About Us


Mark J. Spalding - President

Mark J. Spalding has been the President of The Ocean Foundation since its founding 10 years ago.  Under his leadership, it has grown exponentially from a $200,000 to $5 million/year budget, and he has prioritized its focus on steering the human relationship with the sea to a brighter future through diverse, carefully chosen strategies and projects.  Mark drove the design and establishment of the Alaska Oceans Program, the Shipping Safety Partnership, the Loreto Bay Foundation and the St. Kitts Foundation.  Mark is the advisor to the Rockefeller Ocean Strategy (an unprecedented ocean-centric investment fund), and designed the first-ever blue carbon offset program, SeaGrass Grow! Mark was recently appointed by the UN to its Pool of Experts for the UN World Ocean Assessment. From 1994 to 2003, Mark was the Director of the Environmental Law and Civil Society Program, and Editor of the Journal of Environment and Development, at UCSD’s Graduate School of International Relations & Pacific Studies (IR/PS). In addition to lecturing at IR/PS, Mark has taught at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD's Muir College, UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy, and University of San Diego's School of Law.  He was a research fellow at UCSD's Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, a Sustainability Institute – Donella Meadows Leadership Fellow and a SeaWeb Senior Fellow.  He holds a B.A. in history with Honors from Claremont McKenna College, a J.D. from Loyola Law School, and a Master in Pacific International Affairs (MPIA) from IR/PS.  He is a graduate of the British School of Motor Racing.  

Karen Muir - Vice President, Operations

Karen Muir has spent her career working internationally and in the U.S. helping build and manage organizations.  Karen grew up on the eastern shore of Massachusetts, watching the fishing industry's ebb and flow and realizing the importance that the natural world, the ocean in particular, plays in the lives of the people there. Karen studied zoology at Connecticut College, including a one-year program in sustainable wildlife management in Kenya with the School for Field Studies. Through her career Karen has experienced life in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, including Egypt, where she met her husband. She joined The Ocean Foundation in May 2009 to help Alexandra Cousteau launch Blue Legacy International, one of The Ocean Foundation's fiscal sponsorship funds. Prior to joining The Ocean Foundation, Karen served as part of the senior management team of the International Executive Service Corps (IESC). In 2010, Karen joined The Ocean Foundation core staff bringing her love of the environment, commitment to preserving our natural world and her expertise in overall not for profit business management.

Nora Burke - Donor and Partnership Relations Manager

Nora Burke supports donor development by coordinating strategic development planning, communications, and marketing. Her responsibilities include database management, correspondence, and event planning. Nora brings advertising agency experience as well as a background in grassroots marketing to TOF. She majored in Marketing Management and minored in Communications at Virginia Tech.  She has a passion for traveling and volunteering abroad, highlighted by a trip to Southeast Asia where she worked to repopulate clown fish and restore Thailand's beaches damaged by tourism. When not at work she's likely found on a run or on a yoga mat.

Caroline Coogan - Foundation Assistant

Caroline Coogan supports day to day office operations while also lending her time to development opportunities and research for special projects. Caroline graduated from William and Mary with a BS in Biology and Environmental Science & Policy, and is excited to be fulfilling a childhood dream of working for - and in - the oceans.  Any free time sees her returning to the Turks and Caicos Islands to research and dive with sharks and sea turtles - or making much better grilled cheese sandwiches than Jarrod.

Jarrod Curry - Digital Strategist

Jarrod Curry coordinates all business operations of TOF's Washington, DC office.  His responsibilities include managing facilities and supporting development, communications, and HR.  He has a bachelor's degree in Journalism with a minor in Art History from West Virginia University.  Jarrod brings four years of international experience to TOF, having lived and worked in China and the Middle East. He also has extensive experience managing business projects for independent bands and visual artists.  When he's not in the office, he's probably either reading comic books or sifting through vinyl at the local record shop.

Luke Elder - Research Analyst

Luke Elder supports the foundation’s research and consulting area of business, and provides overall support to the foundation in other development and operational areas.  Luke brings experience working for other environmental organizations to TOF, including The Nature Conservancy, BiodiversityWorks, and Middlebury College’s Sustainability Integration Office.  Luke graduated Cum Laude from Middlebury College with a BA in Biology and Environmental Studies and a minor in Spanish, and has spent time living and working in Spain. Luke doesn’t eat to live, he lives to eat, and consequently enjoys spending his free time on a run or being active in the great outdoors (ideally by the ocean).

Sarah Martin - Community Connector

Sarah Martin  manages the Foundation’s communications through message development, branding, website content, traditional and new media practices. She consults with staff, project managers and partners on how to best build awareness around their campaigns. Sarah brings years of public relations and research experience to the Foundation and has worked in the environmental field in this capacity for over five years. Sarah graduated from Westminster College in Pennsylvania with a degree in Public Relations. Growing up on a farm by the banks of Hacker’s Creek in West Virginia Sarah’s passion for the environment started at an early age and she is excited to foster that passion through her work at TOF.

Ben Scheelk - Program Associate

Ben Scheelk provides operational and administrative support for The Ocean Foundation’s Fiscal Sponsorship Fund (FSF) and Friends of Fund (FOF) programs. He is responsible for carrying out general operations, financial management, enrolling new projects, and processing contracts. Ben joins TOF after working as the project manager and executive assistant for Alexandra Cousteau at Blue Legacy International. Graduating Summa Cum Laude from Northern Michigan University with a B.A. in Earth Science and International Studies with Honors, Ben was instilled with a passion for water conservation from an early age growing up along the Great Lakes. Ben strives to live life to the fullest and is always searching for the next great adventure.


Diane Davidson - Senior Legal and Program Consultant, is a veteran attorney with extensive experience in mass media communications, administrative, contract, real estate and international law. A lifelong conservationist and scuba diver since 1983, Diane has a strong passion for the oceans and their protection. particularly because she has seen the terrible effects of climate change on the underwater first hand. She provides legal strategy and support,  manages the resort partnerships at The Ocean Foundation and provides assistance as needed in other areas. She has been very active in her local county watershed and flood water management through the years, and has been certified by the Potomac Greenways Coalition's Master Watershed Stewardship Program. Previous employers include two private law firms, the Federal Communications Commission, Discovery Communications and The Walt Disney Company. Diane received her JD degree from Vanderbilt University and her undergraduate degree from Duke University.

Tamika L. Washington - Accounting & Tax Preparation Consultant, received her B.S. in Accounting from Morgan State University and has spent the last 15 years providing accounting services and support for large and small companies in a variety of industries.  For the past 11 years, many of the companies she’s worked with have been ocean non profits.  She is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but has lived in Maryland for nearly 25 years.  One of her fondest childhood memories was after her move to Maryland, where she was on a school science field trip aboard a skipjack doing research in the Chesapeake Bay.  That experience sparked her interest in the world’s oceans. Tamika's company DAS Unlimited has been working with the Ocean Foundation since 2009.

Shree Laxmi Karmacharya has joined Tamika Washington at DAS Unlimited and will be providing accounting support to The Ocean Foundation. Shree has a double MBA degree in General Management and Finance. She is multilingual and is fluent in English, Hindi/Urdu, Nepali, which is her national language, and Newari, her ethnic language. While obtaining her MBA, Shree managed her own pharmaceutical business. After graduation, she worked as a Human Resource manager in one of the largest manufacturing companies in Nepal.  After she relocated to the US she worked at the Strayer University, Alexandria Campus, as an Assistant Business Office Manager focusing on accounts receivables and collections before she joined the International League of Conservation Photographers as the Director of Finance and Operations handling of all the financial management of the organization.

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