Annual Meeting and Oyster Roast


Event EMCEE:
Andrew Freiden, NBC12 Meteorologist

 Event Speakers:
Bill Street, James River Association CEO
Melissa Lesh of Emerging Earth Films
Guilio Boccaletti, Ph.D., The Nature Conservancy
John Bredar, WGBH Boston

For other event information, please contact James River Association’s Development Manger, Kristen Miller at or 804-788-8811 ext. 211.

Riding the Currents of 2020:
JRA’s Annual Meeting and Virtual Update

With safety top-of-mind, James River Association’s Annual Oyster Roast was transformed from an in-person event into a virtual experience on Wednesday, October 28, 2020. Participants joined us via zoom to hear from the below inspiring speakers as we continued the tradition of sharing our love for our river, and the work we’ve been able to accomplish together, in a passionate and continuously growing community of James Changers.

Annual Meeting GiveawaysMeet the Personalities

How to make the perfect “James Changer” cocktail recipe using Waterbird Spirits’ potato vodka.

1 cup blueberries
½ cup brown sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 cup of water
6-8 mint leaves

For a simple syrup for 4 drinks:

Heat water until boiled, smash blueberries, and strain. Add vodka, soda water, and lemon squeeze to finish.

Waterbird Spirits were born in Charlottesville and make high quality canned cocktails with real, premium distilled spirits. All of their canned cocktails, including Moscow Mule and Vodka Cucumber mint, are made with American Potato Vodka. For information on where to buy and to track their move into the Richmond market, visit their website:

Annual Meeting Giveaways

Spirit of the James Boat Tour for 10

Discover the majestic wildlife and captivating scenery of the James River with 9 of your friends and family aboard the Spirit of the James, a 40-foot covered pontoon boat! You’ll enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience observing the river’s natural resources on a private tour with JRA’s Master Captain, Aaron Bouchard. Date of trip will be spring/early summer of 2021 – date and time will be mutually agreed upon between JRA education staff and winner. Possible launch locations include: Jordan Point Marina, Rocketts Landing,  Deep Bottom Park and Four Mile Creek.

James Changer “Swag Bag”

This James Changer swag bag contains tons of exclusive JRA merchandise that you can sport on and off the river! Complete with everything you need to stay stylish this river season, this prize also includes your very own Virtual Reality cardboard headset where you’ll have the chance to explore the James like never before.

Paddles on the James

Take in the beauty of the James firsthand as you kayak or canoe on a guided paddle trip led by JRA staff in Virginia’s largest river. Guaranteed to be a fun and memorable adventure, you’ll explore all that nature has to offer among the river’s breathtaking watershed. Canoes, kayaks, paddles, and personal flotation devices provided. Date of trip will be spring of 2021 – date and time will be mutually agreed upon between JRA education staff and winner at a Lynchburg, Richmond or Williamsburg location.

Annual Meeting Personalities

Andrew Freiden is the morning Meteorologist for Central Virginia’s top-rated morning newscast and he’s the Executive Weather producer at NBC12 in Richmond. Andrew’s TV career began in 1997 in Roanoke at WDBJ-7 when He moved from behind the scenes to a job as the weekend weathercaster and nightside news reporter. For three days a week, Andrew covered wildfires, murders, government meetings, and much more before becoming a full-time weathercaster. 

Andrew’s broad-based science knowledge and hard news reporting skills are vital to NBC12’s newsroom and to Central Virginia’s viewers. His all-around broadcasting abilities and engaging personality make him the go-to person for all sorts of assignments at NBC12. From filling in on the anchor desk to reporting live in the field at community events, to forecasting severe weather, Andrew is comfortable in all situations.

A graduate of the University of Virginia with a B.A in Environmental Sciences, Andrew holds the AMS Seal of Approval and often wins “Best Meteorologist” in local Richmond contests. Andrew has been the self-proclaimed USA Napping Champ for 20 years running!

Bill Street was born in Richmond, Virginia and grew up camping at the mountain headwaters of the James River and spending summers on the Chesapeake Bay. As a child, Bill remembers following his father as he waded in lush underwater grass beds dipping for soft shell crabs. But by the time he came of age to dip for crabs himself, those vital grass beds were gone because pollution had wiped them out. Now with two sons of his own, his personal mission is to ensure that his sons are able to enjoy healthy Virginia waters that are closer to what his father experienced growing up than the degraded ones of his own childhood.

Bill has been with the James River Association since 2005, and finds it thrilling to see the progress  made over that time, not only in the programs the James River Association is implementing but also in the river itself. “Every time I see a sturgeon breach, an eagle soar or see people swimming in the river right downtown, it fuels my fire to keep the James River comeback coming.”

Prior to serving as CEO of the James River Association, Bill worked for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, as well as an environmental consulting firm, Malcolm Pirnie, in Newport News, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Duke University Wetland Center, and the Institute for Environmental Negotiation at the University of Virginia. He is a double Hoo and a Dukie too with degrees in Commerce and Urban and Environmental Planning from Virginia and Environmental Management from Duke.

Melissa Lesh founded Emerging Earth Films in 2014 as a way to bridge the arts and sciences. Her most recent film, Person of the Forest, depicts newly discovered cultural behaviors in wild orangutans. It has been screened at over 35 festivals, viewed more than a million times via National Geographic online platforms and has received a Vimeo Staff Pick. More recently, Lesh has contributed cinematography to the feature film The Story of Plastic that aired on Discovery for Earth Day 2020. She has produced for clients such as PBS, National Geographic, The Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia Tourism, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and is a 2019 Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program Grantee. Born in Mumbai, India, and having grown up in Madison, Wisconsin, she now calls Richmond, Virginia home.

Giulio Boccaletti, Ph.D., is an expert on environmental sustainability and resource economics. He is the Chief Strategy Officer of The Nature Conservancy, one of the largest conservation organizations in the world. Immediately prior to joining the Conservancy, he was a Partner of McKinsey and Company, where he founded the firm’s Global Water Resource initiative and was one of the leaders of its Sustainability and Resource Productivity Practice. Before joining McKinsey, he was a scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, where he specialized in geophysical fluid dynamics and climate science. Giulio holds a master’s degree in theoretical physics from the University of Bologna, Italy, and master’s and doctorate degrees in atmospheric and oceanic sciences from Princeton University, where he was a NASA Earth Systems Science Fellow. 

Giulio has been a member of the Global Agenda Council on Water and of the Global Futures Council on Environment and Natural Resource Security of the World Economic Forum, he has served on the OECD-WWC High Level Panel on Infrastructure Financing for a Water-Secure World, and is on the Scientific Advisory Panel of the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change (CMCC) and on the editorial board of the journal Water Security. In 2014, he was named a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. He has published widely in both the academic literature and in the general press, and has presented on water security, resource economics, and infrastructure finance to many audiences. He has worked in multiple countries across the world on issues ranging from green growth and natural capital to water security and economic development. He has been involved in several documentaries, including PBS’s “The Molecule That Made Us,” a three part series on global water security. He is currently in the middle of writing a book on water issues. He lives in London.

Berkeley Pollard Darr is a cause leader with direct experience moving change through large complex organizations. In 2015, Berkeley launched Darr & Co. to help strengthen brands, improve revenue and increase influence in support of missions ranging from health and conservation to youth development and preservation. As a consultant, Berkeley specializes in strategic planning, marketing communications and fund development. She’s developed a strategic planning system that resulted in a common agenda and focus for investments across business units in more than 20 countries. She also led a multi-year brand identity project and the adoption of consistent standards throughout one of the world’s largest nonprofits. While serving in several senior marketing and philanthropy positions at The Nature Conservancy, Berkeley designed and executed a shared services model that extended access to marketing and fundraising expertise across field offices and improved performance of local programs globally. She’s also led corporate partnerships, cause marketing efforts and volunteerism programs aimed at growing revenue and expanding constituencies. An expert facilitator, Berkeley conducts workshops in the areas of marketing/communications, fundraising and constituency building. After earning her B.A. from The College of William and Mary, she proudly served two years as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer. Berkeley lives in Virginia with her husband and three children.

John Bredar is GBH’s Vice President of National Programming, overseeing GBH’s many celebrated original primetime series for PBS and related digital media including FRONTLINE, NOVA, MASTERPIECE, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and ANTIQUES ROADSHOW. He also oversees GBH Studio Six, GBH’s in-house production group for lifestyle programs and special projects.

Bredar joined GBH in 2013 after 26 years with National Geographic, where he was responsible for the development, production, and post-production of more than 150 programs as Senior Executive Producer for National Geographic Specials. Bredar’s work earned him the Best Director Emmy for his 2004 film, Field of Honor, an inside look at Arlington Cemetery. His co-production with GBH’s NOVA, Ape Genius, was recognized with a George Foster Peabody Award. Bredar also is the author of The President’s Photographer, which explores the history of presidential photographers. Bredar holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Northwestern University and a Master of Arts from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.