Meet Our Team

Christine Ellis, Executive Director

Christine joined Winyah Rivers as the Waccamaw Riverkeeper in August 2006. She led the organization's education and advocacy efforts until January 2014 when she took on the role of River Advocate within the organization, focusing on education and advocacy in the North Carolina portion of our Winyah Bay Watershed. In 2015, Christine's role was expanded to serve as Deputy Director of Winyah Rivers Foundation and help the Riverkeeper meet our organization's mission. In 2018, Christine transitioned to Executive Director, leading the efforts of Winyah Rivers and advancing our mission throughout the greater Winyah Bay watershed. Christine has an MS in Environmental Management and a BS in Zoology (Biology) and has worked in the environmental field for her entire career. Much work remains to be done and we must continue to keep a vigilant eye on our wonderful rivers and their riches in order to protect clean water and healthy communities. We are grateful to our many supporters and welcome new supporters to our mission.


Cara Schildtknecht, Waccamaw Riverkeeper

Cara joined Winyah Rivers as the Waccamaw Riverkeeper in May 2017. She leads the organization's education and advocacy efforts in the Waccamaw watershed in both North and South Carolina. Cara is a graduate of Coastal Carolina University's Master’s of Science in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies program. She received her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies and Bachelor of Arts in English at Shepherd University (SU) in Shepherdstown, WV. Cara has experience as a graduate assistant and teaching assistant at CCU and as a research assistant at SU. In addition, she served in the US Peace Corps in Ghana as a Natural Resource Advisor. Cara is the Field Leader for our Waccamaw River Volunteer Monitoring Program that we co-administer with Coastal Carolina University's Waccamaw Watershed and advocates for water quality protections in the Waccamaw watershed. She welcomes the opportunity to engage with community members within the watershed.


Jefferson Currie II, Lumber Riverkeeper

Jeff joined Winyah Rivers in August 2018 to watch over the Lumber River watershed in North and South Carolina. Jeff is a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and a nativve North Carolinian. After graduating from UNC-Pembroke with a BA in American Indian Studies, he worked at the NC Museum of History as curator, historian and researcher. Jeff has completed the coursework for a Master of Arts in Folklore at UNC-Chapel Hill and is working on his thesis. Along the way he has worked on projects about textile mills, civil rights, music, fishing traditions, plants and gardening, labor communities, and the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Project, in addition to projects with many of NC's 8 state-recognized tribes. "I do genuinely believe that when people have knowledge, when they see and make connections between their own lives and the river, they grow to respect it more and grow to love it and protect it and fight for it.


April O'Leary, Program Officer

April joined Winyah Rivers in 2015. April is a wash-a-shore from Cape Cod, MA currently living in beautiful Conway.  She is the proud wife of a Captain Fireman and together they have two beautiful children.  April has a Bachelor's of Arts degree in Psychology from Bay Path University and has over 20 years working in human services.  Most of her experience entails non-profit management working with underserved populations. April has a vast amount of experience in building important community partnerships, assisting in prevention and education with a focus on future sustainability.  April has been a volunteer supporting children and families who are affected by ALS/ Lou Gehrig’s disease organizations for almost 19 years.  April and her family foster for Little Paws Dachshund Rescue and in her free



Emma Gerald Boyer, Land Officer (Contracted)

Emma joined Winyah Rivers as the Waccamaw Riverkeeper in 2015, leading the organization's education and advocacy efforts until May 2017 when she stepped down as a result of growing her family. At that time, Emma took on a part-time role with Winyah Rivers to advance our organization's involvement in the acquisition of the Rocky Point property on the Black River and the Singleton property on the Waccamaw River. Emma continues under contract as Winyah Rivers part-time Land Officer overseeing the Rocky Point Community Forest, property owned by Winyah Rivers in the Choppee Community on the Black River, and assisting with other conservation efforts within the greater Winyah Bay watershed. Emma has a Master's Degree in Environmental Science and Policy and a Bachelor's Degree in Biology.



Lisa Swanger, Coastal Waccamaw Watershed Education Programs Coordinator (Contracted)

Since 2014, Lisa Swanger has served as the Coastal Waccamaw Watershed Educations Programs Coordinator at Coastal Carolina University. In this joint position, she is responsible for coordinating the Coastal Waccamaw Stormwater Education Consortium and providing environmental education support to the Winyah Rivers Alliance's Waccamaw RIVERKEEPER(r) Program (WRK). Lisa brings extensive environmental education, outreach, and program management experience to the table. Her key WRK projects include coordinating the annual Waccamaw Conference, directing the RIVERKEEPER(r) Challenge youth water monitoring program, developing and launching the Be WELL (Water, Emissions, and Litter Learning) pilot program for local schools, and delivering coastal watershed education presentations to diverse audiences. Lisa relocated to South Carolina from Oregon where she received her Master's Degree in Marine Resource Management from Oregon State University. In her spare time, Lisa enjoys practicing yoga, hiking, volunteering at the local animal shelter, and spending time with her husband and two rescue dogs.


Riverkeeper Intern

Because of our close relationship with Coastal Carolina University and the location of our office at the Coastal Science Center, we welcome college students to intern with us and to assist in implementing our mission. We are happy to help train the next generation of conservation leaders!


To keep up with what we're up to, check out our newsletter.