Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club


Meet our volunteers.

Our Directors are neighborhood residents and business owners with a record of community activism and dedication to protecting the environment. The Board Membership includes representatives of the Gowanus neighborhood and each of our Activity Committees serve, including Red Hook, Staten Island, and Long Island City. All Board Members make an annual financial contribution to our Organization, a contribution intended to empower them as vested board members, who collectively define the direction of our Not For Profit Corporation. 

Board Members

Gary Francis, Captain
Gary Francis discovered the Gowanus Canal while training for a paddleboard race around Manhattan. After placing second in the 2017 SEA Paddle NYC race, he continued to ply the waters of the canal in the Dredgers canoes, exploring the wildlife, art (he’s a wooden spoon carver), and community that it brings together. A longtime sailor and watersports instructor, he has sailed from Maine to the Carribean twice and once from the Carribean to Florida. He has also worked as a paddleboard and surf instructor in New York City and the Virgin Islands and lifeguarded on the Jersey Shore. Francis leads tours, workshops and classes; co-organizes Paddle-In Movie Nights; and advocates for wildlife habitat along the canal. He also brings extensive safety and emergency training to the club’s on-water events. When he’s on dry land, he’s the head fabricator for Art in Construction, based in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He was a 2019 recipient of an AwesomeNYC grant for his creative approach to creating ribbed mussel habitat on the Gowanus.

Ashley Privett, Treasurer
Ashley Privett has been a member of the Dredgers since 2020. She is a born and raised New Yorker who spent most of her childhood in the Park Slope/Gowanus area. She works full-time at the American Museum of Natural History in the Education Department, where she works on the operational side of running a huge department, as well as using her biology master’s degree in teaching NYC science teachers how to teach science. She has led sessions on utilizing community science in and out of the classrooms and tying that into NYC conservation efforts. That passion led to her connection to the Gowanus Dredgers in 2020, in the midst of completing her thesis on community engagement with local waterways. Ashley is part of the Dredgers science team, in which we surveyed the Gowanus Canal as well as other proximal locations, utilizing USVs (unmanned submersible vehicles) in the hopes of increasing stewardship for our local waterways.

Jos Prol, First Mate
Jos learned to paddle as a kid on the lakes and rivers of New Jersey. He loves a quiet body of water where human intervention is invisible but also enjoys playing the hand he’s dealt. It led him along the Passaic, Raritan, and Bronx rivers and ultimately to Gowanus. Josh is educated as an architect and has worked in structural engineering for the last decade. In addition to the recent volunteering with Dredgers, Josh has given time over the last few years as a docent in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and a steward for the NYC Parks department. He is passionate about helping New Yorkers connect to nature all around and among us.

Nicole Vergalla, Secretary
Nicole Vergalla has been a member of the Dredgers since 2017, and an involved volunteer since 2020. She is passionate about the local community and encouraging water education and access for all. Nicole is a member of the Gowanus Dredgers’ Science Team and works as a citizen scientist to spread enthusiasm about NYC’s waterways. Nicole has been the Gowanus Dredgers’ official club photographer since 2020 and has taken on management of the Dredger’s official Instagram account, helping to keep the audience entertained, informed and engaged. When Nicole isn’t trying to convince people to go canoeing with her, she’s working as a freelance video editor, motion graphics designer and photographer.

David Berreby, Red Hook Boaters Committee Chair
David Berreby joined the Red Hook Boaters Activity Committee in 2008 and has been a mainstay member ever since. He has helped grow the Boaters’ free public paddling program from a small band of paddlers into a mainstay of summer in Red Hook, featured in festivals, guidebooks, journalism and even a Spike Lee movie (Red Hook Summer) in which David (or at least his well-worn paddling headgear) makes a split-second cameo. A longtime Dredgers supporter, David has helped secure grants and has long been active in cross-club NYC paddling activities such as City of Water Day, Sebago Canoe Club’s All-Club Invitational, and the Downtown Boathouse/Manhattan Community Boathouse annual spring kayaking conference for clubs from throughout the region.

Eymund Deigel
Eymund Diegel is an environmental planner specializing in local water quality issues. He collects old maps and cool stuff for the Proteus Hall of the Gowanus, and is mapping historic streams as part of the Secret Gowanus Canal Superfund Tourism Project. He first became interested in boating when Switzerland defeated America to win the America Cup, making him realize that if landlocked mountaineers could sail , canoeing on a sewage free Gowanus had even better odds.

Ted Gruber, Long Island City Community Boathouse Activity Committee Chair
Ted Gruber was an active participant when the LICCB Activity Committee started in 2007 and continued to volunteer for almost a decade.  He has led many voyages and events for LICCB and has over 16 years of kayaking and trip leading experience. Prior to retirement in 2010, he owned a manufacturing company in Greenpoint.  Ted is respected in the NY-NJ harbor paddling community and has assisted on swim events with several swim organizers and has volunteered with the Gowanus Dredgers, KSI, Green Shores NYC, NBBC & Hunters Point Park Conservancy.

Celeste LeCompte
Celeste LeCompte focuses on creating an informed, engaged public through her work in media, community engagement, and more. A lifelong lover of waterways, she grew up monitoring water quality on the Sangamon River and Goose Creek in Illinois and has explored rivers and coastlines as a journalist and paddler across the United States, China, and Panama. Since 2012, she has helped organize lectures, events, and concerts on boats in San Francisco and New York City. She curates our Paddle-In Movie Night events and serves as the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club’s representative on Gowanus CAG committee.  She is also a board member with the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing and the Spring Street Climate Fund. She’s a trustee with Awesome on the Water, which gives away $1,000 a month to people making creative projects on waterways around the world.

Annette Pierce, Kayak Staten Island Activity Committee Chair
Annette Mae Pierce began kayaking in 2008 after attending her first Kayak Staten Island event. She has been a devoted KSI volunteer ever since and most recently has helped to take over some leadership of the organization after the unfortunate death of beloved former Kayak Staten Island commodore Jacky Krogh- those are some big water shoes to fill! Annette has worked in the non-profit sector for many years and currently works in the social justice space, with particular emphasis on issues of inequity in post-secondary education. At heart, Kayak Staten Island’s mission is an equity mission and Annette is committed to ensuring that aspect of KSI’s community work and environmental stewardship is thoughtfully maintained. Outside of work, Annette is an avid polar plunger in Staten Island’s local waters, runner, urban container gardener, radio and events dj and wannabe welder.

Gowanus Guardians

The mission of the Guardians is to support our organization as a pre-eminent vibrant and active non-profit by increasing awareness, sponsorship and membership. Gowanus Guardians are star volunteers who achieve these goals by:

  • organizing and hosting our educational, friendly and people-oriented activities and social events;
  • leading voyages, run programs, and help with special events and shoreline cleanup activities;
  • attending such events and promote to press and social media;
  • making an annual financial contribution;
  • achieving individual membership and sponsorship targets; and
  • getting involved in our policy and programmatic issues on the Gowanus Canal.

Gowanus Guardians act as ambassadors for the organization, spreading the word about our work and events to friends, family and colleagues.

  • Corinne Brenner
  • Robert Coover
  • Jessica Dalrymple 
  • Alexander Gregor 
  • Owen Foote
  • Nene Humphrey 
  • Devon Jarvis
  • Lexi Jurgens
  • Ally Levine
  • Rita Ormsby (2023’s Very Important Paddler)
  • Gustie Owens
  • Liz Schnore 
  • Brad Vogel

Got a great Gowanus idea?  Contact us to discuss how we can help bring it to life!

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