Apalachicola Riverkeeper has hired Georgia Ackerman to succeed Riverkeeper Dan Tonsmeire, who is retiring in early 2018.

The non-profit organization, an international Waterkeeper Alliance member, was founded in 1998 to grow local, state and federal support for the protection and restoration of Apalachicola River and Bay. Ackerman has been involved with Apalachicola Riverkeeper for over a decade as a business sponsor, program volunteer, and most recently as board president.

“The board of directors is delighted to have Georgia assume this new role," said Charley Kienzle, newly-elected board president. "Her leadership and deep involvement in this organization's efforts to effectively address the long-term health of the Apalachicola River basin will be critical as we build upon the work of Dan and his predecessors. To ensure a seamless transition, Dan and Georgia will work together over the next few months.

"The board is equally pleased to have Diane Hines, with a wealth of administrative experience, join the Riverkeeper team this month," he said. Hines, formerly of Florida Wildlife Federation, was hired as deputy director for Apalachicola Riverkeeper. She served for 26 years as operations manager and vice president of administration for the Florida Wildlife Federation, where she managed day-to-day office operations including fundraising. The FWF and Apalachicola Riverkeeper are collaborative partners on numerous conservation issues.

Ackerman will serve as Riverkeeper-executive director. She ran a north Florida ecotourism company for nearly a decade where she spent time learning about the Apalachicola River system and began volunteering with Apalachicola Riverkeeper. After selling her business in 2013, she was recruited to lead a regional conservation awareness initiative at Tall Timbers in Tallahassee. She also worked with the Red Hills Small Farm Alliance to help promote local, sustainable farming.

“Georgia and Diane are primed and ready to take the protection of the Apalachicola to the next level in a time that will require our programs and approaches to adapt to major decisions that are in play," said Tonsmeire, who has been with Apalachicola Riverkeeper since 2004.

In 2016, the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River (ACF) system was designated the “the Most Endangered River” in the U.S. by the conservation group American Rivers, because of on-going political, legal and environmental challenges afflicting the waterway. On Jan. 8, the US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments, a continuation of a legal battle over equitable sharing of the ACF water, between Florida and Georgia.