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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.
David Whiteside would like to have a Riverkeeper group for every major river in Alabama and the South. “A lot of illegal pollution is being discharged into poor and minority communities, and by cleaning up public water supply, that’s helping the citizens in the community because our bodies are primarily water,” Whiteside said.