John Amos

President, USA

John Amos is an expert in the use of satellite images and other remote sensing data to understand and communicate local, regional and global environmental issues. In 2001 he founded SkyTruth, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to strengthening environmental conservation by illuminating environmental problems and issues through the use of satellite images, aerial photographs, and other kinds of remote sensing and digital mapping. As President, he directs day- to-day operations, builds partnerships, and develops and manages projects and programs. SkyTruth’s work during the BP / Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico revealed that the spill was far bigger than government and industry officials were claiming and generated international media attention. John and his wife Amy, a writer and environmental policy expert, live in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.


Jason Babbie

Deputy Director of Urban Solutions & Strategic Program Development, USA

Jason K. Babbie is Deputy Director of Urban Solutions & Strategic Program Development at Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). His core responsibilities are leading the creation of scalable municipal-level initiatives, while managing cross-programmatic work, learnings and communications. Previous to joining NRDC, Jason designed and managed the Vibrant Oceans Initiative and developed and managed the domestic components of the Sustainable Cities Initiative at Bloomberg Philanthropies, representing half of its environmental giving at the time. He also served as the Membership Services Program Director at the Environmental Grantmakers Association and directed a variety of successful environmental issue campaigns as the Senior Environmental Policy Analyst for the New York Public Interest Research Group and Air and Energy Program Director for Environmental Advocates of New York. Jason holds a BS in Environmental Studies, concentrating on Policy and Management from the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry/Syracuse University and an MA in Environmental Policy from Brown University.

Nancy Baron

Director of Science Outreach, USA

As COMPASS' Director of Science Outreach, Nancy works with environmental scientists, helping them translate their work effectively to journalists, the public and policy makers. A zoologist and science writer, she holds communications training workshops around the world for academic scientists, graduate students and post docs as well as government and NGO scientists. For her work at the intersection of science and journalism, she was awarded the 2013 Peter Benchley Ocean Award for Excellence in the Media. Nancy has an interdisciplinary Masters degree in Global Marine Studies from the University of British Columbia, a B.Sc. in Zoology, and has won numerous science writing awards. In August 2010, she completed a communications guide book for scientists titled Escape from the Ivory Tower: A Guide to Making Your Science Matter.


Paul J. Boyle

Senior Vice President for Conservation and Education, USA

Dr. Paul Boyle leads the Association's Conservation R & D and Policy programs, which includes conducting research and developing policies to increase the scale and success of AZA-wide species conservation, the effectiveness of informal science education, the impact of public engagement in conservation action, and the advancement of high standards of animal care and welfare. He earned a B.A. in Biology and Marine Science at Northeastern University, a Master's in Environmental Engineering at Harvard University, and a Doctorate in Applied Environmental Sciences, also at Harvard, and graduated from the Wharton School's Executive Management program. Paul has over thirty years’ experience creating and directing conservation programs, environmental research, public education, and exhibit programs and he founded The Ocean Project in 1996 and co-founded the World Ocean Network as global initiatives to increase public understanding of the oceans.


Hooper Brooks

Consultant, USA

Throughout his career Hooper has been dedicated to promoting sustainable urbanism which has encompassed land-use and transportation planning and policy; regional planning; community development; open space conservation; biodiversity protection and strategic philanthropy.  Hooper Brooks currently consults on sustainable urbanism initiatives. Until 2013 he was Director of International Programs at The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community. He represented The Prince’s Foundation internationally and was responsible for establishing and developing a portfolio of exemplar projects. Previous positions include: Program Director for the Environment at the Surdna Foundation; a Vice-President at Regional Plan Association; and Executive Director of the Brookline, Massachusetts Conservation Commission.


Dayne Buddo

Marine Ecologist, Jamaica

Dr. Dayne Buddo is a marine ecologist with a primary focus on marine invasive species. He is the first Jamaican to have done significant work on marine invasive species, through his graduate research on the green mussel Perna viridis in Jamaica. He currently holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology and Botany and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Zoology – Marine Sciences. Dr. Buddo has served the UWI as Lecturer and Academic Coordinator since 2009, and has been stationed at the UWI Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory and Field Station. Dr. Buddo also has significant research interests in marine protected areas management, seagrass ecology, fisheries management and sustainable development. He has worked closely with the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, United Nations Environment Programme, and the Global Environment Facility, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration among other multilateral agencies.


Dominique Callimanopulo

Founder and President, USA

Dominique Callimanopulos is the Founder of Elevate Destinations. A world traveler who has worked and partnered with many international non-profits, she believes in travel that gives back to communities and conservation efforts worldwide. Dominique studied Anthropology at Wesleyan University (BA) and also has an MEd in Counseling Psychology. 


David Conover

President and Founder, USA

David Conover is a New England filmmaker, scholar, sailor, and conservationist.  David graduated from Bowdoin College with a degree in comparative religious studies and also holds a Master's Degree in Education from Harvard University.  He has worked as a professional seaman, a teacher at the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School in Maine and in Florida, and runs a production company, Compass Light Productions, named a GLOBAL TOP 100 production company by Realscreen.  He also has been the Coastal Studies Scholar at Bowdoin College.  Through his years of environment-focused production and teaching work, David recognized the need to build capacity for filmmakers, activists and organizations to work together on urgent ocean health and sustainable energy challenges.  In 2014 David launched Conservation Media Group (CMG).  Since it’s launch CMG has created five grant programs and an annual series of collaborative workshops launching video campaigns to effect measurable change.  Today, CMG continues its mission to support filmmakers, activists, and organizations who are leading the way toward healthy oceans and renewable energy solutions.


Catharine Cooper

Conservationist Author and Photographer, USA

Catharine Cooper loves all things ocean and expresses her concerns for the health of the sea through her writing and photography.  An avid surfer, paddler, snorkeler and sailor, she spends as much time in or on the water as possible.  Catharine splits her time between Southern California, where she recently drafted the Ocean Sustainability Element for the City of Laguna Beach, and Loreto, Baja California, where she works with Eco-Alianza, Inc. as a consultant in support of their environmental conservation initiatives. She is a regular contributor to the communications efforts of The Ocean Foundation.


Tess Davis

Executive Director, USA

Tess Davis is a lawyer and archeologist who campaigns for cultural heritage preservation. She serves as Executive Director of the Antiquities Coalition, a not-for-profit institution based in Washington, DC and is affiliated with the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research at the University of Glasgow. She has been a legal consultant for the federal government and has written on the topic for CNN, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and scholarly publications.


James Delgado

Director of Maritime Heritage, USA

Dr. Delgado is Director of NOAA's Maritime Heritage Program. Previously, he was the President and CEO of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University for nearly 5 years, and was the Executive Director of the Vancouver Maritime Museum for 15 years. Before that, he was the head of the U.S. Government's maritime preservation program and was the maritime historian for the U.S. National Park Service. James P. Delgado, PhD, FRGS, RPA, has led or participated in shipwreck expeditions around the world. His active participation in the study and preservation of shipwreck sites and maritime heritage has included a founding membership in the International Commission on Monuments and Site (ICOMOS) committee on underwater cultural heritage and the presidency of the Council of American Maritime Museums.


Sylvia Earle, Ph.D.

Founder, USA

Sylvia has been a long-time friend and provided her expertise when The Ocean Foundation was in its early stages of development. Dr. Sylvia A. Earle is an oceanographer, explorer, author, and lecturer. Formerly chief scientist of NOAA, Earle is the founder of Deep Ocean Exploration and Research, Inc., founder of Mission Blue and SEAlliance. She has a B.S. degree from Florida State University, M.S. and PhD. from Duke University, and 22 honorary degrees. Earle has led more than a hundred expeditions and logged more than 7,000 hours underwater, including leading the first team of women aquanauts during the Tektite Project in 1970; participating in ten saturation dives, most recently in July 2012; and setting a record for solo diving in 1,000-meter depth. Her research concerns marine ecosystems with special reference to exploration, conservation, and the development and use of new technologies for access and effective operations in the deep sea and other remote environments.


Toni Frederick-Armstrong

Director & Manager, Caribbean

Before joining the St. Christopher National Trust in early 2017 as the Director of Visitor Experience and Museum Manager, Toni - an archaeologist by training - spent 14 years working in radio, during which time she had the opportunity to advocate for and facilitate discussions on historical and environmental conservation.  In addition to a diploma in Radio Broadcasting she holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Anthropology (Archaeology Specialist) from the University of Toronto.  She has worked on archaeological digs in Canada and the Caribbean and served on the Board of the St. Christopher Heritage Society before it evolved into the National Trust.


Kathleen Finlay

President, USA

With a deep passion for the natural world, especially the ocean that surrounds her family home of Bermuda and the California coast where she was raised, Kathleen studied marine biology and received a Master’s degree in Science Journalism from Boston University. In 2001, Kathleen was recruited to Harvard by the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, an organization that strives to help people understand how our health depends on the health of the natural environment founded by Nobel Laureate Dr. Eric Chivian. In 2009, Kathleen produced the Award-winning film Once Upon a Tide, a live action and animated educational short that screens around the world. Kathleen founded and serves as the Director for the Pleiades Network, a membership-based organization with a mission to inspire, recognize and advance women’s leadership in creating a more sustainable world.


Lisa Genasci

CEO, Hong Kong

Lisa Genasci is the CEO and founder of ADM Capital Foundation (ADMCF), which she established four years ago for the partners of a Hong Kong based investment manager. With a dual focus on children at risk and environmental protection, ADMCF creates innovative development models, identifying strong local partners thorough rigorous due diligence, and works to help them widen impact by addressing gaps in services to local communities. Before working in the non-profit sector, Lisa worked for ten years with the Associated Press, three as a correspondent based in Rio de Janeiro, three on the foreign desk and four as a financial reporter in New York. Lisa holds a BA degree with High Honors from Smith College and an LLM in Human Rights Law from Hong Kong University.


J. Martin Goebel

Founder and Principal, Mexico

Martin Goebel is one of the pioneers of the sustainability movement and was a recent recipient of the prestigious Earle A. Chiles Award for his contribution to the movement. His desire to find solutions that work for communities, businesses, and the environment during the timber and salmon wars of the 90’s led him to create Sustainable Northwest in 1994. Born and raised in Mexico, Martin’s conservation career includes leadership positions in The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, and World Wildlife Fund. He has helped found several organizations including the Mexico Nature Conservation Fund, Wallowa Resources, and Lake County Resources Initiative, and was a founding member of the Oregon Sustainability Board. Currently, Martin recently serves as founding principal of Moebius Partners LLC, a firm dedicated to assisting social entrepreneurs and enterprises to secure human knowledge and financial capital to grow and succeed. Martin is an avid scuba diver and fly fisherman, and enjoys exploring new cultures, rivers and reefs any chance he gets.


Nydia Gutierrez

D.C. Regional Coordinator

Nydia Gutiérrez is the Washington, D.C. Latino Outdoors Regional Coordinator where she works to increase diversity in the conservation and environmental communities by building outdoor recreational and educational activities in partnership with local D.C. agencies and non-profits with a goal of re-introducing outdoor recreation to the Latino community. Gutiérrez is a Texas native where she earned a Bachelor’s in Environmental Science from the University of Texas- Brownsville. While in college she worked on a variety of coastal research and restoration projects, and served as the Campus Greenhouse Coordinator where she cared for Black Mangroves that are to be replanted along the south Texas Gulf Coast. Her love of the outdoors stemmed from childhood visits to South Padre Island which provided for a variety of activities from surfing and kayaking to fishing and camping. The area also serves as a major bird migration route, thus creating an innate love for ornithology and birding. Gutiérrez leads bilingual bird walks in D.C. focusing on wading and shore birds along the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. 

For her day job, Gutiérrez is an Associate at the Dewey Square Group in the public affairs practice area where she advises corporate and issue based clients with a focus on telecommunications. Working directly with DSG’s Latinovations team, she collaborates with national and regional Latino organizations, coalitions and campaigns.


Marce Gutiérrez-Graudiņš


Marce Gutiérrez-Graudiņš used to sell fish, now she saves them. An environmental justice advocate who began her career in the commercial fishing and aquaculture fields, Marce is the Founder and Director of Azul, which works with Latinos to protect coasts and oceans. Through her work, she has helped design and implement a statewide network of marine protected areas as well as a sustainability and marketing program for local California fisheries. As a leader in the campaign to ban single-use plastic bags in California, she has worked to reduce marine pollution and protect ocean wildlife. Recently, she participated in the first Congressional roundtable on Environmental Justice on Capitol Hill, and was the principal author of a white paper on Latino Environmental Leadership lauded as “a blueprint for diversity in the Environmental Movement” by Congress member Raul Grijalva, Ranking Member of the Natural Resources House Committee.

Marce has been recognized as an “Inspiring Latina working for a cause” by Latina magazine (2014), and as a Aspen Environment Forum Scholar by the Aspen Institute (2012). She’s a founding member of the Latino Conservation Alliance, a proud graduate of the HOPE’s (Hispanas Organized for Political Equality) Leadership Institute 2013 class, and currently serves as a mentor for the RAY Marine Conservation Diversity Fellowship as well as the advisory board for the Ocean Foundation. A native of Tijuana, Mexico; Marce now makes San Francisco home.

Mara Haseltine

Artist, Environmentalist, Educator and Ocean Advocate, USA

Mara G. Haseltine is an internationally renown artist known for her outsized sculptural renditions of microscopic life forms. Haseltine collaborates with scientists, technologists and engineers to practice "Geotherapy' art which heals the planet through both awareness pieces and functional art works. She created New York City's first Solar Powered Oyster Reef and is the co-founder of "The Green Salon," an international think tank devoted to environmental solutions.


Hans Herrmann

Managing Director, Canada

Hans Herrmann is a phytoplankton ecologist and business manager by training, with expertise in the planning, creation and execution of biodiversity conservation programs addressing such wide-ranging issues as marine protected areas, climate change adaptation, conservation of migratory species, the impact of invasive alien species, and the effects of transgenic corn in Mexico. He has also been a passionate and effective campaigner for the establishment of networks of marine protected areas in Canada, Mexico and the United States.


Asher Jay

Emerging Explorer, USA

Creative conservationist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Asher Jay, uses groundbreaking design, multimedia arts, literature, and lectures to inspire global action to combat illegal wildlife trafficking, advance environmental issues, and promote humanitarian causes. Albeit she received an education in Fashion Design and Marketing at Parsons the New School of Design in New York, she found her way back through the arts, to her primary passion in wildlife conservation. Her cause-driven art, sculpture, design installations, films, and advocacy advertising campaigns bring attention to everything from oil spills and overfishing to trophy hunting and the illegal trade in wildlife.


Nancy Knowlton

Sant Chair for Marine Science, USA

Dr. Nancy Knowlton holds the Sant Chair in Marine Science at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, where she also serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Ocean Portal. She is a specialist on coral reefs and the diversity and conservation of ocean life, the author of Citizens of the Sea, and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Sara Lowell

Marine Program Director, USA

Sara Lowell has over ten years professional experience in marine science and management. Her primary expertise is in coastal and ocean management and policy, sustainable tourism, science integration, fundraising, and protected areas.  Ms. Lowell specializes in strategic and business planning, fundraising and long-term financing design and implementation, feasibility assessments, organizational and institutional design, and science integration and uptake. Her geographic expertise includes the U.S. West Coast, the Gulf of California, and the Mesoamerican Reef/Wider Caribbean region. She speaks Spanish (level 3). Ms. Lowell holds a Master’s in Marine Affairs from the School of Marine Affairs at the University of Washington, and double Bachelor of Arts degrees in Environmental Studies and Latin American History from University of California, Santa Cruz. Her Master’s thesis examined the feasibility of using land conservation methods, such as conservation easements, to manage tourism in the coastal zone of Laguna San Ignacio, Baja California Sur.


Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D.

Professor and Advisor in Marine Studies, USA

Dr. Lubchenco is a marine ecologist and environmental scientist with expertise in oceans, biodiversity, climate change, and interactions between the environment and human well-being.  She was Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from 2009-2013.  She has returned to Oregon State University and also serves as the first U.S. Science Envoy for the Ocean.  With a Ph.D. in ecology from Harvard University, she is one of the “most highly cited” ecologists in the world; eight of her publications are “Science Citation Classics”. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, among others.  She was president of the American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS) and served on the Pew Oceans Commission, the Joint Oceans Commission Initiative, Council of Advisors for Google Ocean and the Blue Ribbon Panel for the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Oceans. Dr. Lubchenco has received numerous awards including a MacArthur “genius” award and 19 honorary doctorates. 


Dan Martin

Climate & Philanthropy Advisor

An experienced international grantwriter, consultant, political activist and educator, Dan is the has experience as the Senior Managing Director of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund at Conservation International, the Director of the World Environment and Resources Program at the MacArthur Foundation and the Director of the Environment Program at the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, which focuses on grantmaking in the areas of education, science, and the environment.


Laura Isabel Martínez Ríos del Río

Director, Mexico

A biologist and environmental activist from Ensenada, Laura has worked for nearly 3 decades to protect the Mexican coastal lagoons, estuaries and wetlands. Leading the civil organization Pro Esteros, AC, Laura and her team spread crucial information for ecological conservation and making the right decisions about the problems of legal gaps that affect wetlands in the region and the species of flora and wildlife that inhabit them, and their importance to Baja California.


Hiromi Matsubara

Surfer and ocean activist, Australia

Hiromi is a free spirited yoga instructor, macrobiotic vegan chef, environmentalist, and all around amazing human being who embodies the generosity and hospitality of the Japanese people.


Sergio Mello e Souza

Founder and COO, Brazil

Sergio is an entrepreneur who uses his leadership skills to promote sustainability. He is the founder and COO of BRASIL1, a company based in Rio de Janeiro that organizes special events in the areas of sports and entertainment.   Prior to founding BRASIL1, he was the Operations Director for Clear Channel Entertainment in Brazil. Early in his career, Sergio worked for the State Tourism Commission and helped develop an ecologically friendly approach for the industry.  Since 1988, Sergio has participated in many non-profit organization projects, including a research program for the Atlantic Rainforest and later an educational campaign in the northeast of Brazil to stop the slaughter of dolphins and to protect manatees. He also organized campaigns and special events for the Rio 92 Eco-Conference. He joined the Surfrider Foundation Board of Directors in 2008, and has been an active supporter of the organization since 2002 in Brazil. He is also a member of the The Climate Reality Project.  He has, since an early age, been consistently involved in initiatives and projects to protect the environment.  Sergio lives with his wife Natalia in beautiful Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


Maurice Middleberg

Executive Director, USA

Maurice I. Middleberg is the Executive Director of Free the Slaves. Free the Slaves, a pioneer and leader in the global movement to eradicate modern slavery, has helped liberate well over 12,000 people from slavery and protect thousands of communities from traffickers.  Maurice has spent more than 33 years working on global health, social justice and international development, including senior and executive positions in several major organizations. Professional commitment and family history link Maurice to the anti-slavery cause.

Angeles Murgier

Senior Environmental Attorney, Argentina

Angeles Murgier, senior attorney at Brons & Salas law firm in Argentina, has over 15 years of experience in environmental issues. She works in general environmental counseling, environmental transactions, due diligence, compliance and corporate/commercial counseling and transactions. Angeles acts as Vice Chair At Large of the International Environmental and Resources Law Committee of the American Bar Association Section on Environment, Energy and Natural Resources, and as Vice-Chair of the Environment, Health and Safety Committee of the Section on Energy, Environment, Natural Resources and Infrastructure Law of the International Bar Association.


Nyawira Muthiga

Conservation Scientist, Kenya

Nyawira is a Kenyan marine scientist who has spent the past twenty years dedicated to the management and conservation of East African marine ecosystems. Over the years, Nyawira’s research has focused on conservation science that has resulted in many peer-reviewed publications. Nyawira also plays a role in national conservation initiatives and has overseen the rapid evolution of sea turtle conservation programs in Kenya as the Chair of the Kenya Sea Turtle Conservation Committee since 2002. She recently received the National Geographic/Buffet award for achievements in Conservation as well as the Kenyan Presidential award, the Order of the Grand Warrior.


Magnus Ngoile, Ph.D.

Team Leader, Tanzania

Magnus Ngoile has extensive experience in fisheries science, marine ecology and population biology. He specializes in national and regional processes related to the establishment of integrated coastal management. In 1989, he launched a national effort in his native Tanzania to establish marine parks and reserves to conserve ocean biodiversity and encourage stakeholder participation in the sustainable use of marine resources. The initiative culminated in the enactment of national legislation for marine protected areas in 1994. He was director of the Institute of Marine Sciences of the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania for 10 years where he enhanced curriculum and advocated for policy based on sound science. Internationally, Ngoile has actively fostered networks and partnerships that facilitate improved coastal management initiatives through his position as coordinator of IUCN's Global Marine and Coastal Program, where he worked for three years until his appointment as director general of Tanzania's National Environmental Management Council.


John Ogden

Emeritus Professor of Integrative Biology, USA

John Ogden is Emeritus Professor of Integrative Biology at the University of South Florida (USF).  He was Director of the Florida Institute of Oceanography from 1988-2010.  Prior to joining the USF, Ogden was Director of the West Indies Laboratory of Fairleigh Dickinson University in St. Croix and Director of the NOAA saturation diving facility Hydrolab.  He has worked on coral reefs, seagrasses and associated ecosystems all over the world and has published more than 100 scientific papers, contributed to numerous books, and produced several television films.  He is a former member of the founding Advisory Council of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the Marine Protected Area Federal Advisory Committee, and is the former President of the International Society for Reef Studies.  A past board member of SeaWeb, Ogden is a member of the Florida Oceans and Coastal Council.  Ogden received his A.B. from Princeton University and his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Stanford University.   He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.



Chris Palmer

(ret.) Director, USA

Chris Palmer is a full-time professor of Film and Media Arts. He is also a speaker, author, and environmental and wildlife film producer. He has swum with dolphins and whales, come face-to-face with sharks and Kodiak bears, camped with wolf packs, and waded hip-deep through Everglade swamps. Over the past thirty years, he has spearheaded the production of more than 300 hours of original programming for prime-time television and the IMAX film industry, work that won him and his colleagues many awards, including two Emmys and an Oscar nomination. And from this treasure trove of experience came his two controversial and entertaining memoirs about the dark side of wildlife filmmaking: Confessions of a Wildlife Filmmaker (2015) and Shooting in the Wild (2010). In 2004, Chris joined American University’s full-time faculty as Distinguished Film Producer in Residence at the School of Communication. There he founded, and currently directs, the Center for Environmental Filmmaking. Chris is also president of the One World One Ocean Foundation, a multimillion-dollar global media campaign to save the oceans.


Daniel Pauly

Director & Professor, British Columbia

Dr. Daniel Pauly is a binational French and Canadian citizen who completed his high school and university studies in Germany. After many years at the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM), in Manila, Philippines, Daniel Pauly became in 1994 a Professor at the Fisheries Centre of the University of British Columbia, of which he was the Director from 2003 to 2003.  Since 1999, he is also Principal Investigator of the Sea Around Us project, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, and devoted to studying documenting and mitigating the impact of fisheries on the world’s marine ecosystems.
The concepts, methods and software he (co-)developed, documented in over 500 publications, are used throughout the world, following multiple courses and workshops given in four languages on all five continents. This applies especially the Ecopath modeling approach and software and FishBase, the online encyclopedia of fishes. This, work is recognized in various profiles, notably in Science, Nature and the New York Times, and by numerous awards, notably the International Cosmos Prize, Japan (2005), the Volvo Environmental Prize, Sweden (2006), the Ramon Margalef Prize from the Government of Catalonia (Spain, 2008) and the Peter Benchley Award (USA, 2015).

Roger Payne, Ph.D.

President, USA

Roger Searle Payne is an American biologist and environmentalist famous for the 1967 discovery of whale song among humpback whales. Payne later became an important figure in the worldwide campaign to end commercial whaling. Payne was born in New York, New York, and studied at Harvard University and Cornell. He spent the early years of his career studying echolocation in bats (and how their food, moths, avoids them) and auditory localization in owls. Desiring to work with something more directly linked to conservation he later focused his research on whales where he together with researcher Scott McVay in 1967 were the first to discover the complex sonic arrangements performed by the male humpback whales during the breeding season. In 1971, Payne founded Ocean Alliance, an organization working with whale and ocean conservation.  Payne has received a United Nations Environment Programme Global 500 Award (1988) and a MacArthur genius award (1984) among other awards for his research.


Donald Perkins

President, USA

Don Perkins has served as GMRI's President/CEO since 1995. Don works with GMRI's staff, board, and external partners to drive GMRI's evolution as a strategic science, education, community institution that serves the Gulf of Maine bioregion and to scale GMRI's impact beyond. Don is dedicated to building creative, strategic organizations, traditional or virtual, that contribute to solving intractable problems and creating new opportunities in marine conservation, science literacy, and common property governance and management. Don was born in Waterville, Maine and has lived in a variety of Maine's coastal and inland communities (as well as in Israel and Brasil). Don holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Dartmouth College and a M.B.A. from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Dons greatest sources of pleasure are his family, sailing along the coast of Maine, and an early morning swim or run.


Daniel Pingaro

Executive Director, USA

Dan is deeply devoted to the ocean and is involved with ocean conservation, water resource management, sustainability, philanthropy and community service. He currently serves as the executive director of the Laguna Beach Community Foundation, a progressive organization with a primary philanthropic focus on the arts, human health and the environment.  Previously, Dan was CEO of Sailors for the Sea which galvanized the sailing community around ocean conservation.  Dan worked closely with David Rockefeller, Jr.  to grow the organization from a start-up nonprofit to a global entity.  He also worked with USEPA on tribal, water and ocean issues for ten years.  Dan has served as an Advisor to the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board since its inception and helped draft the original nonprofit framework of SASB.  Dan also serves on the Board of Directors for the iconic The Ecology Center which inspires and creates a sustainable, healthy and abundant future for all.  During his free time, Dan can be found enjoying the ocean whether it is sailing or surfing.

Craig Quirolo

Co-Founder (retired), USA

Craig Quirolo, a veteran sailor and photographer, sailed into Key West harbor aboard a schooner from San Francisco in the early '70's and never left. In 1976, together with his wife DeeVon and Captain Finbar Gittlemen, he launched Tropical Trips Boat Charters-offering the first fleet of reef snorkeling boats on the island.  Tourism began to thrive in the Keys with creation of the Tourist Development Council and by 1987 Craig and the growing fleet of charterboat captains began noticing anchor damage on the reef.  After dockside discussions, the Quirolos joined others to find a way to install reef mooring buoys to prevent the anchor damage caused by our visits to the reef.  The result was the founding of a small nonprofit organization called Reef Relief that continues to work for coral reefs today. Craig has posted over 10,000 images of coral reefs taken over a period of 15 years as part of the Reef Relief Coral Photo Monitoring Survey. This irreplaceable long term study of changing reef health led to Craig's discovery of several new coral diseases that was followed with research into their causes. Craig Quirolo received a personal Point of Light Award from President H.W. Bush on Earth Day, 1990.


DeeVon Quirolo

Co-Founder & Executive Director (retired), USA

DeeVon Meade Quirolo is a Florida native who loves the ocean. She is an experienced marine conservationist with a focus on the protection of coral reefs and water quality. She and her husband Craig Quirolo founded Reef Relief, a Key Westbased non-profit organization dedicated to coral reef protection. The effort began in 1986 with installing mooring buoys to protect Keys reefs from anchor damage, in addition to educational programs and watchdog advocacy efforts. This led to establishing similar grassroots programs throughout the Caribbean, advanced wastewater treatment in Key West, bans on offshore oil development in the Florida Keys and creation of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. In July, 2014, DeeVon and co-author Richard Charter published Bring Back the Gulf; a timely analysis of emerging issues in the disposition of abandoned offshore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. DeeVon graduated from The George Washington University and attended law school at the University of Miami. She and Craig live in Brooksville Florida, where she maintains several blogs including one that monitors oil and gas development.


Agnieszka Rawa

Managing Director, West Africa

Agnieszka Rawa manages the infrastructure, environmental and social assessment as well as procurement and fiscal accountability teams in the West Africa Region; contributes to programmatic risk management; provides day-to-day operational direction including monitoring of progress towards compact goals, management of budgets, human resources, administration, and emerging issues. Prior to this role, Ms. Rawa was the MCC Director of Environmental and Social Assessment on the Morocco Fruitree Project, the Lesotho Compact and the El Salvador Compact. Before joining the MCC in 2009, Ms. Rawa had 16 years of predominantly private sector international development experience, most lately as a Partner with Environmental Resource Management, Inc. Ms. Rawa holds a Masters and Bachelors in Science from Stanford University, is a recipient of the Donella Meadows Sustainability Fellowship and is fluent in English, French, Spanish, and Polish.


Carleton Ray

Conservation Author, USA

During a span of five decades, Carleton Ray has focused activities on cross-disciplinary coastal-marine research and conservation. Early in his career, he recognized the central roles of natural history and interdisciplinary approaches. He has worked widely in polar, temperate, and tropical environments. I have also sought to inform the public about coastal-marine science and conservation. He was the first to initiate scuba-diving in Antarctica for research on polar marine mammals. When a Curator for the New York Aquarium, he initiated work with colleagues from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on the thermoregulation and acoustics of marine mammals, and was also among the first, with colleagues, to describe the underwater sounds of marine mammals (seals and walruses) as “song” in a strict behavioral sense. Presently, he is concentrating on teaching as a part of the University of Virginia Department of Environmental Sciences conservation-science initiative.


Jerry McCormick-Ray

Conservation Author, USA

Jerry McCormick-Ray is a Senior Scientist at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA. Her research has focused on marine mammals and marine invertebrates, physiological effects of pollution, and benthic faunal ecology in estuaries and in the Arctic. She has been actively engaged in marine conservation science and its application to policy and protected areas nationally and internationally.


Monica Robinson Bours Muñoz

President, Mexico

Monica is the President of Ponguinguiola, A.C.  She is an expert on childhood education and environmental education and works on building the capacity of institutions to provide such education.


Alejandro Robles

Director, Mexico

Alejandro Robles is president of Noroeste Sustentable (NOS), which he co-founded in 2004. For the past thirty years, he has been working to build effective networks of collaboration among key public, private, and civil-society stakeholders to achieve sustainability of coastal communities and conservation of coastal marine ecosystems in northwestern Mexico. Mr. Robles received a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the Instituto Tecnologico de Monterrey, in Guaymas, Sonora, in 1982. In 1994, he received the Pronatura National Conservation Award for his efforts to establish the Upper Gulf of California and Colorado River Delta Biosphere Reserve. He has served as executive director of the Mexico Program at Conservation International (CI) and, and as vice president of CI for Mexico and Central America. In 1997, he received a Rockefeller Fellowship to participate in the Leadership for the Environment and Development (LEAD) program, which enabled him to approach conservation and development challenges from a multicultural and multi-stakeholder perspective. Since he became a member of the Society for Organizational Learning in 2010, NOS has adopted a systems thinking approach and organizational learning principles to its work.


Abigail Rome

Conservation and Ecotourism Specialist, USA

Abigail Rome is a conservationist who has worked to protect terrestrial and marine natural areas as a researcher, site manager, ecotourism consultant, educator and writer.  She has a master’s degree in plant ecology, and spent many years working with environmental NGOs in the eastern U.S. and Latin America, where she lived for five years.  She has focused on ecotourism as a conservation strategy, organizing tours and consulting on sustainable tourism.  Abi currently engages with environmental grant-makers to address systemic challenges to environmental issues.  She spends her summers at her favorite place on earth:  a small island in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Maine.



Barton Seaver

Chef & Author, USA

Barton Seaver is a chef who has dedicated his career to restoring the relationship we have with our ocean. It is his belief that the choices we are making for dinner are directly impacting the ocean and its fragile ecosystems. Seaver has manned the helm of some of Washington, D.C.’s most acclaimed restaurants. In doing so, he brought the idea of sustainable seafood to the nation’s capitol while earning Esquire magazine’s 2009 “Chef of the Year” status. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Seaver has cooked in cities all over America and the world. While sustainability has largely been assigned to seafood and agriculture, Barton’s work expands far beyond the dining table to encompass socio-economic and cultural issues. Locally, he pursues solutions to these problems through D.C. Central Kitchen, an organization fighting hunger not with food, but with personal empowerment, job training, and life skills.


Nirmal Jivan Shah

Chief Executive Officer, Seychelles

Nirmal is a well-known figure in the Seychelles conservation scene having an encyclopedic knowledge of Seychelles biodiversity as well as a wealth of experience in environment management. He was formerly the Assistant Director of Fisheries Research, the Director of the Seychelles Conservation and National Parks service as well as the Managing Director of an environmental firm, ENVIRO where he worked on projects covering almost every aspect of environmental management. He was the coordinator of the Seychelles National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan process and of the Environmental Management Plan of Seychelles 2000-2010. He has worked for international organizations such as the World Bank, IUCN, UNEP, Sida and UNESCO.


Jonathan Smith

Sr. Advisor for Sustainability & Strategic Communications, Qatar

Jonathan Smith has devoted his work to helping brands, governments, non-profits, public figures and grassroots organizations develop and tell their stories. His focus is to combine marketing know-how with experience in policy and public engagement to help people connect with and take action on critical issues. He served as the Senior Deputy Director of Media & Communications for the 2012 UN Climate Change Conference where more than 16,000 delegates, representatives of well over 5,000 NGOs and more than 1,000 members of the international media, attended the largest conference ever hosted in Doha. It resulted in the historic Second Commitment Period for the Kyoto Protocol and a critical package of agreements known as the "Doha Climate Gateway." Currently, he works as the Senior Advisor for Sustainability and Strategic Communications on the National Food Security Programme in the state of Qatar.


Maria Amália Souza

Founding Executive Director, Brazil

Founding Executive Director of Socio-Environmental Fund CASA, she dedicates her life to designing strategies that assure philanthropic resources reach the most excluded grassroots groups in South America working on social and environmental justice issues. She is a steering committee member of the Funders Network for Social Justice Brazil and the Global Alliance of Funds.  Amália has produced and translated deep ecology and systems thinking materials, and conducts experiential workshops based on systems thinking, ecopsychology and deep ecology inspired on Joanna Macy’s work.  Being a musician and singer adds to her work.  Formal training includes a degree in International Services & Development with emphasis on Environmental Studies from World College West, CA, 89; graduation from the Donella Meadows Leadership Fellows Program and Biopsychology training at Instituto Visão Futuro 2007.  She is fluent in Portuguese, English and Spanish.   She has professionally visited over 50 countries many seas the world over.



Richard Steiner

Marine Conservation Biologist, USA

From 1980 – 2010, Rick Steiner was as a marine conservation professor with the University of Alaska. He conducted the university’s conservation and sustainability extension effort in Alaska and globally, working to find solutions in energy and climate change, marine conservation, offshore oil and environment, habitat protection, endangered species protection, and sustainable development. He has worked on extractive industry/environment issues all over the world including Russia and Pakistan. Today, he conducts the “Oasis Earth” project – working with NGOs, governments, industry, and civil society to speed the transition to an environmentally sustainable society. Oasis Earth conducts Rapid Assessments for NGOs and governments in developing nations on critical conservation challenges, reviews environmental assessments, and conducts more fully developed studies.


Kira Stillwell

Program Administrator, USA

As Program Administrator at the Rhode Island Natural History Survey, Kira Stillwell not only answers phones, sends email blasts, manages memberships and organizes Survey events, she is the bookkeeping, human resources, and payroll department as well. Kira earned a master’s degree in exercise physiology and worked in the cardiology department at Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket and at the University of Rhode Island’s Cancer Prevention Research Center before becoming Program Administrator for the Survey in 2004. Several years previously she founded the Rhode Island chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, an international non-profit focused on ocean conservation, water quality and coastal access.


Michael Sutton, J.D.

Chair of the Board, USA

Michael Sutton is an internationally respected, tirelessly innovative conservation leader with extensive experience in environmental advocacy, global campaigns, public policy, and nonprofit governance. He has founded, directed and chaired several nonprofit organizations and programs. Mike is a recognized authority on ocean and coastal law whose advocacy and guidance has been key to the success of numerous conservation initiatives in the United States and around the world. Previously, Mike served as Vice President of the Monterey Bay Aquarium where he founded the Center for the Future of the Oceans, the Aquarium’s conservation advocacy arm. Mike holds a degree in international and natural resources law from George Washington University's National Law Center in Washington, D.C.


Hilda Vandergriff

Artist, USA

California Artist, Hilda Vandergriff paints colorful seascapes and nature inspired art from her travels. She looks for the beauty in all her subject matter that ultimately will translate into an original cherished piece of artwork. She has taught children and adults watercolor painting and Chinese brush painting classes. Hilda does art demo presentations to schools and art organizations.  Her art is sold in Sausalito, California Central Coast and Central Valley. Hilda was accepted into the Aquarius 2010 Pacific Regional Exhibition of the Best in Watercolor at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art in 2010. When not traveling Hilda enjoys gardening, cooking and yoga.


Asha de Vos, Ph.D.


Dr. Asha de Vos is a Sri Lankan marine biologist and educator. She is the first Sri Lankan to obtain a PhD in a field related to marine mammal research and established the first long-term study on blue whales of the Northern Indian Ocean. She has published several key research publications on Sri Lankan blue whales, which have led to this population being designated as a species in urgent need of conservation research by the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Her pioneering work has been showcased internationally by Channel 7 Australia, the BBC, the New York Times, CNN, WIRED UK, the New Scientist, TED and Grist. She is also a guest blogger for National Geographic. Asha is an invited member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Cetacean Specialist Group, a TED Senior Fellow, a Duke University Global Fellow in Marine Conservation and a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum.


Robin Yeager, J.D.

Environmental Consultant and Attorney, USA

Robin Yeager’s focus is on ocean governance and protecting marine resources while accommodating the diverse users of our oceans. A consultant and attorney, her research projects include the extended continental shelf under UNCLOS, offshore aquaculture and wave energy. As a Climate Fellow, she developed the baseline greenhouse gas inventory for a coastal city. Robin graduated with honors from SMU with a BA in political science and a BFA in journalism and earned her JD at George Washington University Law School. A former scuba diving instructor, Robin received her Master’s degree in marine conservation and policy from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego.