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Extending Our Thanks to Former Board Chair, Frank Cihlar, and a Warm Congratulations to Newly Elected Chair David Kaeuper

A Changing of the Guard

After three intensive years at the helm, our Chairman of the Board, Frank Cihlar, sounding his continued high regard for Friends and its direction, has decided to retire. Our Vice Chairman, David Kaeuper, was elected to the Chair position at our bi-monthly board meeting on January 18.


A long-time Friends member and angler, Frank retired from a 25-year career with the Justice Department, where he was recognized with three John Marshall Awards for his exceptional accomplishments. Frank received his undergraduate degree from Loyola University (Chicago), his law degree from Notre Dame Law School and went on to get an LLM degree from Yale Law School. Frank lives on the river near Woodstock. He is involved with community theater and music and enjoys woodworking and many other pursuits. 

We owe Frank our gratitude for his years of support, exceptional leadership, and dedication during his chairmanship, which included bringing on a new executive director and expanding the support staff to four critical positions. We will miss Frank, who has pledged to continue his support in a private capacity. 

We extend a warm welcome to David Kaeuper, who is stepping up from the vice chair position. For the past thirty years, David and his wife, Brenda, have been reclaiming an eighteenth century farmhouse on the North Fork and working to make their 8 acres more ecologically diverse and wildlife friendly. David has been active for many years with FNFSR and other Valley conservation organizations.  Professionally, David was a career Foreign Service Officer. He capped his thirty-two year diplomatic career as the United States Ambassador to the Republic of Congo. For many years after, he continued his work in diplomacy as International Coordinator for the Congo Basin Forest Partnership, and as the United States Chief of Mission (Charge d’Affaires, a.i.) in six African countries including Guinea Conakry, Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia. We look forward to continuing our good work for the river and our wider Shenandoah Valley community under David’s leadership.

Honoring Frank’s Work

If you would like to make a special contribution honoring Frank Cihlar’s extraordinary work for Friends and the North Fork these past 6-years, you may do so with a few clicks on our website here.  In the notes section, please mention Frank.  We’ll be sure to pass your message along to him.

Looking to the Future

We will be looking to fill several vacant board positions during the coming weeks and months with candidates who are interested in and committed to the river and its tributaries, environmental education and camps, and good land management practices.

We invite you to call or to take a closer look at our programs to inspire your further engagement with Friends.  Opportunities abound here, from work with our Board and Committees, to a wide array of volunteer activities and assistance, both indoors and out.  There are many avenues for your inspirations and ours to meet on the river.

Please continue to stay up to date with our monthly e-newsletters, and know that beyond the highlights showcased there, we always have much more underway.  Although the pandemic has challenged fundraising and public meetings, such as our Annual Meeting and our Family Fun Day, our programmatic work has accelerated rather than slowed.


Examples include:

— Posting online Environmental Learning Modules including 360-degree Virtual Field Trips

— Engaging local citizen mentors in our new North Fork Conservation Corps for area teens; two new sessions coming this spring and summer

— Re-igniting our connections with our local 4-H educators to bring new learning materials to Valley students

— Collaborating with the Izaak Walton League to develop a new stream monitoring program in the North Fork watershed

All of this and more is happening right now.  Come join us in building our ongoing path forward in protecting the river and serving our Valley community.  The lines of communication at headquarters are always open, as will be our door, as soon as it is again safe to do so.  And our new Chair, David Kaeuper, as well as our entire Board, are looking forward to sharing time with you at an early, and happy moment.

Thank you All for your ongoing support.

— The Board, Director, and Staff of Friends

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