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Save the River names Lee Willbanks as its next executive director

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CLAYTON — Save the River’s board of directors has named D. Lee Willbanks, who was chief of staff to former state Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine, as its new executive director.

Starting early June, he will succeed Jennifer J. Caddick as the head of the Clayton-based environmental advocacy group.

After leading the nonprofit organization for six years since 2006, Ms. Caddick will leave Save the River at the end of June.

In a news release, board President Edward C. McNally said Save the River is “thrilled” to have Mr. Willbanks on board.

“Lee’s commitment and enthusiasm for our mission of protecting the St. Lawrence River combined with his legal and legislative background are a great fit for the organization,” he said. “His expertise comes at a key moment for Save the River as we continue to battle the forces who invariably place their own interests ahead of the well-being of the river.”

An Alabama native, Mr. Willbanks brings to Save the River strong knowledge from his diverse career, which ranges from environmental counsel to independent power producer to Cornell Cooperation Extension, where he worked in youth development, according to the organization.

He is married to state Department of Environmental Conservation Region 6 Director Judy Drabicki, with whom he spends much time boating on the St. Lawrence. They have two grown children.

He and Ms. Caddick had both worked with the Tug Hill Commission.

Mr. Willbanks earned his bachelor’s degree in urban studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and his law degree and master of public administration at Syracuse University.

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