Our Team

Amy Beyer

Executive Director (In Transition) | amy@rivercare.org

Amy recalls gaining her way into Michigan Technological University’s engineering school by writing an essay on her personal passion for camping. Five years later she was heading to northern California with Masters and Bachelors degrees in chemical and environmental engineering, anxious to learn of all the best-hidden spots between the Pacific Ocean and the Great Lakes. In her career, she has migrated consistently toward business management and development, first in the consulting engineering world, and later at CRA, where she has been the Director since 1992. Amy’s true passions circle around outdoor sports like fishing, skiing, biking and tennis, and a lifelong love of books, travel, and especially things that still need to be discovered. She sees CRA as a great scene for her, where the “problems” revolve around world-class waters and landscapes, and where people from all walks of life pitch in to solve them. Amy lives in Suttons Bay with her husband, Chuck, and their two children.

Suzie Knoll

Executive Director

Born and raised on the shores of West Michigan, Suzie developed a deep connection to the woods and waters of the Great Lakes State, dedicating her adult life to exploring and protecting its natural beauty. Suzie graduated from Hope College with a double major in Biology and Psychology, along with a minor in Spanish. Her career spans roles as a field biologist, ecological restoration specialist, and director of a conservation organization. In her spare time, Suzie enjoys hiking, birdwatching, spending quality time with her family, and traveling to far-off places with her husband’s high school Spanish students. She and her husband are proud parents of two teenage children.

Kimberly Balke

Program Director / Biologist | kim@rivercare.org

Kimberly attended both Wayne State and Michigan State Universities and has a BS in Fisheries and Wildlife. She has lived in northern Michigan for 25 years with family ties to the area several generations back. Summer trips to family farms in Bear Lake and Arcadia strengthened the desire to make northern Michigan her home someday. Kimberly loves the beaches along Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore and enjoys hiking, kayaking, cross-country skiing, and gardening. She appreciates the new learning opportunities in taking care of our creeks and rivers at CRA, and every year offers exciting challenges!

Kat Hanson

Development Director | kat@rivercare.org

Kat has always loved the beauty of northern Michigan and feels extremely blessed that she gets to work & raise a family in this paradise. She attended Michigan State University, where she graduated with a BA in Communication and a BA in Political Theory & Constitutional Democracy from James Madison College. Kat is very involved in the local community and serves as a Traverse City Chamber Ambassador and is a member of the Zonta Club of Traverse City.  She loves the fresh fish her family catches from the surrounding waters. Kat loves watching her daughter, Annabelle, explore the great wonders of northern Michigan. She met her husband Tyler, at MSU. You can find them cheering on their Spartans at home football games in the fall.

Gavin MacDonald

Development & Communications Coordinator | gavin@rivercare.org

Gavin is a nonprofit professional with multiple years of marketing, administrative and fundraising experience from organizations across the state of Michigan. He also brings with him photo and video production skills, with a history of producing for statewide and national clients. In addition to a Master of Science in Administration, Gavin holds a B.S. in psychology, a minor in professional sales and a certificate in corporate video creation from Central Michigan University. Growing up in Alpena, he fostered an unwavering appreciation for Michigan’s pristine natural resources and wild places. He spends his free time biking, kayaking and hiking. You may even find him on his 16-foot Hobie Cat catamaran sailing the Great Lakes!

D.J. Shook

Senior Project Manager / Biologist | dj@rivercare.org

DJ decided to dedicate his career to ecological restoration while earning his degree in Resource Ecology and Management from the University of Michigan. His work includes improving habitat and fish passage for the imperiled western Salmon and Steelhead populations and providing aquatic habitat restoration technical assistance to local tribes and other regional partners. He is honored to live and work in the ancestral lands of the Anishinaabe people, Traverse City and Northwest Lower Michigan. While not working, DJ enjoys spending time with his family around a campfire on a local beach, fishing, hunting, canoeing, hiking, and playing his banjo with anyone willing!

Chris Pierce

Senior Project Manager / Biologist | chris@rivercare.org

Spending his summers growing up at the family cabin on Saginaw Bay, Chris became absorbed in the amazing wonders the woods and water presented him. His travels have carried him through 49 states and after playing in the mountains, oceans, and rivers of the West, he found his way back home in Michigan. Chris earned a BS in Fisheries and Wildlife Management from Michigan State University with a focus on fisheries and watershed management. He now greatly enjoys getting his son and daughter, Riley and Macy, into the great outdoors to see where their experiments and travels take them. If he is not spending his spare time at the cabin, you might be able to find him with his family seeking the peace and solitude found in the woods and waters of northern Michigan.

Nate Winkler

Project Manager / Biologist | nate@rivercare.org

Nate is a native to Michigan’s North Country and has had a lifelong love for the region’s creeks, rivers, lakes, and woodlands. This love and a sense of duty inspired the pursuit of a BS in Fisheries and Wildlife Management which he obtained from Lake Superior State University in 1996. Next to spending time with his wife Jenna and children, Max and Brook, Nate‘s interests include trout fishing, canoe racing, wildland fire, and deer hunting.

Michael Seefried

Project Manager | michael@rivercare.org

Michael is passionate about the outdoors and loves getting his hands dirty. With a BS in Mathematics from Michigan State University and an ASA in Freshwater Studies from Northwestern Michigan College, his talents are versatile and geared toward problem-solving.  After spending a few years in rural Wisconsin working in the agriculture industry he realized his true calling in conservation work and moved back to the place that made him appreciate the outdoors. Thankful to be surrounded by all the precious resources he’s elated to be able to contribute to their protection and improvement. Outside of work, you can find him spending time with his family, woodworking, out on the trails, or fishing around Northern Michigan. He also enjoys volunteering his time to help in the community.

Meredith Freeby

Project Manager | meredith@rivercare.org

Growing up swimming and playing in Michigan’s waterways and natural areas inspired Meredith to dedicate her career to preserving these unique, wild places. During her time at Michigan State University, Meredith earned a B.S. in Biosystems Engineering along with a minor in American Indian and Indigenous Studies to further her understanding of respectfully working on the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary lands of the Anishinaabeg – Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi peoples. Meredith holds an M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering with a focus on Water Resources Engineering from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and is a certified Engineer-In-Training. Before joining CRA, Meredith worked as a design engineer on water resources projects. Her technical skills are complemented by her ability to communicate effectively with stakeholders, government agencies, and team members. In her free time, Meredith enjoys exploring the Great Lakes region and connecting with all who make Northwest Michigan special.

Sue Antaya

Accounting Manager | sue@rivercare.org

While Sue is not technically a “native,” she does consider Traverse City to be her home after having lived here for thirty years. Spending her high school years living in the old AuSauble Hotel in Frederic, Michigan fostered Sue’s love of the history of northern Michigan. When not managing CRA’s accounting, Sue enjoys spending time with her grandkids and living on “the farm.” “I love that the work we do at CRA is helping to make rivers what they once were.”

Aubri Brown

Administrative / Development Assistant | aubri@rivercare.org

Aubri has always been a helper, and her time with CRA has been no different. A long-time athlete, she grew up being active and working well with others. Since moving to northern Michigan a few years ago, her love of recreation and all things outdoors has grown. She happily cares for indoor plants and has begun outdoor gardening as well. Through working with plants, sustainability and regenerative choices have become cornerstones of her and her boyfriend’s lifestyle; Their long-term goal is to become homesteaders and live as naturally as possible. CRA’s mission to be stewards of the land is right up her alley, and she’s thrilled to be part of the team!