Posted in:

Sound Rivers New Executive Director Chosen

Sound Rivers, a nonprofit that protects the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico rivers, shown here, will be under new leadership Sept. 1. Photo: NCCF

WASHINGTON —  Heather Deck, Sound Rivers’ Pamlico-Tar riverkeeper and deputy director, will become Sept. 1 the executive director, succeeding Harrison Marks, who announced retirement plans earlier this year, the organization announced Tuesday.

Sound Rivers is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico River basins. The organization provides critical representation for the protection and restoration of water resources to ensure that our rivers are fishable, swimmable and drinkable. The territory Sound Rivers covers about one-quarter of North Carolina.

Deck joined Sound Rivers in 2003 as the Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper and was named Deputy Director in December 2016. She received a Master in Environment Management from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University in 2000, and spent two years in El Salvador as an agroforestry and environment education volunteer in the Peace Corps before joining Sound Rivers.

“The Sound Rivers Board is so excited to welcome Heather Deck as our new Executive Director,” said Lorrie Basnight, Sound Rivers Board President and an ECU/Vidant physician.

“We held a national search for the position, and Heather’s knowledge and skills with policy and advocacy for the river basins, and her 14 years of experience working in the organization made her the outstanding candidate from a strong pool of applicants,” Basnight continued. “While the retirement of Harrison Marks leaves big shoes to fill, we have no doubt that Heather can fill those shoes well and lead Sound Rivers during this critical time for environmental advocacy.”

Deck’s selection as executive director was the result of an extensive search conducted by the Sound Rivers Board of Directors.

“Heather’s depth and breadth of experience, passion for our mission and excellent relationships with researchers, regulators and other environmental organizations throughout the state made her the ideal choice for the position,” said Steve Smith, a Raleigh-based attorney who headed the Board’s search committee. “She was the unanimous choice of the search committee as well as the entire Board.”

Mary Davidson, owner of The Four C’s outdoor store in New Bern and Director/Secretary of Sound Rivers said, “As the Neuse and Pamlico-Tar River Foundations, Sound Rivers has been working to preserve our waterways for nearly 40 years.  Our Riverkeepers are the heart and soul of the organization and Heather’s leadership traits as Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper has been evident for many years. I am very excited both for her and for the organization to have her assume the top leadership role at Sound Rivers.”

Sound Rivers works to ensure that all citizens have access to clean water and to the region’s creeks and rivers – the public trust waters that they, as residents of North Carolina, own. Additionally, Sound Rivers advocates to ensure the public’s voice is heard when decisions are made regarding policy, legislation, permitting and other government functions. By creating a more environmentally focused and connected society, the quality of life for all will improve.

The organization employs three Riverkeepers: the Upper Neuse Riverkeeper, Matthew Starr in Raleigh; the Lower Neuse Riverkeeper, Katy Langley in New Bern; and the Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper in Washington.  Environmental projects manager, Matt Butler, leads the organization’s restoration efforts and Water Trail program. A search will begin soon for a new Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper to replace Deck in that role.

For more information on Sound Rivers, contact Heather Deck at 252-946-7211 or

Learn More

About the Author

Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.