As part of Alabama Water Rally planning for ARA’s 20th anniversary celebration, we reached out to professionals who are early in their careers and interested in water protection. We charged them with developing a plenary at Water Rally diving in to the future of environmental protection in Alabama. The energy was palpable as they shared their vision for the future of our state and their role in defending rivers for the years to come. Our Junior Board was born from these early conversations and we are thrilled to have them help shape the future of the Alabama Rivers Alliance. Meet them below! Interested in becoming a part? Send us an email and we’ll be in touch!
L-R: Dennis O’Hare, Dawn Lee, Sabrina Zizo, La’Tanya Scott, Charles Miller, Laura Quattrochi, Matt Bailey, Matthew Grcic (not pictured: Liza Slutskaya, Darlena Garner, Zac Napier)
CHARLES MILLER, co-chair, is an AmeriCorps member serving through the YWCA of 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. 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.
SABRINA ZIZO, co-chair, is a former intern for Alabama Rivers Alliance (her very first day on the job was at national River Rally in Mobile, AL!) and she is currently the Events Specialist at Railroad Park Foundation. She stayed busy as she worked her way through college at the University of Montevallo by interning and/or volunteering with Shelby County Children’s Advocacy Center and Shelby County Newspapers. When not checking out the vibrant music scene throughout Alabama, Sabrina relaxes by swimming, paddling and boating on Alabama’s waterways.
DAWN COLEMAN, secretary, is the education activities specialist for the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Dawn graduated from The George Washington University and began her career of service by volunteering with the Birmingham Museum of Art, The National Museum of African American History and Culture and The George Washington Masonic Memorial. She currently dedicates some of her time to YWoodlawn Resource Center as a tutor. As a child, her favorite movie and show was The Little Mermaid and her most favorite place was the beach, providing her with the relaxation and recharge she needs to fight to ensure that it will always be there for generations to come.
MATTHEW GRCIC, treasurer, is a cinematographer and editor at Alabama Public Television. Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, he fell in love with Birmingham after spending just six weeks there making a film for the Southern Exposure Film Fellowship about the imagined possibility of connecting Birmingham to the Gulf via the Cahaba and Alabama Rivers. Earning his master’s degree in Digital Media and Storytelling at Loyola University Chicago, he plans to dedicate his career to making environmental documentaries. Matthew’s personal interests involve environmental conservation and outdoor recreation. Matt lives in Birmingham with his dog and cat and he can throw some mean darts.
MATTHEW BAILEY is an appellate and post-trial attorney for the Revill Law Firm who works in both criminal, administrative, and civil law. He received an education in environmental law from the University of Alabama School of Law from Professor Bill Andreen and was heavily involved in the Environmental Law Society during his time in law school. He has a B.A. in Political Science with a degree in Political Science with minors in History and Liberal Arts and a J.D. from the Alabama School of Law with a Certificate in Public Interest Law and graduated as an Order of the Samaritan. He loves doing everything that he can for the people of his native State of Alabama.
ZAC NAPIER was born and raised in rural Birmingham, just a rock’s throw away from the banks of Bayview Lake. He grew up catching anoles and salamanders on 10 acres of Alabama woodlands. From a young age he participated and excelled in community sports like baseball and football. Having the opportunity to play in three football state championships and winning two he considers himself a very blessed individual. He attended Birmingham-Southern College where he played football for Joey Jones, as a part of their first football program since 1939. Through the biological sciences major, he built a major around his passions of conservation, ecology, herpetology, botany and zoology. Zac’s whole life was changed by a couple professors, and a 6 week research trip at La Selva biological station in Costa Rica. This ultimately led him away from the medical field where those influential professors got him a job as a field technician at The Freshwater Land Trust. Over two years of time, he moved up to become Land Steward over 5,000 acres of conservation land. There he broadened his knowledge of Alabama’s rich and wondrous biodiversity through personal exploration. With the lofty goal of becoming a naturalist, Zac decided to continue polishing his skill set and take up the mantle of an environmental educator. He has always enjoyed interacting with the young individuals and is excited to have the opportunity to inspire young minds that will shape our future.
DILLON O’HARE is a youth soccer coach and administrator for Birmingham United Soccer Association. Growing up in the Forest Park neighborhood of Birmingham, he split his time between the soccer field and the woods and watersheds of Alabama. In May of 2015 he graduated from the University of Alabama, majoring in both Finance and Spanish. Dillon believes that positive environmental change can be influenced by affecting and enhancing corporate culture to be more mindful and proactive towards its communities and environment. If he is not on the soccer field, you can probably find him paddling through the rivers and deltas of the Southeast or you might catch him in wandering in the woods of Alabama’s public lands.
LAURA QUATTROCHI is an AmeriCorps Service Member at Alabama Environmental Council, continuing to build on her initial 2015-16 service with AEC. She graduated in May 2015 from the University of Montevallo with a B.S. in Psychology and Social Work. Laura shares her passion for environmental advocacy through community outreach at numerous AEC sponsored events, while simultaneously developing tracking mechanisms for when AEC participates in community events and tabling opportunities. Laura has never met a rock she didn’t want to climb!
LA’TANYA SCOTT is an Environmental Science educator for the Cahaba River Society. She graduated from Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy high school in 2008 and found her way to Alabama by attending Miles College. She was the first in her family to not only attend college — but to graduate as well. In 2014, she received her bachelor’s degree in environmental science. She has an outstanding passion for nature and the outdoors. She loves being on the river, working with children of all ages, volunteering, playing with her dog and traveling. In her third year with CRS, La’Tonya’s focus is to get more urban city schools, community programs and youth to participate in the Shane Hulsey CLEAN program to help build a better connection between humans and our drinking water/watersheds.
LIZA SLUTSKAYA is currently a media production fellow at Impact America. After graduating from Johns Hopkins University in 2016 with a BA in anthropology and film production, Liza completed the Southern Exposure Film Fellowship program in Alabama. After falling in love with the area, she moved to Birmingham from Maryland. Although filmmaking is her career path, her other passion is holistic elderly care. Throughout college and prior to moving to Alabama, she worked in an assisted living facility and recently became a CNA. Her goal is to use storytelling to give individuals as well as organizations a platform to share their stories and create meaningful change in their communities. Liza currently lives with her cat Salo and loves spending her free time doing anything outdoors.