Alabama Rivers Alliance Board of Directors


Tony Diliberto,  President

Birmingham, AL

Black Warrior River Basin

Tony D grew up on Cotton Creek in Gulf Shores, Alabama where he developed his passion for Alabama waterways. He spent much of his childhood exploring the woods and splashing in the waters nearby. His dedication to people and nature led him to scouting where he achieved the highest honor of earning the rank of Eagle Scout. Through scouting, Tony gained an appreciation for protecting our natural resources and defending our rivers.

With more than 20 years of experience in marketing and advertising, he brings a wealth of knowledge to ARA. Tony has volunteered his time with organizations such as the Birmingham Advertising Federation, Birmingham Artwalk, Sidewalk Film Festival and more. Currently, Tony is president of the Alabama Cup Races which features canoe and kayak racing on the Locust Fork and Mulberry Fork.

In his spare time, Tony enjoys whitewater kayaking, mountain biking, camping, photography and outdoor events.


Daniel West, Vice President
Calera, AL
Cahaba River and Coosa River Basins
Daniel is a fluvial eco-morphologist specializing in watershed dynamics and management. He holds multiple degrees in environmental science, anthropology, and art. Daniel’s background and his love of the natural world is why he understands the need to protect the immense biodiversity and beauty of Alabama’s river systems, along with the need to preserve the culture and traditions that surround these amazing ecosystems.
Daniel enjoys multiple outdoor activities that allow him to explore the environmental wonders of the world and is always looking forward to his next adventure.

Jack KeyJack Key, Treasurer

Birmingham, AL 

Cahaba River Basin

Jack grew up in Decatur, AL fishing, swimming and water skiing in the Tennessee River. Jack graduated from The University of Alabama with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and currently owns the commercial real estate brokerage and investment company J. Key Properties, LLC. Jack is active in several local environmental organizations and is passionate about protecting Alabama’s natural resources. Jack enjoys hiking, fishing and cycling in his spare time.




Ben Ferrill

Huntsville, AL

Tennessee River Basin

Ben is a geologist and city planner with the City of Huntsville, an active paddler, and a local conservationist who is active with the Flint River Conservation Association and a board member with the Alabama Rivers Alliance.


Michael Freeman

Auburn, AL

Tallapoosa River Basin

Michael has served as an Environmental Health and Safety Professional for Auburn University since 2006 where he deals with environmental compliance, response and mitigation. He grew up playing in the creeks, rivers and lakes of upstate South Carolina before serving in the US Army. Michael went back to South Carolina to work in parks and recreation, public safety and human health after finishing college at Auburn University, receiving a BS in Healthcare Administration. In 2008 Michael entered into the US Coast Guard Auxiliary as an environmental specialist working on projects related to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and later responding to issues related to Deepwater Horizon. He began to monitor waterways as an AWW Citizen Monitor in 2009 and later helped to implement the Mill Creek and Parkerson Mill Creek Watershed Management Plans as a stakeholder, monitor and volunteer organizer. Since then Michael has become very active in water quality initiatives with the Alabama Water Watch, Alabama Rivers Alliance, Mobile Baykeeper, Coosa and Apalachicola Riverkeepers along with various other water related and public service organizations. In 2014 Michael reentered into the world of competitive bass angling where he uses his talents to promote organizations that protect Alabama waterways. Michael received an award from the Auburn University Office of Sustainability in 2016 for his work in areas related to waterways and the environment. His love for the Gulf of Mexico is well known and you can find him on a beach from Dauphin Island to St. Georges Island on any given weekend when he’s not on the water trying to haul in a winning sack of bass or monitoring a waterbody.


Maggie Johnston

Nauvoo, AL

Black Warrior River Basin

Maggie Johnston grew up in north central Mississippi playing in the woods and streams. She attended the University of Southern Mississippi for her undergrad where she discovered paddling beautiful tranquil creeks such as Black Creek. She taught science at the Alabama School for the Deaf (ASD) in Talladega, AL where she lived on the banks of Talladega Creek in Waldo. She and her dog friends hiked the Pinhoti and played in the Creek in her backyard. She developed a love for whitewater on Talladega Creek and NC creeks, but has settled into more of a drift and fish mentality with her husband, Mark Johnston, in the last few years.

Maggie retired from ASD in 2004 to manage the educational programs at Camp McDowell. She was director of McDowell Environmental Center, helped to start the McDowell Farm School, and then started Alabama’s first nature-based preschool, Magnolia Nature School at Camp McDowell. Maggie’s latest adventure is as Executive Director of Wild Alabama. She is thrilled for this opportunity to protect and defend the waters that make Alabama special. Maggie and Mark have four children and four grandchildren, four dogs, and six chickens, wow!

Julie Lay

Guntersville, AL

Tennessee River Basin

Julie Lay holds a B.S. Degree from Auburn University in Animal Science. Julie also completed an internship with USDA Forest Service Center for Aquatic Technology Transfer whose main focus was aquatic management issues. She has spent the majority of 16 years working in industrial agriculture food safety, quality assurance, and regulatory compliance. She resigned from her position in industrial agriculture in November of 2019. She is currently enjoying being a stay at home mom and turned her attention towards supporting and bringing awareness to sustainable agriculture methods. Mrs. Lay is a resident of Guntersville, Alabama where she resides with her husband and two sons. Click here to see her tell her story researching biosolids in the 2020 Southern Exposure film, Soiled.


Charles Miller 

Birmingham, AL

Black Warrior River Basin

Charles is the coordinated assessment specialist at One Roof, the Continuum of Care for Central Alabama, and a nearly lifelong resident of the Alabama-Tallapoosa-Coosa River watershed.  He recently graduated from The University of Alabama with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Geography.  He spent the summer of 2018 in Washington DC working with ARA partner American Rivers. Growing up on Green Mountain in northern Alabama, he gained an appreciation for the importance of wildlands and open space, especially in urban and suburban areas. Charles enjoys traveling, hiking and photography.


Paul PerrettPaul Perrett 

Birmingham, AL

Black Warrior River Basin

Paul works as a financial consultant for a company focusing on sustainable investments.  He is an avid paddler, long-term member of the Birmingham Canoe Club, and a passionate dog lover.


Cory Pettway
Birmingham, AL

Black Warrior River Basin

Meet Qunelius “Cory” Pettway, Community Liaison for Birmingham City Councilor Darrell O’Quinn (District 5). He is currently a member of the Alabama State and Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committees and is co-founder of The Willing Family, a community organization aimed at revitalizing urban neighborhoods in Birmingham. Cory has been awarded the Jefferson County Committee of Economic Development (JCCEO) Early Childcare Community Outreach Award twice for his work on the Kingston site. Cory is also a member of Cahaba River Society Junior Board, The Birmingham Barbers Coalition, Grassroots Coalition Birmingham, Our Revolution-Birmingham and is a Congressional Black Caucus Institute Political Leadership Alumni.


Cory is an uplifting and vibrant “life-centered” person who is dedicated to being the change he wants to see in the world. His experiences in life and career have allowed him opportunities to truly make an impact and that is what inspires him each day. He regularly volunteers with churches and non-profit organizations throughout the area by organizing events. He’s taught and volunteered in the Birmingham City School System and he works closely with elected officials developing policy and empowering power to rise above adversity.


Cory believes in spreading a message of peace and love in efforts to encourage the unity of all life and looks forward to serving on the Alabama Rivers Alliance Board of Directors and working withthe communities throughout Alabama which depend on our 132,000 miles of rivers and streams.


Julian WalthallReverend Dr. Julian Walthall

Mobile, AL

Mobile River Basin

Julian grew up in Newbern in Alabama’s Black Belt and spent much time on the Black Warrior River at old Lock 5 in Hale County.  He recently retired as a Presbyterian (PCUSA) minister having served four churches over the past 39 years in West Virginia and Alabama. In retirement, he is active in the Baldwin County Master Gardeners, volunteers at the Weeks Bay Arboretum, oversees a public access to Mobile Bay in Daphne and manages a family farm at Sunshine near Newbern.  His hobbies include gardening, fishing, hunting and canoeing. He and his wife, Carolyn, live in Daphne and they have a son who practices environmental law in Albany, NY and another son  who teaches English at an Italian university in Siena.

Vickey Wheeler

Springville, AL

Coosa River Basin

Vickey is a founding member of the Friends of Big Canoe Creek, and has worked extensively with them on mission development, fundraising and communications since 1990.

A lifelong artist and educator, Vickey has exhibited, taught and implemented art based programs in schools and other institutions. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Alabama and both a Masters in Early Childhood and a post graduate Educational Specialist degree from UAB.

Before graduating from high school in Dothan, Vickey’s family lived in Birmingham and Huntsville and in Mississippi, Chicago and Seattle. She has traveled in Europe from Norway to Portugal, throughout the US and Hawaii, and Mexico and the Caribbean.

Vickey’s mother’s family owned the aquifer spring that is at the headwaters of Five-Mile Creek and her grandmother ran Harvey’s Florist in the fieldstone house on the property.  It was always a priority for her family to protect the spring, which is now preserved within Reed Harvey Park.

A creative visionary, Vickey has kept volumes of personal illustrations and narratives for decades that manifest the relationships between natural and spiritual realms. She currently is exploring the connectivity between aesthetics and environmental integrity.


NOTE: ARA Board members are elected to three year terms and may be elected to three consecutive three year terms, then extended for one extra year (10 years total) before being termed out for at least a year.


Of Counsel:

Mr. William L. Andreen (Bill), esq.

Tuscaloosa, AL

Black Warrior River Basin

Bill is the Edgar L. Clarkson Professor of Law at the University of Alabama School of Law.  He previously served as Assistant Regional Counsel for Region IV of the US Environmental Protection Agency in Atlanta, Georgia and is a graduate of Columbia Law School and the College of Wooster. He is a Scholar Member of the Center for Progressive Reform in Washington, DC and a Member of the Commission on Environmental Law and World Conservation Union.


 Advisory Board:

Dr. Ramble Ankumah

Tuskeegee, AL

Chatahoochee River Basin

Ramble teaches environmental sciences at Tuskegee University. Dr. Ankumah is originally from Ghana, Africa.


Dr. Rob Angus

Birmingham, AL

Cahaba River Basin

Rob is a recently retired former professor of biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In addition to serving on the board if the Alabama Rivers Alliance, Rob also serves on the Advisory Board of the Black Warrior Riverkeepers and on the Board of the Valley Lake Association. Rob, his colleagues, and his students have engaged in considerable research evaluating the effects of urban development on stream fish and invertebrate populations. Rob is a fisherman and musician who enjoys playing the banjo and hammered dulcimer.


Karan Bailey

Shorter, AL

Tallappoosa River Basin

Karan is a consulting field biologist who has spent a considerable amount of her energies tracking the conservation status of the federally endangered flattened musk turtle in the Black Warrior River Basin.


Bill Bennett

Birmingham, AL

Cahaba River Basin


Randy Haddock

Birmingham, AL

Cahaba River Basin

Randy is Field Director for the Cahaba River Society.


Reverand Mark Johnston

Nauvoo, AL

Black Warrior River Basin

Mark is the Executive Director of Camp McDowell, an Episcopal Church Camp and Conference Center near the Bankhead Forest and Alabama’s Smith Lake.  Mark is a priest in the Episcopal Church and a graduate of University of the South.


Joseph B. Mays

Birmingham, AL

Cahaba River Basin


Michael Mullen

Troy, Alabama

Choctawhatchee River Basin

Michael is the Choctawhatchee Riverkeeper. He holds a BS in Chemistry and Biology from Athens College, an MS in Chemistry from the University of Arkansas, and an MS in Biology from the University of Alabama at Huntsville. He holds an AS Certificate in Environmental Science from the University of  Alabama, Huntsville, is certified in Watershed Management  from the University of British Columbia – IRES, and is a Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control (CPESC) – Cert. # 2129. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Alabama Water Watch. During his spare time he enjoys playing golf, fishing, and canoeing.


John Scott

Montgomery, AL

Alabama River Basin

John is a retired attorney who has been active for many years in conservation work, including service on the boards of Southern Environmental Law Center, The Nature Conservancy of Alabama, and Forever Wild.


Beth Young

Birmingham, AL

Cahaba River Basin

Beth Maynor Young is an accomplished conservation photographer who has spent much of her life chronicling the natural beauty and remnant wild places of the contemporary South. In 1990, she founded Cahaba River Publishing, a conservation-motivated firm that supports her life’s passion—nature and landscape photography. Today, Beth’s photographs give us a moving vision of the natural world and speak quietly yet deeply of our need to preserve the South’s unique environmental heritage.

Beth’s conservation photography is part of many private and corporate art collections across the country. Her renown and popularity is a testament to the importance of environmental issues and the caliber of her photography.