Meet Your Potomac Riverkeeper: Dean Naujoks

Dean and Krista Middle of River 2013 HIGH RES.jpg

Dean Naujoks joins our team as our new Potomac Riverkeeper, allowing us another opportunity to extend programmatic energies on the ground. For the first time in our history, we now have a full-time Potomac Riverkeeper to complete many of the core functions a Riverkeeper serves. Dean will increase our capacity to expand community outreach and conduct hands-on research and monitoring, all the while strengthening our relationships with local communities spanning from Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.

We are very excited to have Dean represent us as our new face to Maryland, Virginia,  and Washington, DC communities and share his expertise with our staff, partners, and supporting members. Dean has previous experience with the Yadkin Riverkeeper and the Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation as an instrumental player in both financial growth and programmatic development. Dean served as the first Upper Neuse Riverkeeper for over seven years, and later became the first Yadkin Riverkeeper in 2008, where he also served as Executive Director until 2014. 

As a river advocate for over 20 years, he has worked on issues similar to those in our watershed, such as municipal stormwater issues, wastewater violations, erosion and sediment control regulation, and fracking. 

Among Dean’s many successes during his tenure as Yadkin Riverkeeper was his leadership in the establishment of the Muddy Water Watch Project and the Tour de Yadkin. Muddy Water Project (MWP), a statewide construction stormwater runoff campaign, involved Riverkeepers across North Carolina, including many other state conservation groups. MWP has been recognized by EPA as a model training program for citizen engagement on the issues of sediment and stormwater, and has been adopted by Waterkeeper programs in six other states in the U.S. Additionally, as part of Dean’s continuous effort to bring out the water-lover in everyone, in 2012 he launched Tour de Yadkin, the largest non-competitive paddling event in North Carolina. With more than 1,800 participants each year, Tour de Yadkin has helped to raise funds and promote recreational opportunities and awareness to protect the Yadkin River.

In 2009, Dean was awarded River Network’s National River Heroes Award, an accolade that honors those who provide leadership and inspiration in protecting our Nation’s most treasured rivers. Dean is an avid traveler, sportsman and outdoor enthusiast, having visited many of the US National Parks. He is also a whitewater rafter and paddler, making for a natural fit for the position of Riverkeeper.

“I was truly honored when President Jeff Kelble asked me to join his amazing team and serve as the Potomac Riverkeeper. For the past decade, I have been inspired by Jeff’s work as Shenandoah Riverkeeper and as a commercial fishing guide in the Potomac River basin,” says Dean. “We share the same belief that clean water is a fundamental human right, and that the greatest legacy we can leave for our children is access to clean water. Safe-guarding the Nation’s River that provides drinking water to approximately seven million people is a serious responsibility and will require a lot of work.”

We are very excited to have Dean on board and bring a face to this original branch of our organization for the community we have been active in for so long.