Born in PA and raised on the Upper Delaware (National Scenic) River, Dean has over 18 years of environmental non-profit experience in North Carolina. He began his non-profit career with the NC Wildlife Federation for eight years from 1991-1999. After graduating cum laude from NC State University, with a degree in Environmental Policy and Sustainable Development, he started the first Upper Neuse Riverkeeper from 2001 to 2008. As of 2008, he has become the first Riverkeeper on the Yadkin River with Yadkin Riverkeeper, Inc.
His work with the Muddy Water Watch (MWW) Program in the Neuse Basin has developed into a successful statewide initiative; being seen as an effective tool to engage the public to monitor and keep construction sites in compliance with water quality laws. The MWW Program continues to grow nationally.
During his tenure as Riverkeeper, the Neuse River Foundation received the North Carolina Wildlife Federation Governor’s Achievement Award for the 2006 Conservation Organization of the Year as well as WRAL’s Dan Wilkinson Conservation Communication Award in 2007 for “excellence in communicating environmental information.” Most recently, Dean has been awarded River Network’s 2009 National River Heroes Award. River Network's River Heroes Award celebrates rivers and those who protect them by recognizing victories and honoring those who provide leadership and inspiration along the way.