Our Experts

We are deeply appreciative of the generous ongoing contribution of expertise by world-class experts in their respective fields. These collaborators represent a variety of research interests that support the extraordinary and vast mosaic of habits and processes that comprise the Okefenokee. We are fortunate that this illustrious list continues to grow as we move closer to our objective of being awarded the UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.
Dr. Curt Richardson

Dr. Curt Richardson

Curt Richardson is the John O. Blackburn Distinguished Professor of Resource Ecology, Professor of Resource Ecology and founding Director of the Duke University Wetland Center in the Nicholas School of the Environment. His research interests in applied ecology focus on long-term ecosystem response to large-scale perturbations such as climate change, toxic materials, trace metals, flooding, or nutrient additions.

Dr. Wes Anderson

Dr. Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson is a SE wetlands, ecology and invasive species expert. He has considerable conservation and land management expertise. His research interests include the Impacts of an Invasive Ecosystem Engineer Upon Wetlands and Aquatic Communities Across a Subtropical Agroecosystem.

Dr. Paul Keddy

Dr. Paul Keddy

Paul Keddy is a professor of ecology for 30 years and has published over 100 scholarly papers and several books. He has been designated as a Highly Cited Researcher with awards from the Society of Wetland Scientists and the Environmental Law Institute and further designated as a Champion of Nature. The focus of his career has been upon the principles that organize plant communities, with particular emphasis upon wetlands, including alligators.

Dr. C. Rhett Jackson

Dr. C. Rhett Jackson

Rhett Jackson is the John Porter Stevens Distinguished Professor of Water Resources at the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia. He conducts trans-disciplinary investigations of water quality issues in collaboration with faculty from Crop and Soil Sciences, Ecology, Engineering, Entomology, Geography, Geology, Marine Sciences, and other programs.

Dr. Elliott E. White

Dr. Elliott E. White

Elliott White is Assistant Professor of Earth System Science at Stanford University. He brings an interdisciplinary approach to research draws from ecology, hydrology, biogeochemistry, and remote sensing. He is a coastal ecosystem scientist that studies the effects of saltwater intrusion and sea level rise (SWISLR) on vegetation in the coastal land margin with a particular expertise on the NACP.

Dr. R. Scott Winton

Dr. R. Scott Winton

Scott Winton is a Research Scientist at Stanford University Department of Earth System Science. He is a global wetlands ecologist and biogeochemist with an interest in the tropical peatland carbon cycling and the impacts of hydropower on tropical aquatic ecosystems, top-down controls of ecosystem biogeochemistry and wetland methane emissions

Dr. Bradley J. Bergstrom

Dr. Bradley J. Bergstrom

Bradley Bergstrom is a Professor in the Department of Biology at Valdosta State University. His research specialties include Ecology and Systematics, and his expertise is informed by collaborations with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Branch of Migratory Bird Research, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, MD.

Dr. Whit Gibbons

Dr. Whit Gibbons

Whit Gibbons is a herpetologist and Professor Emeritus of Ecology at the University of Georgia, and former Head of the Environmental Outreach and Education program at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory (SREL). He is the author or editor of 25 books on herpetology and ecology and has published more than 250 articles in scientific journals and more than 1,000 articles on ecology in magazines and newspapers.

Dr. William H. Schlesinger

Dr. William H. Schlesinger

Bill Schlesinger is the former President of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, a private ecological research institute on the grounds of the Cary Arboretum in Millbrook, NY. He had assumed this position after 27 years on the faculty of Duke University. He is the author or coauthor of over 250 scientific papers on subjects of environmental chemistry and global change and the widely-adopted textbook Biogeochemistry: An Analysis of Global Change. Schlesinger was among the first to quantify the amount of carbon held in soil organic matter globally, providing subsequent estimates of the role of soils and human impacts on forests and soils in global climate change. He was elected a member of The National Academy of Sciences in 2003, and was President of the Ecological Society of America for 2003-2004. His past work has taken him to diverse habitats, ranging from Okefenokee Swamp to the Mojave Desert to Antarctica.

Eamonn Leonard

Eamonn Leonard

Eammon Leonard is a Plant Biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. He is working on projects focused on assessment and management of invasive species on state lands in coastal Georgia, groundcover restoration and promoting the use of native species.

Dr. Todd Rasmussen

Dr. Todd Rasmussen

Todd Rasmussen is a Professor at the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia. His specializations include fluid flow and contaminant transport through surface and subsurface environments, focusing on the physical, chemical, mathematical, and statistical description and quantification of hydrologic processes.

Dr Robert K Peet

Dr. Robert K. Peet

Robert Peet is a Professor of Biology at UNC Chapel Hill focused on advancing ecology through the development of international databases and data standards that allow new forms of synthesis. He is researching vegetation of the SE United States including studies of the dynamics of SE forests, human-altered hydrology and compositional variation in fire-maintained Coastal Plain pinelands, and factors influencing the composition and species diversity of terrestrial plant communities.

Cyril Kormos

Cyril Kormos

Cyril Kormos is Executive Director with Wild Heritage, a project of Earth Island Institute, and has served as Vice-Chair for World Heritage on IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) since 2012. He sits on the IUCN WCPA Steering Committee, chairs the IUCN WCPA World Heritage Network and serves as the NGO liaison to the World Heritage Programme).

Tilman Jaeger

Tilman Jaeger

Tilman Jaeger is a Program Adviser with the IUCN World Heritage Programme. He is a forester by training who earned a master’s degree focusing on landscape change in the Central African Republic and another one on indigenous resource use in protected areas in Asia.

Jean Goetz Mangan

Jean Goetz Magnan is part of the Legal Writing faculty at the University of Georgia Law School. She and her entire 2022 seminar on technical writing undertook to review and synthesize the Okefenokee’s many criteria for outstanding universal value and provided a much-needed arm’s length view of the exceptionality of “the swamp” from a global perspective.

Jean’s participating students included, among others:
Jonah Griego
Cara Musciano
David Lerner
Lindsey Neel
Ward Evans
Mallory South
Emily Johnson
Jarvis Steele

Sara Aicher

Sara Aicher is a biologist at US Fish and Wildlife Service whose research and work is based in the Okefenokee. Her passion and dedication to moving the Okefenokee’s UNESCO bid from a vision to a reality has consisted of some thirty years of research, synthesis and significant intra-governmental and community engagement.

Sabine Nix

Sabine is an Environmental and Earth Sciences graduate student with a specialization in geospatial mapping. Using her mapping and scientific writing expertise, she has worked with Spark Climate Solutions, NASA DEVELOP and NASA SERVIER, Reneration, and the U.S. Geological Survey. Some of her maps of the Okefenokee will be a part of the emerging UNESCO materials for nomination.

Our Advisory Committee

We extend our gratitude for the invaluable expertise generously provided by members of our advisory committee, professionals from diverse fields. These collaborators embody a wealth of knowledge essential in propelling us toward our shared goal of securing UNESCO World Heritage Site status for the Okefenokee.

Elise Bennett

Florida and Caribbean Director & Senior Attorney, Center for Biological Diversity

Elise Bennett is the Florida and Caribbean Director and a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. Her work merges science, law, and creative media to protect endangered species–great and small–and the lands, waters, and climate they need to survive.

Frank Barron

Retired Coca-Cola Bottling Company – Rome, GA

Native to Rome, Georgia, Frank Barron graduated from Darlington School in 1948 and graduated from Washington & Lee University in 1952. He entered the Navy in 1952, assigned to the destroyer USS EVERSOLE DD789 for three years, he finished the last year of his Navy career as Chief Engineer of the USS EVERSOLE, discharged as LT (JG). He was awarded the Combat Action Ribbon by the US Navy. Frank began working with Rome Coca-Cola Bottling Company in 1956 and retired as an officer and director of Rome, Cedartown, Carrollton, Cartersville, Dalton, Fort Valley, and Valdosta Coca-Cola.

He currently serves on the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s board of trustees, the Board of Counselors, the Carter Center’s Life Member, the Boys and Girls Club as a life trustee, and The Richard B. Russel Foundation as an emeritus trustee, a Life Trustee of the Darlington School, and sits on the Board of Directors for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.


Scott Griffin

President and CEO, Superior Pine Products

Scott Griffin is President and CEO of Superior Pine Products Company, a multi-generational, family-owned business focused on increasing the value of the Company through operational excellence, innovation, and strategic transactions. He serves on the Executive Committee of the National Alliance of Forest Owners as well as the Georgia Forestry Association and has worked in the timberland investment management organization sector for over 30 years while serving and retiring as a senior officer in the Army National Guard.


Keeva Kase

President and CEO, Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation

The Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation selected Keeva Kase to serve as its new President/CEO, beginning in April 2023. Most recently, he served as President/CEO of BCM Georgia, a faith-based housing stability and financial education nonprofit organization in Buckhead, Atlanta.

For more than 20 years, Keeva has served nonprofits along the Atlantic coast. A local to St. Simons, Keeva earned his Bachelor’s degree in Religion and Philosophy from Berry College and went on to earn his Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. Keeva and his wife, Lauren, have a son, Ketch, and a daughter, Claire. The family loves the beach and traveling, and are thrilled to be closer to family and friends. 

About the Foundation

The Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation was incorporated in 2005, as a tax-exempt public charity created by and for the people of Glynn, McIntosh and Camden counties.   The Foundation now has assets of nearly $50 million and hosts more than 110 distinct funds. Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $31 million in grants to community organizations in the three-county region and beyond.

Christopher Watt

Master of Environmental Management Candidate, Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment Fulbright Scholar, Vanuatu

Christopher is an avid outdoorsman and conservationist, having grown up amongst the long leaf pine ecosystem of Thomasville, Georgia. Prior to college, he caught a fish on a fly rod in all fifty states as a part of his Catch50 project to promote youth fly fishing, show that the sport is accessible across America’s waterways, and learn about fisheries conservation. He also produced a short film about fly fishing at the Okefenokee Swamp, Okefenokee Swampin’ on the Fly. Additionally, Christopher is committed to sustainable economic development and the role of conservation in underpinning human livelihoods. After graduating from Washington and Lee University, he spent 10 months living in fishing villages in Vanuatu, an island nation in the South Pacific. Through a Fulbright student research grant, he studied small-scale fisheries’ contributions to human wellbeing. Christopher is currently a master’s student at Duke University’s Nicholas School of Environment where he is studying Coastal and Marine Ecosystems as well as Environmental Economics and Policy, with an emphasis in fisheries. He is happiest when spending time with his family in the woods and water, hunting quail in Georgia’s Red Hills or chasing tarpon in the Florida Panhandle.

Champ Bailey

Retired NFL Athlete and Trustee – Okefenokee Swamp Park

Stacy Funderburke

Georgia State Director, The Conservation Fund

Claire LaBrunerie

Project Manager, BrightPath Advisors, LLC

Charles H. McMillan, III

Retired Georgia Conservancy Trustee – Okefenokee Swamp Park Trustee

Charles McMillan is retired from the Georgia Conservancy as the Natural Resource/
Coastal Director. He was on staff at the Conservancy from 2015 until 2022 and on the
board of trustees for several years before that. Charles continues the work of his
conservation career by participating in several large-scale land conservation initiatives across the state through his volunteer work.
A native of Brunswick, Georgia, he received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering
from Vanderbilt University and holds a Graduate Certificate in Ecological Restoration
from the University of Florida.

McMillan founded and was President of AEC, Inc., a Roswell, Georgia-based civil
engineering and land planning firm from 1990 to 2015. He graduated from the
Institute of Georgia Environmental Leadership (IGEL). He is a board member of the
Association of Georgia Land Trusts, Okefenokee Swamp Park, and the DNR Coastal
Advisory Council (chair 2022-2024).

Senator Jon Ossoff (Honorary)

United States Senator – Georgia

Tracie Revis

Director of Advocacy, Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve Initiative

Bill Jones

Chairman, Sea Island Acquisitions LLC

“…The Okefenokee is a twilight place – an ecosystem that is both dark and bright, water and land, beautiful and dangerous. It is a place of overlap, of blurred lines, and of ambiguity.”

~ p. 3 Megan Kate Nelson, Trembling Earth: A Cultural History of the Okefenokee Swamp

Photos by: Chris Funk

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