Meet our board of directors
Chris Spontak, President
Chris is a lifelong resident of Marion County and remembers what Silver Springs was like when he was a child and would swim in its crystal clear waters with shiny (silver) sand bottom, bright green eel grass, and abundant fish. Educated at the University of Florida with a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering, he worked in the consulting business (P.E. registered) in Orlando and Gainesville. Most of his later work was in a family hardware business, from which he is retired. Chris is also vice-president of a local kayak club, the Marion County Aquaholics Paddlers Group, and has seen most of the springs and rivers in Central Florida and witnessed their deterioration. He recognizes the need to save them for present and future generations.
John Dunn, Vice President
John M. Dunn is a writer and high school social studies teacher. He has authored many young adult non-fiction books, numerous articles, scripts for audio-visual productions, and a children’s play. Several of his books have received national recognition. He lives with his wife Susan in Ocala. His first involvement in environmental activism took place in the 1970s in Dallas, Georgia, when he joined a grassroots organization that successfully campaigned to reform local government and thwart the city of Atlanta’s controversial effort to build the world’s biggest airport in an environmentally sensitive area forty miles outside the city limits. He and Susan were founding members of the Smart Coalition of North Central Florida, which was a key player in bringing about the third largest state purchase of land for conservation purposes in Florida history. This property today is part of the Silver Springs watershed.
Heather Obara, Esq., Treasurer
Heather received a B.A. in English Literature with a minor in Political Philosophy from Florida State University in 2010. In 2013, Heather became a graduate of Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law in Orlando, Florida, where she received an Honors Certificate in Environmental and Earth Law.
As a law student, Heather was involved in several organizations on campus including serving as President of the Environmental Law Society, Vice President of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, and member of the Environmental and Earth Law Journal and Environmental Responsibility Committee. As a result of her hard work, she was selected as the 2013 Environmental and Earth Law Student of the Year by her law school professors. In September 2013, Heather was admitted to practice law as a member of the Florida Bar.
Heather has been an active member of the environmental community for several years as the Associate Director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute and a volunteer with various non-profit organizations. In addition to her duties as Treasurer of the Alliance, Heather currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Florida Springs Council and is a member of the Blue Spring Alliance Steering Committee.
Alice Gardner, Secretary
Bio coming soon!
Karen Chadwick, Board Member
Bio coming soon!
Mo Driggers, Board Member
Bio coming soon!
Susan Dunn, Board Member
Susan Dunn has been an outdoor advocate for many years and finds opportunities to enjoy nature as often as possible, from working in her flower gardens at home to hiking throughout the USA, Canada, and Europe. She is a veteran public school teacher and elementary school librarian and spends her professional and private time educating children and adults. As a lifelong member of The Sierra Club, a founding member of The Smart Growth Coalition, and now a board member of The Silver Springs Alliance, she hopes that others will see the value in our natural surroundings and the importance of protecting and conserving areas of great beauty and importance to our mental and emotional health. According to Susan, "Our Florida setting is too beautiful and critical to lose by being short sighted and uncaring. It takes too much of our precious energy to have to fight for the preservation of our Florida environment, but I am willing to be one of the ground troops."
Robert Knight, Ph.D., Board Member
Bob is an environmental scientist/systems ecologist and currently serves as the Executive Director for the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute. He has over 38 years of experience as an aquatic and wetland ecologist in Florida. His doctoral work included an ecological assessment of Silver Springs and Silver River under the direction of Howard T. Odum. He has completed assessments of the quantitative basis for establishing a minimum flow regime for protection of water and human-use resource values (WRVs) in Volusia County Blue Spring, a 50-year retrospective study of the ecological health of Silver Springs, the basis for establishing pollutant load reduction goals and WRVs for the Wekiva River and Rock Springs Run, and a comparison of the ecology of twelve of Florida’s artesian springs.
Bob and the Florida Springs Institute have developed restoration action plans for Glen Springs, Ichetucknee Springs, Kings Bay Springs, Lower Suwannee River Springs, Rainbow Springs, Santa Fe River Springs, Silver Springs, Wakulla Springs, and Wekiva River and Springs. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors for the Silver Springs Alliance, Dr. Knight is also a Board and/or Advisory Panel member for the Ichetucknee Alliance, Our Santa Fe River, Wakulla Springs Alliance, Florida Defenders of the Environment, and Florida Springs Council.
Whitey Markle, Board Member
Whitey is the Conservation Chair for the Suwannee/St. Johns Sierra Club so he is endowed with experience and issues in 16 North Central Florida counties.Whitey has a Master's Degree in Urban Planning from University of Florida. "My forte, I believe, is public presentation." He is also a terrific musician!