Friends of Herring River
Wellfleet and Truro, Massachusetts
Board Members and Officers of Friends of Herring River

Staff & Board of Directors


Christa Drew, Executive Director
Christa comes to the Friends with a long career of leadership, building organizations and systems change across a variety of sectors such as equitable community development, health, food systems, criminal & social justice and arts & culture. Trained in conflict transformation, creative community engagement, and with a Master in Public Policy & Administration she has served as executive director, community organizer, co-founder, professor, and consulting principal. She has a lifelong love of the Outer Cape and is thrilled it is now her fulltime home and host to her many nature-based and artful activities.

Christine Odiaga, Assistant Project Manager
bio forthcoming


Board of Directors

Officers:  Dale Rheault, Chair    |   Jackie Fouse, Treasurer   |   Philip Tabas, Clerk

Barbara Brennessel
Trained as a biochemist at Fordham and Cornell, Barbara taught at Wheaton College until her retirement in 2013. She studies diamondback terrapins, river herring and shellfish. In each case, she has written a book about the subject. Barbara is a member of the Wellfleet Conservation Commission and volunteers with the Wellfleet SPAT Science Research Committee, IFAW and Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.

Lisbeth Wiley Chapman
Beth created and ran Hopper House Tours from 2013 to 2021. She toured local residents and vistors from around the world to where American artists Edward Hopper and his wife, Josephine, painted in Truro and Wellfleet. She now presents illustrated lectures on the Hoppers and their work in private homes. She has provided pro bono PR services to local non-profits. She held leadership positions at the Church of St. Mary of the Harbor (Episcopal) in Provincetown, and sings in the 100-person Outer Cape Chorale. From 1991 to 2015, Beth ran Ink&Air, a public relations firm specializing in marketing and communications strategy for financial services firms, mutual funds, and financial advisors.

Patti Elliott
Patti founded Elliott Physical Therapy in 2014 with her husband, Darryl. At Elliott, she serves as the Marketing Director. This role incorporates her passion for building healthier communities and environments. She received her undergraduate degree in English from Stonehill College and continued her graduate studies at MGH IHP, becoming dual-certified as a Speech Pathologist and Reading Specialist. Patti has volunteered for many non-profits and enjoys fundraising initiatives that impact the communities she loves. She, her two sons, and her husband have summered in Wellfleet since 2008 and recently moved to the Great Pastures neighborhood overlooking the Herring River.

Jackie Fouse, Treasurer
Jackie has had a 40-year international corporate career, mostly in the healthcare industry, and is currently CEO of Agios Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, MA. She has B.A. and M.A. degrees in economics and a Ph.D. in finance. In 2017 she decided to pursue a Master's in environmental management from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. She completed that program in 2019, during which time she participated in research with the Herring River Restoration Project team. She is highly interested in not only contributing to the restoration of the Herring River, but also in the preservation of the unique attributes of the Cape Cod ecosystem at large. Jackie and her partner have owned their home in Wellfleet since 2009.

Alice M. Iacuessa
Alice spent thirty years as a social studies teacher, 21 years at the American School in London including 10 years as Social Studies Department Chair. She is a member of the founders group of Global Issues Network, and since her retirement has been active in local affairs, serving on the Wellfleet Marina Advisory Committee and as a volunteer with the Cape Cod National Seashore. Alice also served as President of the A.I.M. Thrift Shop Board and President of the Wellfleet Non-Resident Taxpayers Association.

Lauren Kaufmann
Lauren has devoted her career to innovating creative and thought-provoking ways to educate learners of different ages, backgrounds and perspectives. For more than ten years, she has worked in the museum field, where she has curated exhibitions that spark meaningful dialogue about timely topics. She particularly enjoys organizing public programs that offer new insights into topics of both historic and contemporary concern. Lauren previously worked in educational publishing, where she wrote and edited curriculum material for the K-12 market.

David Koonce
Dave spent over 30 years in the international human resources arena retiring from General Electric after 22 years. His roles included corporate responsibility for all non-US employee benefits and employment practices with emphasis on international mergers and acquisitions. He is a resident of Wellfleet and volunteers with numerous local community organizations.

Chris Miller
Chris is the Director of the Natural Resources Department in the Town of Brewster. He has a BS in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology, an MS in Chemical Engineering and a graduate certificate in local government. His background includes 12 years with the town, plus over 10 years in environmental consulting. He has been the project manager for several large salt marsh restoration projects and coastal resilience projects in Brewster.

Katie Murphy
Katie co-owns and operates an oyster farm on Indian Neck in Wellfleet. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Economics from Bryn Mawr College and a Masters of Science degree in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. She also holds a Certificate of Graduate Study from the Gund Institute of Ecological Economics.

John Portnoy
John worked as a National Park Service ecologist on Cape Cod for 29 years, during which time he volunteered on various Town of Wellfleet committees. Upon his retirement from the Park Service he has continued to volunteer with the Cape Cod National Seashore and serves on the Wellfleet Conservation Commission and Mayo Creek Restoration Committee. He provides technical advice to the Herring River Restoration Committee and National Seashore resource managers and collaborators regarding the restoration of the Herring River Estuary.

Dale Rheault, Chair
A licensed independent social worker, with a specialty in addiction therapy, Dale has spent 40 years as a therapist, working for the past 13 years in Provincetown. She has a deep background as a volunteer for not-for-profit organizations. A member of the Board of Wellfleet Preservation Hall, she has assisted in its major fundraising campaigns. Dale is a Trustee Emerita of the Pennfield School in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Abutters to the Herring River, Dale and her husband look down from their home in Wellfleet to the mouth of the river.

Nick Robinson
Nick has worked to establish and advance environmental law since 1970, when he was named to the Legal Advisory Committee for the President's Council on Environmental Quality. He founded the environmental legal studies programs of the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University in 1978 and taught at the Yale School of Environment for two decades. While chairing the Commission on Environmental Law of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, he participated in drafting the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity and was IUCN's Legal Advisor. He has long served on the national Board for the Environmental Law Institute. His wife, Shelly's, family hails from Bound Brook Island and she and Nick, along with their two daughters and grandkids, have been summer residents of Wellfleet for more than four decades.

Philip Tabas, Clerk
Philip is Special Advisor with The Nature Conservancy in Arlington, VA. He served as the Conservancy's General Counsel from 2003 to 2013. He has also held other positions in TNC in the areas of land protection, government relations, compatible economic development and conservation planning. He has also worked to secure tax policy and legislation changes for conservation at the US Federal and state levels of government, as well as in other countries. Prior to TNC, he practiced law with a private law firm, worked as an attorney for a government water resources management agency and was an attorney with an environmental consulting firm. He is a member of the Board of Directors of The Potomac Conservancy and a member of the American College of Environmental Lawyers. He teaches a summer course entitled "Ecosystem Conservation Strategies" at the Vermont Law School.