Chattooga 2018Southeast Chapter

Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky,
West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, and South

The River Management Society (RMS) is a national nonprofit professional organization dedicated to protecting North American rivers. The Southeast Chapter is one of seven chapters in the United States established to help the RMS further its mission by providing opportunities for members to network, learn, and share their knowledge of river management through participation in SE Chapter activities as well as activities at the National level.

The River Management Society has a membership level for everyone interested in rivers – from the professional to the interested citizen, from the career manager to the student just learning about rivers. We invite you to join or renew today!

Chapter Officers

Chapter Officers are volunteers from the Southeastern States who organize activities, represent the nation's region in national discussions and support an active chapter membership. Officers are elected to serve, or appointed to fill vacancies, for terms noted. Learn about chapter governance by reviewing the RMS Southeast Chapter Bylaws

Any professional RMS member in good standing is eligible to run for office. Candidates should be willing to take an active role and be knowledgeable of the Chapter Officer Roles. Contact us to become involved in local or national RMS activities. Chapter officers serve a three (3) year term.

Southeast Chapter Officers (2023-2025)

Dr. James Vonesh

President: James Vonesh 


James Vonesh is a freshwater ecologist, professor, and Assistant Director of Virginia Commonwealth University's Center for Environmental Studies in Richmond, Virginia. He has conducted research in the Southeastern USA, East and Southern Africa, and Central America and is the author of more than 60 scientific papers focused on organisms with complex life cycles that connect freshwater and terrestrial habitats. During his 15 years at VCU, he has built bridges across university programs, national professional societies, state government and international partners to develop innovative educational programming in environmental STEM fields. These include a NOAA grant with the VCU School of Education to build capacity in regional watershed science for area middle school STEM teachers; leading a collaboration with VCU Recreation Sports to develop and get state approval for a new Outdoor Leadership Baccalaureate Certificate; establishing an MOU between the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and VCU Environmental Studies to use a graduate course in scenic natural resource management to support the state scenic river program; and bringing the RMS River Studies and Leadership Program to VCU. As the RSLC program coordinator at VCU, he served as co-chair for the Richmond RMS Symposium in Spring 2021.  He is also the principal investigator of National Science Foundation-funded project “The River Field Studies Network: Connecting rivers, people, & science through immersive field-based education” which supports a community of practice in river-based field education with >100 members across 30 states that shares expertise, imparts specialized skills, and cultivates the next generation of leaders. As RMS SE Chapter VP, James works to further strengthen the connections between students, academics, and river managers in the region. 

Vice President: Vacant

Elise Chapman

Secretary: Elise Chapman


Elise Chapman was branded a water baby before she was two and has since kept her feet wet in both her work and free time. When she was in college she would be on the Ocoee River when the water made it down to her favorite hole any morning she could and just pull herself out in time to make class. While playing she couldn’t slake her thirst for understanding of what was living in the rivers she played on and how the whole system was working so she kept at the school thing with a master's in bottomland hardwood forest dynamics in Louisiana swamps while at Tulane. Next, she went upstream to study fluvial biogeochemistry at the University of Alabama.

Although she has always loved asking and answering questions, she has found her true passion in engaging with other people interested in the sciences, so she currently focuses on teaching.  She hopes to have the opportunity to apply her passions to RMS. She is well suited to serve the southeast chapter as she currently resides and works in Chattanooga, TN. Specifically, she teaches at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and leads the RMS River Studies and Leadership Certification Program there. Her background as a river recreator and river researcher has prepared her well to help RMS connect the diverse people and groups that “work on and for rivers”.

Jack Henderson

Events Coordinator: Jack Henderson


I've been a member of the River Management Society for seven years and currently help manage the French Broad River Paddle Trail from Asheville, North Carolina. My time with RMS began in 2015 when I completed an internship focused on creating guidance for private landowners considering facilitating public access to adjoining waterways. My research investigated the responsibility and related liability of these landowners based on existing law, academic research, case studies, and real-life examples.

Following that project, I joined the RMS staff to lead the National River Recreation Database and National Rivers Project, a geospatial database and accompanying web platform dedicated to synthesizing and promoting water trails, Wild & Scenic Rivers, and whitewater reaches. This position with RMS, which I stayed in through 2020, sparked my passion for combining GIS/mapping with recreation and conservation work, and led to positions with local and national non-profits, along with private companies. After years of part-time work and consulting, I recently began a new job leading stewardship of the French Broad River Paddle Trail as a partnership through RiverLink and MountainTrue, two of the watershed's environmental nonprofits. I also continue to take on GIS/mapping projects focused on outdoor recreation and conservation as time allows.
I would love to bring my diverse background, skills, passions, and connections back to RMS as the Southeast Chapter's Events Coordinator. I genuinely enjoy bringing river professionals together on the water to talk about regional issues and opportunities and feel prepared to help grow the RMS community here in the Southeast.

News & Announcements

The Winter 2022 Edition of the RMS Journal highlighted the Southeast!

The Summer 2019 edition of the RMS Journal was focused on the Southeast. Learn more about the journal and read the most recent issue by clicking the icon to the right. To read all of our back issues online, become a member of RMS! All editions of the journal are archived and are available along with other Society publications on the members-only side of our website.

Andrew Mindermann, SE Chapter member, wins ESRI National Story Map Award.

View the interactive paddling map at http://tnvalleywatertrails.org/.


Chapter members are encouraged to participate in and when possible help organize float trips, workshops, training sessions, webinars, and other events including the biennial RMS Symposium. Check this site and other chapter sites for RMS activities and events. Members are also encouraged to be a presenter at the biennial RMS Symposium, submit articles for publication in the National RMS Journal, and submit information for our Chapter newsletter and website. Finally, remember to provide society representation at state or regional meetings of other groups when possible, and often reach out to people for the purpose of recruiting young professionals and helping all members feel informed and welcome.