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The staff spotlight is used to highlight our incredible Waterkeeper employees. Each individual cares deeply for protecting our waterways and contributes to Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper and the community! Check back for updates as staff members are highlighted in our monthly newsletter.

Kelly Mayer

Kelly Mayer is the Deputy Executive Director of Finance and Operations at Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper and has been with the organization since 2009. Prior to working at Waterkeeper, Kelly was a small business owner and entrepreneur. In her current role, Kelly has helped build the administrative framework that aided the exponential growth of the organization. She oversees a budget of $7 Million, and works in coordination with the executive management team in coordinating the efforts of 57 programs and 30 full time staff. Kelly is a leader in the non-profit community due to her success in streamlining operational procedures and organizational efficiencies. Kelly earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Geography both from Syracuse University.

Dani Priebe

Dani started at Waterkeeper during the pandemic and immediately fit in with the Waterkeeper family. She was up for the challenge and has been such a great addition to our organization!

Dani grew up in Hamburg and spent much of her childhood on the shores of Lake Erie and adventuring along Eighteen Mile Creek. She’s always gravitated towards and felt a connection to the water. Dani loves all things Buffalo and is thankful that water is such an integral part of our City and community.

One of the things that drew Dani to Waterkeeper was the story of the Buffalo River. She is inspired by the unified action and efforts of the community and citizens to bring the Buffalo River back to life. Her favorite part of her role at Waterkeeper is being able to connect people with opportunities to support and be involved in BNW’s work and mission.

In her down time, Dani loves seeing live music at a local venues or attending festivals, spending time with her family, planning for her next trip (she and her husband have a goal to see all 50 states by her 50th birthday!), and working on home improvement projects.

Jess Amico

Jess is our Digital Marketing Manager and she’s our staff storyteller. She does all things website, social media, and email. She grew up along the Niagara River in Tonawanda. She’s always found inspiration and peace by the water and feels so grateful to work for an organization that values and protects it.

She went to Drexel University to study marketing and organizational management. Jess came back to Buffalo to make an impact on the waterways she’s always known and loved.

Jeanne Beiter

Jeanne is originally from the Philadelphia, PA area where she spent her summers floating in salt water. In 2002, she came to University at Buffalo for graduate school in urban and regional planning, explored the west coast and Finger Lakes for a few years, and realized that Buffalo was home in 2013. Jeanne has been with Waterkeeper for three years strong and serves as Senior Ecological Program Manager, bringing a planning framework to all the work she does in the headwaters of our Niagara River watershed. After living in various places throughout the country one sentiment is abundantly clear to Jeanne, you have to feel connected to a place in order to care about it and want to protect it for the long term. Jeanne enjoys making connections throughout Western New York and exploring many of the hidden gems we are so fortunate to call home.

Maintaining a healthy dose of work/life balance, Jeanne and her husband find creative ways to make their village house feel like a home for their two teenage sons/bonus sons and sweet dog, Trixie. The next big adventure is always on the horizon for her family whether it be the ocean, mountains, lakes or forest – always keeping an eye out for cool critters, fungus and seashells.

Juliann Parker

Juli grew up outside of Binghamton, NY on the Susquehanna River. She spent much of her childhood exploring the miles of woods behind her house and playing in the nearby Trout Ponds park. After graduating from UB, Juli started her career in the banking industry at HSBC and Citigroup but decided to change careers to focus on non-profit work. She started at Waterkeeper in 2018 as the friendly face you see when you enter our office on Main Street. As Senior Administrative Coordinator, Juli is here to help the organization run as smoothly as possible as we protect, restore, connect and inspire!

Emily Root

Emily is originally from Maryland, and moved to Buffalo in 2012 for an Americorps position with Waterkeeper and has been there ever since, now serving as the Director of Ecological Programs. She works on projects and programs ranging from planning and technical assistance, to land protection and restoration and has led our Living Shorelines program for many years. Her passion for water started at a young age, playing in the creek behind her house with her sister growing up. She has continued that passion through her career, and is thankful for the ability to work towards improving the health of our waterways for both the community and the fish and wildlife that rely on clean water.

She loves experiencing all of the natural wonder that Western New York has to offer ranging from hiking the gorge, to kayaking along the Niagara River and tributaries, to camping in nearby scenic areas. Living near an internationally designated Important Birding Area is also pretty great as Emily enjoys birding in her spare time.  She also loves to garden (especially with natives!), and really anything that involves her dog, Dougie.

Margaux Valenti

Margaux is BNW’s in-house legal advisor. Among other things, she assists with our policy and advocacy work and she is responsible for all the contracts and paperwork to ensure our habitat restoration projects can come to life.

A Hamburg Village native, Margaux developed a love of the lakes, early. She stayed on Lake Erie attending Mercyhurst University in Erie PA and broke from the Great Lakes Basin only to move to Vermont and pursue her JD from Vermont Law School. During Law school Margaux continued her work on the Lakes interning at the DEC Great Lakes Division and taking a fellowship at the Great Lakes Commission in Michigan, upon graduation. She has been with BNW for five years and has only deepened her commitment to protecting the Lakes and reminding NY that it is a Great Lakes State.

In her spare time, you’ll find her shouting about something, on or near the water, or teaching yoga at a studio in her beloved village. Just don’t ask her to join you on trip to the field because her footwear is rarely (never) field appropriate.

Joy Knowlton

Joy lives up to her name. She grew up in Orleans County where she spent most of her time playing outside with her three brothers, fishing along the Erie Canal and riding her bike. Her father, an avid hunter and nature lover, worked for the DEC as a wildlife technician and she always jumped at the chance to help him at the Iroqious National Wildlife Refuge – duck banding, water level management, building mallard duck nests – it was there where she first fell in love with nature. After graduating from Houghton College, she started at BNW as an AmeriCorps member in 2010. She has since fallen in love with the work of Waterkeeper and is over-joyed to be their “behind the scenes” Senior Manager of Finance and Operations. On a day to day, she helps BNW manage over 55 project budgets and makes sure that everything is running smoothly at the office. Even after 10 years, she finds fulfillment in being able to support an organization that is educating people about the amazing resource we have here in WNY: freshwater! There is one thing she loves even more than excel sheets and math though, and that is bunnies. Joy is totally rabbit-obsessed, and looks forward to going home to her little lop-eared, blue-eyed bunny named Magnolia every day.

Katherine Winkler

Katherine is our in-house Buffalo River expert. After dedicating more than ten years to the river, she is now helping bring all of our Waterway Revitalization work to life; helping to heal local waterways by transforming spaces along those waterways into vital habitat areas. While she has a scientific background, she’s a great fundraiser and is always supporting local causes. Aptly named, Kat, had a soft spot for the furry and four-legged. She is currently leading the St. Aldan pet food pantry which provides pet food to those who need it at no cost. You won’t find her in a kayak but she is looking forward to National Cat Day.

Wendy Paterson

Wendy is a Community Engagement Manager and loves the dynamic position of engaging our community in educational and stewardship experiences.

She is from New York and loves the Greats Lakes, particularly the things that go unnoticed, like insects, leaches, worms, algae, limpets, hydra, the list could go on … but most importantly: native freshwater mussels!

She has always been an animal lover. Wendy and her husband currently have two dogs: Ruffles (9-lb alpha) and Maya (gentle rescue), and one guinea pig, named Kyle (greens master).

In her spare time, she works to turn her front yard into a native pollinator garden. She volunteers and fosters for the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter. Wendy loves experimenting with cooking using amazing local produce from our farmer’s markets. She always dreams of Fall (harvest season and Halloween are the best!)

“Dogs rule! Cats drool! Unless the cats are black, magical, cursed, or actually an animagus.”Wendy is the Community Engagement Manager. She runs the Shoreline Sweep and coordinates thousands of volunteers each year!

Claudia Rosen

Claudia started her journey with Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper as the Buffalo River Outreach Intern. She was very excited to join the Community Engagement team as staff this January. Her appreciation for water and the role it plays in our lives grew during the time she spent at summer camp on the shores of Lake Erie. After graduating from Binghamton University with degrees in Environmental Studies and Geography, she discovered her passion for environmental education and interpretation. She worked as a naturalist for the New York State Parks for several years- mainly at Evangola State Park. She also gained experience at Reinstein Woods Environmental Education Center in Depew and Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center in Pennsylvania. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, snowshoeing and teaching others about birds of prey as a volunteer with Wild Spirit Education. She is constantly inspired by the natural world and can most often be found running around trails and looking for birds, mushrooms and moss. At Waterkeeper, she enjoys working on the Buffalo River Speaker Series, Riverwatch, and kayak tour programs!

Charles Oddo

Charley was introduced to Waterkeeper during his final semester at SUNY-ESF after studying abroad in Copenhagen. His design studio focused primarily on ecological restoration, more specifically green infrastructure and design opportunities along Hyde Park Lake in Niagara Falls, NY.

After earning his BLA, Charley moved to Buffalo to continue work on the Hyde Park living shoreline project in a professional capacity. Since bringing the Hyde Park project full circle, he has collaborated on a range of other notable projects including shoreline enhancements at Tifft Nature Preserve, Beaver Island State Park and Forest Lawn Cemetery. Studying, designing, and managing diverse and resilient landscapes is his passion.

Jen Fee

Our Marketing Manager Jen Fee was born and raised in Western New York, and today is raising her own family here. She has worked for or served on the board of several area non-profits before joining Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper a year ago, and is passionate about making Buffalo better for all 716ers (seriously, she cries over every new John Paget video). Jen is a graduate of Tufts University with a dual major in English and Philosophy (of Science), and swears that if you encourage your kids to take Philosophy in college they will become great problem solvers in life. Jen has learned so much about our region’s incredible waterways and environment over the past year with Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, and is thrilled for the opportunity to grow our audience and connect others to this incredible mission of protection and restoration. When not toiling on behalf of the greater good, she is a 24/7 mom and superfan of her three incredible kids and one Queen Bee-gle, who all enjoy spring retreats to the ocean at Jekyll Island, Georgia and summer retreats to a lake in the Adirondacks. However, they all agree that there’s no better place than right here, right now (sniff).

Liz Cute

Liz grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, minutes away from countless streams, ponds, and lakes – including Lake Superior, which she would swim or cliff jump into whenever the water was above 50 degrees F. While at Marietta College studying Environmental Science, Liz was again surrounded by water, settling in where the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers converge. At BNW, Liz applies her wealth of experience in water quality sampling and outdoor education daily. Whether she is wading through miles of streams collecting nutrient samples, training citizen scientists to use high-tech water sampling equipment, or leading kayak tours, Liz enjoys helping connect WNY community members to their local waterways.

Kerrie Gallo

Kerrie is the Deputy Executive Director. Ask her about native brook trout – her face will light up and she will tell you all about our project at Crow Creek.

Jill Jedlicka

Jill is the Executive Director of Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper. Environmentalism runs in her blood!