Our Board

The governing body of nonprofit Tennessee Riverkeeper.

Our Board is Dedicated

The Board of Directors is comprised of professionals from across the watershed who are committed to clean water.

Riverkeeper is grateful to the Board for their service and dedication in helping us achieve our mission.

Get to know our board members below.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. — John Quincy Adams

Become a Board Member
If you are interested in serving on the board, please email us at info@tennesseeriver.org.

Karen Thomas, MPH

President

Karen Thomas completed her master’s degree in Public Health from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health in 2005. While at Emory, her interests included research on the built environment and health, specifically the health benefits of nature contact. She later worked in Atlanta with the Sierra Club to help build public interest and support for the Atlanta Beltline, which is now a leading transportation and economic development effort in the region that offers many public health and environmental benefits. In 2008, she moved home to Decatur, AL. She continues to pursue her passion for public health, the environment, the arts and community through volunteerism and service with various organizations in the North Alabama region. In addition to Tennessee Riverkeeper, she currently sits on the board of the Historic Princess Theatre, Old Decatur Historic Society, and the Historic Decatur Village. In 2013, she canoed across the state of Alabama from Chattanooga, TN to Eastport, MS to raise awareness for water quality issues facing the watershed. Karen enjoys meaningful conversations, collaboration, time with family and friends, reading books and newspapers, travel and distance running.

Doug Martinson, II
Vice-President

Mark Martin is the prosecuting attorney for Tennessee Riverkeeper. He was born in Alabama and began practicing law in 1981 after graduating from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham. Over the course of his legal career Mark has worked on a diverse array of legal issues, ranging from criminal defense to protecting Alabama’s rivers and creeks. In his off-time, one can find him paddling the rivers and creeks of the Black Warrior and Tennessee River watersheds. An Eagle Scout and an avid kayaker, Mark feels very strongly about preserving the quality and integrity of the South’s waterways.

Mark Martin also has prior experience enforcing environmental laws in the Tennessee River watershed. Mark was named “Legal Hero” by the Sierra Club in 2006 for his work in using citizen gathered water monitoring data as evidence of discharge violations from a large hog farm. Over-application of waste on hard pan fields caused runoff into Crow Creek, a tributary of Town Creek, a prominent Tennessee River tributary. Mark represented the Sierra Club and two citizen plaintiffs in a Clean Water Act citizen suit against Whitaker Farms. The resulting consent decree required the owners to pay property damages and significantly improve their operation. An un-lined waste holding pond was closed and replaced with an above-ground tank. More efficient waste application methods were adopted and a nutrient management plan was developed and implemented.

Mark Martin continues his acclaimed environmental litigation in this watershed via his work with Tennessee Riverkeeper.

Mark Martin
Treasurer

Doug Martinson II was born and raised in Huntsville and is a third generation Huntsville High School graduate. Since 1990 when he joined Martinson & Beason, P.C., Doug has been a leader in the Huntsville community. His practice focuses on estate planning and probate, wills and trust, guardianship and elder law as well as corporate and business planning and disputes.

Doug graduated from the University of Alabama in 1986 with a degree in Finance. In college he was involved with student government, serving as President of the College of Commerce & Business Administration. When the C&BA Dean retired, Doug was selected for the Dean search committee. He was a member of the prestigious Jason’s society, Anderson’s society, and Omega Delta Kappa. Additionally, he was an officer and was selected as best active for his fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta.

At Washington & Lee University School of Law, Doug served as President of the Student Bar Association and Chairman of the Legal Research Association. In 1989, he was selected to receive the Am.Jur. Award for Legal Research.

Doug is a leader in the Huntsville community: past president of the Huntsville School Board, past president of Rotary Club of Huntsville and past president of Huntsville Young Lawyers. While serving on the Huntsville City School Board, Martinson worked with other elected officials to bring home over 82 million dollars for school construction for his district including new buildings for Huntsville High, Lee High, Goldsmith Schiffman Elementary and Blossomwood Elementary as well as renovations and additions to numerous schools. As Rotary president, Doug spearheaded a project which provided $75,000 for the purchase of medical equipment for a pediatric oncology hospital in Guatemala to treat indigent children there with cancer. He has also served on the Library Foundation Board.

In his spare time, Doug referees ice hockey and enjoys reading, snowing skiing and playing golf and tennis. Although today he mostly referees youth league games, he refereed the Division II championship in 1994 and still referees NCAA Division I College Hockey. He and his wife Lauren have two sons, Clay and Reed. Both are active with baseball, football, basketball, tennis and soccer. They attend First United Methodist Church in Huntsville.

David Whiteside
Secretary

David Whiteside became involved with Waterkeeper Alliance during the Summer of 1998, when he accepted a job from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., his godfather and the current President of Waterkeeper Alliance. David attended The Altamont School in Birmingham and graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in Environmental Studies. His senior thesis at UVM involved the creation of several autonomous Alabama programs, including Black Warrior Riverkeeper, Choctawhatchee Riverkeeper, and Hurricane Creekkeeper. David founded Black Warrior Riverkeeper in September 2001.

Today, David serves on Black Warrior Riverkeeper’s Board of Directors. He was elected Vice President of the Board for 2009. Since joining the board in 2007, David has contributed thousands of volunteer hours towards fundraising, outreach, website updates, and event planning. In 2009, David founded Tennessee Riverkeeper with environmental attorney Mark Martin. Tennessee Riverkeeper has an office near the Tennessee River in Decatur, Alabama, where David is Executive Director and Riverkeeper.

Whiteside’s maternal family has fought for civil rights in Alabama for over 150 years. David’s great-uncle, Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr., made a number of landmark civil rights rulings that helped end segregation in the South. In the words of journalist and historian Bill Moyers, Judge Frank Johnson “altered forever the face of the South.” David Whiteside served as a political correspondent for MTV Choose or Lose 2008 – an Emmy Award-winning project wherein 51 state-based citizen journalists covered the 2008 presidential elections from a youth perspective, across all media platforms: broadcast television, web, mobile, and virtual.

Robert F. Kennedy, III
Board Member

Bobby first became interested in environmental justice at a young age, while traveling the country with his father Robert Kennedy, Jr, a senior attorney for the National Resources Defense Council. In high school, his summers were split between working for the Waterkeeper Alliance and on oyster boats in Long Island Sound. He earned his Bachelor in International Environmental Politics from Brown University; where he focused on Climate Change and the automobile industry in China, the US, and the EU. After college Mr. Kennedy spend two years as Director of Client Services for, ERFS, where he specialized in working with municipalities and community action boards on RCRA and CERCLA sites. He left ERFS in 2010 to shoot a feature film in Bologna, Italy, though he continued to work as a special consultant. In 2015, his concern with the scope of America’s contamination problem; and his hands-on experience working with communities who lack the resources, knowledge, and money to force polluters to pay for cleanups inspired him to co-found CleanLand.

Ricky Martini
Board Member

Ricky Martini is from central Tennessee. His favorite part of the Tennessee River watershed are the Buffalo River and Duck River tributaries. When not in Tennessee, Martini tours with Lyle Lovett as his Production Manager.

Charles Rose
Board Member

Since 1971, Charles Rose has worked as a professional trombonist, keyboardist and arranger in Muscle Shoals, AL. He was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 2016. Rose has played with Elvis, John Lennon, Bob Dylan and Phish. He is credited on many platinum and gold albums. He is a founder and the President of Shoals Environmental Alliance and he leads nature outings for Fresh Air Family. In 2006 he discovered the only known population of Collinsia verna (Blue-eyed Mary), a native wildflower, in the state of Alabama. He is currently trombonist and horn arranger for Lyle Lovett and His Large Band.

David Cope
Board Member

David Cope is a retired Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the University of North Alabama in Florence, Alabama. He has been active in environmental work since 1987, when he filed a lawsuit against ADEM over the improper permitting of a municipal landfill in Florence. Cope has worked with a registered professional hydrogeologist in conducting dye tracing studies to determine the direction and velocity of groundwater flow beneath the Florence landfill. He has also been involved in reviewing NPDES permit applications for discharges from landfills, mines, and sewage disposal facilities.

Charles Rose Ricky Martini David Whiteside Hyannis Melody

Photo: L to R: Charles Rose, Ricky Martini, and David Whiteside

Copyright, 2016. All Rights Reserved by Tennessee Riverkeeper.