As a membership organization, Save The River’s members have the opportunity each year to vote and select new Directors to the Board and/or renew terms of Directors whose terms are expiring. Save The River Board members may serve two, three year terms.
Jeff Garnsey – President
Jeff Garnsey is a 7th generation resident of Clayton and a 3rd generation fishing guide. He grew up on Grindstone Island where he started working as a deckhand for his grandfather when he was 10 years old. He recently retired from the Navy as a Master Chief Petty Officer with 26 years in the Submarine Service and moved back to Clayton. Since returning he has become a member of the Board of Directors for the Thousand Islands Museum and the Clayton Area Chamber of Commerce. He is the Director of the Muskie Hall of Fame and does volunteer work for the Antique Boat Museum. He owns Garnsey’s Classic Island Cruises and operates the Muskie and the Fin and Feather which provide fishing, wine & cheese cruises and educational tours of the river.
Lauran Throop – Vice President
Lauran Throop is a native of central New York, a longtime resident in the Rochester area and a newcomer to Clayton in 2010. With her husband Dan, she has two children. In 1998 she moved to Dubai, UAE with Dan, where she was a member of the American Women’s Association and an active supporter of the local humane society. After extensive travel throughout the Middle and Far East she returned to her home in Victor in 2004. She and her husband decided to buy a home in Clayton after two summer seasons on Wellesley Island where she learned to appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of the Thousand Islands. Their home on Windward Cliffs is now the year-round family homestead where their two children, grandchildren and future generations will come to enjoy the beauty of the River.
Rick Gregware – Secretary
Rick has been involved with Save The River since it’s infancy becoming a board member in 1981. He began a career in marine repair in 1969 working at H. Chalk and Sons where he was involved in keeping oil spill equipment running during the 1976 NEPCO 140 oil spill. He currently owns and runs Northern Marine and is a summer resident of Grindstone Island with his wife Janet and three children.
John H. Butts III (Jack) – Treasurer
Jack comes from a long line of River Rats. He spent his early childhood on Butts Island near Ivy Lea, where he learned to love the River. Jack now calls Sunnyside Island home. Jack is active in various other organizations on both sides of the River. Jack is the President and CEO of Rome Specialty Company, Inc. (ROSCO). ROSCO is the oldest and largest manufacturer of terminal fishing tackle in the USA and currently in its 4th generation of family leadership. Part of his company’s stated mission is to “advocate for the preservation of fisheries and endorse the use of sustainable fishing practices worldwide.”
Robin Lucas – Member at Large
Robin is a 3rd generation River Rat originally from Grenell Island. Her husband, David, and three adult children now live seasonally on Bluff Island in ‘The Lodge,’ that they are lovingly restoring. Prior to Robin’s corporate career in sales and management within the Animal Health industry, she spent every summer working in ‘almost every establishment in Clayton’ to cover college expenses in the 1980s. Robin is living her dream of spending her summer now selling real estate in the 1000 Islands for Select Sotheby’s International Real Estate, volunteering as a captain at the Antique Boat Museum, and a trustee of Grenell Island Chapel. Robin and David are active participants and members of Thousand Island Land Trust, Clayton Opera House, Thousand Islands Arts Center, Save The River, and Friends of the Antique Boat Museum.
Janet has lived along the Clayton mainland shore nearly all her adult life, raising her family here to be true River Rats. She graduated from the University of Buffalo with a major in biology-education and a minor in environmental science, a 32-year career teaching science in seven different classroom settings. A member of Save The River since the early 1980s, wrote classroom curriculum for the In the Schools program, managed the storefront on some weekends, and made personal testimony at International Joint Commission (IJC) meetings for the initial Plan 2014. Recently assisted with the efforts of the Education and Sustainability Committees.
Laura is 4th generation river resident. Her great grandfather, Orlo J. Hamlin, was one of the original cottage owners on Round Island. His family holdings there were passed down to the Potter, Digel, Kane and Coleman families. Laura’s grandmother was Susan Coleman and her cottages, Hiawatha Lodge and WindSong, are still in the family. Laura has lived here as a year-round resident since 1981. Laura is a licensed clinical social worker, a registered yoga instructor and the owner of St. Larry’s, a natural skincare line.
Growing up, Matthew B. Elliott spent summers on Wallace Island, just up-river from the Lost Channel on the Canadian side of the Saint Lawrence River. Currently he, his wife, Sara, and three children (Benson, Grace and Michael) summer on Number Nine Island near Goose Bay. Matthew works in sales and marketing for the immunology division at Pfizer, Inc. Most recently, Matthew led the public-private redesign/capital campaign committee to update the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center at Wellesley Island State Park – he served as Board President until April 2021. He and his family spend most of their free time along the River boating, fishing, and swimming. The Elliott family looks forward to joining Save The River’s cause and helping to spirit its mission.
Merritt is a lifetime summer resident of the Thousand Islands. A native of central New York, she grew up in Utica and spent her summers on Tennis Island. Currently living in the Albany area and working in wealth management for Ayco Corporation, a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs, she still spends as much time on Wellesley Island as she can. Her fond childhood memories and the lifelong friendships she made here keep her coming back. She believes it is important to preserve this special area and educate others about conservation so that the River will continue to be a beautiful place for all future generations of River Rats.
Diane H. Leonard, GPC
Diane is the owner and President of DH Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services, LLC, a national grant writing firm based in Clayton, NY. Diane is an active member of the Grant Professionals Association serving on their Social Media Committee and Grant News Committee, is an “Approved Trainer” through the Grant Professionals Association and a Certified Grant Professional. Diane is a graduate of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Labor Relations. Diane and her husband, Erich moved to Clayton to be year-round residents ten years ago. They are raising their two young daughters to love and respect the River that is such a critical thread of their family’s story.
Dr. Sherri “Sam” Mason
Dr. Mason earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin. She completed her doctorate in Chemistry at the University of Montana as a NASA Earth System Science scholar. While a Professor of Chemistry at SUNY Fredonia, her research group was among the first to study the prevalence and impact of plastic pollution within freshwater ecosystems, leading to the federal ban of microbeads in consumer products. Among her accolades Dr. Mason was named an EPA Environmental Champion in 2016, was awarded for her Excellence in Environmental Research by the Earth Month Network in 2017 and was selected to receive a Heinz Award in Public Policy in 2018. She has recently moved into a new role as Sustainability Coordinator at Penn State Behrend.
Heather is a former Save The River intern and the third generation of her family to serve as a board member. She spends as much time at the River as she can, with her family on Wellesley Island. She believes that a critical part of being a “River Rat” is protecting the River for future generations and teaching them about how much the River does for us. When not at the River, Heather lives in New York City, where she is a Senior Vice President, Manager of Operations, at Churchill Asset Management.
Rob has been a life-long admirer of the St. Lawrence, be it through camping, fishing, boating or swimming. Having grown up in Sanborn, NY (Niagara County), summers always meant camping in the Thousand Islands, or boating on Lake Ontario. A second-generation river lover, some of his earliest memories are from Wellesley Island. Rob has a keen interest in invasive species, their impact on the Great Lakes system, and how we can better evolve practice to avoid their introduction. Professionally, Rob serves as the Vice President of Network Engineering for Comcast. He holds dual degrees in Physics and Philosophy from Carnegie Mellon University. Rob splits his time between Little Steamboat Island and Moorestown, NJ, with his wife, Deb, his daughters, Rosie and Gabby, and their dog Hazel.
Rich is a 4th generation river rat. His great grandparents moved to Hermit Port in 1895 and he himself has spent 47 summers on the river with his family on Grindstone. He is the loving husband to Julia Purcell and they welcomed a new baby in fall 2019. His wife’s family are also long-time river lovers and residents on Grindstone and avid supporters of Thousand Island Park and Save the River. He’s a skillful builder and designer for sustainable housing, businesses, and communities
Lisa is a 4th generation St. Lawrence River resident and has spent part of every summer of her life on the River, even as she has lived in Tennessee, Virginia, California, Pennsylvania, and now Missouri. Lisa was an elementary school teacher for 30 years before she retired three years ago. In her classrooms, she emphasized environmental education and turned hundreds of 4th-graders into lifelong birdwatchers. She is a longtime member of Save the River and would welcome the chance to contribute to its mission as a member of the board.
Heather spent as much time on the River as possible growing up and the tradition continues with her children who are 5th generation on TI Park. She earned her undergraduate degree from Buffalo State Collect and a Master’s in Education from Potsdam State College. Heather taught for over 30 years. A long-time Save The River volunteer, she has served on the Education Committee since 2006 and is passionate about the In the Schools Program. Heather has also served on several boards including the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center, Stage Notes (a youth theater company), First Presbyterian Out Reach Council and Women of Grace Widow’s Fund, an organization she helped found committed to helping women in Malawi, Africa establish self-sufficiency.