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Ohio River Basin Alliance Steering Committee


Charles (Chuck) Somerville, Ph.D., Marshall University (West Virginia), ORBA Chairperson​

Dr. Charles (Chuck) Somerville served as Chairperson of the Ohio River Basin Alliance (2014-2015) and is an Ex Officio member of the Steering Committee (2016-2017). He is Dean of the College of Science at Marshall University and an aquatic microbial ecologist with research experiences ranging from hydrocarbon bioremediation through surface water microbial communities to use of satellite imagery to detect and predict the distri-bution of phytoplankton in large rivers. Dr. Somerville serves as a Member of the US Army Corps of Engineers Chief of Engineers Environmental Advisory Board and on the Steering Committee of America’s Watershed Initiative.

Harry Stone, Ph.D., Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist in Ohio Department of Natural Resources (Ohio), ORBA Vice-Chairperson​

Dr. Harry Stone (Ohio) is a Certified Senior Ecologist who retired after a 38 year career in applied research, teaching, economic development, and business management. He serves as the Working Group Leader for Sustainable Growth and Competitiveness. He has contributed to the USACE Ohio River Basin climate change and adaptation study and the America’s Watershed Initiative Ohio River report card. Dr. Stone’s academic credentials include a Ph.D. (Miami University, multidisciplinary in ecology, political sci-ence, and economics), MBA (University of North Carolina - Greensboro), and an MS (Vanderbilt University, plant physiology).

Sarah Hippensteel Hall, Ph.D., Miami Conservancy District (Ohio)​

Sarah believes that water is critical for community health and prosperity and communities who enjoy their rivers are more likely to protect their water. She currently serves as the Manager of Watershed Partnerships for the Miami Conservancy District, a 103-year old watershed agency. Since 2003 she has raised more than $14 million dollars to protect, restore, and preserve rivers, streams, and aquifers, and promote river recreation. Sarah leads cross-jurisdictional partnerships that focus on water protection, including the creation of one of the nation’s first nutrient trading programs.

She earned a Bachelor of Science from Ohio State’s School of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences, a Master of Arts from Antioch University Seattle, and a PhD in Leadership and Change from Antioch University. She teaches undergraduate courses in leadership and organizational behavior studies. In 2012 she was presented with a Distinguished Service Award by the Water Management Association of Ohio. In 2015 she was selected to give a TedX Talk on water.

Kari Mackenbach, ms consultants (Ohio)​

Ms. Mackenbach is the Director of Sustainability for ms consultants. Ms. Mackenbach leads all sustainability efforts for the company. Ms. Mackenbach has over 20 years of experience in many facets of sustainability. In particular her expertise in green infra-structure (GI) applications is well-known. One of Ms. Mackenbach’s key responsibilities’ is to leverage lessons learned from other cities across the County whether its GI design innovations or new O&M strategies and work to standardize these approaches within our overall deliverables. Mackenbach’s background as a Board Certified Environmental Scientist (BCES), Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM), ENVISION SP Certified Profes-sional and as an American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) ac-credited professional provides her with unique capabilities to work with communities and other professionals on multiple levels as it relates to sustainability and more specifically green infrastructure initiatives.

Laurel Cornell, Ph.D., Ohio River Parks Project and Indiana University (Indiana)​

Dr. Laurel Cornell is the principal of the Ohio River Parks Project, an organization that introduces people to the Ohio River by identifying the parks where they can encounter it. In Indiana, for example, there are four State parks that abut the Ohio, but there are more than 60 other parks, including town parks and Army Corps of Engineers locks and dam parks. This project is presented in images, text, maps, photographs, and videos at the website Professor Cornell holds graduate de-grees in demography (The Johns Hopkins University) and in landscape architecture (University of Virginia). As a faculty member at Indiana University in the Departments of Sociology, Studio Art, and East Asian Languages and Cultures she did research first on the population of Japan and later on the history of road design in the United States. She has been involved in many nonprofit organizations in Bloomington, Indiana, including the Citizen’s Advisory Committee for the Bloomington-Monroe County Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Tree Commission for the City of Bloomington, and the Bloomington Winter Farmers’ Market.

Brian Farkas, West Virginia Conservation Agency, ORBA Treasurer​

Brian Farkas is the Executive Director of the West Virginia Conservation Agency. Addi-tional government service includes West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and De-partment of Environmental Protection.

Martin (Marty) T. Hettel, American Commercial Barge (Indiana)​

Marty Hettel started in the inland waterways industry as a deckhand in 1980. He knows the industry profoundly, having held positions in logistics, purchasing, operations, insur-ance/claims, personnel, shipping & receiving, freight sales, and regulatory. The last 19 years he served with AEP River Operations in the capacity of logistics, sales, and regu-latory. American Commercial Barge Lines (ACBL) recently purchased AEP River Op-erations and ACBL named Mr. Hettel to Vice President of Government Affairs where he currently serves. Mr. Hettel served as Past President of the Illinois River Carriers Asso-ciation, Ohio River Basin Alliance Steering Committee Member since 2010, Board and Executive Committee Member of Waterways Council, Inc., Chair of the Inland Water-ways User Board, and Board Member of the River Industry Executive Task Force. He also serves on the Transportation Research Board Subcommittee on Inland Water Transportation and Member of the US Chamber of Commerce Subcommittee on Transportation, Infrastructure, and Logistics.

John King, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection​

John King is an Environmental Resource Analyst with West Virginia Department of Envi-ronmental Protection’s (WVDEP) Office of Environmental Advocate (OEA). In 2010, WVDEP created two new positions within the advocate office due to an increased public awareness of environmental issues. John serves the northern region of the state and provides special assistance to communities and individuals who need help resolving en-vironmental issues or finding pertinent information. John graduated from Marshall Uni-versity in 2002 with a BA in Criminal Justice and earned an MS in Physical Science in 2007.  Prior experience includes serving as an Environmental Inspector within the Divi-sion of Water and Waste Management. He is a founding member of the Morris Creek Watershed Association (MCWA) located in the Upper Kanawha Valley.

Chris Lorentz, Ph.D., Thomas More College (Kentucky)​

Dr. Chris Lorentz is a Professor of Biology at Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, KY. He teaches a variety of classes including Aquatic Biology, Genetics and Evolution, among others. He has been awarded several teaching grants focusing on the improve-ment of K-12 STEM education throughout the region. Alongside his teaching, he serves as the Director of the Center for Ohio River Research and Education at the College’s Biology Field Station. Through the Center, he and his students conduct research pro-jects related to the ecology of the Ohio River, particularly with fish and mussel populations. In addition, he works closely with the USEPA and US Fish & Wildlife Services in the areas of aquatic toxicology and water quality issues. 

Mike Steinmaus, Owner and Operator, Wildwood Inn and Llama Farm (Ohio)​

Mike is a member and past president of the Appalachian Energy and Environment Partnership (formerly known as the Eastern Coal Regional Roundtable). Mike brings the perspective of this non-profit organization that serves mine-scarred watersheds through training, capacity building and providing a collective voice for under-served communi-ties. Mike is retired after 42 years as an environmental planner (having been employed by an international consulting firm, founded and managed an environmental consulting firm and worked for a non-profit organization as a watershed coordinator). He is an emeritus member of the Ecological Society of America. He has served on the ORBA Board since 2012. He currently resides in Ohio where he operates a bed and breakfast and llama farm.

Ron Brooks, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources​

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources; State Government

Ron Brooks, Fisheries Director, is a distinguished researcher from one of the country's top fisheries research universities, - Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois. Mr. Brooks earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in zoology and fisheries management from the school. Mr. Brooks serves as a liaison to ORBA from the Ohio River Fisheries Management Team, comprising fisheries leadership from the Basin states. Mr. Brooks has been researching fisheries for 22 years and has been Kentucky’s Fisheries Director for over nine years. While a researcher, he refined and successfully redeveloped a reliable technique to mark stocked fish with oxytetracycline, a type of antibiotic that leaves a discernible mark in fish without harming them. This allows biologists to determine whether a fish was stocked. Mr. Brooks also conducted studies on sturgeon migration in the Mississippi River, sauger reproductive success in the Illinois River as well as studies on largemouth bass, bluegill, catfish and walleye. Since 2010, Mr. Brooks has been actively working to push state and federal agencies to become more engaged in Asian carp research and removal efforts in the Ohio River and throughout the Mississippi River basin, and Kentucky has since taken a leadership role in that effort.

Carey Johnson, Environmental Scientist Consultant in the Kentucky Division of Water’s Director’s Office​

Environmental Scientist Consultant in the Kentucky Division of Water’s (KDOW) Director’s Office; State Government

Carey Johnson’s primary responsibilities include coordinating water resources-related activities across the Division and managing the Cooperating Technical Partners (CTP) program for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. He has overseen flood hazard map updates for all counties in Kentucky and is currently leading Risk MAP efforts. Mr. Johnson serves on the Technical Mapping Advisory Council (TMAC), where he leads the 2018 TMAC Increasing Coverage subcommittee efforts, the FEMA CTP Community of Practice (CoP) steering committee, and is the co-chair of ASFPM’s CTP subcommittee. He also serves on the KY State Hazard Mitigation Council, the KY statewide LIDAR/orthoimagery advisory committee, and is the state lead for the Kentucky Silver Jackets. Mr. Johnson is a founding member and current chairperson of the Kentucky Association of Mitigation Managers (KAMM).

Heather Mayfield, Foundation for Ohio River Education (Ohio)​

Foundation for Ohio River Education; NGO

Heather Mayfield is Director of the Foundation for Ohio River Education (FORE), a non-profit supporting organization of the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO). FORE delivers water quality monitoring training and watershed education programming to over 6,000 people per year in Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky, and Southeast Indiana. FORE also directs a floating classroom curriculum that was awarded Outstanding Project by the Ohio Environmental Education Fund. Heather’s background has included organizing citizen monitoring programs for Sierra Club, researching drinking water viruses at USEPA, and conducting algal monitoring for ORSANCO and water utilities within the basin. She also serves on ORSANCO’s Harmful Algal Bloom Collaborative Committee and has been a Board Supervisor for the Kenton County (KY) Conservation District.

Robin Peak, Tennessee Valley Authority (Tennessee)​

Tennessee Valley Authority; Federal Corporation

Robin Peak, TVA River Management, graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in May 1983. She began her career at TVA as a Nuclear Steam Supply System Engineer for TVA’s Watts Bar Nuclear Plant. In 1991, Ms. Peak was given the opportunity to work in TVA’s River Management organization. She began in the River Forecast Center and worked up to a position of lead engineer – the first female lead engineer in TVA’s River Forecast Center – in 1995. Ms. Peak worked on several special projects and teams, including a RIT/USA Today Quality Cup Award winning team in 2001 and as the TVA River Management liaison to the 1996 Olympics for the canoe and kayak events held on the Ocoee River. She was promoted to management in 2000 and continued working on special projects.  One of the bigger projects she worked on was the River Operations Study that was issued in 2004. This study guides the operations of the TVA integrated reservoir system to this day. Ms. Peak is currently the Manager of Hydrometrics, Planning and Contracts in River Management.  Her responsibilities include managing a group of technicians spread over the TVA Valley that maintain all of TVA’s dam headwater and tailwater gages, along with the rain and stream gages.  She provides the long term – up to 30 years – forecast for TVA’s hydro generation and capacity for inclusion in TVA’s power planning processes.  She represents TVA on the Southeastern Power Administration and US Army Corps of Engineers’ Team Cumberland.

Jeff Thomas, Electric Power Research Institute (Ohio​

Electric Power Research Institute; NGO

Jeff Thomas is a Technical Leader at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). He leads the Water Quality Assessment program coordinating research projects designed to assist power producers with meeting water quality objectives in a resource-efficient manner. Current efforts involve mercury and selenium environmental impacts, development of a multi-ion toxicity model to assess total dissolved solids impacts, and implementation of climate change adaptation strategies, among several others. He is co-leading EPRI’s Ohio River Basin Water Quality Trading Project and will be increasing his involvement with EPRI’s Ohio River Ecological Research Program. Before joining EPRI in 2017, Mr. Thomas was the Biological and Water Quality Programs Manager at the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) in Cincinnati. During his 18-year career with ORSANCO, he focused primarily on the fish tissue contaminants program and designing and implementing biological and water quality assessments of the Ohio River, including developing assessment tools such as the modified Ohio River Fish Index (mORFIn). Mr. Thomas participates on the Steering Committee of the Ohio River Basin Fish Habitat Partnership and serves as an unofficial member of the National Water Quality Monitoring Council. He has written numerous technical reports and peer-reviewed publications related to water quality, fish tissue contaminants, and biological assessments. Mr. Thomas received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Thomas More College and a master’s degree in aquatic biology from Eastern Kentucky University.

Richard Harrison, P.E., Executive Director of the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO), (Ohio)​

Richard Harrison is the Executive Director of the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO).  ORSANCO is the water pollution control agency for the Ohio River and its tributaries.  An interstate agency, ORSANCO represents the states of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the federal government.  Mr. Harrison was appointed to the position on April 1, 2015.

Mr. Harrison was previously Vice President of Engineering, Distribution & Production at Northern Kentucky Water District. Harrison managed engineering services, water treatment, production and treatment-related facility management, distribution system maintenance, and IT services for the District.  He worked for the Northern Kentucky Water District since 1988.

Mr. Harrison is a past President and current member of the Covington Rotary Club and a member of the Northern Kentucky Society of Professional Engineers.  He is also a member of the American Water Works Association.  He is a 1996 graduate of Leadership Northern Kentucky.   He earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Kentucky and is a Licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Kentucky.