After an extensive search, the Athens-based Georgia River Network late last month announced Buckhead resident Rena Peck Stricker has joined the organization as executive director.

Stricker replaces Dana Skelton, who has been on staff since 2002 and had served as the executive director since 2015. Skelton will remain with the network and continue to support the programs and operations of the organization.

Prior to coming to the network, Stricker spent 17 years as contract ecologist for Coca-Cola, developing projects help the company achieve its water-neutrality goals, as well as creating plastics recovery initiatives to reduce marine debris. Stricker also worked for nine years as a restoration ecologist for The Nature Conservancy, and served as director of science and development for The Georgia Land Trust. 

In addition to her professional career, she has served on the boards of the Southeast Watershed Forum and Wilderness Works, which connects Atlanta’s homeless children with nature. Stricker holds a master’s degree in renewable natural resources from the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and a bachelor’s degree in religion from the University of Georgia. She is certified as an ecologist by the Ecological Society of America and is trained as an Alliance for Water Stewardship associate.

"Water has always been central to who I am - personally, professionally and spiritually," Stricker said in a news release. "The growing demands on our rivers, a changing climate, polarized political environments, and the disconnect our children have from nature today are great challenges that we will overcome as working for healthy rivers and access to water trails for all Georgians brings us together."

The network is a statewide organization that was started in 1998 to protect rivers and is the organizer of Paddle Georgia, a seven-day river trip on a different river each year for over 400 people. The organization also works to promote water trails in communities across the state and advocates for rivers at the statewide level.

“I am so excited to welcome Rena onto the staff of Georgia River Network," Skelton said in a news release. "Her sense of wonder for Georgia’s rivers and love of nature is contagious. As you talk with her, you will quickly sense her passion for bringing people together around their common love of Georgia’s waterways and authentic desire to inspire the youth of today to develop into environmentally aware leaders of tomorrow. I'm confident that her background working in both the corporate and nonprofit sector, understanding of science and ecology and deep commitment to building partnerships for conservation will serve to strengthen our network.”

Stricker will be based in Atlanta and can be contacted at rena@garivers.org.

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