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Our Board of Directors


Vice President – Terry Phelan

terry phelanTerry Phelan knew what she wanted and where she wanted to live. She and husband Andy moved from the hustle and bustle of Orlando to the casual, friendly atmosphere of High Springs in 2002 in part because of the springs and the Santa Fe River. Many weekends and evenings you will find them in their kayaks on the Santa Fe. They are the founders and the gears and wheels behind Madness & Mayhem, and she is currently vice president of that non-profit organization.

Terry has an A. A. degree with honors from Valencia Community College and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from University of Central Florida, graduating Summa Cum Laude.   This training enables Terry to bring to Our Santa Fe River her many skills in graphic design and photography, in which she majored in college.

Besides Madness & Mayhem, Terry has had experience working with the non-profit Lions Club in High Springs, and in 2013 she received the Lion of the Year Award. She has been very active in OSFR as a volunteer and has given many hours to our events and activities.  Board member since 2016.

Treasurer – Michael Roth

Michael RothMichael Roth has been moving to increasingly smaller venues his whole life. Born in the Bronx in New York City where he went through the public school system and started at City College, he transferred to Binghamton, where he went to the State University gathering a Bachelor’s and then a Master’s degree in Accounting. After some years working in Binghamton, he moved to Fort Lauderdale which, in 1981, was still a relatively small city.

Having passed the CPA exam before leaving New York, he took a position as an accounting manager in a mid-sized local CPA firm, which led to a partnership a few years later, a position that he maintained for over twenty years. He specialized in small business accounting and taxation, and over the years developed an expertise and became credentialed in business valuation, where he served as an expert witness in many divorce and stockholder dispute matters.

While in South Florida, he became involved in the Fort Lauderdale Children’s theater, where he served on the Board of Directors for many years, including stints as Treasurer and President. He also became a barbershop singing aficionado and performer, serving as Treasurer and President for the local chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society.

After marrying Cindy Noel in 2003, they decided to go into business together, and licensed and opened a diet ice cream store/diet grocery, D’Lites, in Gainesville, Florida, trying to get away from the overgrown South Florida scene. While in Gainesville, Michael also served as Treasurer, Secretary and President with the local barbershop chapter there. In 2009, they found and purchased a property on the Santa Fe River near Branford, which served as a weekend and vacation home until shortly after they sold D’Lites in May, 2016, and moved to the Santa Fe River location permanently.

Secretary – Patty Street

pattystreetfor boardPatty Street was born in Dayton Ohio into a military family so has lived in many different places, but came south to make her home near the springs and rivers of North Central Florida. She brings many skills to the OSFR Board, as she holds a Master’s in English and has been a teacher in Georgia and Florida and a professional librarian. In addition to her teaching and librarian experience, she has also done fund raising, grant writing and possesses organizational talents.

The Columbia Seed Lending Library was founded by Patty and has been a huge success. Running totally on donations from large seed companies, vegetable and flower seeds are checked out (distributed free) to library card holders. She has been manager of the Columbia County Fort White Branch Library for the past 25 years and is a member of Columbia County Friends of the Library.

Patty moved to Gainesville in 1968, attended UF and has lived near Fort White and the Santa Fe River since 1980. She has a strong conviction to protect the river and our springs and believes that is its own reward. She is married with two sons, and in her spare time enjoys reading, gardening and relaxing on the river. Board member since 2015.

Director – Jane Blais

Jane BlaisA Lifelong artist and aesthete, Jane lived for one year at Henri Matisse’s residence on the Mediterranean in Nice, France.  Returning to the U.S. she earned her degree from University of Illinois and moved to Hawaii.   It was while living in Hilo, Hawaii, that she became an animal and environmental advocate while studying a Krsna community on Mt. Kilauea.

She moved to Florida to become a schoolteacher in Monroe County (the Keys )….and lived there for 15 years, selling paintings and teaching gifted students in Marathon.  In 1992, after a very close encounter with Hurricane Andrew she moved up to the Gainesville area.  She worked as a child advocate/social worker in Levy County for several years before moving to High Springs in 1998, where she has resided since, building her dream home on our Santa Fe River near Treehouse Springs.  Seeking nature’s panacea every day on the picturesque Santa Fe River, she enjoys hiking, paddling, gardening, horsebackriding,  wildlife photography and watercolor painting.

Drawing from her years as a teacher, Jane attempts to educate the public on animal protection and environmental  issues with various aspects of advocacy.  She  lobbies in Washington, D. C. to advance federal legislation regarding the safety of our food supply and animal welfare.   She operates her farm as a dog and horse rescue facility,  and occasionally rescues human beings that need the respite our beautiful river, parks and wildlife have to offer.

Jane is descended from Harriet Beecher Stowe….whose book Palmetto Leaves is an old Florida classic.  Jane also has an original copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  Jane takes the endangered status of our river, our wildlife, water, and indeed our entire state very seriously and we think she will be an integral part of taking our organization to the next level.  Board member since 2017.

Director – Rhonda Long

rhondaRhonda Long was an inevitable natural for board membership in OSFR.  She is what could be called a hardcore “Serial Volunteer,” since for the last 30 years she has been involved with many different organizations.  Starting in high school, she has helped Future Business Leaders of America, Dance Alive!, Insurance Professionals of North Central Florida, Madness & Mayhem, Our Santa Fe River, and several other non-profits.

Rhonda has been helping out OSFR as a volunteer for some time, and brings to the board multiple skills including grant writing, creative marketing promotions, fund raising, graphics for posters, brochures and printed media, and on top of that she is a great organizer.  Rhonda has a double pronged attitude which is “We’ll find a way to do it!” and “When do you want it?”  Two qualities not to be taken lightly.

She loves nature and animals and considers herself fortunate to have spent the past 20 years on Rum Island Springs where she raised her son.  Rhonda’s hope with OSFR is to join forces with like-minded individuals to bring together their combined efforts to maximize the awareness and education it will take to preserve our river, springs and aquifer, and also bring them back to their natural splendor.  This sounds rather like OSFR’s mission.  Board member since 2015.

Director – Cynthia Noel

Cynthia NoelCynthia Noel has been involved in business management for over 25 years. Previously full-charge bookkeeper for several businesses, co-owner of C.J. Worldwide Export and D’Lites of Gainesville, Inc., now currently retired. Knowledgeable in accounting, inventory control for wholesale and retail establishments, human resources and payroll duties.

She is currently the treasurer and administrator for Grow Gainesville, a local food production network, a Master Gardener Volunteer with Alachua County Extension Office, Membership Chair for Our Santa Fe River, Inc., and active in the Stop Sabal Trail Movement, through accounting, fundraising and steering efforts.

Cynthia is a local riparian land owner on the Santa Fe River and is passionate about the issues that are affecting our waterways. An avid gardener, she practices permaculture techniques to use natural resources for soil building, uses no pesticides and practices water conservation with rain collection devices.

She is known to work efficiently and effectively with others, in group settings and individuals, with a strong work ethic and high moral character.

Director – Kristin Rubin

Originally from SW Michigan, Kristin has lived in Jacksonville, Coconut Grove, and now, in High Springs as of 2010.  In 2005, after a camping trip, she and her husband decided this was an area that they liked and, wanting to live on the river, bought a home in 2006 and moved here in 2010.

From 1972 to 1984, Kristin was a flight attendant with National Airlines and Pan Am Airways.  Later, from 1990 to 1996, she volunteered at Coconut Grove Elementary in Miami, FL., and two of those years she was PTA President. They  generated approximately $30k-$40k a year parking cars in their sports field from the festivals held in Coconut Grove, monies that went to aftercare programs and tutoring.

Kristin worked for her husband as his office manager and other flex jobs in order to be able to be home with their children when needed. When they went away to university, she returned to work at the Clerk of Courts in Miami-Dade from 2006-2010, and also worked for the Alachua Clerk of Courts after moving to Alachua County.

As an Alachua County resident, Kristin volunteered for Women’s International Habitat for Humanity for two years, spending 6 months a year raising monies to build the house and the next six months building. During that period, they built two houses.  From  2014 to 2017 she also joined the Master Gardener’s program.

Kristin states, “As a member of the community and a resident on the Santa Fe River, I now want to help protect something that, once gone, might never be again.”

Director – Jim Tatum

tatum-board picJim Tatum was born and raised on a farm in rural Custer County Nebraska. He graduated from University of Nebraska, Kearney in 1960 and received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Tulane University in 1962 and 1968 and spent 38 years teaching at the University of South Florida in Tampa.  He received a Fulbright Scholarship and a National Defense Education Act Title IV Scholarship for his graduate studies.

During his high school and college days, he played trumpet and sax in a dance orchestra.   Past hobbies include Indian artifact collecting, classic car restoration, gunsmithing, bird watching, taxidermy, flying (single engine, land), fossil preparation and woodworking. He has been diving Florida’s rivers for fossils since 1977 and currently does fossil preparation and woodworking.  He writes the posts for the OSFR newsletter.  He is an avid reader.

Jim has taught university courses in the National University of Mexico and in Honduras, and has published two books and many articles. As a youth he spent summers working for the Forest Service in Idaho and the Fish & Wildlife Service on Kodiak Island. He has traveled extensively, including Europe, South America, Alaska and remote areas such as the Northwest Territories, Siberia, China and Mongolia.. He is married with two sons, three stepdaughters and nine grandchildren and currently resides in rural Florida on the banks of the Santa Fe River near High Springs.  Board member from 2012-2013 and since 2016.

Director – Erik Wise

For most of his life, Erik lived in DeLand, FL. After graduating from high school he joined the Navy and was stationed in Groton, CT for four years before returning to DeLand. That is when he began working for Volusia County Utilities in 2001. He started as a Tradesworker as he went through college. Erik graduated from UCF with a B.S. in Public Administration and a minor in Urban and Regional Planning. After graduation, Erik was promoted to Environmental Specialist III. He has overseen environmental and regulatory compliance for 13 wastewater facilities and 18 water systems. All these varied in size. While at Volusia he gained several certificates as well as his drinking water license. He has worked with establishing BMAPs for Volusia springs and also nutrient reductions for major Wastewater facilities.

In 2015 Erik decided to leave Volusia County to take on a more prestigious title of Public Works Director in Bronson. According to Erik, “It has been a culture shock, but I feel I have made a great impact already.” In March 2016, Jeanette Ciesla and he moved into their home on the Santa Fe River in High Springs. They enjoy outdoor activities and support many organizations that help defend nature and our environment. They are also very interested in finding alternative ways of removing water hyacinth and becoming more involved in combatting the potential phosphate mine.

Erik is presently employed as Public Works Director for Bronson, Florida

Director – Anita Wright

wright,anitaDr. Anita Wright brings to OSFR a great deal of expertise and experience in the world of academia and more specifically with pathogenes and bacteria in water and in the Suwannee River.  She has a very strong academic background, beginning with a B.S. degree from Florida State University and ending with a doctorate in molecular microbiology at the University of Maryland.  She has many professional publications reflecting her strong interest in research.

Anita has received many awards for her work, just recently the prestigious Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Award, and has also received the University of Florida Innovation Award.  Additionally, she has received research awards and research fellowships and grants.  Her current position is with the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department at the University of Gainesville.  Current research interests include microbial ecology and the survival of bacterial pathogens in food and the environment; molecular basis of bacterial pathogenesis, and rapid detection methods for pathogens in seafood.

We welcome Anita to our board and the  strong science background she brings to our organization.  Board member since 2016.

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