BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Bill King, CHAIR
After moving back to Louisville in 2018 my wife and I were looking for something to do. Dragon Boating seemed the perfect fit. It was something we could do together and we met a lot of wonderful people. After a couple of sessions I was hooked. I eventually got drafted into leading the activity for our company teams. 2019 saw a deeper dive into the sport by completing my level 2 coaching training and attending the PanAm training camp in Tampa. The best thing about dragon boating is that almost anyone can do it, from petite to XXXL and the comradery can’t be beat. There is not a better feeling when 20 people work in unison for a common goal.
Nancy Schmidt, CHAIR ELECT
As the oldest member on the board, I fell in love with Dragon boating when I joined a team through work (GE). Bill was our captain who inspired me to enlist my daughter Sarah. Getting to spend time with her and being part of a team motivated me to want to become involved in getting others to enjoy dragon boating. My mission is to let others know that you don't need to be an athlete and you're never too old to be part of the 502 Dragon Boat Team. When I'm not paddling on the river with 502 Dragons, I enjoy spending time with my two daughters and three amazing grandchildren. We love hiking, kayaking, and making chocolate chip cookies together.
Teresa Langebrake, VICE CHAIR
I first was introduced to dragon boating when living in Cleveland, Ohio and it was love at first paddle! I am a native Hoosier and after being away for 20 years living in St. Louis and Cleveland, I moved back in 2014. I was very excited when I learned there was dragon boating here in Louisville and I have been involved either on or off the water since 2015. Dragon boating is such an exciting and unique way for me to meet new people, get in a good workout, and give back to the community. I work for Alliance Association Bank and am a VP/Association Financial Partner. My job keeps me on the road a lot traveling in the states of IN/KY/OH/TN. When I am not working or paddling, I enjoy hiking, biking and other exercise, going to Lou City & Racing soccer games, gardening and spending time on the Catio with our cats.
Cheryl Thesier, SECRETARY
I am a quality engineer at GE Appliances. I became involved in dragon boating in 2019. I have always loved water sports and dragon boating was a new way to enjoy the water and nature, all while challenging myself. Our community is very welcoming and we hope to keep expanding its membership. I have a Level 1 coaching license and will attend the Pan Am training camp for the 2nd time in April. In addition to paddling, my husband and I enjoy hiking, kayaking, and traveling (soon to see the first grand baby)!
Tammy Atkinson-Harmon, TREASURER
I work for Bank of America and just had my 37 year work anniversary! I love hiking, trail running and anything to do with nature. I also love traveling and reading. I have only one year of experience with Dragon Boating but it has been one of the most positive, fun experiences of my life. I wasn't much for teams before, but I absolutely loved our team and I loved every single thing about it. I did not expect to love it as much as I do but it has been such a rewarding experience and I feel like I have made some lifelong friends.
Laura Tivilik, Board Member, COMMUNICATIONS CHAIR
I am an Environmental Engineer with Stantec focused on stream and ecosystems restoration and improving water quality. My career in engineering encourages innovation, creativity, and discovery to make a positive impact on our waterways. I am passionate about our natural world and the water we need to survive and thrive. Dragon boating has given me unique opportunities to be out on the water, meet new people, challenge myself physically, and become part of an eclectic team with the perfect balance of competition and fun. I admire the camaraderie, equality, and support from and for everyone involved in the 502 Dragon Boat Community.
Eryn Kelleher, VOLUNTEER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND FFC CHAIR
- Bio coming soon!
Brian Kopke, PROPERTY CHAIR
I make my home in Louisville, KY being a transplant from Monroe, MI in the late 1990's. I have been on the water in one form or another (sailing and paddling) for most of my life. After moving to Louisville, my watersports activities took a back seat to work and life in general for a number of years. In 2014 I took a new position as a machine controls engineer at PSC Industries after nearly 17 years at my former job. As sometimes happens with a "big life change" old interests are rekindled by new opportunities. By chance in 2015 I saw a post about free dragon boat practice while searching the internet for paddling clubs and activities in Louisville. I signed up for a Thursday night session at Cox park and was immediately hooked. Five+ seasons of dragon boating and canoe racing with my son and older daughter have enriched my life beyond measure and my hope is to bring this experience to as many people as possible. I truly believe that anyone who picks up a paddle and meets the water with it will benefit, mentally as well as physically and step back on land a changed person.
Laura Roberts, MEMBERSHIP DIRECTOR
Hello, I’m Laura Roberts. I have lived in southern Indiana my whole life. I work at UofL in dining services, and I am currently majoring in Community Advocacy and Social Policy and minoring in Personal Wellness at Arizona State University and should graduate in 2023. I hope after graduation to work in mental health/wellness advocacy. I am also the Education Chair for the Kentucky chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I also started doing pageants this past year and hold two titles. I’m a mom to three children and several fur babies.
I got involved with the 502 Dragons after seeing a news story on one of the local channels. They were having a christening of the boat and I decided to check it out. After that visit, I signed up to try it out and found that I really enjoyed it. It has been not only physically good but also mentally good for me. I love being on the water. During the off-season, thanks to my dragon boat friends, I have found I enjoy hiking, even in the cold winter months.
Tanitra Snardon, CHAIR AT LARGE
- Bio coming soon!
Gerry Seavo James, BOARD MEMBER & EVENT PARTNER
Air Force veteran, social artist, public health advocate, photojournalist & founder of the Explore Kentucky Initiative (EKI). EKI is a Black-owned and led outdoor oriented social enterprise dedicated to inspiring Kentuckians and visitors to the Commonwealth to engage in an active lifestyle fueled by outdoor adventure while preserving the natural resources of the Commonwealth's 120 counties. Since 2013, Gerry has used a creative placemaking approach to advance inclusive outdoor recreation principles, invigorate citizen stewardship of natural environments, promote environmental literacy, and sustainable tourism. His projects include the creation of a viral Instagram community - @ExploreKentucky + #ExploreKentucky, incubation of several community based paddling festivals across a multi-state region, creation of the Waterman Series, a paddlesports racing league, serving as a founding member of Kentucky Rural - Urban Exchange, and helping to found the American Canoe Association’s (ACA) Diversity, Equity, & Working Group. Gerry is an ACA certified instructor in the Stand-Up Paddleboard and Canoe disciplines. His awards include the Joe Pina Leadership Award (2018) & Lexonomics' Most Impactful artist in Bluegrass (2017)
Jessica Pendergrass is General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer for Heaven Hill Distilleries, the second-largest holder of aging Bourbon Whiskey in the world and the eighth-largest distilled spirits supplier in the U.S., with locations in Kentucky, Texas, Canada, Mexico, and Ireland. She was the 2020 Chair of the Board for the Kentucky Distillers’ Association and was the third woman to hold the position in the KDA’s storied 140 years.
With a keen interest in all matters related to social justice, Jessica was given oversight of Heaven Hill’s environmental program and initiated the creation of Heaven Hill’s first 10-year Sustainability Plan, initiated the formation of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association’s first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Panel, is an executive leadership sponsor of Heaven Hill’s DEI work, and is also supporting the expansion of Heaven Hill’s Corporate Citizenship program.
Jessica has over 18 years of experience working with non-profits in the areas of gardening, urban forestry, youth education, healthy eating, cooking, and connection to nature. She has focused her efforts on volunteering in communities where health outcomes are impacted by socioeconomic status. In recent years, Jessica was the Board Chair and Interim Director for Louisville Grows and President of the Jefferson County Master Gardeners Association, and is now on the Board of Trustees for Bernheim Forest.
Jessica is a native of Bardstown, Kentucky. After completing her B.A. at the University of Louisville in Kentucky where she studied photojournalism, she attended Law School at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon where she studied Environmental Law and International Law and received her Juris Doctor. In addition, she received a Certificate in International & Comparative Law from the University of San Diego School of Law. She is a member of the Oregon and Kentucky State Bars. She is a bourbon lover, world traveler, dragon boater, experienced chef, and certified master gardener.
John learned to stern a dragon boat in 1984 on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, as a member of Team USA. He was trained by head Coach Joe Sweeney, Detrick Rose and sternsman Mike Cipollone.
Dragon Boating was introduced one year prior to the United States and the skill, technique and requirements of a stern were very different from his previous four years’ experience as an eight-man rowing shell coxswain.
Prior to sterning dragon boats, John was a successful Drexel University coxswain and St. Joseph’s Prep High School rower and coxswain. He coxswained for John B Kelly’s master eight during a number of Regatta’s held by the Schuylkill Navy.
In 1985, John earned the Sternsman position for Team USA. He competed in Hong Kong with Captain’s Carl Viola and then paddler Bob McNamara and John B Kelly, Jr. In 1986, John sterned for the Philadelphia Dragon Boat team in the first American Dragon Boat qualifying races. The Philadelphia Dragon Boat team narrowly missed an opportunity to return to Hong Kong that year.
After an intermission due to his career, John resumed his passion as coach and stern for the Windy City Dragon Boat Club in Arlington Heights, IL. In 2013, his team won the US Nationals Championships in Mercer, New Jersey. In 2014 at the World Club Crew Championship in Ravinia Italy, Senior A division, his team earned Gold in the 500M and 2000 Meter races.
John was the Director, National Dragon Boat Program for W.W. Grainger. Grainger’s program started in Chicago in 2012 with Senior Executive Sponsorship and strong engagement from team members. A debt of gratitude is owed to the Asian-Pacific Islander Business Resource Group, its founders Erwin Cruz and Randall Tom for setting the vision for a sustaining program that grew to include over 120 Grainger Team Members across five markets (Chicago, Philadelphia, Portland, LA, and Greenville). Grainger’s corporate program consistently performs in the top divisions.
In 2016, John, his wife Kathy and three others founded the Greater Chicago Dragon Boat Club based out of Chicago. It is the first city center Dragon Boat team on the historic Chicago River. He serves as Chief Safety Officer, Head Coach and Competitive steersperson.
In 2019, John returned to Team USA Sr. A division as one of five steers selected for the World Championships in Thailand.
Ashley Reynolds - Bio coming soon!