Board of Directors

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Chantay Allen

Chantay Allen is a native of Southern California and has been passionate about the great outdoors since childhood. Chantay discovered Cape Fear River Watch during her first spring in Wilmington, North Carolina on her paddle at Greenfield Lake and decided to become a volunteer to give back to nature on the local level. This is her fifth year volunteering with Cape Fear River Watch and her fourth year serving as a member on the Board of Directors. For three years on the Education Committee, she helped to organize Striper Fest, LakeFest, WaterFest and the LakeFest Kayak Race Committee. Chantay is now the Chair of our Membership Committee and, as a board member, initiated Cape Fear River Watch’s first CFRW Book Club in an effort to broaden our organization and engage members in conversations that pertain to the river. Adventures include hiking areas like California’s Los Peñasquitos, skiing North Carolina’s Sugar Mountain, kayaking and Stand Up Paddleboarding. As a health and fitness professional, Chantay sees how natural environments affect our wellness and believes they are a fun way to get some exercise! Chantay owns and operates Max Muscle Sports Nutrition of ILM and is a certified Mat Pilates Instructor. Whether it’s hiking, trail running or paddling, she enjoys an active lifestyle exploring the outdoors and spreading awareness of how we as consumers can contribute to the conservation of our natural resources. 

Jack Balsinger - Vice President

Jack Balsinger has had a diverse career with a degree in Physical Chemistry where he first worked in the environmental field. The initial work was on developing analytical methodologies for environmental contaminants dioxins and furans found in defoliants. From there, he worked on developing quality systems for environmental remediation programs at Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Rocky Flats, Oak Ridge, and SFAAP. The second half of his career was working in the government on developing quality systems regulations for medical research and product development.
Aside from work, Jack served on the board for two years of a nonprofit, Foundation for Children of Special Needs as the treasurer. He also served as the treasurer for three years and president for two years of a small facility credit union having assets of $1.5 million.
Currently, Jack is an independent consultant working in the area of medical research, development and regulatory affairs. Since moving to Wilmington, he has volunteered at Cape Fear River Watch for the last three years doing small projects. He has participated in the educational program and kayaking. Jack is also a member of “Friends of the Battleship” and hopes to become more involved at both Cape Fear River Watch and Friends of the Battleship. Jack joined the Board in 2017.

Dick Brightman - Treasurer

Dick Brightman was born and raised in New Jersey, living for the better part of his life in Ridgewood.  His wife, Marge met, went to school and brought their family up there.  With the exception of 4 years of active duty in the US Navy from 1965-1969, NJ was their home.

After attaining his CPA certificate, he became a partner in a local CPA firm.  In the early 1990’s he left public accounting to become the CFO in a contract packaging company in NJ that was built up and ultimately sold in 2014.  He continues to hold membership in the AICPA.

During his professional life in NJ, he was active with the following civic and non-profit organizations:

— First Presbyterian Church of Ridgewood, several capacities and committees.

— Ridgewood Rotary Club- Various committee’s and capacities.

— Local YMCA as board member, treasurer, member of a variety of committees and specifically the annual golf outing committee for 12+ years.

— YMCA board of trustees just prior to relocating to North Carolina.

Mr. Brightman has always felt that “giving back” to the community is a part of what every citizen should be responsible for.  When he finally settled in NC, he was drawn to Keep New Hanover County Beautiful because of a strong believe that the environment is there to enjoy and protect, and everyone should help to make that happen; their mission statement fit in very well with his beliefs.  After losing their county funding, KNHCB needed a “home” and CFRW was discovered.  He felt that this was the perfect outlet to help foster his passion for protecting our “backyard” and he is now re-energized to become very active in many of the opportunities available. Dick joined the Board in 2017.

Larry Cahoon

Larry is a Professor of Biology and Marine Biology at UNCW with a Ph.D in Zoology from Duke University. He is a biological oceanographer and limnologist (studier of freshwater lakes and ponds) with strong interests in water quality analysis and remediation. He is also a certified Senior Ecologist with the Ecological Society of America.  Larry joined the board in 2008.

Rich Carpenter

Rich grew up in in Newport News, Virginia He graduated from University of Richmond in 1974 and UVA in 1978. He and his wife Ellen moved to Wilmington in 1978. Rich was employed by the NC Division of Marine Fisheries for 34 years and retired in 2011. Rich has been involved as a volunteer for numerous organizations in Wilmington including: St. Andrews on the Sound Episcopal Church, the YMCA, American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Cape Fear Optimist Club, Cape Fear Soccer Association and the New Hanover County Schools. He and Ellen are avid boaters, occasional fishers, regular beach- goers and enjoy traveling. They have three children, Sarah and Kate who live in Wilmington, Thomas who lives in Bend, Oregon and one grandson Zeca who is in Wilmington. Since retirement Rich spends a great deal of time with his grandson, excercises regularly, fishes, harvests oysters, volunteers and takes care of the house. He worked with Cape Fear River Watch in his professional capacity and would enjoy continuing to work with it on a volunteer basis..

Alan Cradick

Alan is a professional photographer who, before moving to Southeastern North Carolina, founded Sanctuary Friends, a non-profit organization supporting the educational and research goals of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. In addition to CFRW he is also an active volunteer with Audubon North Carolina and the North Carolina Coastal Federation and is an active member of PenderWatch. Alan joined the board in 2010.

Philip Gerard

Philip was born in 1955 and grew up in Newark, Delaware. He attended St. Andrew’s School in Middletown, Delaware. At the University of Delaware, he earned a B.A. in English and Anthropology, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. He earned his M.F.A. in Creative Writing in 1981 and almost immediately joined the faculty at Arizona State University as a Visiting Assistant Professor and later as Writer in Residence. He remained at ASU until 1986, then taught for a brief time at Lake Forest College in Illinois before migrating to coastal North Carolina, where he had spent many happy summers during his teenage years roaming the Outer Banks of Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands. Philip Gerard is one of the few people who have traveled the entire length of the Cape Fear by Boat – documenting the journey in his book Down the Wild Cape Fear. He is the author of six books of nonfiction and three novels: Down the Wild Cape Fear, The Patron Saint of Dreams, Secret Soldiers, Writing Creative Nonfiction, Creative Nonfiction– Researching and Crafting Stories of Real Life, Brilliant Passage, Cape Fear Rising, Desert Kill, and Hatteras Light. He also has written nine half-hour shows for Globe Watch, an international affairs program, for PBS-affiliate WUNC-TV, Chapel Hill, N.C., and international broadcast, and scripted two hour-long environmental documentaries, one of which, “RiverRun- down the Cape Fear to the Sea,” won a Silver Reel of Merit from the International Television Association in 1994. Gerard, an avid musician, incorporates bluegrass, folk, country, and original compositions into his readings, playing six and twelve-string guitar, dobro, banjo, and pedal steel guitar. He lives with his wife, Jill, on Whiskey Creek near the Intracoastal Waterway and sails his sloop Suspense on the Atlantic Ocean. He teaches in the Department of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. 

Gordon Johnson – Education and Outreach Committee Chair

Gordon is a retired physics professor, with a BS in Mathematics, a MEd in Physics, and an MSc in Radiation Health. He taught introductory physics for 30 years in Virginia and Pennsylvania community colleges in addition to working for several years in industry and in educational administration. While teaching, Gordon’s interest in the use of computers in physics education led to the award of a National Science Foundation grant. He is also the author of a series of physics laboratory manuals. He currently continues to teach part-time at CFCC. Gordon was stationed in the Cape Fear region for several years while serving with the Marine Corps and is acting on a long-standing desire to return to this area upon his retirement. In addition to his current environmental interests, he is also active in a number of local veterans’ organizations. Gordon has been a member of CFRW since his return to this area in 2007, and participates regularly in many of their activities. He is a member of the Education and Outreach Committee of the Eagles Island Coalition, where he manages the Coalition’s website. He also works actively in support of the Stop Titan Action Network.

Melissa Juhan

Melissa Juhan is a retired Wake County Public School teacher. She taught reading, math and academically gifted classes, but spent the majority of her time as a fifth grade classroom teacher. She loves history, theater and environmental education. In 2004 she went to work for the Town of Holly Springs as a permanent part time employee helping develop environmental programs with Sabrina Thompson, the park naturalist, at the new Bass Lake Park. The great thing about the park job was that Scott Barnard, then park director, sent Sabrina and Melissa to just about every class the Museum of Natural Sciences offered. At the park she helped organize the first “Bass Lake Day” and the first “Turtle Festival” working closely with schools in the Holly Springs area. She and her husband, Chuck, enjoy fly fishing, canoeing, and living at the coast in North Carolina.  Melissa joined the board in 2011.

Jeannie Lennon - Vice President

Jeannie Lennon is a licensed clinical social worker and a family therapist. She has numerous experiences as a worker and volunteer with a variety of non-profits (Women Strike for Peace; Potomac Appalachian Trail Club; American Rivers Conservation Council among them).  Currently she volunteers as a Disaster Mental Health Worker for the American Red Cross and serves on the Community Crisis Response Team in New Hanover County.  She is interested in helping expand the membership, educating local politicians about environmental issues, and looks forward to being useful to Cape Fear River Watch.  Jeannie joined the board in 2010.

Deborah Dicks Maxwell

Deborah Dicks Maxwell graduated from LaRoche College in Pittsburgh, Pa, receiving a Bachelors of Science degree in Administration and Management. She received a Masters of Social Work degree from East Carolina University, Greenville North Carolina with a concentration in Health.

Ms. Dicks Maxwell is the current President of the New Hanover County NAACP and District Director for the Walter B. White District of North Carolina NAACP. The District covers Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover, Onslow and Pender County. The North Carolina NAACP recognized her as District Director of the Year in 2015.

Wherever Deborah goes she enthusiastically promotes the NAACP and always has membership applications to distribute. As a strong advocate for social justice she has encourage others and participated in most of the Moral Monday observances in North Carolina

Ms. Dicks Maxwell is employed as a Public Health Social Worker at Brunswick County Health Services. Public health has been her passion and career for the past twenty years. The North Carolina Public Health Association named her Public Health Social Worker of the Year in 2009. She was awarded a health Disparities Fellowship for 2010-2012 from the NC Wellness Trust Fund and Duke University Global Institute. She is also an Army veteran having served in Operation Desert Storm and past commander of the Wilmington National Association of Black Veterans.

Deborah is very concerned about Coastal Carolina. She is working to increase education and advocacy among people of color in Southeastern North Carolina.

She is a lifelong member of St. Stephen AME church where serving as class leader, members of Stewardess Board #1, Women’s Missionary Society, Health Ministry and Media Ministry.

Ms. Dicks Maxwell has one daughter Dawna and two lovely grandsons Diego and Dorian.

Captain E. Jot Owens

Jot is one of the founding captains in our annual Striper Tournament.  He won Guide to First Place overall and First Place Aggregate in 2008.  Again in 2010, he won First Place Largest Fish and First Place Aggregate.  Capt. Jot has been in the local fishing industry for over twenty years. Jot has managed to translate his lifetime passion for fishing and guiding into his own charter business which he began in 2007.  Capt. Jot is a State and Federal finfish tagger; tagging Striped Bass, Red Drum and Sharks for NCDMF as well as NOAA.  Jot is also on the North Carolina Sea Grant Advisory Board.  Jot joined the board in 2010.

Ted Poucher

Ted graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS Degree in Engineering and then served for 24 years as a Field Artillery Officer in a variety of command and staff positions in both peacetime and combat assignments. Ted received a MBA from the University of Georgia and then, while serving as an Assistant Professor of Military Science at UGA, he completed all course work requirements for a Ph.D. in Management Information Systems with a minor in Organizational Behavior. His graduate studies led to a wide variety of military assignments associated with the development of both tactical and national command and control systems as well as interoperability between various U.S. and NATO C2 systems. After his retirement from the military, Ted spent 15 years in industry where he served as a Principal Engineer and Product Development Team Manager for multiple projects to include all of the Command and Control Software and Electronics for a multi-billion dollar development program for an automated howitzer. His last seven years in industry were spent as a Business Development Manager for United Defense, LP and BAE Systems.

After retiring in 2007 for the second time, Ted moved to Wilmington where he and his wife of thirty-three years reside in a home overlooking the Cape Fear River. He quickly became involved with CFRW when he volunteered to help with the very first Striper Tournament, and he has been an active supporter ever since. In addition to CFRW, Ted volunteers as a Boating Safety and Seamanship instructor for the Cape Fear Sail & Power Squadron, and he has also served as that organization’s Treasurer for the past four years. Ted still does some consulting and, in that role, he has been an advisor to the Board of Directors of a mid-western software development company for the past four years.

Bill Raney

Bill Raney was born at Wrightsville Beach in 1947 and lived there full time until his family moved to Wilmington when he was 5 years old. He continued to spend most summers at Wrightsville Beach until graduating from law school. Bill graduated from UNC-CH law school in 1973 and went to work at the N.C. Attorney General’s Office in what became the Environmental Law Section. He served on the initial Council of the North Carolina Bar Association Environmental Law Section and Chaired the Council in 1993-94. He returned to Wilmington in 1984 and joined the firm of Martin Wessell and Raney (now Wessell and Raney). His law practice concentrated on environmental law with an emphasis on coastal issues.  Bill was a founding director of both the Society for Masonboro Island and the NC Coastal Land Trust. He served on the board of the NC Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. His hobbies include sailing, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding and motor boating. Bill joined the Board in 2017.

Dana Sargent - President, Advocacy Committee Chair

Dana grew up near Chicago, and moved all over the country before finally arriving home – when she and her family moved to Wilmington in 2013. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from San Diego State University, and a Master of Science in environmental sciences and policy from The Johns Hopkins University. She writes an eco-blog at and, along with her membership on the CFRW board in 2016, she has chaired the CFRW advocacy committee since 2015. She is also a member of the North Carolina Coastal Federation’s advisory committee and an active volunteer with several other environmental conservation groups in the area. She lives near the Intracoastal Waterway and has two awe-inspiring daughters.  She’s also a big fan of yoga and scuba.  

Roger Shew

Roger is a Geology and Environmental Science professor at UNCW and has been teaching since 1999. He is particularly interested in energy and water resources, coastal plain ecosystems, and other sustainability issues; among other courses he teaches courses in sustainability.  Roger also conducts field seminars as part of UNCW outreach as well as Teacher Education workshops including trips to coastal area beaches and barrier islands, the Green Swamp Preserve, and to the Bay Lakes areas. He volunteers with the Coastal Federation and with the Nature Conservancy where he helps with longleaf pine restoration and with endangered species studies. Roger grew up in Brunswick County and worked in the Energy Industry for 20 years.  Roger joined the board in 2008.

Doug Springer – Resource Committee Chair

Doug graduated in Marine Technology from Cape Fear Technical Institute in the early 1970’s. After working in the Gulf of Mexico, and on the waterways of South Carolina for about six years he joined the U.S. Air Force as a computer specialist and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from the University of West Florida. After many years in the computer industry, and their children well on their own, Doug and his wife Diane returned to their favorite city and back with their family of friends. They soon formed NE Cape Fear Charters and Exploration and put their beloved 36’ Willard Vega Trawler to work. After three years of running a successful charter business, a large number of returning and enthusiastic customers provided the confidence in the belief that a water based tour company designed to serve the Cape Fear River basin at large was needed and thus “Wilmington Water Tours Inc” was formed.  Doug was formally the RiverKeeper at Cape Fear River Watch and joined the board in 2011.