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Ogeechee Riverkeeper head stepping down
Emily Markesteyn Kurilla 2
Emily Markesteyn Kurilla

Emily Markesteyn Kurilla has announced she is leaving her post as the executive director of Ogeechee Riverkeeper effective May 31. During her tenure, Kurilla publicly advocated for clean water and the residents who live near, recreate in and rely on the Ogeechee and Canoochee rivers and coastal waters of Georgia.

As the Ogeechee Riverkeeper, her responsibilities included education, monitoring and advocacy activities to promote clean water quality in addition to working with the board of directors to ensure sustainable growth of the organization.

Kurilla and her family will remain in the Savannah area and she has accepted a position with Hasley Recreation Inc., which designs and sells park and playground equipment.

In 2011, Ogeechee Riverkeeper responded to one of the largest fish kills in Georgia’s history along the Ogeechee River in Screven County. The organization’s board of directors, donors, legal and scientific experts and supporters implemented a Clean Water Act lawsuit settlement with King America Finishing (now Milliken) which included a stricter discharge permit, more frequent and transparent water testing protocol, and financial resources to invest back into river research and protection.

Kurilla also collaborated with the Georgia Water Coalition and Rep. Jon Burns to introduce and pass Georgia House Bill 549 to address pollution spills in our waterways. Another career highlight for her, along with her fellow Riverkeepers and coastal advocacy groups, was the denial of Kinder Morgan to use eminent domain to construct the Palmetto Pipeline. She subsequently worked in collaboration on House Bill 413 to fine-tune the rules and regulations regarding petroleum pipeline construction.

Kurilla received a bachelor’s of science degree from Emory University in 2003 and began her professional career at The Landings Association as the office manager in the Public Works Department, where she was later promoted to facilities coordinator. She accepted the position of executive director for Ogeechee Riverkeeper in April 2011.

“I am so grateful for the opportunity and my time spent serving as executive director and Riverkeeper with this amazing organization,” Kurilla said. “While I will miss being intimately involved with Ogeechee Riverkeeper, I am excited to see new energy lead the organization effectively in the future.”

For more information about Ogeechee Riverkeeper, please visit

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