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Thomas O'Keefe joins AW staff

Posted: 04/19/2005
By: Mark Singleton

American Whitewater is proud to announce Thomas O'Keefe from Seattle, Washington as AW's new Pacific Northwest Stewardship Director.

Tom first got his start paddling and playing in the water during early childhood canoe trips to the Adirondacks in upstate New York. After a brief diversion as a competitive swimmer and water polo player through high school and college, Tom came back to paddling and began his first serious whitewater while living in Japan and shortly thereafter became a full-fledged fanatic with the University of Wisconsin Hoofers. Tom has traveled across the country and around the globe in search of great rivers and most recently completed a final descent of the Yangtze River through the Three Gorges, before the gates were closed on the world's largest dam.

Tom has been a volunteer with American Whitewater for more than a decade and a Regional Coordinator in the Pacific Northwest for the past several years. Recently he has contributed his technical expertise on several hydro projects in the Pacific Northwest and has continued to provide leadership in the development of AW's website by serving as chair of the cyber committee. In 2004, Tom's contributions were recognized at AW's 50th Anniversary Celebration where he received the Rising Star Award.

Tom received his undergraduate degree at Cornell University before completing his graduate work in aquatic ecology at the University of Wisconsin where he received his PhD. In recent years Tom has worked at the University of Washington where his research projects have focused on the dynamics of nutrients returning salmon bring to river ecosystems and the structural development of riparian forests along large floodplain rivers. Tom has experience working with resource agencies as many of his research projects have been conducted on public land. Currently he is working with the National Park Service to develop a long-term freshwater monitoring program for parks in Alaska. Tom has also taught courses in aquatic ecology, including watershed ecology and management, both at the university level and for youth programs.

Bringing a wealth of experience to the organization, Tom will contribute his skills in river ecology, teaching and outreach, grant writing, multimedia, web development, and inspiring local volunteers to help build American Whitewater's stewardship program. He will be based in Seattle, WA and work closely with volunteers throughout the Pacific Northwest region on projects in Coastal WA/OR, the Columbia River watershed, Puget Sound, Fraser River watershed, coastal BC, and Alaska. And when the water's up, Tom will still find time to play on the water.

Tom can be reached by email at and by phone at (425) 417-9012, please join us in welcoming him to the AW staff.

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