Who Is Hackensack Riverkeeper?

Captain Bill Sheehan, the Hackensack River-keeper, is a lifelong resident of the Hackensack River area, having lived most of his life in Union City and Secaucus, New Jersey. He is a dedicated, active conservationist who founded Hackensack River-keeper in 1997 and serves as the organization's Executive Director. Captain Bill, as he is known to most people, holds a Master of Inland Waterways license from the US Coast Guard.

Captain Bill serves on the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary Program Citizens Advisory Committee, a bi-state agency that oversees federal management efforts in the region. He is a founding (and current) member of the Bergen County Trust Fund Public Advisory Committee and is the current Chair of the Meadowlands Conservation Trust; the latter being the agency charged with acquiring, holding and managing conservation properties in the New Jersey Meadowlands and throughout the Hackensack River watershed.

Captain Bill has been recognized for his work on numerous occasions by the media, the government and the environmental and business communities. Among these awards are:

2009 Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce Award
2008 EPA Environmental Quality Award
2004 River Network’s River Hero Award
2003 NJ DEP Environmental Excellence Award
2003 Bergen County’s Person of the Year
2002 US Fish and Wildlife Service Award for Meadowlands conservation
2002 Garden Club of America Award for Significant Contribution to Conservation
1999 Waterfront Center in Washington DC’s National Clearwater Award
1996 NJ Audubon Society’s Conservationist of the Year Award

When he is not conducting Eco-Cruises aboard the vessel Edward Abbey, chairing meetings, or otherwise advocating for the Hackensack River watershed, Captain Bill enjoys rock n’ roll music, movies and fishing for Striped bass in his favorite river.

Hugh Carola, Program Director, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Ramapo College of New Jersey. Shortly after graduating in 1980, Hugh began a career in retail management that lasted until 1999. During that time he took up birding and nature study; developing an avocation as an environmental activist that included ten years as president of The Fyke Nature Association (1993 – 2002). He was also a founding member of the Bergen Open Space Coalition (BOSCo), the group that helped establish the Bergen County Open Space, Recreation, Historic and Farmland Preservation Trust in 1998.

Hugh’s avocation became his career in 1999 when he left the retail world to volunteer fulltime as an assistant to Capt. Bill Sheehan. In July of that year he was hired as Coordinator of the Hackensack Meadowlands Preservation Alliance (HMPA). Under Hugh’s leadership, the HMPA grew from twelve members to a coalition over one hundred groups by January 2001. During that time, he continued to work closely with Capt. Bill to expand the community outreach and effectiveness of Hackensack Riverkeeper.

In January 2001, Hugh joined the staff of Hackensack Riverkeeper as program director. Since then has overseen the organization’s Eco-Programs which serve over well over five thousand people annually. After two years under Captain Bill’s tutelage, Hugh earned a Limited Master of Inland Waterways license from the U.S. Coast Guard in 2002. He conducts over one hundred Eco-Cruises annually aboard the Riverkeeper vessel Robert H. Boyle. Hugh is also our organization’s wordsmith, writing or editing the majority of Hackensack Riverkeeper’s press releases, policy documents, newsletter articles and official correspondence. He also leads the Hackensack RiverCreepers – our World Series of Birding team and administers the Ron Vellekamp Environmental Scholarship.

In addition to his work at Hackensack Riverkeeper, Hugh continues to serves the environmental community as a volunteer. He sits on the board of The Fyke Nature Association, serving as the group’s Land Trust Director. In 2005, Hugh was honored by the Alliance for New Jersey Environmental Education (ANJEE) with an Outstanding Environmental Educator award. Hugh donates much of his free time helping plan and coordinate ANJEE’s annual Conference. He is Hackensack Riverkeeper’s representative on the Northeast NJ Watershed Alliance and the Nature Program Cooperative. In 2009 he was appointed to a third three-year term on the Hackensack Environmental Commission by Mayor Marlon Townes.

Hugh and his wife, Dorothy have been married since 1984 and have two grown children, Daniel and Andrew. The not-quite-empty-nesters spend their summer vacations each year birding, hiking, boating and enjoying nature in upstate New York, New England and the Canadian Maritimes.

Jodi Jamieson, Project Manager, is one of the founding board members of the Coalition to Preserve the Palisades Cliffs (an organization that is fighting the destruction of the Palisades Cliffs along River Road in Hudson and Bergen Counties) and is also a Sierra Club volunteer. In addition to her advocacy work, Jodi has several years' experience as a project manager in educational science publishing.

The major projects Jodi will be working on are the 22 mile-long Hackensack River Paddle Trail and a Fish Ladder at the Oradell Dam. "Creating places for people to recreate along the river, creating an opportunity for fish to return to their historic migrating path - these are things that will add value, interest and delight to the Hackensack River. It's all part of a process to bring these urban areas back to places of wonder. That's something I find exciting, and am proud to be a part of," said Jodi. "I'm delighted to be here at Hackensack Riverkeeper. This is a dream job for me. It combines my love of the outdoors, being on the water, and my passion for a clean environment."

Chris Len, Staff Attorney, is the joint staff attorney for Hackensack Riverkeeper and NY/NJ Baykeeper. Chris is a graduate of Lewis & Clark Law School with a certificate of specialization in environmental and natural resources law, and has a Master of Arts in marine environmental policy from the University of Miami. He has been practicing environmental law for 6 years, most recently as the legal director for the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center in Ashland, OR.

Mary A. Knight, Operations Director, hails from a diversified background including retail, non-profit and office management. For about fifteen years Mary volunteered for several different organizations where her multiple skills were put to very good use including logistics, promotions and administration. With her husband of twenty-eight years owned and operated a very successful floral shop in Upper Montclair. In 2007, they decided it was time to retire from flowers and move on to new careers. She then went on work as office/operations manager for a logistics company and Alan went off to work in the Communications Department for Paterson Board of Education.

Having enjoyed the great outdoors since she was a little girl, Mary would spend as much time outside as possible. Gardening, fishing, boating, bird watching and astronomy are just a few of her favorite activities. Being aware of the delicate balance of our environment, she has a great respect for nature. Working for Hackensack Riverkeeper gives her a great feeling that through the work she is doing is in some small way helping to contribute to the big picture.

Mary and Alan enjoy many activities together and have two adopted greyhounds, Gabe and Cindy. On most weekends Mary can be found behind a sound board, mixing up Alan’s cover rock band which she also manages. When the band is not gigging, the couple enjoys taking their dogs hiking, yes greyhounds love to go hiking! Mary also enjoys, antiquing, pond gardening, cooking, photography and just being outside.