Mark Spalding


Mark J. Spalding has been the President of The Ocean Foundation since its founding in 2002. Under his leadership, it has grown exponentially from a $200,000 to $7 million/year budget, as he 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. He is a member of the Ocean Studies Board of the the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Mark is serving on the Sargasso Sea Commission. He is a member of the Pool of Experts for the UN World Ocean Assessment, and a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Blue Economy, at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. 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. Mark's deep connection with the ocean began as a young boy growing up in the Central Valley of California; each time he crested the coastal range and the Pacific came into view, it was like a breath of fresh air. (Mark concurrently serves as the CEO and President of SeaWeb)

Kate Killerlain Morrison

Strategic Partnerships Director

Kate Killerlain Morrison is the Strategic Partnerships Director at The Ocean Foundation. Previously, Kate has served as Executive Director for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean and supported the development and early implementation of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Ocean Action Plan. Additional prior roles have included Deputy Executive Secretary for the Sargasso Sea Commission (focusing on high seas conservation), Marine Program Director for the Massachusetts Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (focusing on fisheries shellfish and eelgrass restoration), and Ocean Policy Analyst at Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (focusing on the first Massachusetts Ocean Plan, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, and regional collaborations including the Northeast Regional Ocean Council and the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment). Kate serves on the Advisory Committee for The Coastal Society’s Margaret A. Davidson Coastal Career Development Program and is a Senior Fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program. Kate has a MA degree in Marine Affairs from the University of Washington and a BA in Environmental Studies/Minor Political Science from Eckerd College. 

Tamika Washington

Finance & Operations Director

Tamika 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 ocean. Tamika's company DAS Unlimited has been working with the Ocean Foundation since 2009.

María Alejandra Navarrete Hernández

International Legal Advisor, Mexico

Alejandra has been working in the national and international environmental law field since 1992. She has experience in working side-by-side with Ministers and the office of the President of Mexico, including in the creation and enactment of several national presidential commissions such as the “Commission on Climate Change and the Seas and Coasts.” She was most recently, the National Project Coordinator for the Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem, a GEF Project “Implementation of the Strategic Action Program for the GOM LME,” between Mexico and US. She moved into this lead role after serving as the legal and public policy expert for the “Integrated assessment and management of the Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem.” In 2012, she was consultant for UNEP for the UNDAF review and drafted as coauthor the “National Environmental Summary 2008-2012 for Mexico.

Fernando Bretos

Manager, Wider Caribbean Region

Fernando is a conservation scientist who emphasizes the study and conservation of marine migratory species and the restoration and health of coastal and marine habitats. In 2008 he brought his project, CariMar to The Ocean Foundation’s fiscal sponsorship program. CariMar engages the countries of the Western Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico to work collaboratively in protected shared marine resources. He officially joined TOF in July 2019, becoming part of its portfolio in Latin American and the Caribbean.  

During 12 years at Frost Science Museum, he created Museum Volunteers for the Environment, which since 2007 has engaged over 10,000 Miami residents in restoring over 25 acres of mangrove, dune and coastal hammock. Currently he is leading a multinational effort to create a marine protected area network in the Gulf of Mexico called RedGolfo de Mexico. He oversees other projects to protect critical Caribbean habitats and endangered marine species such as Elkorn coral, sea turtles and sawfish. He holds a master’s degree in marine affairs and policy from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Oberlin College.

Karen Muir

Senior Advisor

Karen began working with TOF in 2009 bringing years of experience in managing international not-for-profit organizations. After almost 10 years with TOF, Karen retired her position as Vice President of Operations but remains involved as our Senior Operations Advisor. During her tenure as our Vice President, she was involved in all aspects of the foundations’ day to day operations from program and grants implementation to human resources and contract management to business development. She continues to work with TOF bringing her skills in strategic development, leadership, team-building and organizational management to the foundation. 

Prior to TOF Karen served on the senior management team of the International Executive Service Corps (IESC). Through her career Karen has experienced life in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, where she met her husband Tarek in Egypt. Karen studied zoology at Connecticut College, including a one-year program in sustainable wildlife management in Kenya with the School for Field Studies. She is now enjoying semi retirement with her grandchildren and traveling with her husband. 

Jason Donofrio

External Relations Officer

Jason Donofrio is a Phoenix native with a decade of experience fundraising, organizing and coordinating public campaigns. After graduating college Jason went on to work for public advocacy and environmental organizations in Arizona, Maryland, Vermont and Colorado, leading teams as large as sixty on crucial campaigns affecting environmental conservation, civic engagement, consumer protection and higher education affordability. As a Director of various development departments, he has helped oversee multi-million dollar fundraising campaigns, develop and advocate public policy, and has experience cultivating donors to support organizational programs.
Jason holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Arizona State University and is passionate about making a positive difference in our society. He spends his free time enjoying the outdoors and volunteering in the community. In 2008 he embarked on a life-changing experience, spending the summer working on a sustainable farm in the village of Have, Ghana, where he developed a profound appreciation for environmental conservation. He also enjoys performing and can be seen doing stand up comedy at local shows.


Ben Scheelk

Senior Program Manager

Ben manages The Ocean Foundation's Fiscal Sponsorship Program and other internal programs related to protected areas, high seas governance, sustainable tourism, and blue carbon restoration and finance. Ben's work involves general operations, financial management, new business development, contractor management, stakeholder engagement, program evaluation, and client marketing. Ben joined TOF after working as the project manager and executive assistant for Alexandra Cousteau at Blue Legacy International, one of TOF’s now fledged projects. Ben holds a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management and a Masters of Public Administration (MPA) from The George Washington University. He graduated from Northern Michigan University with a B.A. in Earth Science and International Studies with Honors. Ben serves as Treasurer on the Board of Directors for Chesapeake Commons, a 501(c)(3) that empowers Chesapeake Bay restoration stakeholders with access to high quality digital services and open tool kits. He also serves as Treasurer on the Advisory Board for Ocean Connectors, a fiscally sponsored project of The Ocean Foundation, which uses classroom activities, field trips, and “knowledge exchanges” to connect youth and build global stewardship in San Diego and Mexico. 


Shree Karmacharya

Senior Accountant and Operations Manager

Shree is the senior accountant and operations manager at The Ocean Foundation. She 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 all the financial management of the organization.

Alyssa Hildt

Grants and Program Manager

Alyssa supports programmatic work in the areas of research, operations, and content analysis primarily in sustainable aquaculture and outgoing grants. She will also devote part of her time to SeaWeb. She holds a BS in Environmental Science from Brigham Young University and interned at Mote Marine Laboratory's Ecotoxicology lab in Sarasota, Florida. Alyssa brings her grantmaking experience from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, where she supported the Chesapeake Bay cleanup grant awards program. Growing up in Southern California, her love for all things ocean-related started young and grew into a passion for marine conservation. You’ll find her exercising her enthusiasm for trying new things--whether it’s a new hike, restaurant, or city to explore.

Alexis Valauri-Orton

Program Manager

Alexis joined TOF in 2016 as a Program Associate, serving as project manager of SeaWeb and focusing on sustainable wild caught seafood, aquaculture and conservation messaging. Prior to joining TOF Alexis worked for the Fish Forever program at Rare, Ocean Conservancy and Global Ocean Health. She holds a degree in Biology and Environmental Studies from Davidson College and completed a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship studying how ocean acidification might affect marine dependent communities in Norway, Hong Kong, Thailand, New Zealand, the Cook Islands and Peru. Her areas of expertise include ocean acidification, toxicology, human impacts of ocean acidification and marine destruction, communication, education and curricular design. Beyond the ocean, Alexis’ other love is music: she plays flute, piano, and sings and regularly attends and performs at concerts around town.

Maykell Merino-Cobo


Maykell is part of the accounting team at TOF. He holds two bachelor’s degrees in accounting; one from Universidad de Oriente in Cuba and the second from Millersville University in Pennsylvania. He has worked in several countries including Cuba, Spain, and in the U.S. He is trilingual and speaks Spanish, English, and German. Growing up in Cuba, Maykell developed a deep appreciation and lifelong love for the ocean. Outside of work he enjoys international travel. 


Julianna Dietz

Marketing Associate

Julianna is part of the marketing team at TOF and assists in designing and creating all social media, brand, and graphic content. Julianna has experience in the private sector working as a graphic designer for several magazine publications, West Virginia University, and most recently, a real estate firm. She holds a BA in Graphic Design and a minor in Art History from West Virginia University. Julianna’s love of the ocean started at a very early age when her parents took her to Hawaii for the first time at 11 weeks old. When she’s not designing, Julianna can be found eating at local restaurants, running in races, or exploring new neighborhoods in D.C.

Eddie Love

Program Associate

Eddie obtained his B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Management from Auburn University, and primarily supports TOF's Fiscal Sponsorship program. He is a former Roger Arliner Young (RAY) Marine Conservation Diversity Fellow (2016) where he discovered his love for the ocean. As a fellow, he gained fisheries experience and exposure through working for both Ocean Conservancy and RARE. Eddie also has a breadth of experience in the terrestrial sector, having previously worked for the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service via opportunities gained from his Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (M.A.N.R.R.S.) chapter at Auburn. His passion and love for animals motivates him to not only protect the environment, but raise awareness of the many issues it faces. Outside of conservation, Eddie finds joy in the simple things in life, such as playing and watching tennis or visiting Alabama to see family and eat great southern cooking! 


Alexandra Puritz

Program Associate

Alexandra supports TOF's programmatic work in three major areas: research, operations, and content analysis. She received her Bachelor's degree in Anthropology and International Relations from Connecticut College, and her Master's degree in Marine Affairs and Policy from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. Her thesis research focused on the management effectiveness of marine protected areas in Cuba, which she conducted in collaboration with CubaMar (a fiscally sponsored project of TOF). Alexandra is particularly interested in the intersection between community development and marine conservation.   

Alexa Pust

Development Associate

Alexa is part of the development team and works to connect TOF with all who are passionate about its mission. She obtained a B.A. in History from the Ohio State University and her M.A. from New York University in Museum Studies, coming to TOF with a background in fundraising for the arts. After growing up around and on the water, Alexa's work at TOF combines her love for the ocean and the environment with her dedication to forging strong relationships with people and the non-profit work that they care about. You will often find Alexa exploring DC with friends, making trips to National and State Parks, or walking through a museum.


Alexandra Refosco

Research Associate

Alexandra is a Research Associate at The Ocean Foundation. Growing up in a beach town, Alexandra learned to swim before she could walk and has always felt a deep connection to the ocean. Alexandra holds an MA in U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security from American University, and a dual degree in International Relations and History from Florida State University (Go Noles!). Alexandra is interested in the intersection of international relations and ocean policy. 

Diana Garcia

Marine Pathways Intern

Diana is TOF’s 2019 Marine Pathways Intern. She is working closely with the External Relations and Program departments conducting research, producing content, and helping manage the organization’s information systems. She is an upcoming junior at George Mason University majoring in Environmental & Sustainability Studies with a concentration in Conservation & Sustainability and a minor in Ocean & Estuarine Science. Diana is originally from Hamilton, Ohio. In the future, she hopes to be able to work on restoring the health of the ocean and the species within it. Her favorite animal is a shark. In her free time, she is very involved on campus with several organizations such as the Black Student Alliance, Mason Some Noise A Cappella and more. She loves to explore new places and learn new information to expand her knowledge.

Ana Gabriela Moya Parra

Research Intern, Mexico

Ana Gaby is currently studying Sustainable Development Engineering at Tec de Monterrey, Santa Fe, Mexico City. She has worked as a volunteer giving counseling to terminal patients at the National System for Integral Family Development in Chiapas. She has also helped research climate change and possible solutions for future catastrophes in Cecropia. She has previously worked as an administrative assistant in Santa Fe Medical Skin Care and is currently on the bouldering team at her university. She loves learning new things, reading, and traveling. Her goal is to make the Earth a better place for current and future generations. 


Julia Lara Navarrete

Research Intern, Mexico

Julia is TOF’s Intern for the Marine Mammal Research for MPA and MEA’s for the Wider Caribbean region. She is a sophomore at the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California majoring in Chemical Oceanography with a concentration in Ecology & Climate Change. Julia was born and raised in Mexico City. She is currently living in Ensenada, Baja California, where she scuba dives the kelp forest to her heart’s content. She’s involved in a program that monitors the marine ecosystems of California, in a program meant for repopulation of different species of abalone, and in a laboratory specified in growth and reproduction of sea cucumbers. Whenever she isn’t working or at school, she can be found binge watching Gilmore Girls or singing her way through a Broadway musical. In the future, she hopes to find a way to help mitigate the effects of OAH in marine ecosystems.

Samantha (Sammy)

Chief Morale Officer

Samantha helps inspire and grow the enthusiasm of TOF staff, as well as making treats disappear like magic. She is in charge of morale and security. Her job is to lay under a desk, sleeping and making sure all meetings stay on track, by getting up and stretching as a gentle hint that the meeting has gone on long enough, and now it’s time to pay attention to her. When she’s not at the office, she loves walking on the beach in Maine.