compliance and financial statement audits. She now works at Auburn University as an internal auditor and helps her husband with his current photography project surveying old growth longleaf pinelands. Since her involvement with an environmental awareness group in college, she has enjoyed continuously learning about local and global environmental issues. She also enjoys yoga, gardening, and spending time outdoors.
George Stanton, PhD – Board of Directors & Technical Advisory Committee
George Stanton is Professor Emeritus at Columbus State University. He earned his PhD from the University of Maine concentrating on Zoology and Entomology. His educational background includes a Postdoctoral Fellowship with Auburn University concentrating on Aquatic Ecology. Stanton has served many positions within the Columbus State University System including Associate Professor of Biology, Professor of Biology, Chair of Biology, Dean of Science, Interim President, Vice President of Academic Affairs, and Professor Emeritus. His duties within the education realm are very extensive.
John Woodward - Board of Directors
John Woodward attended Columbus State University obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. Upon graduation, he worked for Callaway Chemical Company as an Analytical Chemist. He specialized in high performance liquid chromatography and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis of organic materials from the paper, textile, and water treatment industries. He also studied advanced Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectrometer analysis with Perkin-Elmer and Nicolet. He later developed nationally recognized analysis techniques for determining residual regulated monomers in POTW grade water samples. He was the director of ISO-9000 certification process for Exxon Chemical Company from 1992 through 1994. He then became the quality and training manager for Exxon Chemical Company in 1994. In 1995, he worked as Chief Operating Officer for Wynnton Capital Partners, LLC, where he managed growth, expansion, and re-capitalization of the company. In 2001, he formed Walkingheads, LLC and in 2002, he opened Columbus Coffee Company. Woodward enjoys hiking, bicycling, kayaking, sailing, photography, rock climbing, reading, and music.
Steve Sammons, PhD – Board of Directors
Steve Sammons grew up in “the wilds” of southern New Jersey, where he caught his first fish at age five from a local pond. Since then, he had made every attempt to maximize his time “on the water”. Fortunate for him, he was able to channel his passion for fishing and the environment into a career. After growing up living the good life and fishing the abundant small lakes in New Jersey, he escaped to the mountains of Virginia Tech, where he majored in Fisheries Science while minoring in smallmouth bass fishing on the nearby New River. After he graduated he moved to South Dakota for his Masters degree in Fisheries Science. After his graduation, he moved back to the Southeast where he conducted fisheries research for five years at Tennessee Technological University. He then moved to Auburn University and completed his PhD in Fisheries Science in 2004. Since then he has run a lab in the Fisheries Department at Auburn University, where he conducts fisheries research for both Alabama and Georgia. He specializes in sport fish fisheries research, and studies fish that people like to fish for, their habitat, and the anglers. He has been a member of the American Fisheries Society since 1991, has served on the Reservoirs Technical Committee of AFS since 1995, and has been the chair of that committee since 2008.
Debbie Buckner – Board of Directors
Debbie Buckner represents House District 130, which consists of parts of Talbot, Harris, and the eastern part of Muscogee County. She was first elected to the Georgia General Assembly in 2002. She is currently serving as a member of the Natural Resources & Environment, Retirement, and State Institutions & Property committees. Buckner is also the Director of Community Benefit at Columbus Regional Healthcare System. Rep. Buckner is a Board Member of Twin Cedars and does volunteer work for various associations and organizations. She was inducted into the Gracious Ladies of Georgia in 2004 and was named Legislator of the Year by the Georgia Rural Health Association, was presented the American Heart Association’s Outstanding Advocate Award, and received the American Cancer Society’s Outstanding Legislative Leadership Award for 2003 and 2004. In 2005 and 2006, she was recognized by the Georgia Alliance for Tobacco Prevention. In 2006, the Georgia Environmental Council honored her as the Legislator of the Year. In 2008, The Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island State Park named her Georgia State Representative of the Year, and the Georgia Conservation Voters honored her with an Environmental Leadership Award.
Blair Barbaree – Board of Directors
Blair Barbaree is married with two children. He grew up in Columbus, GA. Barbree has a Bachelor of Science in Fisheries from Auburn University. After graduation he worked for several fish hatcheries before starting his own business, Mid-South Lake Management in Jackson, TN. A year and a half ago he relocated his business to Phenix City, AL and resides in Columbus, GA. He has served numerous positions with Quail Unlimited in Tennessee. He is also a supporter of Ducks Unlimited and The Nature Conservancy. He plans to head up the Chattahoochee RiverWarden’s water monitoring program.
Matt Deen – Board of Directors
Matt Deen is Senior Grant Writer and Development Manager for WE ACT for Environmental Justice in New York City, where he leads the organization’s efforts to identify and secure funding to support a range of initiatives that develop healthy and resilient communities. Previously, he served as Institutional Giving Manager for City Parks Foundation, also in New York City, where he managed fundraising portfolios for the Foundation’s numerous environmental education programs. He also oversaw fundraising efforts for the Foundation’s joint public-private venture with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. His earlier roles include Director of Institutional Relations at the Harlem Educational Activities Fund (HEAF), a Harlem-based out-of-school-time college-access program, and Development Communicator for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Chattahoochee Valley. He volunteers with the Franciscan Action Network and is a coordinator for the Franciscan Earth Corps NYC, both of which mobilize communities of faith around sustainability initiatives. Matt holds a B.A. in Professional Writing from Columbus State University and began his career in institutional fundraising as an interning grant writer for CSU’s Office of University Advancement in the spring of 2010.