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Who We Are

Meet the Board of Directors

President Anna Ziegler

Anna Ziegler was born and raised in Hinton, WV. She graduated from Marietta College in Ohio with a BS in Environmental Science, minor in geology and certification in leadership and business.

During and after college, Anna spent summers on New River and Gauley River as a whitewater rafting guide. Post-college, she worked at various ski resorts in Montana and Utah, primarily Big Mountain in Whitefish, Montana. She also spent three months on the South Pole in Antarctica working for Raytheon Polar Services which had the contract with the National Science Foundation to run the support station for the polar scientists.

In 2005, Anna graduated from the University of Montana School of Law with a J.D. and certification in environmental law. Her area of interest was land use planning. In school, Anna worked with other students, local governments, and tribal governments to finalize a zoning ordinance for a 100 mile road corridor. She also worked with a neighborhood group to draft and present an amendment to the county comprehensive plan which was later adopted by the local government.

Following law school, Anna moved back to southern West Virginia and began practicing law with her father. In January 2006, they became Ziegler and Ziegler, LC. Ziegler and Ziegler’s primary practice areas are real estate, property law, and local government law.

In addition to being President of Friends of the New River Gorge National River, Anna serves on the board of directors for the New River Conservancy, and is treasurer for her roller derby team, the Greenbrier River Rollers.

Vice President Dr. Jerry Beasley

Dr. Jerry Beasley is President Emeritus of Concord University. He served as Concord’s President from 1985 to 2008. Dr.Beasley received his undergraduate degree and his Ed.M. from Harvard University. He earned a Ph.D. from Stanford University. His current civic and community involvement includes volunteer service as the Executive Director of the Hinton Area Foundation and membership on the boards of Princeton Community Hospital and the West Virginia Faculty Merit Foundation. A resident of Athens, W.Va., Dr. Beasley is a lay leader at Concord United Methodist Church.

"I spent the first 12 years of my life in Hinton on the New River, which was often the focal point of our fun in the good weather months. Harry Harford, a local mechanic, welded together the hoods from two cars to fashion a not-so-sea-worthy boat for a youngster who became my brother-in-law (Connie Dressler, MD, and his buddy Ed Burdette, who coordinated the feasibility study that led to the NPS rehabilitation of Camp Brookside on the River. Boatless, others of us would occasionally “liberate” an unchained vessel to explore haunts along the river. (We ALWAYS returned the purloined row boats to the places we found them ... as far as my memory permits me to recollect.) When the river was “up,” we put messages in bottles to communicate with other rapscallions down stream. Never got an answer. Now, 60 years later, I’m proud to be part of a broad effort to let people know about the charms of the River and the people who live along it. And, we’re confident of getting responses."

Debbie Cooper: Secretary

Debbie Cooper was born and raised outside of Beckley, WV, in the small town of Crab Orchard and still resides in Beckley. She holds a BS in Business Management from Concord University, and is currently employed as Construction Business Manager for marine contractor and marine towing company, AmherstMadison, on the Kanawha River in Charleston, WV.

She spent her childhood playing outdoors in the woods and small creek below her house, going fishing on weekends with her parents and cousins on various WV creeks and rivers, and from a young age she gained a great love for the outdoor beauty that her home state has to offer. She and her dad went rafting her first time for a Father’s Day gift to him when she was only 13 with the very first rafting company established in the New River Gorge. She currently lives in Beckley, refusing to move closer to her work in Charleston where she has worked for the past 14 years because she needs to be “home” and near the places she loves in the southern part of WV. She still spends as much time as possible outdoors with friends usually hiking beautiful trails in the New River Gorge National River area, and other WV state parks and surrounding areas. She finds leisurely raft trips on the Upper New River are now her favorite after many years of enjoying higher adventure trips on the Lower New and Gauley Rivers. Debbie feels very lucky to have a close-knit group of friends who enjoy the outdoors with her, so she is never lacking for company in her outdoor fun, including the occasional 5K or Tough Mudder, several group camping trips each year, and a big trip to Yosemite National Park planned for this June. Exploring as many of our nation’s parks as possible is one of her life goals.

It is that love of our New River Gorge National Park that made her want to be involved when the idea for the Friends group originated several years ago. At that time, she was encouraged by a close friend to join the Board, and she is happy now to continue that involvement as current Secretary of the Board. Her love for the New, Bluestone, and Gauley River areas fuels her energy to help in any way she can in accomplishing the goals of this organization.

In addition to serving on the Board for Friends, Debbie serves as Vice President of the Board for the Historic Fayette Theater in downtown Fayetteville, WV, where she has been active for over 15 years.
Theater and other arts are as much a passion for her as getting outside and breathing in fresh air. She is thrilled to be performing in her first play for Treehouse Arts Ensemble on the stage at Tamarack in April of 2016.

Ray Moeller: Treasurer

Ray Moeller is a born and raised Michigander who only recently saw the light and followed it to West Virginia. Seriously, Ray went to college at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, then raised four boys while working in the Pharmaceutical industry for 28+ years, ultimately becoming the Pfizer Global Account Manager for worldwide print and graphics services. He was released due to corporate downsizing in 2009 and went through several additional concurrent life changes which caused him to seek alternate life direction. While he had some time, Ray partook of a Habitat for Humanity international build in a remote village of Papua New Guinea (life-changing), went to professional baseball umpire school – then umpired over 150 youth & high school games, rode a train cross country to attend the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and then took a driving tour of Ireland (discovering the life principle of “sine metu” – look it up).

After applying for the Peace Corps and finding himself on the verge of going to Africa for a two year stint, Ray met Connie and quickly realized that he did not truly desire to be on the other side of the world for two years, so he shifted his efforts toward the AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) program and sought a position in the second most remote area of the world – south central West Virginia. Ray married Connie after spending a year on his own in West Virginia and they have since appreciated exploring and camping all around the state. They also enjoy Friday evenings boating with friends on Summersville Lake, teaming up to do challenging jigsaw puzzles, singing together in choir, hiking, biking, and generally relishing the beauty that West Virginia has to offer. The accompanying photo is of Connie & Ray, representing WV while attending a Thanksgiving game of his beloved (and oft times pathetic) Detroit Lions.

Ray feels fortunate to have landed in Summersville, Nicholas County, served three years as a VISTA and is currently in his third year as a West Virginia State University extension agent. Throughout his tenure in West Virginia, Ray has been learning and providing community and economic development in Nicholas County and across the New River Gorge Region, in partnership with the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority. Among his varied projects are trail development, dealing with dilapidated structures, enhancing tourism assets, supporting various civic and nonprofit organizations, promoting regional economic opportunities, and more. In addition to being treasurer for the Friends of New River Gorge National River, Ray is Secretary-Treasurer for the Nicholas County Airport Authority, Secretary-Treasurer for the Richwood Building Commission, Chair of the Nicholas County Historic Landmark Commission, and a member of the Nicholas Old Main Foundation.

Camp Brookside is a cool place with a cool story and Ray considers it an honor to have the opportunity to play a small role as part of the Friends group in helping the camp to regain viability.

Statcy Ford

Stacy grew up in Summers County and graduated from Marshall University with a B.A. in Mass Communications. She returned to Hinton and has been fortunate enough to be able to live and work in the town where she grew up.

Stacy works for West Virginia State University Extension as a Community Development Extension Agent. She is very active in her community serving on serval boards and committees. She is President of the Kiwanis Club of Hinton, Vice President of the Hinton Area Foundation, SC Read Aloud Chair, on the New River Gateway CVB Board, member of Walk for Her Lifetime, John Henry Days Committee, John Henry Historical Society and assist with various other activities.

Stacy enjoys being outdoors, gardening, spending time with her husband, John and dog, Buford and going “junking” with her mom.

“Although I grew up in Hinton, I had never been to Camp Brookside until last year when I was asked to come and tour the property. Once I drove on the island I knew it was a special place and wanted to be part of helping it grow. I grew up attending summer camps and those are some of my best memories, I can still remember the words to camp fire songs and chants! Friends of the New River is focusing on things that matter and helping to make memories for families and children. Anything I can do to help promote this beautiful area, our rivers and experiences is time well spent”.

Wendy Perrone

Wendy has been a wild bird rehabilitator since 1988 and a professional environmental educator since 1993. She graduated with a BA in English from Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1985, where she met her husband Ron. While working as veterinary assistant in Morgantown, WV she began working closely with raptors (birds of prey) at nearby WV Raptor Rehabilitation Center. She and her husband moved back to Brooks, West Virginia, in the southern part of the New River Gorge National River in 1990, and together with Ron and some dedicated Board of Directors, co-founded what was then called New River Raptor Rehabilitation Center. In 2000 the organization became Three Rivers Avian Center (“TRAC”), caring for all non-game wild bird species and putting an emphasis on educating and involving the public in caring for the ecosystems that sustain the State’s native wild bird populations.

In 1995, Wendy received the Distinguished Mountaineer Award from Governor Joe Manchin III for her many years of dedication to wild bird care and environmental education programs that offer a rare proactive and positive environmental perspective. TRAC’s “Wings of Wonder: WV Birds of Prey” programs are featured in Summer programs in the West Virginia State Parks and Forests as well as in many other venues throughout the State and surrounding regions, reaching between 15,000 to 22,000 audience members of all ages annually.

In 2006, New River Gorge National River and the WV Department of Natural Resources began a Peregrine Falcon Restoration Project in the New River Gorge. Three Rivers Avian Center was asked to help and in 2008 Wendy was appointed as the New River Gorge National River’s Peregrine Falcon Restoration Project Coordinator. Young peregrines from nests with a history of nestling mortality due to being in dangerous areas. In the course of the 6 year project 120 young peregrines were released, resulting in a slow but steady growth in the number of nesting peregrines in the Gorge and surrounding regions.

In 2010, the first nesting pair of Bald Eagles in Southern West Virginia was documented by Three Rivers Avian Center, and Wendy was asked by both the WV Department of Natural Resources and the New River Gorge National River to lead an ongoing volunteer effort documenting the nesting pair’s success and other relevant actions.

Besides serving on the Friends of New River Gorge National River, she is in a second term as a member of the Board of Directors for Visit Southern WV, a 9 county Convention and Visitor’s Bureau that promotes tourism within those counties & the State.