Brian Kopke, 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.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Bill King, CHAIR-ELECT
After moving back to Louisville in 2018 my wife and I were looking for something to do. You know, losing a little of the built- in flotation device. Well along came a post on our company network about dragon boat paddling lessons. It was something we could do together. 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. Besides where else can I yell at 20 people telling them to work faster, do it better, and not get fired! Well there hasn’t been a mutiny yet! ;-)
Tanitra Snardon, VICE-CHAIR
- Bio coming soon!
Teresa Langebrake, SECRETARY
I work with Alliance Association Bank as an Association Financial Partner and Business Development Officer. My career keeps me on the road a lot, (when we are not in a pandemic) as I cover the states of Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee. 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, I moved back in 2014. I was very excited when I learned there was dragon boating here in Louisville and got involved in 2015. Being new to the area, dragon boating gave me an opportunity to meet people and over the years I have found life-long friends.
Jinn Bug (Jinn Fuller Renfro), TREASURER
I’m a writer and visual artist with 25+ years of non-profit service to organizations promoting health and wellness, including Louisville Grows (Dir. of Finance & Operations), Parkinson Support Center of Kentuckiana (Executive Director), Crescent Hill UMC (Dir. of Development & Administration), Healthy Families Indiana (Consultant/Quality Assurance), and the Coalition for the Homeless (Administrative Director and ANCHoR Project Director). My twin passions are improving the emotional, social, spiritual and physical health of our communities, as well as nurturing the health of our shared environment. I’ve been involved with dragon boating for six years. I appreciate the welcoming and inclusive nature of dragon boating and how it enables even “non-athletes” like me to excel as part of a team working together! In 2021, I became a USDBF certified Level 1 Coach (Pat & Liz Bradley, trainers) and began my ADBA Steersperson Training certification (John McDermott, trainer). I am First Aid/CPR/AED certified.
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.
Tammy Atkinson-Harmon, FINANCE COMMITTEE SECRETARY
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.
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.
Ron Whitehead is a poet, writer, editor, publisher, professor, scholar, activist and avid dragon boat enthusiast. With his partner Jinn Bug, he co-captained the Louisville-based "Viking Hillbilly Dragonboat Apocalypse" team for five years.
Ron is the author of 24 books and 34 albums. In 1994 he wrote the poem “Never Give Up” with His Holiness The Dalai Lama. In 1996 he produced the Official Hunter S. Thompson Tribute featuring Hunter, his mother Virginia, his son Juan, Johnny Depp, Warren Zevon, Douglas Brinkley, David Amram, Roxanne Pulitzer, and many more. Ron has produced thousands of events and festivals, including 24 & 48 & 72 & 90 hour non-stop music & poetry Insomniacthons,in Europe and the USA. In 2018, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer presented Ron with a Lifetime Achievement for Work in The Arts Award. In 2019 Ron was named Kentucky’s Beat Poet Laureate and was also the first U.S. citizen to be named UNESCO’s Tartu City of Literature Writer-in-Residence. He is co-founder and Chief of Poetics for Gonzofest Louisville. Outlaw Poet: The Legend of Ron Whitehead documentary will be released by Storm Generation Films/Dark Star TV in 2021.
Ron loves dragon boat racing and is honored to be a member of the 502 Dragon Boat Community and Advisory Board.
Photo by Jinn Bug.
Ashley Reynolds - Bio coming soon!