PROJECT HEALING WATERS FLY FISHING, INC (PHWFF) takes great pleasure in presenting the Phil Johnson Exceptional Leadership Award to Jim O’Brien for his dedicated and inspiring service to our organization from 2013 to 2021. During this period, his selfless efforts and extreme generosity as Program Lead for the PHWFF Portsmouth Program in Portsmouth, Virginia and as the Deputy Regional Coordinator (DRC) for the PHWFF Virginia Region led to the Program’s and Region’s overall success.
Jim formed the PHWFF Portsmouth Program in 2013 and served as its initial Program Lead. During this time, he firmly established the Program’s core activities and recruited its initial volunteers and participants. After six months as the Program Lead, conducting program meetings, executing local fly fishing outings, and completing all the administrative activities required to build a new Program, Jim became a DRC for the PHWFF Virginia Region.
In his duties as a PHWFF Virginia Region DRC, Jim served as the driving force behind the logistics, planning, and execution of the Region’s two signature fly fishing events: The Back Creek Outing and The Riverbound Outing. The Back Creek Outing is a twice annual event that gathers the PHWFF Virginia Region’s newest and least experienced anglers from each Program in the Region for a day of fly fishing education and fly fishing on pristine water. The Riverbound Outing is another twice annual event, that puts more experienced anglers over some of the largest and wiliest trophy trout in Virginia. During Jim’s tenure as DRC, these outings included over 600 volunteers and participants from the PHWFF Virginia Region. Jim also
led the planning effort for the region’s participation in the Cape Lookout Redfish and Albacore Festival and the Jackson River Outings. Jim’s exceptional leadership and organizational skills ensured all events were a resounding success each year.
Additionally, Jim was instrumental to the region’s successful fundraising efforts throughout with his involvement in Healing Saturday events, District and Regional Disabled American Veteran (DAV) events, the Virginia Fly Fishing and Wine Festival, Something in the Water event, and the Legends of The Fly Tournament. Jim served as the coordinator for the boat captains, volunteers, and participants for the past several years for the Legends of the Fly fundraising tournament. Jim’s talented fundraising abilities provided substantial revenue to augment the annual regional and program activities.
Jim also served as a PHWFF Representative for the Veteran’s Administration Volunteer Services (VAVS) Committee at the Hampton Virginia Veterans Administration Medical Center. His efforts on this committee helped coordinate the program activities with the hospital’s leadership and medical professionals. All who know Jim will attest to the positive impact that he made on their lives and the role model of selfless devotion, mentoring, and leadership he provided to them. His tireless efforts created a community where our participants can heal.
Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. is proud to bestow upon Jim O’Brien the Phil Johnson Exceptional Leadership Award for his tireless and extraordinary service to our organization and to those wounded, ill, and injured Servicemen, Servicewomen, and disabled Veterans whom this organization serves.