News From the Water

Announcing Live Water Foundation’s new board member, Nancy Kobel!

September 16, 2021

A native of New Jersey and New York, Nancy attended the University of Maryland where she studied aerospace engineering. After graduating, Nancy found her place at NASA and made her move to Maryland official. She worked as an engineer for eleven years, before making a transition into leadership coaching and training after returning to UMD and obtaining a Masters degree.

Nancy thrived in her new role, and through a natural evolution she became a nationally recognized courage and leadership coach, facilitating workshops across the country. Her work began with training engineers and has since progressed into coaching women in leadership positions. “It’s something I’m really passionate about — helping [women] step into their confidence and courage and who they are. That excites me.” says Nancy, who is also a Brené Brown Dare to Lead facilitator.

It was in 2011 that Nancy came across a YouTube clip of a stand up paddle boarder and immediately knew it was something she had to try. She didn’t know it yet, but that video would become a catalyst for growing into a new chapter of her life. A few years later, she came across a Groupon for a stand up paddle board lesson at Capital SUP and was ready to give it a shot. She was immediately hooked, finding joy and spiritual connectedness through SUP yoga. In 2017, Nancy made a personal commitment to challenge herself in a way she never had and joined the Capital SUP race team. “That was also the year I quit my job,” says Nancy. “I left a nice, cushy job with a steady paycheck and health insurance and all of that fun stuff to focus more so on my coaching and facilitating.”

three women doing a warrior pose on paddleboards


Through the race team, Nancy heard about Live Water Foundation. “I saw the power of what they were doing within the community – [founders] Kevin [Haigis], Brian [Meyer] and Chris [Norman] together – and how they were bringing people together. I also saw the power of paddleboarding and how accessible it can be to people who don’t have access to the amazing waterways with boats and more expensive ways to get there, so that’s part of what I love about what Live Water is doing. Getting vets and underserved youth onto the water — I love that part.”

Several Live Water Foundation members stand with a group of children


Nancy is also personally aligned with Live Water’s clean water initiatives. She has always been environmentally conscious and conservation oriented, but became acutely aware of the declining health of the Chesapeake Bay after beating skin cancer in 2006 —  it’s surgical removal leaving her with 12 stitches in her big toe. “My doctor told me, ‘You cannot go in the Bay for a year. You can go in the ocean, you can go in pools, but you can’t go into the Bay or any of its rivers for a full year.’ And it just hits you — ‘Wow, our waters really are not clean or safe for us to go in,” says Nancy. “It had healed but [my doctor] still said no.”

It takes more than eco-friendly choices to make valuable progression in restoring the Chesapeake Bay, and Nancy is no stranger to taking political action. Her history as an activist and her ongoing work as an advocate for the global organization, which fights to protect the world’s poorest, has led her straight to Congress. “I have visited with all of our Senators in the state of Maryland, along with our Representatives in Congress. Not only in mine, because living here mine has changed a number of times just simply because of gerrymandering. So, I’ve also visited all of the congressional leaders outside of my district,” says Nancy. “It’s so important to get our politicians working for us — not the other way around.”

With her distinctive blend of personal and professional experiences, Nancy is organizationally skilled in many ways — technically as an engineer, inspirationally as a facilitator and leader, and politically as district leader and advocate. Along with her devotion to community activism and environmental protection, Nancy is a valued member of Live Water Foundation’s team.


Nancy is also a mother of two, with a daughter studying Environmental Science and Policy at the University of Maryland. Though she wears many professional hats, Nancy ultimately considers herself a courage coach and a mental health trainer, saying that our mental fitness is as important as our physical fitness, “It’s all connected: your mental with your emotional with your experiences.”

Nancy’s favorite Live Water Foundation program is Wai Koa. Visit her website for more information on Nancy’s work, and how you can work with her.


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