March 3, 2023
John Searby, Executive Director
As Executive Director, John is responsible for the overall leadership of Catawba Riverkeepers and serves as its primary fundraiser, visionary, & relationship developer. John brings a diverse background in coaching, athletic administration, fundraising, design, marketing, sponsorship planning, and sales management to the Catawba Riverkeepers. He leverages these experiences to build an organization that uses engagement with the water to fund protection of the water.
John grew up in Central Illinois where his passion for the outdoors began while bird hunting with his grandfather. John attended Milligan College in Johnson City, Tennessee, where he was a 3-year starter and captain of the basketball team. John fell in love with the mountains of East Tennessee while earning a Bachelor’s Degree in History and English from Milligan College and a Master’s Degree in English from Tennessee Tech University. After college, John embarked on a ten-year basketball coaching journey at Gardner-Webb University, Tennessee Tech University, Lincoln Christian University, and Auburn University before working in athletic administration at Bradley University. Following his time in athletics, John worked in the business world for XOS Digital, Downstream Design, and Adams Outdoor Advertising.
John currently resides on the South Fork River in Belmont, North Carolina, with his wife, Jessi, and two children, Jack (17) and Josie (14). During his free time, he enjoys all things outdoors – kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, trail running, camping, bird hunting, and fishing as well as consuming as much American History as possible. John also serves the Charlotte region and Catawba-Wateree River Basin as a member of the Board of Directors of the Carolina Raptor Center, the Vice President of the Catawba-Wateree Relicensing Coalition, a member of the Gaston County Travel & Tourism Board of Advisors, a member of the Pharr Family YMCA Board of Advisors, and as Chairman of the the South Fork River Health Committee.