Board of Directors


2024 Board of Directors. Pictured L-R BACK ROW:  Jason Schwartz, Renee Whaley, Sarah Morse, Dr. Amy Burgin, Sarah Hill-Nelson, Margaret Fast and Mark Dugan; FRONT ROW: Lisa Grossman, LlynnAnn Luellen, Dr. Heidi Mehl and Lorraine McClain.  Not Pictured:  Marcia Rozell

2024 Board of Directors 

President – Amy Burgin, Lawrence

Dr. Amy Burgin earned her Ph.D. from Michigan State University (2007) and completed a postdoctoral training at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies (2008-09) before tenure-track positions at Wright State University (2009-2011) and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (2011-2015). She joined the faculty at the University of Kansas in 2016 as an Associate Professor and Scientist; she was promoted to Professor and Scientist in 2022. She joined the FOK Board of Directors in 2016. Her research focuses on how human activities alter biogeochemical cycles and water quality across aquatic ecosystems, including streams, rivers, lakes, and wetlands. At KU, she is the lead Principal Investigator for the EPSCoR Track-2 project Aquatic Intermittency effects on Microbiomes in Streams (AIMS). She is also Project Director for the NIH-funded Haskell University – KU Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program, which places American Indian and Alaska Native students from Haskell Indian Nations University into research experiences at KU. She is co-PI on the new EPSCoR Bridging EPSCoR Communities (BEC) project to create the Building the Emerging STEM Scholars of Tomorrow (BESST) training program to increase representation in STEM career pathways and improve mentor training at KU. Her collaborations all emphasize high-quality undergraduate to postdoctoral training, building effective mentoring practices, and creating inclusive scientific teams. She received the 2015 Holling Family Junior Teacher Award (from UNL), the 2019 Mentor of the Year by the KU Office of Diversity in Science Training (ODST), and the 2022 University Scholarly Achievement Award from KU. She has co-authored over 50 publications and secured >$10M in federal research support while training more than 50 undergraduates, 7 graduate students, and 6 post-doctoral scientists. She teaches courses on Water in the Anthropocene, Scientific Communication, and Team Science.

Sarah Morse 2018

Vice-President – Sarah Morse, Topeka

Sarah is a born-and-raised Kansan who is proud of the state’s natural resources and is excited to have the opportunity to support the Kansas Riverkeeper and to protect and advocate for the Kansas River as a board member for Friends of the Kaw. Sarah was introduced to the important and impressive work of Riverkeepers when she was as a student attorney and Fellow for the Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University’s School of Law in Atlanta, GA. Sarah and the Turner Clinic provided legal support to the Savannah Riverkeeper, and when Sarah returned to Kansas after law school, she was thrilled at the opportunity to support the Kansas Riverkeeper. Sarah lives in Topeka with her husband, daughter, and black lab.

Secretary – Renée Grandiflora

Renée is serving their second term on the board. They’ve lived in Kansas longer than any other place, and their interest in water began in middle school when they received first place in a state-wide competition identifying water quality issues in freshwater systems. For over a decade, Renée has worked in water utilities as a licensed Class IV Water and Wastewater Treatment Operator through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. They also are a certified Biosolids Management Technologist and Wastewater Lab Analyst through the Kansas Water Environment Association. Renée has served on the leadership team for the Kansas Women’s Environmental Network and as a representative on the Upper Wakarusa and Lower Kansas River Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) groups. When they’re not talking about water or trying to be near water, they are writing to pen pals while shooing their cats off the desk, photographing post offices around Kansas (they’ve been to over 300 of them), or searching for old postcards in antique stores.

Margaret Fast 2018

Treasurer – Margaret Fast, Ozawkie

Margaret Fast retired in 2017 after spending 39 years employed by the state of Kansas, most of the time with the Kansas water office as a water resource planner.   Duties over the years included focus on water quantity and quality related issues in all the regions of the state.  Most recently, she facilitated the development of the State Water Plan Action Plans for the Kansas Region in her role as staff to Kansas Regional Advisory Committee.

Margaret was raised in the Ohio River Basin in Cincinnati, Ohio and has a Bachelors degree in Biology from Thomas More College in northern Kentucky.  She moved into the Kaw watershed to obtain a Masters in Environmental Health Science from the University of Kansas.  She also has two 200-hour yoga teacher certifications and is actively teaching in Lawrence and Topeka in her retirement.  Margaret and her husband live in the Delaware River Watershed just northwest of Lake Perry.  They have 2 sons; one resides, works,and learns about life in Lawrence; the other is a student at Creighton University in Omaha, in the greater Missouri River basin.

She is an Aquarian (you know, the water bearer!); “Being by water and seeing birds makes me happy”!

Members at Large:

Mark Dugan 2018

Mark Dugan, Overland Park

Mark is serving his fourth year on the Friends of the Kaw Board and his second year as President. His interest in the Kansas River and other waters arose from his time in Washington, D.C. litigating citizen suits under the Clean Water Act. He now practices law in Overland Park, doing mostly employment and wage law, but also keeping up an environmental law practice. He has also served on the boards of  Mainstream Coalition’s Political Action Committee, St. Andrew Christian Church, and the Kansas City Worker Justice Center. He loves to drive around beautiful eastern Kansas and feels just a little guilty about burning the gasoline. He has two sons and a mischievous beagle, and he lives in Overland Park.

Lisa Grossman, Lawrence

Lisa Grossman is a full-time painter and printmaker whose work focuses on the Tallgrass prairies and the Kansas River.

Originally from Pennsylvania, she moved to Kansas City in 1988 for a seven-year stint as an illustrator at Hallmark Cards, Inc. She has degrees from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the University of Kansas, Lawrence. She’s had over 30 shows around the country and her work is included in numerous public, private, university, and museum collections. Her work is represented by Haw/Contemporary in Kansas City, Missouri, and SNW (Strecker-Nelson West) in Manhattan, Kansas.

A Friends of the Kaw (FOK) group float in 1998 inspired her volunteer and to get a kayak of her own, and she’s served on the FOK board since 2011 including serving five years as secretary. She enjoys kayaking and kayak/camping on the river and also enjoys hiking, birding, wild edible foraging, learning ancestral skills, and playing bass for old-timey gigs and dances. Grossman also works to apply her art to various conservation efforts and has served as an artist-in-residence in eight national parks including one with the U.S. Forest Service in Tracy Arm/Fords Terror Wilderness, Alaska.

She has made her home in Lawrence since 1996 with her wife, author Kelly Barth, and an old cat and a couple of chickens.

Sarah Hill-Nelson, Lawrence

Sarah Hill-Nelson is a native Kansan and avid outdoorsperson. She spent much of her childhood in Kansas outdoors in the Kansas landscape, hunting, fishing, hiking and boating with her family. She left Kansas at 18 and lived in many different places including Maine, Wyoming, Chile, California, Washington and Colorado. With a deep appreciation for many different landscapes, Sarah returned with her husband to Kansas in 2002 to raise their young family to help run The Bowersock Mills & Power Company (BMPC), which is the historic hydropower plant on the Kansas River. As the Owner/Operator of BMPC, which is a run of river, certified low-impact hydroelectric plant Sarah spends much of her work and play time on and around the Kaw. Her love of rivers and strong connection to the Kansas River led her to join Friends of the Kaw. Through her work and personal life Sarah has been actively engaged in issues pertaining to energy, the environment, and the Lawrence community. She has served as a board member for Friends of the Kaw, the Sustainability Advisory Board for the City of Lawrence, Douglas County CASA, and Landmark National Bank. During her absence from Kansas Sarah graduated magna cum laude from Bowdoin College in 1992, was a Kansas Truman Scholar, and earned a master’s degree in history from the University of Washington in 1995, and a Master’s in Teaching from Seattle University in 1997. She is currently serving as a member of the Kansas Regional Advisory Committee, which weighs in on issues of water quality and quantity in the Kansas River watershed. Ms. Hill-Nelson is married to Eric Nelson, and they have two children.

LlynnAnn Luellen, Lawrence

LlynnAnn grew up and has lived most of her life in the Kaw watershed. She currently works for a public water supply system. She previously pursued graduate research projects focusing on agricultural stormwater runoff quantity and quality issues and computational modeling of hydroelectric dam releases. In college, she was a scholarship student-athlete and later went on to coordinate and coach a community rowing club for four years.

LlynnAnn loves being outdoors and taking in the beauty and wonder of nature in all seasons. She enjoys helping out on paddles as a Kaw River Guide, joining in with other Friends of the Kaw volunteers to clean up the river, and adventures by boat, bike, or backpack that end the day with a sublime sunset and camping out under the stars.

Lorraine McClain, Lawrence

Lorraine holds a lifelong love for Kansas and Kansans. She is passionate about the power of the arts, humanities, and outdoors to connect people and build community. Lorraine has been a founding board member of several non profits, a board member of multiple other non profits, and an active participant in funding and membership of those boards. As a community activist in Dickinson County Kansas for 40 years, she’s proud to now be working on behalf of Friends of the Kaw to protect the Kansas River so future generations have the same opportunity for transformative experiences and lifelong relationships.

Lorraine grew up in Russell, graduated from Kansas State University, and moved to Abilene where she reared her two kids and created a successful financial advisory business. She enjoyed building deep friendships with her clients and exploring the backroads of rural Kansas. In 2018, she retired and moved to Lawrence with her husband David, who is a Kaw River Guide, to be closer to their two young grandsons.

She is passionate about her relationships with people and enjoys her weekly contact with friends from childhood, college, Abilene, and Girl Scout camp.

Heidi Mehl 2018

Heidi Mehl, Lawrence

Heidi Mehl has served on the board of Friends of the Kaw since 2008. Heidi is currently working for the Nature Conservancy, as director of the Beals Healthy Streams for Kansas Initiative. Heidi has been researching water issues in Kansas and abroad since her undergraduate years at the University of Kansas. After receiving her B.S. and M.A. from the University of Kansas, she went on to do her Ph.D. research in the Department of Geography at Kansas State University, with a focus on fluvial geomorphology, nutrient cycling in riparian zones, and cultural issues surrounding water resources. Her research has included a partnership with the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, as well as Gorno-Altaisk State University in Siberian Russia. Heidi also formerly worked on the Upper Wakarusa Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS), and for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Heidi’s favorite hobbies include kayaking on the Kansas River, hiking, and boating with her husband Martin on Clinton Lake.

Marcia Rozell 2018

Marcia Rozell, Manhattan

Marcia Rozell is an avid outdoor enthusiast.  Her personal motto is “Life is precious and short, so get outside and do”.  She will try almost anything.  In her professional life, she promotes Visit Manhattan to the visitor and loves connecting people in the Little Apple.

She and her husband, Tim, have called Manhattan, KS home for over twenty years.

Jason Schwartz, Wamego

Jason is the Sustainability and Conservation Manager for Evergy’s Green Team.