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 by 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, who is on the NRC Board of Directors. She enjoys kayaking for fun and fitness and believes that kayaking as an exceptional way to see the world. Zuzana’s longterm 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
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 and a four-time National Junior Slalom Team coach. He spent almost a decade serving on the US National Whitewater Slalom Committee, was competition chair for the ACA Dixie Division, and has worked with NRC since 2002.
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. He lives in Bryson City, NC with his wife, Jean, and daughter, Evy, who trains with the NRC youth slalom team.
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, Juliet and an active member and advocate of the local and paddling communities. 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.
Evy Leibfarth: (Bryson City, NC) Evy 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. She loves the way a slalom boat moves through the water, the feeling she gets when she starts going fast, and the challenge of negotiating the gates. In 2016, Evy became the youngest athlete to compete in the U.S. Slalom Olympic Team Trials, and also qualified for the U.S. Junior National Team, but was too young to take the spot.
Evy loves to kayak more than anything in the world, but she also enjoys standup paddling boarding, surfing, mountain biking, throwing the occasional round of disc golf, 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.