Sally Bethea on the Chattahoochee River

By Maria Saporta

A pillar of Atlanta’s environmental leadership will be getting her send-off in style.

Sally Bethea, who founded the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper 20 years ago, will be retiring as its executive director, and a new leadership team will be taking over at the beginning of 2015.

Bethea’s leadership of the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper (CRK) and the transition to a new team will be celebrated at an elegant gala on Oct. 14 at the InterContinental Buckhead.

Sally Bethea
Sally Bethea

Following a reception and dinner, a retrospective program will highlight people, foundations and companies integral to CRK’s longtime success as a premier water advocacy organization.

The organization, founded in 1994 with a small but dedicated staff led Bethea, now boasts of more than 7,000 members.

“I am more honored than words can express to have served as the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper,” Bethea said in a statement. “It seems like yesterday that we christened our first patrol boat and starting pulling trash out of the river. Even as I retire, I am excited to see what awaits CRK’s future as a champion of our vital water resources.”

Beginning in 2015, Juliet Cohen, who has served as general counsel for six years, will take the role of executive director. Jason Ulseth, CRK’s technical program director of seven years, will become riverkeeper.

Sally Bethea on the Chattahoochee River
Sally Bethea on the Chattahoochee River

A host of organizations and individuals will be sponsoring the Oct. 14 event, with proceeds going to support the Chattahoochee Riverkeepers.

They include:

Platinum Sponsors:, Cox Conserves, Debbie and Bert Ellis, Shearon and Taylor Glover, Sarah and Jim Kennedy and Manheim. PNC Bank and UPS will be Gala Champions.

Gala Benefactors: the Coca Cola Co., Colonial Pipeline, encyclomedia, JST Foundation, Mary Jane and Dave Kirkpatrick, Merrill Lynch Private Banking and Investment Group – STG Partners, Newfields and Turner Foundation.

The Gala Table Hosts will be: Sherri and Jim Altenbach, Arthur M. Black Family Foundation, Jennifer and Graham Dorian, eventologie, Abby and Gerard Gunthert, the Hertz Family, Mark Hennessy, Mayberry Electric, MeadWestvaco, Kim and Tom Noonan, Drs. Sally and Peter Parsonson, PwC, Ray C. Anderson Foundation, Laura and Rutherford Seydel, Southwire, SweetWater, Brewing Co., Greer and Alex Taylor, Toto USA and Turner Enterprises.

Lastly, the Gala Advocates include: AGL Resources, Jess and Debbie Austin, Bank of America/U.S. Trust, Claxton Printing Co., Missy and Clay Courts, Delta, Georgia Beverage Association, Victor Haydel, Holder Construction Co., the Home Depot Foundation, Steve Kuppenheimer, Montgomery Watson Harza/Kharfa, Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP, Snow Capital Management, LP, and Stone Mountain Park.

The mission of the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper is to protect and preserve the Chattahoochee River, its lakes and tributaries for the people, fish and wildlife that depend upon it.

Maria Saporta, executive editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state. From 2008 to 2020, she wrote weekly columns...

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