Every member of Marine Conservation Institute’s staff and board possesses an exceptional set of skills and talents. Staff members have a wide range of expertise including marine science, policy work and fundraising. The organization’s board of directors has ultimate responsibility for conservation programs and compliance with all appropriate state and federal laws.
President: Lance Morgan
Executive Assistant: Lucie Drozd
Chief Scientist: Elliott A. Norse
Director, Policy & Legislation: Michael Gravitz
Marine Biogeographer: John Guinotte
Conservation Analyst & MPAtlas.org Manager: Russell Moffitt
Conservation Scientist: Beth Pike
Conservation Advisor: William Chandler
Policy Analyst: Katelin Shugart-Schmidt
Senior Conservation Fellow: Sandra Brooke
Senior Research Fellow: Healy Hamilton
Research Fellow: Sara Maxwell
Ocean Policy Fellow: Ximena Escovar-Fadul
Conservation Science Fellow: Shelly Magier
Ocean Policy Intern: Bess Ruff
Marine Surveillance Advisor: Katie Kirk
Development Officer: Leah Hausman
Communications Advisor: Gaby Adam
Director of Finance & Administration: Joan Inge
Finance Specialist: Vani Gujjar
Communications Advisor (Seattle, WA) - Gaby Adam, who runs her own firm, By the Sea Communications, has more than 20 years of marketing communications and public relations experience, working with major corporations such as Microsoft, Holland America Line and Washington Mutual, to countless start-ups. She is passionate about saving the oceans and has been working closely with Marine Conservation Institute since September 2013. Her background includes seven years as a senior vice president at DDB Worldwide Communications, one of the largest and most renowned agency networks in the world with almost a billion dollars in revenue; and seven years as an account supervisor at Waggener Edstrom, one of the world’s largest and most-respected technology PR firms. She has been a trusted advisor to many high-visibility executives and has extensive experience in strategic communications planning, brand development, messaging and positioning, websites, media and analyst relations, thought leadership programs, executive presentations and product/organization launches. Gaby has been scuba diving all over the world, is a sailor and volunteers at the Seattle Aquarium.
Senior Conservation Fellow - Dr. Sandra Brooke’s primary objective is to identify sensitive coral reefs and advocate for their protection from damaging human activities, especially bottom trawling, and to ensure adequate enforcement of regulations so that sensitive ecosystems are truly protected. After completing undergraduate and masters degrees in England, Sandra spent a few years working in mosquito control in the Cayman Islands, where she learned to dive and discovered marine ecosystems. She then obtained an M.A in Marine Biology from Virginia Institute of Marine Science and a Ph.D (2002) from the University of Southampton UK, where her research examined reproductive ecology of a deep water coral Oculina varicosa. Sandra's research efforts have focused on deep coral ecosystems in the Norwegian Fjords, Aleutian Islands, US South Atlantic Bight and Gulf of Mexico, and most recently the deepwater mid-Atlantic canyons. Since joining Marine Conservation Institute in 2008, she has worked to locate and win protection for deep-sea coral ecosystems in the southeastern US and conducted research on deep corals in the Gulf of Mexico for post-Deepwater Horizon oil spill damage assessment. She has also worked extensively on shallow coral reefs in the Caribbean and south Florida. She has courtesy research faculty position at the University of Oregon and serves on the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s Coral Advisory Panel and holds the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council Conservation Seat.
Conservation Advisor (Washington, DC) - William (Bill) Chandler directs Marine Conservation Institute’s Washington, D.C. office and leads our policy advocacy work. He is a leading authority on the National Marine Sanctuaries Act. Prior to joining Marine Conservation Institute, Bill managed the Department of Conservation Policy of the National Parks Conservation Association, a nonprofit citizens' organization that protects America's National Park System. Before that, Bill was president of his own natural resources policy consulting firm, which conducted program evaluations and policy analyses for nonprofit and private clients. He also founded and published "Land Letter," a newsletter for conservation professionals, and served as research director and editor of the National Audubon Society's Wildlife Report. Bill has extensive experience in the political arena. He was a legislative assistant for members of the US Senate and House of Representatives, the legislative representative of The Nature Conservancy, and a regional study director for the National Commission on Water Quality, which evaluated the effectiveness of the Clean Water Act. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from Stanford University, and a M.A in Government from Johns Hopkins University.
Executive Assistant (Seattle, WA) - Lucie graduated from Wellesley College with a B.A. in Biological Sciences, where she worked on a project studying skeletal evolutionary research. After graduating, she interned for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation in Plymouth, MA working on whale watch vessels documenting and photo identifying the local humpback whale population. She is happy to join Marine Conservation Institute to support our efforts to protect the oceans and is interested in pursuing future studies in conservation and policy efforts.
Ocean Policy Fellow (Washington, DC) - Ximena’s passion for the ocean started in her home country, Colombia, where she grew up diving and learning marine ecology in the Caribbean coral reefs. She earned a B.S from La Universidad de los Andes, Colombia, where she developed a thesis project on Blue Shark population genetics and conservation. Throughout her scientific career, she has developed diverse research projects on fisheries management and marine conservation in developing countries. Recently, she received a Masters of Environmental Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, with a concentration in Environmental Policy. While completing her masters, she decided to become more involved in fisheries management in order to better understand and contribute to the connection between science and management. Last summer, she interned at the Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission and developed a regional shark fisheries management program for the East Pacific Ocean. She is also involved in Fishing Aggregating Devices by-catch management in Colombia.
Director, Policy & Legislation (Washington, DC) - Mike Gravitz leads development of Marine Conservation Institute’s advocacy positions on conservation and appropriations and works with Congress and the Administration to bring these into being. Prior to joining Marine Conservation Institute, Mike spent five years as a lobbyist for Environment America working on the issues of: marine fish conservation, expansion of marine sanctuaries, and opposition to offshore drilling. In 2006, he helped to pass the strengthened Magnuson-Stevens fishery conservation law. He worked to prevent the expansion of offshore drilling beyond the Gulf of Mexico when the offshore drilling moratorium ended in 2008. Mike spent twenty years in the private sector starting and leading two government software companies which specialized in government budgeting systems and workflow. While in the private sector, Mike was active on the board of Clean Water Action, a national organization advocating for clean water and community health with over one million members and supporters, and helped to found a local organization advocating for sensible re-development of downtown Silver Spring, MD. He holds a B.A. with honors in Anthropology from Yale University and a Master in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Mike grew up spending summers at the New Jersey shore where he developed, very early on, a love of the ocean, messing about in smelly marshes and honky-tonk boardwalks.
Marine Biogeographer (Seattle, WA) - Dr. John Guinotte is a marine biogeographer with Marine Conservation Institute. He received his Ph.D. in Tropical Environmental Science and Geography from James Cook University. John has spent the last ten years investigating the potential implications of climate change and ocean acidification on coral ecosystems. He was a research scientist with the Kansas Geological Survey-University of Kansas. As a researcher at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, he predicted coral reef habitat in the Coral and Timor Seas, investigated climate change / ocean acidification related threats to shallow water coral ecosystems, and used modeling techniques to identify high value target areas for marine protected area designation. John’s current research focuses on: predicting global deep sea coral habitat, identifying deep sea coral areas that will be less likely to be impacted by ocean acidification, investigating the mineralogy of Alaskan deep sea corals / developing ocean acidification risk assessments for Alaskan coral areas, and identifying seamounts on the high seas. In addition,John is working with several partners to develop regional scale working groups to identify ocean acidification research, monitoring, and adaption strategies.
Finance Specialist (Seattle, WA) - Vani Gujjar received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with Financial Accounting as major from Kuvempu University, India. She completed her Basic and Intermediate Accounting from Fullerton College, California and worked as an Accounting Coordinator at a leading e-marketing firm in Seattle Area supporting different areas of Finance. Vani volunteered in several non-profits, including Northshore school district and libraries. She enjoys working for Marine Conservation Institute where people are highly focused on protecting our oceans which makes a difference in the environment.
Senior Research Fellow - Dr. Healy Hamilton is a biodiversity scientist with a diverse range of research interests in global change, evolution, conservation, and informal science education. Current marine research projects include the application of comparative DNA sequence analysis to the taxonomy, evolution, and conservation of seahorses and pipefish. Another group of projects focuses on modeling climate change impacts to species and landscapes to support climate adaptation planning. Healy received her masters degree from Yale University's School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and her Ph.D. in Integrative Biology from the University of California, Berkeley. For both degrees she conducted extensive field research. Healy is a former U.S. Fulbright Fellow and a Switzer Foundation Environmental Leadership Grantee.
Development Officer (Seattle, WA) - Leah leads the Marine Conservation Institute’s fundraising and development efforts from their Seattle office. Previously, Leah was a senior member of the development team at Pacific Science Center, where she worked for nine years, and has held development and community outreach positions at the Wild Fish Conservancy, New Jersey Community Water Watch and Strategies for International Development. She has a B.A. with honors in Anthropology from the University of Georgia, with a focus on cultural ecology and community-based ecotourism. Leah enthusiastically joins the Marine Conservation Institute where she can combine her passion for the environment and lifelong love of the ocean with her dedication to philanthropy.
Director of Finance & Administration (Seattle, WA) - Joan Inge received her Bachelor's Degree in Accounting from Thiel College in Greenville PA. She spent a semester in Liberia, West Africa, as an international student. As an undergraduate, Joan focused on the field of nonprofit accounting as her career choice. Upon graduation, Joan worked for Greenpeace, combining accounting and direct actions for the environment. Subsequently she worked for several non-profits, including NIRS (Nuclear Information and Resource Service) and two Seattle-based organizations serving the homeless. Since joining Marine Conservation Institute, Joan has returned to her environmental roots and her interest in protecting our oceans. She enjoys her weekends spent hiking along Pacific Northwest beaches with her husband and dogs.
Marine Surveillance Advisor (Washington, DC) - Katie Kirk earned a B.S. degree in Science of Earth Systems with a concentration in Ocean Sciences from Cornell University in 2012. She then went on to be the first graduate from the recently established cooperative program between Cornell University and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in which she completed a Masters of Engineering in Ocean Sciences & Technology in 2013. In her M.Eng. research, she analyzed decadal-scale ocean property differences along the 30 degree S repeat hydrographic transect in the Atlantic Ocean. Katie also worked with the Jupiter Research Foundation in Hawai’i analyzing bioacoustics data in a proof-of-concept study tracking humpback whales using a linear array of hydrophones deployed on Wave Gliders off of the Kohala coast. Since graduating, she has participated in the Friday Harbor Laboratories Marine Bioacoustics Workshop and worked on several oceanographic research cruises. In addition to providing Marine Conservation Institute with her marine surveillance expertise, Katie is prepping for an upcoming NOAA research cruise.
Conservation Science Fellow - Shelly Magier received her bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College in 1999 with a degree in Biology. After college she worked for Heal the Bay on urban stormwater runoff issues and stream water quality monitoring in watersheds feeding the Santa Monica Bay. In 2003 she received her master’s degree from the Donald Bren School of Science and Management with a focus on water resources. Subsequently Shelly worked for various environmental consulting firms, and worked on a variety of projects ranging from arid land restoration in the Mojave desert, to vegetation mapping, riparian corridor restoration and historical ecology research on the Santa Clara River. Shelly’s research at Marine Conservation Institute focuses on the historical ecology of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.
Research Fellow - Dr. Sara Maxwell’s work at Marine Conservation Institute as a Postdoctoral Fellow is focused on the management of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, and issues surrounding marine spatial planning in the US. Dr. Maxwell attended University of Florida where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. She then spent four years as a Conservation Scientist with Marine Conservation Institute. Sara returns to Marine Conservation Institute after recently completing her doctoral work in Ocean Sciences at the University of California Santa Cruz. Her dissertation research involved the effectiveness of marine protected areas for top predators along both the US West Coast and the coast of Central West Africa. Sara worked with the Census of Marine Life’s Tagging of Pacific Pelagics project, focusing on conservation gaps on the US West Coast and the use of the National Marine Sanctuaries by marine mammals and seabirds. Additionally, she conducted a project deploying satellite transmitters on endangered sea turtles to determine how MPAs can better protect them in Gabon and the Republic of Congo.
Conservation Analyst & MPAtlas.org Manager (Glen Ellen, CA) - Russell Moffitt graduated from Dartmouth College with a B.A. in Environmental and Evolutionary Biology. Prior to coming to Marine Conservation Institute, he worked in Hawaii with the NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, conducting oceanographic and ecological research at coral reef ecosystems across the Pacific, including places where Marine Conservation Institute works to protect such as the Pacific Remote Island Areas and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Russell has also conducted reef biodiversity assessments with the Census of Marine Life (CoML) Census of Coral Reefs project and has recently been developing and deploying a standardized method to assess cryptic biodiversity on reefs worldwide using advanced molecular techniques. Russell is particularly interested in the interactions between marine biological communities and their physical environments and how those processes are affected by climate change. At Marine Conservation Institute, Russell works on identifying biological hot spots on the high seas and other areas in need of protection, and works as a member of our team in analyzing geospatial data, particularly on issues related to marine spatial planning.
President (Glen Ellen, CA) - Dr. Lance Morgan is a marine biologist who came to Marine Conservation Institute as a Postdoctoral Fellow in 2000, moving up to Staff Scientist in 2003, Vice President for Science in 2006 and President in 2012. Born in Connecticut and growing up as a son of a US Navy nuclear submarine captain, Lance learned about and became deeply committed to conserving our living oceans while living in California, Hawaii and Washington. Lance received his Master’s in Marine Science from San Francisco State University. As a graduate student he participated in 2 missions at the Aquarius underwater habitat in the Florida Keys. His doctoral research explored factors influencing recruitment of marine invertebrates, for which he received his PhD in Ecology from the University of California-Davis (1997). His postdoctoral research at Bodega Marine Laboratory and NOAA Fisheries and work at the Marine Mammal Center, further predisposed him to join Marine Conservation Institute. His research interests range from zoology to conservation science and he has studied taxa as diverse as deep sea corals, rockfishes, seabirds and orcas. He led the identification of Marine Priority Conservation Areas from Baja California to the Bering Sea for the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (2005). He has explored the ocean as a SCUBA diver, aquanaut and submersible pilot. He has authored reports on the impacts of fishing methods on marine life as well as scientific papers on marine protected areas. In 2010 he traveled to the remote Johnston Atoll in the Central Pacific to help establish the first field camp at this new marine protected area. He currently chairs the Cordell Bank Sanctuary Advisory Council and holds a research faculty appointment at Bodega Marine Laboratory. His most recent conservation project is leading development of the MPAtlas.org website – a new global tool to help better understand the current state of global ocean protection.
Elliott A. Norse
Chief Scientist (Seattle, WA) - Dr. Elliott A. Norse has worked at the conservation science-policy interface for his entire career. After earning his B.S. in Biology from Brooklyn College, he studied the ecology of blue crabs in the Caribbean and the tropical East Pacific during his doctoral years at University of Southern California and his postdoctoral fellowship years at University of Iowa. Starting in 1978 he worked at the US Environmental Protection Agency, White House Council on Environmental Quality (where he defined biological diversity as conservation’s overarching goal), Ecological Society of America, The Wilderness Society and Ocean Conservancy before founding Marine Conservation Institute in 1996. Elliott’s 150+ publications include Global Marine Biological Diversity: A Strategy for Building Conservation into Decision Making (1993) and Marine Conservation Biology: The Science of Maintaining the Sea’s Biodiversity (2005). He is a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation, was President of the Society for Conservation Biology’s Marine Section, received the Nancy Foster Award for Habitat Conservation from the National Marine Fisheries Service, was named Brooklyn College 2008 Distinguished Alumnus and winner of the 2012 Chairman’s Medal from the Seattle Aquarium.
Conservation Scientist (Seattle, WA) - Beth Pike received her B.S. from Long Island University/Southampton in Biology and earned her M.E.M. at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment in 2008 where her thesis work tied the movements of critically endangered right whales and the tidal movement of their prey in the Bay of Fundy. She also earned a Certificate of Geospatial Analysis from the Duke University Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab. Beth has worked as a naturalist and mate throughout Alaska, British Columbia, the South Pacific, Mexico, and Hawaii and spent years conducting research on right whales in the North Atlantic and humpback whales in the North Pacific. Since joining the Marine Conservation Institute in 2011, Beth has supported many facets of the organization. Currently her work is focused on the outreach, communication and data input for our online atlas of global marine protected areas, www.MPAtlas.org.
Ocean Policy Intern (Washington, DC) - Bess Ruff earned a B.A. degree in Economics with a minor in Creative Writing from Washington & Lee University in 2013. During her final undergraduate term, she traveled to Belize with her Economics of Tropical Coastal Seascapes class to conduct contingent valuation research regarding tourists’ willingness to pay for whale shark conservation. Bess and two other classmates produced a paper entitled “The Impact of Positive Affect Changes on Willingness to Pay for Whale Shark Conservation in Belize: A Pilot Study”. She has also spent a semester abroad at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. After graduation, Bess spent the summer in southeastern Idaho working for the Henry’s Fork Foundation, a non-profit fisheries research and management organization. She plans to attend graduate school for marine policy and coastal resources management in Fall 2014.
Policy Analyst (Washington, DC) - Katelin Shugart-Schmidt attributes her passion for marine conservation to a decade spent SCUBA diving Hawaiian reefs. She received her B.S. in Environmental Science from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, where her research focused on the impacts of invasive algae in the Waikiki Marine Life Conservation District. Katelin spent a year abroad at the University of Reading, England, and worked for the Utah Conservation Corps (Americorps). She then attended Virginia Tech, where she received her M.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences. Katelin’s thesis research retrospectively explored the existence of management uncertainty for a variety of fish populations in the South Atlantic region. Whether it's taking on the Antarctic ocean polar-bear-plunge or diving deep into the Red Sea's SS Thistlegorm, Katelin jumps on any chance she can get to explore our world's seas. She recently relocated to Washington, DC with her husband and is enjoying engaging in the policy aspects of ocean conservation.