The Federation is effective because of the people who live,
work and play on the South, West, and Rhode Rivers.
Robert (Bob) G. Ottenhoff (Chair)
Robert G. Ottenhoff is a veteran leader and expert in nonprofit organizations, philanthropy and media. He was the founder and served as the inaugural General Manager of WBGO-FM from 1977 to 1987 and Acting President from 2020-2021. He took a brief leave of absence while at WBGO-FM to act as Senior Vice President for Representation at National Public Radio (NPR).
After leaving WBGO, he was the Executive Director of the New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority, which operated four public television stations and a statewide radio network. He was Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) from 1992 to 2000. While at PBS he also served as Acting President and Acting Senior Vice President of Programming for nearly one year.
He served as inaugural president and CEO of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) based in Washington D.C from 2002 until 2020. CDP works with foundations, corporations, and individuals and seeks to transform how donors think about, respond and contribute to natural disasters. Prior to joining CDP, he spent a decade as president and CEO of GuideStar, an industry leader in the use of providing high-quality data to help donors make better decisions and improve nonprofit practice. He holds a Masters in City and Regional Planning from Rutgers University and was awarded a B.A. from Calvin College in Michigan.
Cate Bower (Vice Chair)
Cate spent her career working with not-for-profit organizations, with a special focus on strategy development and governance systems and processes. She co-founded Cygnet Strategy LLC in 2009, a consultancy working primarily with scientific and medically focused organizations. She was a principal partner with Tecker International LLC of Yardley PA and a senior executive for the Society for Human Resource Management, where she developed and implemented the organization’s ground-breaking and nationally-recognized issues management program, created its communications function, and had responsibility for communications, publications, public relations, marketing, sales, strategic planning and issues management.
An award-winning writer and strategist, she is a Fellow of the American Society of Association Executives, served on the ASAE Foundation Board of Directors and the ASAE Board, chaired the Strategic Leadership Forum and served on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal of Association Leadership. She holds a BA in English from Kent State University and is a graduate and former faculty member of the US Chamber of Commerce’s then six year Institute for Organizational Management.
Since retirement, she has refocused her efforts on supporting environmental and community issues. She is the Immediate Past Chair of the Director’s Circle of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater and continues to serve as a docent at SERC. She represented Deale, Shady Side, Churchton, West River and Galesville on Anne Arundel County’s Citizen’s Advisory Committee, helping to create the 2040 General Development Plan. An avid gardener and former sailor, she and her husband, Ray Proulx, a retired travel and tourism executive, live on John’s Creek off the West River along with their rescue labradoodle Coco.
V.K. Holtzendorf (Secretary)
V.K. Holtzendorf spent 22 years in the technology business, retiring from HP in 2005. Most of my carrier was in the advanced research, life sciences industry focusing on super-computing for Department of Energy, Office of Science and life sciences projects including sequencing of the human genome with Celera Genomics.
Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, she graduated from the University of Memphis with degrees in Economics. She relocated to the Annapolis area in 1990 and fell in love with the Chesapeake Bay. She became an active sailboat racer for many years and in 2001 bought a historic farm in southern Anne Arundel County.
V.K. previously served on the West/Rhode Riverkeeper Board, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) Advisory Board, the South Arundel Citizens for Responsible Development (SACReD), Historic London Town and Gardens Board, Maryland Organic Food and Farm Association, and the Anne Arundel Agriculture Advisory Committee. She is a 2008 graduate of Leadership Anne Arundel program.
In 2008 she and her husband founded West River Cruises, with the P/V RICHARD LEE, 110-passenger tour boat serving the South, West, and Rhode Rivers and Herring Bay. Their mission was to get citizens and children out on the rivers to create more advocates for the Bay. They offered educational programs, sunset cruises, and charter events and worked closely with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and their outreach programs. They still manage a small farm and share it with locally famous donkeys and farm dogs. They both have 100-ton Merchant Mariner Masters Licenses and Private Pilot Licenses and enjoy experiencing the Bay from land, water and air.
John Wyss (Treasurer)
John Wyss graduated with a BS degree in physics from Stanford University and a JD degree from Yale Law School. He has practiced law in Washington. DC for many years, first with Kirkland & Ellis and, since 1983, with Wiley Rein LLP, representing clients in matters involving patent litigation, antitrust and trade regulation, and general commercial litigation. Prior to joining the Board of Arundel Rivers Federation, he was a Board member and served as Board Chair of the West/Rhode Riverkeeper organization. John and his wife, Joanne Comstock, have a home on the West River near Parrish Creek. In recent years, John has worked with SACReD and the Chesapeake Legal Alliance to prevent environmentally insensitive development in the Critical Area near Deale and Shady Side.
John Dankowski is a seasoned business executive offering decades of cross-government and cross-industry experience in both the private and public sectors. He is results-oriented and possesses hands-on expertise in small and large-scale operations, business growth strategies, new business capture, personnel management and mentoring, and strategic facilitation – from inception to implementation – of policy, plans, programs, and operations. Throughout his tenure in multiple, high-profile roles, Mr. Dankowski formed and maintains close relationships with visionaries, experts, and key stakeholders throughout industry and in many U.S. government departments and agencies. John is known for his knack for strategic relationship enablement.
Having spent much of his career in operational National Security leadership positions, Mr. Dankowski was required to coordinate complex interdependent activities across multiple organizations. From authoring policy and managing programs of national scale, to executing day-to-day mission operations, his track record demonstrates prudence in fiscal responsibility, mastery in promoting collaborative behaviors, and respect as a trusted mentor and colleague. Mr. Dankowski’s U.S. Federal Government service culminated in his serving as Special Assistant to the President of the United States and Director of White House Operations.
John resides with his son Silas, son’s partner Dillon, and 100 lb Weimaraner named Bentley just off Broad Creek on the South River. John is an avid boater and has enjoyed and valued our beautiful rivers and bay for decades. His current vessel “Ol’ Bae” is docked near Herring Bay at the Herrington Harbour South Marina.
John Flood (West and Rhode River Advisory Committee Chair)
John grew up on the shores of the South River, like his father, grandfather and several generations before him did. However, when he was growing up, the underwater grasses, crabs, rockfish, and ducks started to disappear. He is president of Flood Brothers Marine Consultants, Inc. In his early career he built bulkheads and piers. However, he was one of the early adopters of living shoreline approach that replaces wooden or stone walls with marsh grass and rock weirs. He also is considered the grandfather of citizen oyster gardening and created “Flood buckets” to raise oysters by hanging them off piers. He has also been a strong and loud advocate for restoring the Bay. He has been awarded the Ellen Fraites Wagner Conservationist Award and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Conservationist Award. He founded Arundel Rivers Federation (originally called South River Federation) in the late 90’s. He has been a staunch ally of the Federation ever since.
Christopher (Chris) A. Graae
Chris started his career after graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1975, later becoming a co-founding principal of Cox Graae + Spack Architects in 1981 in Georgetown and retiring after 43 years of practice in 2018. In addition to his management role as president of the 30-person firm – which has won over 90 regional and national design awards – he led the design effort for many of the firm’s major public and private sector institutional, educational and religious commissions. These included the World Bank Headquarters, major buildings on the campuses of George Washington and Georgetown Universities, several DC public high schools, churches and synagogues – culminating in the last five years of his career dedicated to the $162m modernization of the National Landmarked Duke Ellington School of the Arts in DC. In the mid 1990’s Chris qualified to become a credentialed practitioner of U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building certification program and virtually all of his projects in the last 25 years were awarded LEED Silver or Gold Sustainable Design Awards.
In 2014 Chris joined the 3% of his colleagues elevated to membership in the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows for his contributions to the aesthetic, scientific, and practical efficiency of the profession. He has served on many boards of directors over the years including the DC Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, Abramson Scholarship Foundation and the Georgetown Business Improvement District.
Chris and his retired architect wife, Mary Kfoury, spent 35 years in DC raising their two children and pursuing their careers, finally moving to the Annapolis area in 2009 to renovate the old farmhouse in Loch Haven, treasuring every day living on their South River location. In these past 12 years Chris has been able to focus more on the needs of his community around Annapolis, including: supporting and volunteering for oyster and shoreline restoration projects with the South River and now Arundel Rivers Federation. Chris and Mary are avid sailors, gardeners and beekeepers, and raise oyster spat, osprey and purple martins.
Paul M. Kaladas (South River Advisory Committee Chair)
Paul holds BS and PhD degrees in Biochemistry from Rutgers University. At the end of 2015, Paul retired from MedImmune, an Astra Zeneca company, as Director of Biopharmaceutical Development. During his 35-year career in the biopharmaceutical industry, he held a variety of scientific and management leadership roles at both small biotech and large pharmaceutical companies. Paul and his wife Norma moved from New Jersey to Maryland in 2011 and to the Annapolis Neck peninsula in 2013. Paul is an Arundel County Watershed Steward, a Clean Water Captain volunteer at CBF and volunteers as an oral history interviewer and editor for the Annapolis Maritime Museum. Paul is an avid sailboat racer and cruiser and enjoys cycling and kayaking.
Mike Krissoff (Cap’n Mike)
Born in Washington DC, Mike Krissoff grew up on the waters of Anne Arundel County, starting with his own 12- foot wooden rowboat at the age of 7 in Shady Side, now cruising with a custom-built 46′ Chesapeake Bay deadrise berthed on Little Aberdeen Creek on the South River. Along the way were Lasers, Hobie Cats, a variety of one-design racing sailboats and log canoes, and countless days of race committee work with the Eastport and Annapolis Yacht Clubs.
Named South River Federation’s 2017 Volunteer of the Year, Cap’n Mike, a 50-Ton US Coast Guard Master, a past commodore and 35-year member of Eastport Yacht Club, and a 25-year member of AYC, has hosted hundreds of days on the water for volunteer and non-profit organizations for fundraising and appreciation activities, kayaking, stand-up paddling, biking and fishing friends, even a for wedding guests.
Now retired from a 40-year career in non-profit trade association management, Cap’n Mike enjoys sharing his knowledge of the Chesapeake’s history and traditions, its charm and beauty, wildlife, and special settings known best only to the locals.
Stoney Simons, Jr.
Stoney Simons, Jr. obtained a Ph.D. in chemistry from Harvard University and went on to a postdoctoral fellowship in Molecular Endocrinology at the Univ. of California, San Francisco. He then moved to Bethesda, Maryland, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for the next 40 years, first as a Staff Fellow before becoming the Chief of the Steroid Hormones Section for 30 years in one of the NIH institutes. Upon retiring in 2015, he and his wife moved full time to western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, where they enjoy running, biking, kayaking, hiking, sailing, gardening, tennis, bird watching, sour dough bread baking, French, skiing, and travelling. He joined the Board of the West River Riverkeeper in 2016. After the merger with the South River Riverkeeper in 2019, he continued on the board of the Arundel Rivers Federation. He is a volunteer scientist at NASA/Goddard and is the founder and organizer of the Galesville Astrophysical Society.
Greg holds MS and PhD degrees from the Marine Estuarine and Environmental Science (MEES) program at the University of Maryland (UMD). The research focus over his 30 -year career at UMD was aquatic toxicology with projects involving fresh, estuarine, and marine waters as well as toxic sediments. Greg has also conducted research on disinfection by-products (DBPs) and ships ballast water treatment systems which has led to long-term positions on several United Nations/International Maritime Organization (IMO) working groups. Recently retired from UMD, Greg currently works as an Ecologist in the Invasion Studies Lab at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) located on the Rhode River where he runs a barnacle and mussel hatchery and studies the life-histories of potentially invasive species.