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David Kaeuper, Chair

David and his wife, Brenda Bowman, have been upstream members of Friends for decades after purchasing a historic home on the river near Timberville.  David recently retired from a career in foreign service, including an appointment as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Congo and most recently serving as Head of Mission to Somolia. His environmental experience includes serving as international facilitator for the Congo Basin Forest Partnership, a multi-national conservation effort.

Some of his other positions include serving as Director of the Office for African Analysis, Bureau of Intelligence and Research; Political Counselor in Nigeria, and Deputy Director for East African Affairs, Political Officer on the U.S. Delegation to UNESCO, and tours in Burundi and the Philippines. He holds a B.A. from DePauw University, a Master’s Degree from the University of Hawaii, and undertook further graduate studies at the University of Michigan and the Ecole Nationale d’Administration in France.

Sally Cowal, Vice Chair

Sally and her husband Robert Muse own Muse Vineyards on the river outside of Woodstock. Her professional career extends far beyond our region.

She currently serves as Senior Vice President, Global Cancer Control, at the American Cancer Society. She helped found the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in Switzerland as well as serving as founder, president and CEO of the Cuba Policy Foundation.

She served as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and has also served as U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, minister counselor for public affairs at the U.S. embassy in Mexico, and counselor for political affairs at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, among other positions. She is a graduate of DePauw University (B.A.) and The George Washington University (M.P.A.).

Pat Munoz, Treasurer

Pat has probably paddled more rivers than the rest of us combined. She is retired and living in DC with her partner Dorcas after a fruitful career in river conservation.  Pat served as Watershed Program Manager for River Network, working with nonprofit river and watershed groups around the country to help them build sustainable organizations and develop resources. Earlier she served as Vice President for Development at another national organization, American Rivers.

Pat has served on the board of various conservation nonprofits including the Coalition for the Capitol Crescent Trail, the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, the Cacapon Institute, and the Rock Creek Conservancy. She currently serves on the board of Potomac Riverkeeper Network. She holds a B.A. in Latin American History from American University.

Jay Eiche, Secretary

Jay has embarked on a second career as an environmental attorney after 24 years serving both active and reserve roles in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps of the U.S. Army. An avid fisherman, he is former president of the Potomac River Smallmouth Club. Jay and his wife Tanya Harvey have both been very active with Friends. They make their home in Arlington but try to get out to their place along the North Fork as often as possible.

Jay is a graduate of Mercer University, earned his JD at Mercer’s Walter F. George School of Law, and has completed his coursework toward the Masters of Environmental Law at The George Washington University Law School.

Megan Church

A Woodstock native, Megan holds an environmental degree from Lord Fairfax Community College. She served as an intern on our e.coli research project, documenting bacteria levels at high use recreation sites. Megan works as an education specialist with Shenandoah River State Park and has spent much of her life exploring and enjoying the North Fork. A major focus of her board service is with our Seven Bends committee, working to get the new State Park up and running outside of Woodstock.

Dennis Morris

Dennis and his wife Doris live along Toms Brook where they raise local “Moo Manor Farm” beef.  He recently won back the seat on the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors that he had earlier held for 36 years. He has been involved with organizations throughout the community and currently serves as the chair of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission.  Dennis believes in improving his own farm and encourages all farmers to be better stewards. He is also dedicated to helping conservationists better understand the realities of farming.

Joan Chapman

Joan has been a resident of Shenandoah County, living on the North Fork, for more than 20 years. Her academic background is in math and science, having received her BS in Computer Science from Mary Washington College, on the 35-year plan. (The plan, you ask, was to graduate in the same century as beginning that education.)

Joan’s passion has always been learning and sharing that learning. She has been recognized as Math Teacher of the Year in Prince William County,  Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, Volunteer of the Year for Shenandoah County Public Schools, and Volunteer of the Year for FNFSR.

Joan has been a volunteer for FNFSR for over a decade.  She is also involved with the Friends of the Seven Bends State Park, and is the instigator/master caster for the Shenandoah Reel Women. She is an avid fisherman, gardener, and summer camp host.

Gael Shaffer

Gael is returning to the board after a two-year hiatus. She is preparing for retirement from a career in education, currently as a teacher of the blind and visually impaired for Loudoun County Public Schools. She is a longtime resident of Shenandoah County, and is a graduate of Central High School in Woodstock and holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from JMU.

Gael was teaching in Shenandoah County when she was offered the opportunity to “follow a raindrop to the bay” as part of an environmental education project by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for teachers in the watershed. Teachers paddled the tributaries in canoes, beginning in the North Fork of the Shenandoah, to arrive and spend a few days on Fox Island, which appeared stable then, but is presently becoming submerged due to global warming. 

This experience changed Gael’s life, leading her to become a river and environmental advocate. She was instrumental in beginning the FNFSR children’s summer education programs, and worked with them for many years, recruiting the involvement of more Shenandoah County teachers. 

She and her husband Steve, along with their grandson and a beagle named Doc, live in a log cabin on the Shenandoah River that they worked on themselves and which continues to be a labor of love. 

Dr. Iara Lacher

Dr. Iara Lacher is a landscape ecologist with an interdisciplinary background in policy and environmental management, which she employs in applied conservation research for use in strategic planning and policy development. Her science can be used to identify priority conservation areas, inform best practices in land management, and to guide county, state, and national planning strategies. Her current work combines scenario planning and spatially explicit land use models to illustrate how different land use policies may impact biodiversity and ecosystem services. Dr. Lacher is also owner of Seven Bends Nursery, a native plant nursery with a mission to increase public access to native plant material and to educate the public on ecologically friendly gardening practices.

Esther Nizer

Esther M Nizer of Elkton, VA is the youngest of 4 children born to Thomas and Margaret Nizer. Esther attended the Newtown Elementary School, a Rosenwald school, in Elkton and graduated from Elkton High School. She received a B.S. in Health & Physical Education from Morgan State University (College), and a M.S. Ed. in Adult Education Human Resource Development (AHRD) from James Madison University. An Information Technology Training and Development Manager, Esther retired from James Madison University in 2020 after working there for over 20 Years.

As a member of Mt. Paran Baptist Church, Elkton, VA, Esther has served as a Sunday School teacher (Adult and Youth), Church Clerk and currently serves as the Treasurer/Financial Clerk. Esther has been a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. for over 40 years she has served as the advisor to the Iota Alpha Chapter on the campus of James Madison University for over 12 years. Active in the community, Esther has served on the Board of Directors for the Elkton Area United Services (EAUS), Elkton Cemetery Commission and the Elkton Downtown Revitalization Cooperation (EDRC). She has served as the president for four years and the treasurer for two of the Harrisonburg/Rockingham NAACP. She currently serves on the Elkton Progressive Improvement Committee (EPIC). Esther is currently serving on the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Board appointed by Governor Terry McAuliff.

Esther enjoys gardening, hiking, kayaking, camping and participating in 5k races.