Staff & Board of Directors
The Nantahala Racing Club is led by a volunteer board of directors who are responsible for setting goals and maintaining the integrity of the NRC mission. A small team of paid staff works part-time to support and activate the Board’s initiatives through fundraising, coordinating volunteers, and taking care of the club’s administration. To keep the costs of participation low, most programs are led by volunteers.
ZUZANA VANHA MONTAGNE
After School Kayaking Coordinator Zuzana Vanha Montagne trained and competed for whitewater slalom under the NRC banner from 2004 to 2008, during which time she also helped to coach and mentor younger members. Zuzana has held various positions with NRC, including race director and coach. She continues to volunteer at various NRC programs and events and especially enjoys helping with the Nantahala Kids Club and the Junior Olympics.
Zuzana lives in Bryson City, NC, with her husband Michael. She enjoys kayaking for fun and fitness and believes that kayaking is an exceptional way to see the world. Zuzana’s long-term vision for NRC is a flourishing community that provides a healthy outlet for kids and adults to play on and off the water and supports committed athletes pursuing their competitive goals. The vision includes a clubhouse, a van, a coach, and a busy schedule of events for both youth and adult members.
Board of Directors
We are holding elections for new board members on February 26, 2022 – the nominees are as follows
- President: Lee Leibfarth
- Vice-President: Graham Sharp
- Secretary: Jennifer Oetting
- Treasurer: Brian Reeder
- Athlete Rep: Evy Leibfarth
- Member: Steve Zarnowski
- Member: Lisa Monnat
- Member: Leigh Boike
- Member: Rob Kelly
If you would like to vote, please fill out the BOD Voting Form no later than February 25, 2022
Current Board of Directors
President Steve Zarnowski has been a driving force of the Nantahala Racing Club since the early 1990s. His hands-on involvement with the club has ranged from organizing pool-rolling sessions to soliciting sponsorship, driving policy, and acting as club historian.
Steve is perhaps best known for his role as The Starter at NRC races on the Nantahala. Many notable paddling personalities in the Southeast can brag to have begun their paddling careers in the pool or on the river with Steve.
Vice President Lee Leibfarth is a former competitive whitewater slalom kayaker, a four-time National Junior Slalom Team coach, and an Olympic coach. He spent almost a decade serving on the U.S. National Whitewater Slalom Committee, was competition chair for the ACA Dixie Division, and has worked and volunteered with NRC since 2002. Since 2019, he has coached his daughter, Evy, and other athletes on the international racing circuit, including World Cups, World Championships, and the Olympics.
Lee has been involved in paddling for over 30 years, and still enjoys sharing his passion for kayaking with others. Lee coaches the NRC youth slalom team on the Nantahala and at training camps and races around the country and world. He lives in Bryson City, NC with his wife, Jean, and their daughter, Evy.
Treasurer Brian Reeder started whitewater kayaking back when all boats were pointed on both ends, and few were made of plastic. As a product of outdoor experimental learning, he is keen to see youth get excited about whitewater kayaking. He was asked to help judge at the age-group nationals some years ago when he came down to paddle and watch a friend’s son race. Ever since that day, he has enjoyed helping with the NRC events. He has also been known to run shuttle on his motorcycle.
Dr. Reeder is a Professor of Biology at Morehead State University, and lives with his partner Dr. Lynn Haller (Psychology), in Morehead, KY.
JULIET JACOBSEN KASTORF
Secretary Juliet Jacobsen Kastorf is a co-founder of Endless River Adventures. She is an active member of and advocate for the local paddling communities. A business owner, kayak instructor, and international guide—as well as enthusiastic slalom boater—Juliet is a champion of youth paddling in the Nantahala Gorge and the Southeast.
Juliet was instrumental in creating the Nantahala Kids Club and continues to be a mentor and Lead Instructor with this flagship NRC community program.
Athlete Representative Evy Leibfarth (Bryson City, NC) spends most of her whitewater time in a slalom boat, training on the gates with her dad, a former U.S. Junior National Team Coach and slalom racer. In 2019—the year she was first eligible for the U.S. Junior and Senior Teams—she became the youngest canoe slalom athlete (at age 15) ever to medal at a senior World Cup. She is also a Pan-American Champion, 2x Junior World Champion, 6x U.S. National Champion, and 5x World Cup medalist. Evy proudly represented the U.S. at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, where she was the youngest canoe slalom competitor and a member of the very first cohort of women’s canoeists at the Games.
Evy is a dedicated volunteer with the Nantahala Racing Club and has served as a junior instructor for our after-school program, as well as a coach, event organizer, course manager, and advocate for girls and women in sport. She loves to paddle more than anything in the world, but she also enjoys standup paddleboarding, surfing, mountain biking, cooking, and drawing. Evy’s favorite quote is: “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m Possible!”
Board Member Todd McGinnis has a long history of involvement in paddlesports in the Southeast. A former president of the Georgia Canoe Association, he is a respected leader and organizer in the whitewater community. An avid paddler himself, you might run into him on the river most weekends out of the year, teaching, playing or trying to keep up with his daughter, Olivia.
Todd lives with his family in Alpharetta, GA. 2016 was his first year with the Board of Directors, but he has been involved as a volunteer and wrangler for many years.