Cuyahoga River Panel

An Akron Roundtable XTRA

Presentation Title: The Burning River Revival...50 Years Later and its Impact on Summit County

Presented in conjunction with The University of Akron

August 7, 2019
Luncheon sponsored by:


Event ticket includes presentation, appetizers and two drink tickets.


about the speaker

Join Akron Roundtable for this special XTRA featuring a panel of experts as they explore the history of the Cuyahoga River and its impact on Summit County. The event will be held on the Huntington Club Level at Infocision Stadium on the campus of The University of Akron (GPS location - 344 South Union Street, Akron).

Akron Roundtable guests may park for FREE in University of Akron Lot 6, located directly off East Exchange Street and adjacent to InfoCision Stadium. Overflow parking will be located in Lot 9, off East Exchange Street and near the Zips Football scoreboard. Parking map information at: 

The event will begin at 4:00 pm with a moderated discussion lead by Andrew Meyer, WKSU News Director. Bill Zawiski will open the program with a brief history of the river, its burning and clean-up. John Peck will address the improving health of the river; while Elaine Marsh will address the past and future plans for damn removals. Finally, Deb Yandala will address recreation on the river and the tourism surrounding the river. The session will end with a Q&A from the audience.

Following the formal presentation guests will be invited to mingle with the presenters while enjoying appetizers and Great Lakes Brewing Company's Burning River Pale Ale and other beverages.

Speakers Include:

Elaine Marsh – Conservation Director, Friends of the Crooked River

John Peck - Professor/Honors Advisor, Department of Geosciences, The University of Akron

Deb Yandala – Chief Executive Office, Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Bill Zawiski - Environmental Supervisor, Division of Surface Water, Ohio EPA - NE District Office

Elaine Marsh, currently Conservation Director for Friends of the Crooked River, has been active in river issues for nearly 40 years.  In 1989, she co-founded Friends of Crooked River, a grassroots group dedicated to the Cuyahoga River.  From 1996-2008, she served as Project Director for Ohio Greenways.   Elaine sits on many boards and has received numerous recognitions, including 2005 Life Time Achievement Award from Ohio Environmental Council.

Dr. John Peck is a professor of Geosciences at The University of Akron specializing in sedimentology, pollution histories, dam removal, lakes and rivers, and paleoclimate. Dr. Peck takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of these topics and his courses include a significant field work component. He has traveled around the world to study climate change and is considered an expert on the environmental human impacts on Ohio’s lakes and rivers.

Deb Yandala is the CEO of the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  The Conservancy connects the community with the park in many ways, including managing the park’s education, volunteer and cultural arts programs.  It also operates two stores, manages events in the park and raises money for park projects. She has served in this role since 2002. Prior to this she was the director of Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center, the residential learning center managed by the Conservancy.

A national leader in the National Park Service partnership community, Deb is the Past President of the NPS Friends Alliance, the network of over 120 national park friends groups. She is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Eastern National, the organization that manages park stores and provides support to 160 NPS sites.

Deb has a B.A. from Miami University and an M.S. in natural resources from the University of Michigan.

Bill Zawiski has been employed by the Ohio EPA since 1989 and is currently the Water Quality Group Supervisor in Ohio EPA's Northeast District.  Bill received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Biology from the University of Akron.

The Division of Surface Water ensures compliance with the federal Clean Water Act and works to increase the number of water bodies that can be safely used for swimming and fishing. The division issues permits to regulate wastewater treatment plants, factories and storm water runoff; develops comprehensive watershed plans aimed at improving polluted streams.

Trained as a biologist, Zawiski has worked for years with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. He has taken an active role in the movement in this area to remove dams to improve the quality of rivers.  Bill has coauthored several professional publications on dams and water quality.  As the water quality group supervisor, he works on projects throughout northeast Ohio.  He has also worked on numerous TMDLs in the district office.