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
Chief Scientist: Elliott A. Norse
Conservation Projects Coordinator: Vienna Saccomanno
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: Victoria Bell
Conservation Science Fellow: Shelly Magier
Conservation Fellow: Ryan Dillon
Director of Policy & Legislation: Michael Gravitz
MPAtlas Fellow: Gerlinde Schäffter
Director of Development: Carolina Dratva
Director of Finance & Administration: Joan Inge
Ocean Policy Fellow (Washington, DC) - Victoria Bell received her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies focusing on marine conservation with Minors in Biology and Coastal Management from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL. After graduation Victoria worked as an education specialist at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and as a long term substituter for a high school biology and chemistry class. She then moved to Roatan, Honduras to become a dive master before heading off to work at a locally managed marine area in Madagascar. She is currently working towards a M.A. in International Environmental Policy for Ocean and Coastal Resource Management at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and is interning with the Marine Conservation Institute in lieu of a fourth semester on campus. Her passion is mixing science with policy to determine best practices and desired outcomes. Her focus is on locally managed marine areas, marine protected areas, and conservation agreements but she is genuinely interested in all parts of the ocean environment. She received a fellowship through the Center for the Blue Economy to work in Micronesia, both researching baseline data of the waters surrounding a small atoll as well as working with local communities and organizations towards the implementation and enforcement of a Marine Protected Area.
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.
Conservation Fellow (Seattle, WA) - Intern (Seattle): Ryan Dillon received his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, focusing on international security, from the University of Washington in Seattle. During his undergraduate studies, Ryan interned for the Seattle Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, where he conducted research on the development of coastal access policy in the Pacific Northwest and its impact on the recreation industry. Following his graduation from the University of Washington, Ryan worked as a sea kayak guide teaching about the marine ecology and the environmental policy history of the Puget Sound. His passion is in the interactions between the recreation industry and marine conservation policy efforts. Ryan is very excited to have the opportunity with Marine Conservation Institute that will combine his interests in marine conservation and environmental policy development.
Director of Development (Glen Ellen, CA) - Caro Dratva’s greatest passion is the ocean. After falling in love with the sea as an avid scuba diver, she decided to leave the development, marketing, and graphic design roles in a major San Francisco architectural firm to completely dedicate her life to advocating for the ocean. She volunteers for several organizations such as Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue, The Marine Mammal Center, and she is also a member of Reef Check California, and GUE (Global Underwater Explorers). She received her Bachelor's Degree in International Relations from San Francisco State University, and studied Psychology at Stanford University. She pursued her passion for ocean exploration by taking Marine Biology courses at City College of San Francisco. She enjoys her free time scuba diving, photographing underwater critters, and land-based nature. She is also an avid surfer, and looks to forward to sailing, paddle boarding, or kayaking, when the winds visit beautiful San Francisco & Monterey Bays.
Director of 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.
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.
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.
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.
Conservation Projects Coordinator (Seattle, WA) - Vienna Saccomanno received her Bachelor's degree in biology and International Political Economy from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. During her studies, Vienna conducted research on estuarine nutrient tracing with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater MD and received the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for her work; Vienna's undergraduate experience laid the foundation for her ardent love of the water. After graduating summa cum laude, Vienna worked as the Research Fellow with the Cape Eleuthera Foundation for a year in The Bahamas. During her fellowship Vienna researched the impacts of invasive lionfish on reef ecology and taught a course on marine conservation. Through her research, SCUBA diving, and kayak adventures, Vienna developed a deep passion for exploring the ocean and experienced first-hand the importance of marine protection. She is thrilled to be working with Marine Conservation Institute- an organization whose mission resonates closely with her desire to help protect and restore the world's oceans.
MPAtlas Fellow (Washington, DC) - Gerlinde Schaeffter received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology, focusing on marine ecology, from Royal Holloway University of London. During and after her undergraduate studies, Gerlinde interned for a number of international NGOs and projects based in the Philippines, Honduras and Finland. She then obtained an MSc in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation from Imperial College London. Following her graduation, Gerlinde has worked with the WWF Whale Shark Project based in Donsol, Philippines. Subsequently, she was a project coordinator for Green Fins, a UNEP project focusing in promoting sustainable diving practices based in Moalboal, Philippines. Her passion is in bridging the gap between marine scientific research and conservation efforts to create a difference in the way marine protected areas are managed. Gerlinde is very excited to have the opportunity to be interning with Marine Conservation Institute, which will allow her to combine her interests in Marine Protected Areas and conservation.
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 penguin-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.