Speakers and Presenters

Opening Keynote — Lake Management for Healthy Lakes: What’s happening in NY?: Nancy Mueller, Manager, New York State Federation of Lake Associations

Nancy Mueller has served as the Manager of the New York State Federation of Lake Associations for nearly 20 years.  Prior to taking over the staff role, she served on NYSFOLA’s Board of Directors for nearly a decade.  In her role, Nancy communicates with and provides assistance to nearly 250 lake associations and several regional lake organizations across the state, hosts the NYSFOLA annual and regional conferences, and the serves as the NYSFOLA Affiliate contact to the North American Lake Management Society.  Nancy is also the Assistant Coordinator of the Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program (CSLAP) in collaboration with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.  This year, more than 150 lake associations across the state are participating in the program, and over 400 volunteers are collecting samples on 178 sampling sites. 

Nancy grew up on Lake Champlain in northern Vermont making her very familiar with large lakes that have complicated lake management needs. She earned the Bachelor of Science Degree in Geology from Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA and the Master of Science Degree in Water Resources Management from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY.

Chautauqua Lake’s Aquatic Plant Community: Robert L. Johnson, Owner, Racine-Johnson Aquatic Ecologists

Robert L. Johnson is owner of Racine-Johnson Aquatic Ecologists and works on lakes throughout New York State primarily on aquatic plant ecology and plant growth management.  Mr. Johnson has a courtesy appointment with the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University where he retired from the Cornell University Research Ponds that he managed for aquatic plant research for 40+ years.  Currently, Mr. Johnson is the lead scientist for the NY local and State efforts to halt the spread of the growth of the aquatic plant invasive Hydrilla verticillata newly discovered on August 5, 2011 in the Cayuga Inlet and southern Cayuga Lake at Ithaca NY.

Presently and throughout Mr. Johnson’s Cornell career he has provided aquatic plant management information to New York State residents, lake and professional associations as well as government agencies.  His expertise focuses on the importance of aquatic plant communities to lake ecosystems and on the control of growth of the non-native Eurasian watermilfoil by insect herbivory.  His current and longstanding research includes evaluation of insect herbivores as biological control agents for watermilfoil.  He has collected extensive data from many New York Lakes.  In recent years, with the renewed use of chemical herbicides for aquatic plant control in New York State he evaluates the efficacy of selected herbicide treatments and reports the results to the NYSDEC and Lake Associations.  Mr. Johnson is a member and former president of the Northeast Aquatic Plant Management Society (NEAPMS) and has served on the board of directors and as editor of their newsletter for several years.  The highest professional award from the NEAPMS, the Aquatic Plant Science Award presented to Mr. Johnson in 2005 and 2017 recognized his scientific contributions understanding the ecology of the non-native invasive species Eurasian watermilfoil and Hydrilla.  He regularly presents his scientific findings on aquatic plant studies at regional and national conferences as well as providing training programs to aquatic professionals on aquatic plant identification of important non-native invasives as well as common native species. 

Mr. Johnson earned the Bachelor of Science Degree from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University and has completed an additional 31 credits at Cornell.

Wildlife and Fisheries: Justin Brewer, Aquatic Biologist, NYSDEC justin.brewer@dec.ny.gov

Justin is an Aquatic Biologist with the NYSDEC stationed out the Region 9 sub-office in Allegany.  He holds a B.T. in Fisheries and Aquaculture from SUNY Cobleskill and associate degrees in both Fisheries Technology and Natural Resource Conservation from Finger Lakes Community College.  Justin has been with DEC Region 9 Fisheries since 2011 and has spent a good part of that time working on the fishery in Chautauqua Lake.  Aside from his career with DEC, he has also been an avid angler on Chautauqua Lake since he was old enough to fish and carries a great respect for the resource.

Chautauqua Lake & Watershed Project Prioritization: A Strategic Path Forward: Erin Brickley, Executive Director, Chautauqua Lake & Watershed Management Alliance

Erin grew up here in Chautauqua County and graduated from Falconer Central School with honors. She attended Hiram College for her undergraduate work, and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biology.  She worked in the banking industry for almost a decade, and was recognized as a leader in each role she held. Most of her years spent in banking were as a senior credit analyst and a senior personal banker.  While living in California, she turned her attention back to the sciences and earned her Master of Science degree in Environmental Management from the University of San Francisco while also working full-time as a Microbiology Water Lab Supervisor. Erin had returned to her hometown after her Master’s program and was thrilled to be hired as the Executive Director of the Alliance in early 2015 at the initiation of the organization.

Land Use and Our Watershed: Dr. Fred S. Lubnow, Director of the Aquatic Programs at Princeton Hydro

Dr. Fred S. Lubnow is the Director of the Aquatic Programs at Princeton Hydro, and the office manager of the Exton, Pennsylvania office. Dr. Lubnow received his Bachelors of Science in Biology from Susquehanna University (1988), his Master’s degree in Environmental Sciences (1992) from the University of California Davis and his Ph.D. in Limnology (1994) from the University of California Davis. Dr. Lubnow has been an environmental consultant for over 25 years and has worked on a variety of ecosystems throughout the Mid‐Atlantic States. His areas of expertise include the identification of algae and zooplankton, the management of blue‐green algae and their cyanotoxins, the design and implementation of in‐lake management strategies and the development of watershed‐based management plans that focus on non‐point source pollution. Dr. Lubnow was the Region III Director of the North American Lake Management Society and the Treasurer for the Pennsylvania Lake Management Society. Dr. Lubnow is also an adjunct professor at Delaware Valley University, where he teaches a course and laboratory on Watershed Management. In addition, Dr. Lubnow developed a professionally credited course on the Management and Monitoring of Harmful Algal Blooms and Cyanotoxins in Raw Water Supplies. This course has been taught throughout Pennsylvania in conjunction with Pennsylvanian Department of Environmental Protection and the PA American Water Works Association.

Wildlife and Fisheries: Twan Leenders, Biologist
The Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History

Twan is a biologist from The Netherlands, specializing in animal ecology and conservation management. For more than twenty-five years he has carried out research on birds, mammals and plants in various places on the planet but Twan is particularly interested in amphibians, reptiles and tropical rainforest ecology. As a former researcher at Yale University’s Peabody Museum he has participated in many international expeditions that helped gather data to better understand and protect biologically important areas and the species and habitats found there.

Before coming to western NY, Twan was an Assistant Professor of Biology at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT, and went back into the trenches of conservation research and outreach while leading the Science and Conservation Office of the Connecticut Audubon Society. As President of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History, he now applies his experience to our region and develops new conservation research and education initiatives that aim to spark increased interest in the area’s unique natural history while providing economic incentives to promote good environmental stewardship.

Twan’s research on endangered amphibian populations in Costa Rica and Panama continues today and he returns to both countries regularly, with or without student researchers in tow, to continue documenting the fascinating dynamics of tropical rainforests.

Following in the footsteps of Roger Tory Peterson, Twan has written and illustrated three books on Costa Rican wildlife, most recently ‘Amphibians of Costa Rica – a Field Guide(Cornell University Press, 2016).  As an avid photographer and wildlife artist, Twan’s images have appeared in many publications by the National Geographic Society, GEO, Dorling Kindersley an numerous other magazines and books; he is also a photographer for the ‘Meet your Neigbours’ Global Biodiversity Project. His field guide illustrations are currently in use for educational purposes and displays at the Royal Ontario Museum, Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, the California Academy of Sciences and Smithsonian’s new ‘BioMuseo’ in Panama City, Panama. 

Weed Management Timeline — Chautauqua Lake: Dave McCoy, Watershed Coordinator, Chautauqua County Department of Planning & Economic Development

Mr. McCoy holds Technical degrees in Architecture, Petroleum Engineering and a Bachelor’s degree in Geology. Prior to coming to work for Chautauqua County, Mr. McCoy was actively involved with natural resource development, infrastructure design and construction, community development, business development and marketing.  His experience includes:

  • 10 years of experience with natural resource development,
  • 22 years of experience with private sector and municipal consulting, and
  • 5 years as the Chautauqua County Watershed Coordinator

Algae: Understanding the Base of Chautauqua Lake’s Food Web: Courtney R. Wigdahl-Perry, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biology, State University of New York at Fredonia

Dr. Wigdahl-Perry earned her Ph.D. in Ecology and Environmental Sciences from the University of Maine in 2012. She is currently in her fifth year at Fredonia as a faculty member in the Biology Department. As an aquatic ecologist, Dr. Wigdahl-Perry’s research program centers around understanding how lakes respond to environmental change.  She works on local lakes here in western New York as well as other systems around the world, primarily focusing on algae communities and water quality issues. Her research interests span different timescales, using field sampling techniques and high-frequency sensors to study lakes today, as well as studying biological fossils preserved within lake sediments to explore the past history of lakes.

Closing Keynote — A Consensus Strategy for Chautauqua Lake: George M. Borrello, Chautauqua County Executive

George Borrello was born and raised in Silver Creek and Fredonia. He is a 1985 graduate of Fredonia High School and a 1989 graduate of Purdue University. George has spent most of his adult life as a businessman and entrepreneur, founding Top-Shelf Marketing in his early 20s. He grew the business into a successful, nationally recognized supplier to the hospitality industry. George merged his company with Progressive Specialty Glass Company and was the Vice President of Marketing for Progressive for 20 years before retiring in 2017 to pursue public service full time.  He is also involved with the thriving, beachfront hospitality and tourism business in Sunset Bay.

In 2010 he took office as Chautauqua County Legislator representing the Town of Hanover. During his eight years in office he pursued projects to promote tourism, downsize government, and clean up blighted properties, and he also was a staunch advocate of preserving and protecting our lakes and waterways. He also served as Chairman of the Regional Solutions Commission from 2016-2017, where he advised and assisted with several government consolidation and efficiency projects.

On January 1, 2018, George was sworn in as Chautauqua County Executive, serving as CEO of Chautauqua County Government. As county executive, he is dedicated to serving the residents of Chautauqua County and his mission is to lead by bringing people together, facilitating communication and collaboration, setting goals and then achieving those goals.

George and his wife Kelly live in Sunset Bay, in the town of Hanover, and are both active in several charity and community efforts.

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