Our Advisory Board
For the past 18 years, Lars Andersen has been a full-time river guide for Adventure Outpost, the outfitter & guide service he owns in High Springs, Florida. He leads several tours each week which give a full representation of North Florida’s rich diversity of wetlands and aquatic habitats. He is also an author, his best known work being the book, Paynes Prairie: A History and Guide. Sarasota, 2001. In 1988 he wrote and produced an educational audio tape, “North Florida Adventure,” Grinnin’ Lizard Productions, Dallas. His most recent projects were a “Paddlers Guide to the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail,” 2009, and “Paddlers Guide to the Gilchrist Blueway,” 2014. Lars became a certified Master Naturalist in 2003. On April 5, 2014, he was presented with an “Award of Excellence” by the Florida Master Naturalist Program.
Mary Jane Angelo
Mary Jane Angelo is Professor of Law and Director of the Environmental and Land Use Law Program at the University of Florida College of Law. She previously was an environmental attorney at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C., and for the St. Johns River Water Management District. Mary Jane originally moved to Gainesville in 1981 to attend graduate school in entomology. She quickly fell in love with Florida’s rivers and springs. She is a life-long nature lover and outdoorswoman and regularly paddles on Florida’s rivers. She currently lives on a lake near Melrose.
With extensive experience in all phases of marketing and communications, Kathy Fleming has developed and led branding and marketing programs at numerous organizations. She currently works with the Principal Gifts office at the University of Florida Foundation as well as several health care clients across the country. Kathy’s love of rivers stems from growing up in Live Oak, where she spent a lot of time on and in the Suwannee River and its very special springs. She purchased property on the Santa Fe River in 1993 and has resided there since 2002.
Jim Gross is a professional geologist with 38 years of experience in water resources. He is a native of California and earned his bachelor’s degree in geology at the University of California at Santa Barbara. For the first 10 years of his career Jim worked in geothermal energy exploration and development throughout the western United States. After several years of professional work he returned to academia and earned a master’s in geology at New Mexico State University. He then moved into water supply planning and development work, both in the public and private sectors. Jim has more than 20 years of experience in long-term regional water supply planning, including 18 years in Florida. Jim is a licensed professional geologist in California and Florida, and is certified as a Professional Geologist by the American Institute of Professional Geologists. On April 1, 2016, he was named Executive Director of the Florida Defenders of the Environment.
Thomas Hawkins grew up swimming and canoeing on the Santa Fe River. This love for the river and its springs carried over into his adult life as he was the former Executive Director of the Florida Defenders of the Environment, a prominent organization dedicated to protecting our natural water resources. Thomas addresses land use and transportation policy at the local and statewide level for 1000 Friends of Florida. With a focus on plan analysis, advocacy and litigation, he supports 1000 Friends’ work to help Florida build better communities. He also teaches land use law at the Levin College of Law and College of Design Construction and Planning at the University of Florida. Previously, Thomas practiced law in Gainesville and served two terms as a Gainesville City Commissioner. He has also served as a member of a metropolitan planning organization, a regional planning council and a community redevelopment agency. He has a law degree from Emory University School of Law, has a Master of Science in Real Estate from the Hough Graduate School of Business at the University of Florida and is a fifth generation Floridian.
Tom Kay was named the Executive Director of Alachua Conservation Trust in June of 2013. He holds a bachelor’s of science degree in Environmental Policy & Behavior from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment and a Juris Doctor from Florida State University’s College of Law. A licensed Florida attorney, Tom has worked as a staff attorney for a large not-for-profit health care organization and a public housing authority. For seven years, he worked as a litigator in civil, criminal, and real estate matters. He has volunteered on local and national political campaigns and interned in U.S. Senator Bill Nelson’s Tallahassee office during law school. Tom’s wife, Christine, is a vitreoretinal surgeon at Vitreo Retinal Associates, P.A. They have three daughters and live on a farm in McIntosh. He currently serves as the President of the Alliance of Florida Land Trusts, the umbrella organization for state’s 22 land trusts. He serves on the board of directors for Friends of Paynes Prairie, is a founding member of Protect Paynes Prairie Coalition, and serves on the Executive Committee of the Partnership for Gulf Coast Land Conservation, a coalition of local, regional, state and national land conservation organizations. Tom chaired the Wild Spaces and Public Places ballot initiative in Alachua County that successfully passed by over 60%. This local half cent sales tax over 8 years is expected to generate over $130 million for the acquisition of new conservation lands and upgrades at recreational parks and facilities throughout Alachua County and its 10 cities. When he is not serving on multiple boards, Tom is an avid kayaker, runner and mountain biker.
Dr. Bob Knight
Dr. Bob Knight is an author and environmental scientist with more than 38 years of professional experience in Florida, including detailed ecological studies at more than 20 large springs. He is former adjunct professor at the University of Florida and is the founder and director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute. Bob is currently active on research and restoration efforts at many of Florida’s major springs. Detailed restoration plans have been prepared for these springs, and he is actively working with similar efforts by the Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection and the relevant water management districts. Bob is also active with a number of springs advocacy groups around North Florida that help to educate local governmental officials about groundwater supply and springs protection.
John Moran is a Gainesville-based nature photographer who would like to get back to shooting only pretty pictures of Florida, but reality keeps getting in the way. Seeking to show and tell the truth more fully as he sees it, Moran partnered with artist and art historian Dr. Lesley Gamble in 2012 to create the Springs Eternal Project. Their collaboration fills museum walls, educates decision makers and develops creative outreach inspiring Floridians to value, conserve and restore our precious waters. Moran has presented programs on water, democracy and the future of Florida to scores of civic, professional and educational gatherings from Pensacola to Key West. His programs have been called “exquisite,” “lyrical,” “eye-opening” and “like nothing I’ve ever seen.”
Jim D. Pruitt
Jim D. Pruitt is a native Floridian who was born in Ocala Florida in 1949. He received a B.A. degree in pyschology from Columbia Union College in Takoma Park, MD in 1971, and took additional studies in accounting, geology and Latin American history at the University of Florida from 1971 to 1975. He has worked in several fields, among them commodity futures broker and entrepreneur. Most recently he has owned a construction company in Atlanta. He owns large acreage in Chile and speaks fluent Spanish. Jim is a true Renaissance man, with many interests and skills Among his hobbies are skiing in Chile, salmon and trout fishing, bird watching, Florida history, coin collecting and not least, protecting the environment.
Pamela Ibáñez Smith
Along with a myriad of skills, Pamela Ibáñez Smith brings an international flavor to our board, as she was born in Santiago Chile and moved to the US at age five. She recently retired after 17 years in commercial real estate where she specialized in office leasing.
In 2007, her husband, Lance (who grew up in Gainesville) retired and they decided to purchase their little piece of heaven on the Santa Fe River. In 2011, Pam and Lance built their dream house – the Lazy Turtle Lodge on the river.
Post retirement, Pam plans on spending a lot of time with her new granddaughter, Senna Valentina, who lives in Atlanta, working for the preservation Oof the springs in North Florida as well as marketing Turtle Heaven (a rustic chic trailer) and Turtle Palace (a cozy 28’ Cardinal RV) on her property as vacation rentals to nature lovers and river enthusiasts. Pam loves to cook, paddle, camp, travel and dance. Pam was President of OSFR 2015-2017.
Born in Washington, D.C., Martha Strawn has traveled the world, studying, teaching, giving lectures and professional exhibitions. Her professional credentials are very diversified and include art, photography, research and writing. She is an expert on alligators and crocodiles and has published extensively about them; also on India and religion. She has given dozens of exhibitions, throughout this country (one in the Harn Museum in Gainesville) including Hawaii, and also Africa and India. Lectures and workshops have also taken her all across the U.S. as well as India, Malaysia and Australia. Other professional activities have taken her to Japan and England. Thus, Martha brings a load of professional experience to our advisory board. She also has experience with Our Santa Fe River, being a co-founder back in 2007 during the bottling plant threat. She has also been a past member of the Board of Directors. She lives on the banks of the Santa Fe River and also maintains a residence in North Carolina.
Recently retired, Marihelen Wheeler has been an educator in North Florida for 31 years, teaching in Levy and Alachua Counties. She has an M.A. Ed. from Eastern Kentucky University in Art Education and an MA from the University of Florida in Exceptional Student Education. She is on the Board of Santa Lake Dwellers, Florida Wildlife Care, works with the Awake Marion group and is currently co-hosting “Straight Talk” on African Network Television. Marihelen has worked on water issues throughout the state over the past ten years advocating for the springs and freshwater bodies of the state. She has joined several water conservation groups in the struggle to protect the environment of Florida and works to enlighten legislators to the need for intense conservation measures.