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Meet the RVAPS Team

Patrick Griffin - RVA Paddlesports

Patrick Griffin

Founder, Kayak Instructor, Raft Guide, Shuttle Driver

Patrick learned to guide rafts with Richmond Raft Company in Spring 2003. Skills learned through four seasons of guiding in Richmond and kayaking with friends ultimately led him to explore rivers around the world. Over the past decade he paddled and guided in Alaska, Norway, Costa Rica, Mexico, Nepal, Uganda, India and Chile.

From his experience working for various river outfitters on six continents, Patrick brings to RVA Paddlesports a unique blend of safety, instruction, and style from some of the best rivers and guides around. In addition to river experience, Patrick has over 60 field days working for various Wilderness Therapy Programs in the US. Patrick’s favorite type of paddling is expedition style trips. “I love being able to absorb myself in the rhythm of the river and mountains for days on end.

The trip becomes less about each rapid and more about working with your team to safely navigate the river. Paddling has led me to the most incredible and hidden places on the planet. I hope to share those places with people in the future.”

Certifications: ACA Level 4 Kayak Instructor, Sierra Rescue River Rescue, CPR, First Aid, Wilderness First Responder, Virginia Teaching License, Nehru Institute of Mountaineering – BMC 28-Day, Disability Etiquette

a man riding a wave on a surf board on a body of water

Andi Sorenson

River Manager, Trip Leader, Raft Guide

Andi has been a river guide since 2011. She studied Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Management at Radford University with a concentration in Outdoor Recreation. She graduated at 21 years old in 2011. For her senior internship, she traveled to the Chattooga River, which is federally protected under the Wild and Scenic Act, and went through guide training. She immediately fell in love with the river, the community, and the overarching sense of belonging.

She went on to spend 7 years as a guide, trip leader, safety kayaker, and kayaking instructor on the Chattooga. She met her husband, Eric, during her first year. In addition to guiding, she worked in the therapeutic industry in both the wilderness setting and boarding schools. In 2017, Andi moved to her hometown of Richmond, Virginia, and began guiding and trip leading on the beautiful James River.  She is currently an exceptional education teacher of 7th-grade history.

Certifications: Sierra Rescue River Rescue, CPR, First Aid, Wilderness First Responder, Leave No Trace Trainer, Disability Etiquette


Sara McWilliams

Operations Manager, Flatwater Guide 

Sara’s love for being in and on the water began at a very young age while living off the coast of Vancouver, Canada. Her dream to turn that passion into career began while at UVA studying Biology, during a coral reef ecology course in the Bahamas. After graduating in 2018, she moved to Ireland for 2 years to continue her studies while working as the Operations Assistant for a marine conservation and education centre in County Kerry. While there, she led snorkel, SUP, and kayak ecotour expeditions on Ireland’s freshwater lakes as well as the Atlantic Ocean.

She and her husband relocated to Richmond in the summer of 2021 and she began guiding flatwater trips on the James River. She had her first whitewater adventure ever that summer, and absolutely fell in love with it! Her favourite thing about the James River is the abundance of nature in such an urban setting and she wants to continue to learn more about Virginia’s freshwater ecology. She is also currently pursuing her dream of becoming a yoga teacher and hopes to bring SUP Yoga to RVA Paddlesports!

Certifications: Sierra Rescue River Rescue, CPR, First Aid, Wilderness First Aid

Jakov Fak in a raft on the water

Eric Sorenson

Trip Leader, Raft Guide

Eric started guiding rafts in 2009 after taking many summer trips down the Ocoee River while working as a YMCA camp counselor.  He has guided on the Ocoee River, Chattooga River, and the James River.  Eric spent 10 years guiding on the Chattooga before moving to Richmond, VA with his wife, Andi, in 2017.  He is currently in school at J. Sargeant Reynolds studying Horticulture.  He hopes to own a mini farm with goats and chickens, and to grow and sell vegetables and house plants from a greenhouse.

Certifications: Sierra Rescue River Rescue, CPR, Wilderness First Aid

Ingrid Shannon

Ingrid Shannon

Trip Leader, Kayak Instructor, Raft Guide

Born in Berlin behind the Iron Curtain, Ingrid moved to Richmond, Virginia in the 1970’s. She enjoyed snorkeling in Pony Pasture, finding many aluminum cans, watches, wallets, and rings. While in college, she frequently tubed down Hollywood Rapid.

Ingrid studied at Pennsylvania State University, Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Richmond, and the US Army. She then went on a ROTC land a tour in Germany before becoming Commercial Hard Hat Diver in the Gulf of Mexico. Later, she worked at the Edwin I. Hatch Nuclear Power Plant in Georgia.

After her wedding, Ingrid and her husband moved back to Virginia, and had two boys. While pregnant, she rafted the Lower Gauley River and later placed 3rd in the Animal River Race with an all-female team. She has decades of river experience, including the James, New, Gauley, Maury, Green, Nolichucky, Chattooga, Ocoee, Pigeon, French Broad, Black, Hudson, Sacandaga, and American Rivers.

When she’s not on the water, she teaches engineering, technology, and digital photography, as well as spending time outdoors with her family.

Certifications: ACA Level 4 Kayak Instructor, Sierra Rescue River Rescue, CPR, First Aid, Wilderness First Responder

a group of people standing in front of a bus

Andrew Reinhardt

Trip Leader, Raft Guide

Andrew, a Richmond native, has been a Raft Guide for nearly a dozen seasons. He started on the French Broad River near Asheville, North Carolina. Down there, he also worked in Tennessee on the Nolichucky River. He later went back to finish school in Arizona at Prescott College.

While in the West, he worked in Colorado on the Numbers section of the Arkansas River, as well as Clear Creek. He moved back to Asheville after school, worked for a few more years, and then eventually to Richmond in 2019 for his first season on the James River with RVA Paddlesports.

Certifications: Sierra Rescue River Rescue, CPR, First Aid, Wilderness First Responder

a man riding on the back of a boat

Shep Roeper

Raft Guide

Shep’s passion for the outdoor adventure world began in college where he took classes in outdoor and therapeutic recreation.  After graduating with a degree in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism, he moved to California where he worked as a ski and raft guide (in different seasons of course) for a non profit that works with individuals with disabilities.  After his time out west, Shep returned to Richmond and he is now the Director and Co-founder of Beyond Boundaries, a local non-profit that provides outdoor adventures to individuals with disabilities, at risk youth, veterans, and substance recovery programs.  Beyond Boundaries and RVAPaddleSports started the same year and have been friends and river partners ever since! Until recently you could typically find Shep fishing, paddling, or rock climbing.  Now he spends most of his days with his wife, Kelly, and new son, River! Shep believes that playtime is not just for kids and is happy to share his stoke with you any day!

Certifications: Wilderness First Aid, Swift Water Rescue, CPR, Disability Etiquette

a person with a bridge over water

Charles Ware

Raft Guide
2021 will be my 38th year as a raft guide on the James if things go as planned.  I am the only guide who has worked for every company that has run trips on the Falls of the James.  I started working for James River Experiences {JRX} in  1982, and made my first open canoe run down the lower section of the James in Richmond in 1976.  My wife Rebecca and I have paddled together for 38 years {since 1983}, and she was formerly a raft guide and was shop manager for JRX.  My son John is now an active  raft guide and trip leader.
My early years on the James came at a time when there was a major threat to recreational use of the river from hydropower development schemes.  River conservation work at this time prompted me to change careers, and to seek and obtain a graduate degree in environmental and land use planning.  My undergraduate work at the University of Virginia, with dual majors in history and government, assisted my past and current conservation efforts.
a person standing next to a river

Grace Lumsden-Cook

Operations Assistant

Howdy! I’m Grace (she/her) and I started as an Operations Assistant at RVA Paddlesports in early 2023 Ever since I was a kid, I have absolutely loved swimming and boating on the river, and love to share that passion with others even more. After this May, I will have a masters degree in Environmental Studies (M.Envs.) from Virginia Commonwealth University (woohoo!). I am hoping to use all the knowledge and experience that I gained at VCU to contribute to the mission of RVAPS, and help to engage the greater Richmond community with all the wonderful nature around them! If I am not at work or school, you can find me sitting outside the VMFA, or on the river rafting with some homies. 🙂

a person holding an orange boat on a body of water

Leah Capili

Operations Assistant

Leah starting working in the outdoor industry through VCU’s Outdoor Adventure Program and has worn many hats throughout the years. From trip leader to attendant to marketing to admin, she loves getting people stoked to be outside and has been at RVAPS since February. Leah has a BS Environmental Studies from VCU and is currently pursuing her MS in Environmental Science and Policy at Johns Hopkins University.  Her favorite outdoor activities are yoga (anywhere, any time), SUPing, and hiking!

a person riding a surf board on a body of water

Levente Gal

Kayak Instructor

Levente learned to kayak through the RVA Paddlesport’s youth paddling program. He knows firsthand how fun and challenging it can be to learn how to kayak, and enjoys helping others along their kayaking journey! He’s been paddling for 8 years all over the world, including Mexico, Norway, Slovenia, and the Pacific Northwest. He has been raft guiding and kayak instructing for RVA Paddlesports for three years. His favorite discipline of kayaking is freestyle, and he qualified for the USA Freestyle Kayaking Team in 2022. Levente is currently studying biomedicine at Virginia Tech and plans on pursuing a career in medicine.


Certifications: ACA Level 4 Kayak Instructor, Sierra Rescue River Rescue, CPR, First Aid, Wilderness First Responder