The Board of Directors of Friends of the Verde River is composed of people who are passionate about our vision of a healthy, flowing Verde River system that supports our unique environment, vibrant economies, and quality of life for now and into the future.

  • Jeni O’Callaghan President

    Jeni O’Callaghan is a third generation artist: “for me, art has always been just there, like breathing.” Her art reflects much of the southwest desert she grew up in and still lives in today. Jeni has been coming to the Verde Valley since her grandfather bought Rancho Tres Brisas on the Verde River in 1963. Read more.

  • Tony Gioia Vice President

    Tony Gioia, a retired U. S. Postal Service worker and business owner, has also served on the Town Council and as Mayor for the Town of Camp Verde. Read more.

  • Thomasene Cardona Secretary

    Thomasene (Jackson) Cardona is born for the Bear Clan and a gift to her father’s clan, the Des che’ ish kidn, (The Rocky Ridge Clan). She is of Acoma, Yavapai and Apache descent, was raised in the Clarkdale community, and currently resides on the Yavapai-Apache reservation. Read more.

  • Brent Bitz Treasurer

    Brent Bitz is a retired businessman whose career involved him in large scale commercial real estate projects throughout North America. Since moving to Sedona with his wife Dion in 2006, he has been an active member of the community. Read more.

  • Jennifer Diffley Board Member At-Large

    Jennifer Diffley is a junior partner in Culp & Kelly, LLP, where she practices in the areas of water and natural resources law, providing support to a variety of non-profit, government, and investment clients on environmental issues and water policy. Read more.

  • Harry Sweet
    Harry Sweet

    Harry Sweet is the Board Director of Friends of the Verde River, and he is part of the advisory committee for the Business Conservation Partners program. Harry works in the wine industry and is also a river boating enthusiast.

  • Kim Knotter
    Kim Knotter

    Kim Knotter has worked for more than 30 years in the nonprofit sector in fundraising, operational management and capital fundraising in the Phoenix metro area. Kim currently is under contract with Rio Salado Foundation and Arizona State Park Foundation and has worked for the following organizations: Hospice of the Valley, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, American Cancer Society, Planned Parenthood of Arizona, Phoenix Art Museum and Ballet Arizona. Read more.

  • Linda Stitzer
    Linda Stitzer

    Linda Stitzer is a long-time Arizonan and retired water resource planner who authored several studies assessing water demand and opportunities for water conservation and reuse in the Verde Valley to reduce groundwater pumping impacts to the Verde River. She is especially interested in the potential to “build-in” water use efficiency through land use planning. Read more.

  • Dimas V. Bejarano
    Dimas V. Bejarano

    As a young man growing up on a family farm and ranch in my native Arizona, I unknowingly became an advocate for the protection of our global resources and our shared humanity. Our Family share many memories experienced during our time on the Land, eight generations. Shared experiences of our Grandfather and Father building and rebuilding diversion dams on the Gila River and maintaining water wells for irrigation of crops which provided sustenance for the family and domestic animals. Read more.

Solute to Our Founders

The founding members of the Board of Directors comprised a hardy group of people dedicated to river conservation: Steven “Max” Castillo, Peggy Chaikin, Marsha Foutz, Tony Gioia, Diane Joens, Jane Moore, Delbert “Chip” Norton, Bob Rothrock. Others who have served in the past on the Board of Directors include Denise Lerette, Kim Schonek, Siera Russell, Susan Culp, and Shelley DiGiacomo.

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