About Our Team

Dr. Myra Crawford

Executive Director

Myra A. Crawford, PhD, MFA, MPH, founded the Cahaba Riverkeeper and has served as Executive Director and Riverkeeper since 2009. She has applied her scientific training to serve the Cahaba and the issues that beset its health.

Dr. Crawford retired as Clinical Research Professor and Director of the Research Division and the Human Energetics Assessment Laboratory in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham. For twenty years, she conducted behavioral research in substance abuse and other health risky behaviors. She also spearheaded creation of the Alabama Practice Based Research Network (APBRN), a consortium of primary care physicians conducting clinic-based research in many Alabama counties who collect and study research data on tobacco cessation and obesity reduction protocols.

Dr. Crawford, who has a profound connection with the land in its natural state, has lived on ten acres near the Cahaba River in a passive solar home for more than forty years. She is a mother of two daughters and a son. Her son is an environmental scientist who devotes significant hours to monitoring the waters of the Cahaba River. She was a member of the advisory council of the Black Warrior Riverkeeper and a founding member of the board of the Green Resource Center for Alabama.

Dr. Crawford holds degrees from Samford University (BA, English), the University of Alabama (MA, communications), the University of Iowa (MFA, Writers Workshop), and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (MPH, health behavior; and PhD, health services administration). She has worked as a newspaper and magazine journalist and as a technical writer and editor. She has published more than a hundred scientific and commercial articles, as well as works of fiction. She has traveled extensively in China, Tibet, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, Central Europe, and Central and South America.

David Butler

Riverkeeper

David Butler was named the staff Riverkeeper in 2015, after serving as both a volunteer and Board member.

David brings over 15 years of experience leading canoe and kayak trips along the Cahaba River, where he observed many of the problems threatening the river today.  One of the most frequent questions he fields in his role as a guide is whether the river is safe to swim, and his work as Riverkeeper allows him to play a role in answering that question directly.

“As recreational user of the Cahaba, I felt obligated to do something to help.  I started to look for opportunities to volunteer my time and talents, and was attracted to the Waterkeeper movement because while independent, at each organization’s core is a desire to document through scientific research and data collection the present state of the watershed they serve.”

David studied finance at the University of Kentucky, before moving on to work in the financial research industry in New York.  After six years, David returned to the south and enrolled at the University of Alabama where he earned a Journalism degree.  While studying in Tuscaloosa, David started working part-time at the former Alabama Small Boats shop and reignited his passion for rivers.

As the staff Riverkeeper, David’s responsibilities include:   overseeing the successful Swim Guide program, organizing our annual cleanup, responding to pollution complaints, managing our intensive data collection efforts, speaking to concerned citizen and civic groups, as well as a host of other duties.

Currently, David is in his final year of law school and will graduate in May 2018.  He lives in Vestavia just off Little Shades Creek with his wife (Susan), two children (Jacob, 14 and Allison, 3) and their rambunctious Dalmatian Lucy.

To learn more about David, and his work on the river, check the links below:

Shelby County Reporter – PROFILE:  Cahaba Riverkeeper Protects River’s Future (February 28, 2018)

AL.com – What’s The Penalty for Killing a Creek?  (July 21, 2017)

Vestavia Voice – Taming the Flow (June 23, 2017)

Village Living – Monitoring the Cahaba (May 23, 2017)

Kentucky New Era – Hoptown Native Watches Over River (December 14, 2016)

Tuscaloosa News – Canoe the Cahaba  (July 5, 2014)

Peggy Gargis

President

Peggy Gargis holds a B.A. in mass communication/print journalism from the University of Alabama at Birmingham with minors in French and English. Her professional life in communications began with work as a proofreader for her hometown newspaper. She was a medical proofreader and copy editor at Southern Medical Journal, Alabama Journal of Medical Sciences, & Educational Reviews, and a medical technical writer for Nichols TXEN & Electronic Health Systems. She also worked as a stringer news reporter for Reuters/Thomson Reuters International News (wire service).

Gargis’ community activist/taxpayer watchdog roles have included being a member of the executive committee of Cahaba Group of the Alabama Chapter of Sierra Club that opposed Jefferson County’s failed SuperSewer and sewer expansion and researching and documenting information on various ALDOT projects, specifically the failed elevated Highway 280 project. Her efforts to expose Jefferson County’s sewer scandal garnered her two awards from statewide environmental groups. The Alabama Chapter of Sierra Club awarded her the 2002 Cahaba Pit Bull Award “for latching onto the backside of  the Sewer Barons and refusing to let go.” The  Alabama Environmental Council awarded her their Malcolm Stewart Award, “in recognition of dedicated conservation service in 2002.”

Debra Sharpe

Vice President/Secretary

Debra Sharpe is the owner of Sharpe Solutions, International (SSI), a small business specializing in developing sustainable solutions for Public, Private, Government, Academic, Research, and Medical communities. She has over 25 years of experience in the implementation of compliance management systems for laboratory safety, biosafety, biosecurity, and environmental safety and health.  Debra has a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Tulane University and is a candidate in the Doctor of Public Health Program in Environmental Health at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.  She has significant experience developing policies, procedures and training programs to ensure the facilities receive all necessary registrations and certifications. She has worked extensively in academic, private research and diagnostic public health laboratories. She is also a member of multiple professional organizations and has participated in the development of policies and regulations to protect the public and environment from dangerous pathogens originating from high-containment laboratories, while supporting the important mission of diagnostic and research laboratories.

Robert A. Webb

Treasurer

Robert A. Webb is the Treasurer for Cahaba RiverKeeper, Inc.  He attended University of Pennsylvania for his undergraduate and graduate education, and attended the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania.  He also attended the Birmingham School of Law.  Robert has his own CPA and Law Practice on Highland Avenue in Birmingham, AL.

 

Lee Jeffrey

Board Member

Lee Jeffrey is our newest board member at Cahaba Riverkeeper. Lee is the owner/host of his radio show “Sweet Science Radio” on Birmingham Mountain Radio (107.3 FM) for 5 years running. Lee has been an event planner/entertainer/ cultural liaison for the last 18 years and curates event fundraisers by working with artists from all mediums on several different platforms in hopes to raise awareness about our Cahaba Riverkeeper’s mission. Lee is a husband and proud father of two which lead him to join us in the fight for clean water as a labor of love for the people in his community.

Lynda Wilson

Board Member

Lynda Wilson is a Professor Emerita from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing.  She has a keen interest in environmental issues and protecting our rivers, and brings to the board skills in research and grant-writing.

Steve Bears

Board Member

Steve worked for 13 years in environmental education, then was an environmental scientist, working for the Alabama Department of Environmental Management for 24 years.   He brings his rich experience in environmental science to the Cahaba Riverkeeper Board!

Steve Sexton

Board Member

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