Mark Spalding

President

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)

Karen Muir

Vice President, Operations

Karen has been working with TOF since 2009 bringing years of experience in managing international not-for-profit organizations. Karen oversees all aspects of the foundations’ day to day operations from program and grants implementation to human resources and contract management to business development. She brings 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. Karen studied zoology at Connecticut College, including a one-year program in sustainable wildlife management in Kenya with the School for Field Studies. 

Meghan Jeans

Program Director

Meghan serves as The Ocean Foundation’s Program Director. She's committed to fostering innovative solutions and collaborations in pursuit of healthy oceans and communities. She holds a J.D. and M.S. in environmental law and policy from Vermont Law School and a B.A. in biology and environmental science from Colby College. Meghan has spent over twenty years working across disciplines and geographies to strengthen marine conservation and inspire greater stewardship of our oceans. In addition to working as Marine Policy faculty with the Sea Education Association, Meghan previously served as the Director of Conservation at the New England Aquarium and the Director of the Fisheries Leadership & Sustainability Forum at Stanford University. She also worked to advance fisheries and marine wildlife conservation with NOAA’s Office of General Counsel for Fisheries, the Marine Fish Conservation Network, Ocean Conservancy, and the Conservation Law Foundation. She currently serves as a member of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council’s (ASC) Supervisory Board, the International Sustainable Seafood Foundation’s (ISSF) Environmental Stakeholder Committee, Fair Trade USA’s Fisheries Advisory Council, and as a technical advisor to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT). She also sat on the Marine Fish Conservation Network’s National Policy Council, the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) Stakeholder Council Steering Group, and the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Highly Migratory Species Advisory Subpanel. A dedicated hydrophile, Meghan is a former PADI SCUBA instructor and looks for every opportunity to get on, in or under the water. She is currently training her rescue dog, Lucy to stand-up on a paddle board.

 

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.

Jarrod Curry

Senior Marketing Manager

Jarrod oversees TOF’s marketing efforts as well as its CURRENTS and SeaGrass Grow programs. Jarrod brings years of international experience to TOF, having lived and worked in China and the Middle East. He has a bachelor's degree in Journalism with a minor in Art History from West Virginia University. His diverse background includes a political action committee, a think tank, and a heavy metal magazine, among others. But you probably know him best from playing tuba in the Hamilton Junior High School band.

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 from The George Washington University where he is currently pursuing a Masters of Public Administration. 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. 

 

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.

Shree Karmacharya

Accountant

Shree is the accountant 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.

Maykell Merino-Cobo

Accountant

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.

Alyssa Hildt

Program Associate

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.

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.   

Eleni Refu

Development and Monitoring & Evaluations Associate

Eleni supports TOF’s mission by ensuring that the organization’s projects and programs are operating effectively and making a lasting impact on the future health of our world ocean. As a member of the Development Team, she also helps manage and support the organization’s growing individual donor base. Most recently, Eleni worked at LIFT Communities, a national anti-poverty organization, as a member of the first cohorts of Shriver AmeriCorps Fellows. At LIFT, she helped build the capacity of the organization’s regional DC office by providing development and communications support to its staff and Executive Director. As an anti-poverty advocate and an environmental enthusiast, Eleni was drawn to TOF because of the myriad of ways that the ocean impacts the state of food security and poverty around the world. This special interest stemmed from her experiences living off the Gulf of Tadjoura, in the capital city of Djibouti, where she first fell in love with the ocean as a little girl. She holds a Political Science degree from the University of Rochester, and is fluent in Amharic. In her spare time, Eleni loves to read, run, hike, and enjoys attending local community events.

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.

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.