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Admiral Thad Allen (US Coast Guard, Retired) served as the 23rd Commandant of the Coast Guard. Allen is best known for his performance directing the federal response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the Gulf Coast region and as National Incident Commander for the federal response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. He is the recipient of this year’s Peter Benchley Ocean Award for Excellence in Policy.
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John Amos is founder of SkyTruth, a non-profit 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. He is an expert in the use of satellite images and other remote sensing data to understand and communicate local, regional and global environmental issues. Educated as a geologist at Cornell University (BS) and the University of Wyoming (MS), he spent 10 years applying image processing, image analysis, and digital mapping techniques to conduct environmental, exploration and resource assessment studies for the energy and mining industries and various government entities.
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James N. Barnes is the Executive Director Antarctic & Southern Ocean Coalition. He has been a leading member of the international public interest law and diplomacy community for the past 35 years. Since 2005 he has served as Executive Director of ASOC, which runs campaigns to protect the Antarctic [www.asoc.org]. Jim was a co-founder of ASOC in 1978. He received the Sierra Club International Earthcare Award in 2005; was named an Officer of the Order of the Golden Ark in 1998 for Antarctic protection work from His Royal Highness Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands; and was chosen International Environmentalist of the Year in 1991 by the National Wildlife Federation in Washington, DC.
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Jeff Benoit is the President and CEO of Restore America’s Estuaries. He has over 30 years of experience and leadership in coastal management and marine conservation. A coastal geomorphologist by training, Jeff started his career with the Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management Program, first as a coastal geologist, and then as Director. From 1993 to 2001 Jeff served in the Clinton Administration as Director of NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) where he had responsibility for the National Coastal Zone Management Program, National Estuarine Research Reserves, and National Marine Sanctuaries.
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Jon Bowermaster, author and filmmaker, is a six-time grantee of the National Geographic Expeditions Council. His ten-year-long OCEANS 8 project (1999-2009) took him and his teams around the world one continent at a time studying the relationship between man and the sea. His most recent film, “SoLa, Louisiana Water Stories” documents the incestuous relationship between man, industry and the environment along the Gulf Coast.
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Dr. Priscilla Brooks is the Conservation Law Foundation’s Senior Economist and Director of Ocean Conservation, focusing on protecting marine habitat and wildlife and building healthy fishing communities. Dr. Brooks is a leading conservationist in the Massachusetts Ocean Plan and an advocate for a regional marine spatial plan in New England. She holds a BS from Cornell University as well as an MS and PhD in environmental and resource economics from the University of Rhode Island.
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Halsey Burgund currently works as a musician and sound artist living on the outskirts of Boston. His museum installations and musical performances make extensive use of spoken human voice recordings as musical elements, alongside traditional and electronic instruments. He collects these voices from otherwise uninvolved individuals whom he records in various locations, from museums to street corners to rock clubs as well as over the internet and using smartphone apps.
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Jeff Burnside of NBC Miami has been in the news business for more than 20 years as a reporter, anchor, news manager and producer. He reports investigative, long-formant environmental stories and daily news and had done extensive reporting on the ocean. He has won more than 25 journalism awards. He is chair of the upcoming 2011 Society of Environmental Journalists national conference to be held in Miami.
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Casi Callaway, Executive Director, Mobile Baykeeper, an environmental group with over 4,000 members, all with a common interest in preserving and protecting the beauty, health and heritage of the Mobile Bay watershed. Casi is from Mobile, Alabama, graduated from the last all girls’ class of Julius T. Wright and finished with a degree in Philosophy and Ecology from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. She started in the environmental field as the Southeastern Regional College Campus Coordinator for Earth Day 1990.
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Paul Carver is an adjunct professor in Public Policy Analysis at Virginia Tech. He is a Capitol Hill veteran of nearly 28 years. Many of those years were spent as senior policy advisor for Congressman David R. Obey (WI). He received his PhD in government from the University of Essex.
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Billy Causey is the Regional Director, Southeast Region, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, NOAA. Billy has managed National Marine Sanctuaries in the Florida Keys since 1983, when he became the Manager of the Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary. Dr. Causey has been the lead National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) official in the development of the management plan for the Keys Sanctuary, which is the third largest marine protected area in the United States. Dr. Causey and his Regional Team are focused on several initiatives around the Southeast Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean where MPAs and networks of MPAs are being considered for management of coastal and marine resources.
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Richard Charter is Senior Policy Advisor, Marine Programs at Defenders of Wildlife and Co-Chair, National OCS Coalition. He has worked for 32 years as a conservation specialist in offshore oil and gas drilling, intergovernmental relations, media outreach, and grassroots organizing in support of marine protected areas and fishery restoration policy. He is presently working to implement a network of Marine Protected Areas along the U.S. Pacific coast. He has expertise in the designation of National Marine Sanctuaries and regulatory strategies for such areas. He is the recipient of the 2009 “Hero of the Seas” Peter Benchley Ocean Award.
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Sarah Chasis is a senior attorney and director of NRDC’s ocean initiative. Her work focuses on promoting the protection, maintenance and restoration of healthy ocean ecosystems, including healthy ocean fish populations and habitats. She is a graduate of Smith College and the New York University School of Law, where she is now an adjunct professor teaching an environmental law clinic.
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Teresa Christopher an Ocean Policy Advisor at the National Ocean Council Office where she is responsible for developing and implementing policies, strategies, and plans related to marine and coastal resources and for managing the NOC. Prior to joining the National Ocean Council Staff, Teresa served as a Senior Policy Advisor at NOAA overseeing the Agency’s National Ocean Policy implementation efforts and at the White House Council on Environmental Quality managing the President’s Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force.
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Dianna Cohen, a Los Angeles-based multi-media visual artist, painter and curator, is best known for her two-dimensional and three-dimensional works using recycled plastic bags – sewn together – ranging from small hanging pieces to room-sized installations. She is also Creative Director & co-founder of Plastic Pollution Coalition.
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Sean Cosgrove directs the Conservation Law Foundation’s ocean habitat and biodiversity campaign. He has extensive experience with marine and coastal issues, legislation and appropriations and directs legislative and outreach conservation campaigns. Sean earned a B.A. in History and a B.S. in Environmental Science from Western Washington University.
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Fara Courtney was appointed US Offshore Wind Collaborative (USOWC) Executive Director in May 2010. She has over two decades experience in coastal development, ocean policy, state/federal regulatory programs and civic engagement. She was principle of Good Harbor Consulting, based in Gloucester, MA, for 10 years. Prior to founding Good Harbor Consulting/Gloucester, Fara was a regional manager for the MA Coastal Zone Management Program.
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Céline Cousteau is the founder and executive director of CauseCentric Productions, collaborating with other non-profits and individuals to increase their world-wide exposure by creating short documentaries about their work, thereby providing a visual communication tool. With a masters in International and Intercultural Management and fluent in three languages Céline uses photography, written word and micro documentaries to record her experiences and the effort of others working in the name of a healthier and more harmonious world. In 2011, Céline created “Ocean Inspiration” in tribute to her grandfather Jacques Cousteau’s 100th anniversary as a platform to celebrate and recognize ocean advocacy in all forms- from science to art and dance to filmmaking- it is her belief we can all be protectors of this fragile world.
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John Cronin is Director and Chief Executive Officer at Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries. He is known internationally for his 17 years as Hudson Riverkeeper, a position that inspired a legacy of 200 Waterkeeper programs that fight pollution on six continents. Time magazine named him a “Hero for the Planet” and the Wall Street Journal called him “a unique presence on America’s major waterways.” As Director and CEO of Beacon Institute, Cronin directs a program of advanced technology development for real-time monitoring of rivers and estuaries, and STEM education for teachers and students. As Senior Fellow in Environmental Affairs at Pace University, Cronin is heading the formation of a center for water policy reformation, and creating a program of undergraduate and graduate studies for the next generation of environmental leaders.
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Dr. Stephen Crooks is the Director of Climate Change Services and a Senior wetland scientist / geomorphologist with ESA PWA. He joined ESA PWA in 2004 after 12 years working on the science and policy of wetlands restoration coastal management at leading institutions in Europe. Dr Crooks directs activities across ESA PWA related to integration of wetlands management into climate change mitigation and adaptation planning. At the technical level, he leads restoration feasibility assessments and design, geomorphic assessments of landscape response to sea level rise, development of wetland a restoration offset protocol.
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Anna Cummins has over 14 years of experience in environmental non-profits, working in marine conservation, coastal watershed management, and sustainability education. She received her Masters in International Environmental Policy from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Anna and her husband Marcus Eriksen co-founded the 5 Gyres Institute, researching and communicating plastic marine pollution in the world’s oceans.
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Dr. Ned Cyr was selected as the Director, Office of Science and Technology at NOAA in May 2009. He joined NOAA in 1992. He has served as an International Affairs Specialist with NOAA’s Office of International Affairs, a Fisheries Biologist with the NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources, Head of the Ocean Science and Living Resources Program of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO and, most recently, Chief of the Marine Ecosystems Division in the Office of Science and Technology.
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Tim Dillingham has been the Executive Director of the American Littoral Society since 2003. He brings more than 20 years of experience in coastal management and policy development gained in government agencies and non-profit organizations. Tim began his career as a consultant to the state’s Coastal Management Council and continued as a senior policy analyst for the state. During his years in Rhode Island, he also spent some time as an Environmental Planner for The Nature Conservancy. Since joining the American Littoral Society in 2003, first as Assistant Director and soon afterward as Executive Director, Tim has focused on laying the groundwork to continue the Society’s more than 40 years of successful advocacy, education, and conservation in the 21st century.
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Charles “Casey” Dinges serves as the Managing Director for External Affairs of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). This sixteen-person division includes the Government Relations and Communications Departments along with the Society’s K12 Outreach and Diversity programs. He has been with the Society since 1985. During this time, he and numerous programs under his leadership have won national awards and recognitions from such organizations as the American Society of Association Executives, the Construction Writers Association of America, and the American League of Lobbyists. Mr. Dinges headed the team that developed ASCE’s highly regarded Report Card on America’s Infrastructure program.
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Sean Dixon is the Coastal Policy Attorney for Clean Ocean Action, a coastal pollution prevention organization based in Sandy Hook, NJ. Despite being a lawyer, Dixon is a Marine Biologist at heart and previously worked as an aquarist, Alaskan fisheries observer, and a Lecturer on Coastal Policy at Yale University. Dixon earned a JD and LLM at Pace Law School in environmental and climate change law
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Chris Dorsett is Director of the Fish Conservation & Gulf Restoration Program of the Ocean Conservancy. Chris oversees efforts to improve the management of marine fish in the Gulf, with the goal of achieving sustainable fish populations that support healthy marine ecosystems and viable fishing communities. Chris has a background in marine fisheries science and environmental law.
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Jackie Dragon is a Senior Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace and advocates for a sustainable path for the oceans – especially the setting aside of vital marine ecosystems as marine reserves – before it’s too late. She holds the Conservation Alternate seat on the Gulf of the Farallones Sanctuary Advisory Council, and spearheaded an effort to form a new multi-stakeholder Working Group of two of California’s national marine sanctuaries with the aim of reducing deadly ship strikes on whales and ocean noise pollution in these protected waters. A seasoned social and political activist, Jackie draws on her years of successful organizing experience with California’s fastest growing union for healthcare workers.
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Lisa Dropkin, a Principal at Edge Research, works with a diverse array of clients, from Fortune 1000 companies to progressive non-profits. She takes the best research practices in branding, marketing, packaging and product development from her clients in the business sector and leverages them for her issue advocacy and membership development work with non-profit organizations.
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Mike Dunmyer is the Executive Director of Ocean Champions. Before joining Ocean Champions, Mike created, developed and led strategy, finance, marketing and operations organizations as a Vice President in the Fortune 500 world. Mike has an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and a BA in Economics from Washington and Lee University.
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Alexandra Dunn is Executive Director and General Counsel, ASIWPCA (Association of State & Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators). Ms. Dunn has worked extensively on water quality, water treatment, and regulatory issues associated with the implementation of the Clean Water Act. From 2007 to 2010, Dunn was Dean of Environmental Law Programs and an Adjunct Professor at Pace University School of Law in New York, managing one of the top environmental law programs in the nation. Ms. Dunn served in the nation’s capital area as General Counsel of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (2001-2007); and as Counsel to the American Chemistry Council (1996-2001).
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Sylvia Earle is Ambassador for the World’s Ocean and Explorer in Residence at the National Geographic Society, former chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and a leading American oceanographer. Among the more than 100 national and international honors she has received is the 2009 TED Prize for her proposal to establish a global network of marine protected areas. She calls these marine preserves “hope spots… to save and restore… the blue heart of the planet.”
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Michelle Erenberg works to empower the community response to the BP oil drilling disaster by organizing the coordinated Gulf Recovery Campaign. She has a B.A. in Psychology from Loyola University New Orleans and Masters of Public Administration from the University of New Orleans. She has worked as an organizer for Environment California and Planned Parenthood.
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Dr. Marcus Eriksen is co-director of 5-Gyres and Director of Program Development for the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. He received his Ph.D. in Science Education from University of Southern California in 2003, months before embarking on a 2000-mile, 5-month journey down the Mississippi River on a homemade raft. His experience on the river led to a career studying the ecological impacts of plastic marine pollution and another rafting adventure across the Pacific Ocean from California to Hawaii on JUNK, a homemade raft floating on 15,000 plastic bottles (junkraft.com).
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John Ferland is Vice President – Project Development for Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC), a hydrokinetic industry leader developing proprietary power systems and commercial-scale projects that convert tidal, river and deep water ocean currents into clean, reliable, economic supplies of renewable electricity. Mr. Ferland is responsible for ORPC’s international project development and environmental permitting activities. He has over 30 years experience in technology commercialization, port emergency response operations, coastal resources management, communications, and public policy.
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Murray Fisher is Co-founder and Program Director at Urban Assembly New York Harbor School and President of the New York Harbor Foundation. After graduating in 1998 from Vanderbilt University he worked for Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. at Hudson Riverkeeper. He later helped launch Waterkeeper Alliance, the umbrella organization for the then thirty-six Waterkeeper programs throughout the world.
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Kristen Fletcher is Executive Director of the Coastal States Organization where she is responsible for advancing CSO’s mission by advocating for the shared state interests. Ms. Fletcher represents the interests of the Governors of coastal states and territories before Congress, federal agencies, Boards and Commissions to support federal policy goals and objectives of CSO. Ms. Fletcher’s current work includes working with federal agencies to implement the National Ocean Policy, advocating for reauthorization of the Coastal Zone Management Act, and developing legislative efforts toward adapting to climate change.
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Melissa Foley is a science early career fellow working with the Center for Ocean Solutions’ Marine Spatial Planning Initiative. She recently finished her PhD in marine ecology at the University of California Santa Cruz where her research focused on how the movement of subsidies across the land-sea interface influences ecosystem structure and functioning in nearshore marine habitats. Melissa is also a research associate with the Institute of Marine Science at UCSC and is currently investigating how large-scale wildfires affect the magnitude and type of subsidy exchange at the land-sea interface.
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Terry Garcia is executive vice president for Mission Programs for the National Geographic Society. In June 2010, Mr. Garcia was appointed by President Obama to serve on the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Deepwater Drilling. Prior to joining the Society in 1999 Mr. Garcia was Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, U.S. Department of Commerce, and Deputy Administrator of NOAA.
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Sister Suzanne Golas is Founder and Executive Director for WaterSpirit in Elberon, NJ, a center committed to informing, inspiring and enabling people to deepen their consciousness of the sacredness and interdependence of all creation with a focus on the role of water as critical in sustaining all life. Sister Suzanne has led numerous retreats, educational programs, and advocacy efforts in relation to the ocean.
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Dana Goward is the Director of Marine Transportation Systems Management for the United States Coast Guard. His directorate is responsible for a wide variety of navigation safety and security functions including Aids to Navigation, Domestic and Polar Ice Operations, Waterways Management, Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning, and permitting for Bridges that span navigable waters. Prior assignments include service as Director, Assessment, Integration and Risk Management, and Director of Maritime Domain Awareness Program Integration. Mr. Goward served as an active duty Coast Guard officer for 29 years. His military assignments included service as Operations Officer aboard an offshore patrol vessel; Chief Civil Penalty Magistrate for the Gulf Coast, Caribbean and Inland River System; Director of Human Resources for the Eighth Coast Guard District; and Chief of the Coast Guard’s Office of Boat Forces. In the latter position he led the world’s largest public safety and security boat operation with over 1,700 vessels and 9,000 people. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for leading the transformation of the U.S. Coast Guard’s boat operations. A majority of his military career, however, was spent as a helicopter pilot serving in the Caribbean, Great Lakes and on both coasts before being assigned as Commanding Officer of Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans. He is the recipient of the Air Medal and the Helicopter Association International’s Igor Sikorsky Award for Humanitarian Service for the rescue of two fishermen during the height of a hurricane. He has also been recognized for his creation of the Coast Guard’s Helicopter Rescue Swimmer program. Mr. Goward is a 1974 graduate of the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree. He holds a Master’s Degree from the Naval Post Graduate School and a certificate in Human Performance from the University of New Orleans.

Dr. David E. Guggenheim is a marine scientist, conservation policy specialist, submarine pilot and ocean explorer. He is a Senior Fellow at The Ocean Foundation and director of its Cuba Marine and Conservation Program. He is leading the Tri-national Initiative for Marine Science & Conservation in the Gulf of Mexico & Western Caribbean and the first-ever comprehensive research and conservation program in Cuba’s Gulf of Mexico region with the University of Havana. Also known as the “Ocean Doctor” and host of The Ocean Doctor radio show and the ExpeditionCasts podcast series, Dr. Guggenheim plays a key role in public outreach and education about the oceans.
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Rev. Fletcher Harper is an Episcopal priest and Executive Director of GreenFaith. An award-winning spiritual writer and nationally-recognized preacher on the environment, he teaches and speaks at houses of worship from a range of denominations in New Jersey and nationwide about the moral, spiritual basis for environmental stewardship and justice.
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William E. Hawkins, Ph.D. is the director of The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory and professor in the Department of Coastal Sciences. His research interests include pathological effects of infectious agents and environmental toxicants on marine organisms and the use of marine animals as models for the study of diseases, particularly cancer and cancer causing compounds.
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David Helvarg is founder and president of the Blue Frontier Campaign and author of five books, four of them on the ocean including ‘50 Ways to Save the Ocean.’ A long time journalist, he worked as a war correspondent in Northern Ireland and Central America and covered climate change impacts from Washington, D.C. to Antarctica. He is also a private investigator, bodysurfer and Scuba diver.
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Dr. Jeremy Jackson is Director of CMBC, the William E. and Mary B. Ritter Professor of Oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, and a Senior Scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in the Republic of Panama. He was Professor of Ecology at the Johns Hopkins University from 1971 to 1985. Dr. Jackson is the author of more than100 scientific publications and five books. His current research includes the long-term impacts of human activities on the oceans and the ecological and evolutionary consequences of the gradual formation of the Isthmus of Panama. He co-founded the Panama Paleontology Project in 1986, an international group of some 30 scientists, to help support his isthmian research. He has also worked extensively on the ecology of coral reef communities and the tempo and mode of speciation in the sea. Dr. Jackson is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and received the Secretary’s Gold Medal for Exceptional Service of the Smithsonian Institution in 1997 and the UCSD Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Science and Engineering in 2002. His work on overfishing was chosen by Discover magazine as the outstanding environmental achievement of 2001. He has served on committees and boards of the World Wildlife Fund US, the National Research Council, the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, and the Science Commission of the Smithsonian Institution.
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Debbie Kinder, a passionate ocean lover and a committed advocate for environmental sustainability, is the Founder of the non-profit organization Make A Difference Media and the BLUE Ocean Film Festival & Conservation Summit (BLUE). Debbie comes from an academic background in pharmacology and environmental toxicology but diversified her life’s work early on to include becoming an award-winning documentary filmmaker, a participant in humanitarian relief projects in Central and South America, a partner in a small business development fund and the mother of three fantastic children.
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Linda Lance is counsel to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Previously, she was vice president for public policy at The Wilderness Society and served as an advisor to former Vice President Al Gore and senior counsel to the Senate Commerce Committee. She brings to the committee a rich policy background in wildland protection, sustainable energy, climate and public lands management.
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Dr. Kara Lavender Law received her PhD in physical oceanography from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She is on the faculty at SEA where she has taught more than 200 students about the ins-and-outs of oceanography in Woods Hole, MA and at sea in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and Caribbean Sea. For the past several years Kara has been researching plastic marine debris using SEA’s 25-year data set consisting of plastic counts from more than 7500 plankton net tows.
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George Leonard is Director of the Aquaculture Program at Ocean Conservancy where he focuses on legislative and regulatory activities surrounding the development of marine aquaculture in state and federal waters to ensure that U.S. aquaculture develops under strong environmental standards. From 2002 – 2007, he was the Senior Science Manager for Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program where he was responsible for overseeing the research and analysis of capture fisheries and aquaculture practices related to the development of sustainability recommendations for the public and businesses. George holds a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Brown University and a MS in Marine Science from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. Before joining Seafood Watch in early 2002, he was the Program Manager for COMPASS (the Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea) where he helped communicate emerging marine conservation science to policymakers, NGOs and resource managers.
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Roland Lewis is at the helm of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, a nonprofit group dedicated to the improvement of the New York and New Jersey harbor and waterways to make them clean and accessible, a vibrant place to play, learn and work, with transportation for all. Mr. Lewis has worked in the field of community development since 1984, when he began as a program associate at the Trust for Public lands.
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Dr. Jane Lubchenco is Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator. Dr. Lubchenco is a marine ecologist and environmental scientist. She is the recipient of the 2010 Peter Benchley Ocean Award for Policy.
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Tony MacDonald is the Director of the Urban Coast Institute (UCI) at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey. Mr. MacDonald was previously the Executive Director of the Coastal States Organization (CSO) and Special Counsel and Director of Environmental Affairs at the American Association of Port Authorities. Tony has also served as the Washington, DC environmental legislative representative for the Mayor of the City of New York and Assistant Corporation Counsel at the New York City Law Department.
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Greg MacGillivray is an IMAX filmmaker who has produced some of the most popular films in the genre including hits like Everest and the Academy Award-nominated film The Living Sea. An ardent ocean conservationist, MacGillivray and his company, MacGillivray Freeman Films, have recently launched One World One Ocean, a global multi-media initiative dedicated to changing the way people see and value the ocean.
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Rebecca Marshall is Director of North American Programs, Seafood Choices at SeaWeb. She has 25 years experience working for international and national nongovernmental organizations on environmental, social and human rights issues. She has held both senior management and program positions for large and small nongovernmental organizations and gained experience in the areas of strategic planning, organizational development, issue campaigning and advocacy, facilitation and meeting management, recruitment and training, fundraising, communications, networking and relationship building.
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Amanda Mayhew recently graduated from James Cook University in Queensland, Australia with a Master of Ecotourism degree and a focus in Sustainability. Prior to furthering her education, Amanda spent seven years working in the private sector as an Analyst/Sales Associate for major financial firms including Morgan Stanley and New York Life Investment Management. Amanda currently works as a Policy Analyst with the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
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Kristin McArdle is an accomplished New York City-based artist whose contemporary dance performances incorporate environmental and cultural themes. She received a Fulbright Scholarship to study environmental history and Aboriginal studies in Australia, earning a masters degree from the University of Sydney. Her company, Kristen McArdle Dance, partners with conservation organizations, museums, and local businesses to raise environmental awareness through the arts and reveal our interaction and connection to the natural world.
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Jennifer McCann leads the University of Rhode Island’s Coastal Resource Center’s coastal programs in Rhode Island and the US and also serves as the coastal management extension leader for the Rhode Island Sea Grant College Program. One of Jennifer’s current focuses is as principal investigator and management team member of the Ocean Special Area Management Plan (SAMP), a state regulatory effort to comprehensively zone state waters, including for offshore alternative energy uses.
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Captain James McPherson is currently Commander of US Coast Guard Sector Northern New England, headquartered in Portland, Maine. He is responsible for all Coast Guard missions in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont (Lake Champlain) out to the 200NM Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). His other duties included supporting the federal relief efforts in Haiti after last year’s earthquake and he most recently returned from duty supporting the federal response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
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Leslie Mintz Tamminen is a consultant for Seventh Generation Advisors, a nonprofit environmental organization in Santa Monica CA. She is the Director of the Ocean Program, and in this capacity she facilitates the Clean Seas Coalition, a growing group of statewide environmentalists, scientists, students, and community leaders pushing California to strengthen laws reducing trash in California’s seas and on its beaches. Leslie is also a California Ocean Science Trustee.
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Lissa Morgenthaler-Jones is the founding CEO of LiveFuels Inc. The company started in 2006 as a mini-Manhattan Project to replace petroleum with algae-based biofuels. LiveFuels spent a year in strategic planning with Sandia National Labs and NREL. The company raised $10 million and went on to partner with researchers around the world, aiming to reduce the cost of algal biocrude to $1/gallon. In 1985, Lissa co-founded Murenove Inc., a joint venture investment advisory firm with Cazenove Inc. While there, Lissa was portfolio manager of a biotech mutual fund and in spring 2000, became the #1 mutual fund manager out of all 8,000+ U.S. mutual funds. For the past 30 years, Lissa has been a limited partner of one of the nation’s oldest venture capital groups. She’s widely quoted in the press and served on Governor Schwarzenegger’s Finance Committee. Lissa graduated from Princeton with an A.B. in Economics.
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Ted Morton joined SeaWeb as Vice President for Organizational Effectiveness and Operations in March 2009. He leads the team responsible for SeaWeb’s financial, administrative, human resources and organizational systems. Morton is an attorney with more than 15 years experience working for prominent ocean conservation organizations in the areas of advocacy, administration, finance and project management.
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Dr. Steve Murawski is a fisheries biologist and marine ecologist involved in understanding the impacts of human activities on the sustainability of ocean ecosystems. He has developed approaches for understanding the impacts of fishing on marine fish complexes exploited in mixed-species aggregations. Additionally, his work on impacts of marine protected areas and other management options has formed the scientific basis for regulation. Dr. Murawski is the former director of scientific programs and chief science advisor for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service and was a key figure in the nation’s scientific response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
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Jeff Nadler is the Industry and Government Relations Executive for PADI and a board member for DEMA. Over his 32-year tenure with PADI, his various responsibilities have included managing the Resort and Retailer Associations and conducting training seminars for dive store managers and staff in business tactics. He began his dive industry career in retailing, including managing the (then) largest dive store in the United States.
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Dr. Andrea Neal is the Founder and President of Blue Ocean Sciences, the Science Advisor for Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society, Principal Investigator for Project Kaisei in 2009, and one of the Principal Investigators for the 2011 Lone Ranger Transatlantic Investigation of Marine Pollutants with the Schmidt Ocean Institute. With over 13 years of experience in the scientific community, she specializes in creating unique partnerships with people to create healthier oceans through accurate understanding of our impact on the environment, well-executed action plans, and fruitful results.
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Father Vien Nguyen is a Catholic priest and progressive social activist in the Vietnamese community of New Orleans. Born in Viet Nam in 1963, he arrived in the United States in 1975. Father Vien attended public school in New Orleans and then attended St. Joseph Seminary College in St. Benedict, Louisiana, earning a B.A. in 1984. After spending a year volunteering at a Vietnamese Refugee Camp in Palawan, Philippines, Father Vien attended Notre Dame Seminary and the Graduate School of Theology in New Orleans, earning a Masters in Divinity.
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Vicki Nichols Goldstein is the founder of Colorado Ocean Coalition. Vicki has worked in the non-profit and ocean conservation field for over twenty-five years addressing a multitude of issues including vessel traffic, sustainable seafood, and oil spill contingency plans. While working for NOAA she co-wrote the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Designation Documents. During her 10 years as ED of Save Our Shores, she initiated and organized the first Central California Fishermen’s Forum on MPAs. She is a board member of the Blue Frontiers Campaign and recently formed the Colorado Ocean Coalition where she is protecting oceans from a mile high.
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David Ogden joined UNEP in 1997 as the coordinator of the negotiations of the legally binding instrument on POPs, which was adopted in 2001 as the Stockholm Convention on POPs. He currently manages all the technical units of the secretariat under the supervision of the Executive Secretary. Before joining UNEP, Mr. Ogden worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He holds a master’s degree in environmental science and another master’s degree in international affairs.
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Sean O’Neill is Co-Founder and President of the Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition, an industry trade association. His thirty-year career includes twelve years directing communications and public affairs for a $17 billion national energy company and providing media, communications, and crisis communications consultation to Fortune 500 corporations. Mr. O’Neill received his bachelor’s degree in English from Columbia College in New York City and a master’s degree in Public Communications at American University where he has taught undergraduate and graduate level communications courses as an adjunct faculty member.
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Dr. Peter Ortner holds a Ph.D. degree in Biological Oceanography from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, a J.D. degree in Environmental Law from the University of Miami School Of Law. He was the Chief Scientist at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory and a member of the team responsible for the development of the NOAA definition of an “ecosystem approach to management”. He is the Director of the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies. He was also a founder and long-term chair of the Florida Bay and Adjacent Marine Systems Science Program.
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Chris Palmer is an environmental and wildlife film producer who in 2009 received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Media at the International Wildlife Film Festival. His book, Shooting in the Wild: An Insider’s Account of Making Movies in the Animal Kingdom, was published last May by Sierra Club Books. He is president of the MacGillivray Freeman Films Educational Foundation and the One World Ocean Foundation, and he is also a professor on the full-time faculty at American University where he founded and directs the Center for Environmental Filmmaking at the School of Communication.
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Dr. Steve Palumbi is Director of Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University and is the Harold A. Miler Professor in Marine Sciences at Stanford. His latest book is ‘The Death and Life of Monterey Bay: A Story of Revial’ (written with Carolyn Sotka). He is the 2011 recipient of the Peter Benchley Ocean Award for Excellence in Science.
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Robbin Peach is the founding Director of the Collaborative Institute for Climate, Oceans and Security. Ms. Peach specializes in philanthropy and marine ecosystem management issues and has provided strategic advice to government, foundations, not-for-profits, private consulting firms, and institutions of higher education. She co-founded the Massachusetts Ocean Partnership, has been executive director of a quasi-public philanthropy for eighteen years, and has worked for the City of Boston in roles of senior planner and director of urban design.
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Margo Pellegrino is an accomplished ocean paddler who is dedicated to raising awareness of ocean issues. Since 2007, she has paddled an outrigger canoe to gain much needed attention to the state of our ocean from Miami, FL to Camden, ME; Long Beach Island, NJ, to Washington, D.C., to New Orleans and Seattle to San Diego.
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Dr. Linwood Pendleton is the Acting Chief Economist at NOAA. Previous positions include Director of Ocean and Coastal Policy at Duke’s Nicholas Institute, Senior Fellow and Director of Economic Research at The Ocean Foundation, and Director of the Coastal Ocean Values Center. Linwood is an expert in coastal and marine economics, especially using empirical methods to understand the effects of environmental change on economic uses of the ocean. He works on coastal and marine recreation in the United States and Caribbean and marine fisheries in California, Panama and Brazil.
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Dr. Emily Pidgeon is the Director of Conservation International’s Marine Climate Change Program, which is focused on finding solutions for coastal and marine adaptation to climate change and on developing marine-based approaches for mitigation through “blue” carbon. After completing her Ph.D. in environmental engineering at Stanford University, she was a research scientist working on coastal oceanography problems at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California. At CI, Dr. Pidgeon’s primary focus is integrating ocean sciences into effective conservation strategies and field implementation, including addressing the impacts of climate change on coastal and ocean communities and environments.
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Dan Pingaro serves as the Executive Director and CEO of Sailors for the Sea. Additionally, Dan serves as a member of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary Science Advisory Council. He has also worked on coastal and marine policy in San Francisco with the US Environmental Protection Agency and served on the Board of Trustees at the Marine Science Institute in Redwood City, Ca. Dan Pingaro was the founder of the iconic and innovative CLEWGEAR.
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Louis Psihoyos is executive director of the Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS), a National Geographic magazine photographer and director of the Oscar winning documentary, ‘The Cove.’ He is also the 2010 winner of the Peter Benchley Ocean Award for media.
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Tom Raftican, a lifelong recreational boater, angler and diver is a founding member and president of The Sportfishing Conservancy, president of United Anglers, and a founding member of the Sportfishing Conservation Alliance. Today he keeps the public informed as co-host on the syndicated, weekly “Fishtalk” radio show and producer and host of the “Reel World Conservation” weekly television show.
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Daniella Dimitrova Russo is the co-founder and Executive Director of Plastic Pollution Coalition. Daniella is a social entrepreneur who believes that progressive societies are fueled by the power of informed and engaged people. Daniella has spent many years in the high-tech industry as a founder and executive of a range businesses – from Internet startups to Fortune 500 companies. In 2006 she developed and launched the award-winning “Think Beyond Plastics” 360 campaign. Since then she has worked on elevating the issue of plastic pollution to the forefront of social, political and environmental discourse, and towards a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impacts on people, animals and the environment.
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Dr. Carl Safina is president of the Blue Ocean Institute and winner of the Sylvia Earle Award among many others. His first book, ‘Song for the Blue Ocean’ was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year,’ won the Lannan Literary Award and a MacArthur genius prize. For his latest book, ‘The View from Lazy Point,’ Safina was awarded a special Guggenheim Fellowship.
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Rudy Sanchez co-founded and now leads the ‘Rise Above Plastics’ program at his Los Angeles high school. Through this program students have reduced their school’s use of plastic and created and delivered presentations to their community about the impact of disposable and single-use plastics on both public health and the marine environment. Working with Surfrider Foundation, Algalita Foundation and others Rudy has organized and trained dozens of his peers to deliver action-oriented presentations that have reached over 8,000 additional people to date. He recently expanded the program, training other students to create similar programs in their own schools.
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David Sanford is Director of Navigation Policy and Legislation at American Association of Port Authorities where he is responsible for maritime and dredging issues and related policy, legislation and regulation. He brings to AAPA some 32 plus years of navigation experience with the Army Corps of Engineers at the district, division and headquarters levels. During that time, he served as a member of the Senior Executive Service as HQ Chief of Civil Works Policy (1994-2000) as well as Chief of the Interagency and International Services Division (2000-2002) where he directed the Corps interagency and international engineering services for other federal agencies and foreign governments.
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Cynthia (Cyn) Sarthou has been Executive Director of the Gulf Restoration Network (GRN) headquartered in New Orleans, Louisiana since 1995. In 2010, she was awarded the Peter Benchley Hero of the Seas Award by Blue Frontier Campaign, the River Hero Award by the River Network, the Brock Evans Award for Endangered Species Protection from the Endangered Species Coalition, and an award from the Institute for Conservation Leadership for her work building organizational capacity to protect the natural resources of the Gulf of Mexico.
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Jacqueline Savitz is a Senior Scientist and Senior Campaign Director for Oceana where she leads Oceana’s Pollution Campaigns, focusing on climate change, oil and gas, and clean energy, specifically offshore wind. Prior to working with Oceana, Savitz served as Executive Director of Coast Alliance, a network of over 600 organizations around the country working to protect our priceless coasts from pollution and development. Savitz is an expert in marine pollution issues including oil, mercury, beach water quality, cruise ships and toxics among others.
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Dr. Jerry Schubel became President and Chief Executive Officer of the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California in June 2002. Prior to that he was President and Chief Executive Officer of the New England Aquarium from 1994 to 2001, and Dean and Director of the Marine Sciences Research Center of the State University of New York at Stony Brook from 1974 to 1994. He is a director of the International Resources Group and Institute for Learning Innovation.
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Barton Seaver is a Chef and a National Geographic Oceans Fellow who has dedicated his career to reconnecting people with the natural world and with each other through dinner. He explores these themes through healthful, planet-friendly recipes in his first book, For Cod and Country, and as host of both the National Geographic Web series Cook-Wise and the three-part Ovation TV series In Search of Food. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and executive chef at some of the most celebrated restaurants in his native Washington, D.C., Seaver is known for his devotion to quality, culinary innovation, and sustainability.
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Brian Skerry is an award-winning photojournalist specializing in marine wildlife and underwater environments. Since 1998 he has been a contract photographer for National Geographic Magazine producing iconic stories that both celebrate the ocean and shed light on environmental threats. Brian has presented lectures at venues such as TED Talks, The National Press Club in Washington, DC and the Royal Geographical Society in London; his new monograph, Ocean Soul, will be released in November.
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Mark J. Spalding is the President of The Ocean Foundation. He brings his extensive experience with the legal and policy aspects of ocean conservation to the work of the Foundation.
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Pete Stauffer has worked for the Surfrider Foundation for over five years and been a chapter volunteer for over ten. As the Ocean Program Manager, he supports Surfrider’s engagement in marine protected areas (MPAs), renewable energy, federal legislation, and many other issues. Pete holds a B.A. from Duke University and a Master’s degree from the University of Washington’s School of Marine Affairs. Previous to being hired by Surfrider, Pete worked for the NOAA Fisheries Service in Washington, DC.
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Dr. Greg Stone is Senior Vice President and Chief Scientist for Oceans at Conservation International and an ocean scientist who undertook early pioneering research in Antarctica on marine mammals and later on ice ecology where he mastered the art of diving into icebergs. Since 2000, Greg has led the effort to create one of the world’s largest marine protected areas around the Phoenix Islands in Kiribati. Greg is the 2011 Peter Benchley ‘Solutions’ Award winner.
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Lisa Suatoni is a senior scientist in the oceans program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. She works on a variety of topics including sustainable fisheries, ocean acidification, and the Gulf oil spill. Lisa has a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Yale University and master’s degree in environmental policy from the Yale School of Forestry.
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Kyle Thiermann is a young professional surfer from Santa Cruz, California, who rallies surfers and consumers to become more aware of the power they have to affect change in their communities, and worldwide. His project tracing consumer deposits at large US banks to funding environmentally destructive projects, Claim Your Change, helped convince depositors to transfer $100 million from large banks to community-based neighborhood banks, and in 2010 Kyle received the prestigious Peter Benchley Ocean Award for Youth Activism for his work.
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Anne Thompson is NBC News’ Chief Environmental Affairs correspondent. Her reports appear across all platforms of NBC News including “NBC Nightly News,” “Today,” MSNBC and msnbc.com. Thompson led coverage on the Gulf oil spill, covering all aspects of the crisis from beginning to when the well was finally killed. This extensive coverage made Thompson the NBC News Correspondent with the most airtime in 2010.
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Dave Toole is CEO and Founer of Outhink Media and Founder of Digital Ocean. He previously was CEO of the technology company GaSonics. Dave Toole evangelizes social media and is a long time musician and videoblogger.
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Jim Toomey has been writing and drawing the daily comic strip Sherman’s Lagoon, which is syndicated to over 250 newspapers in North America and in six languages around the world for the past 18 years. Sherman’s Lagoon combines two of his life-long passions: art and the sea. In addition to drawing his comic strip, Jim is active in marine conservation, and has been recognized by many organizations, such as NOAA, NPR, Harvard University, TED, and Discovery Channel for raising public awareness of the oceans in a humorous way.
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Charlotte Vick is “all ocean, all the time” and works with Sylvia Earle, her foundation and Google to curate the Explore the Ocean layer in Google Earth. For over 30 years, she has worked with islands and the ocean around them. Whether it’s in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea or the massive Pacific Ocean, Charlotte has worked there. She knows the islands of the United States, it territories, affiliated countries, neighbors and their respective parts of the “blue heart of the planet” that is our precious ocean.
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Mati Waiya is the spiritual leader of the Chumash tribe and founder and executive director of the Wishtoyo Foundation and Ventura Waterkeeper in Ventura, CA, which protects, preserves, and restores the ecological integrity and water quality of Ventura County’s inland waterbodies, coastal waters, and watersheds – vital natural resources for the citizens and all inhabitants of Ventura County, and are the lifeblood of Chumash Native American culture.
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Paula Walker, Director of the Coalition to Protect Ocean Diversity, C-POD, is an environmental attorney working on issues of marine law and policy for ocean conservation. She is dedicated to finding realistic, practical, realizable solutions to the pressing problems facing the oceans and humankind as a whole as a result. She actively promotes marine conservation law and policy, lobbying decision makers in Oregon and at the federal level to promote legislation and regulations to address pressing ocean diversity issues.
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Brad Warren manages the Productive Oceans Partnerships Program and consults on North American Fisheries. He was the founding director of the National Fisheries Conservation Center (NFCC), known for collaborative problem-solving and analysis. Brad edited NFCC’s first book in 1994, “Win-Win Bycatch Solutions: A Handbook for Collaboration,” and has served as a consultant to the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization, the Marine Conservation Alliance, Icicle Seafoods, and other organizations. He was editor of Pacific Fishing (1996-2004), and has written about fisheries and marine conservation for more than 25 years.
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Jeremy Weirich works for the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Appropriations on the Commerce, Justice and Science subcommittee under the leadership of Senator Barbara A. Mikulski and Senator Daniel K. Inouye. His account portfolio includes the Department of Commerce and related trade and science agencies including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Before joining the Senate, he served as an officer in NOAA’s Commissioned Officer Corps splitting is career between serving as a deck officer aboard ocean-going research vessels and working on land in administrative positions for several marine research programs.
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Donna Weiting is currently Acting Director, Oceans and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) at NOAA. She previously served as Deputy Director at OCRM, Deputy Director of the NMFS Office of Protected resources. She has degrees from Louisiana State University, and UMass Amherst.
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Tim Wheeler reports on the environment and Chesapeake Bay. A native of West Virginia, he has focused mainly on Maryland’s environment since moving to the state in 1983. Along the way, he’s crewed aboard a skipjack in the bay, canoed under city streets up the Jones Fall from the Inner Harbor, and gone deep underground in a western Maryland coal mine. His reporting on the Bay, childhood lead poisoning, growth and other environmental topics has won multiple awards. He’s a former president of the Society of Environmental Journalists.  Before coming to Baltimore, he worked for newspapers in Richmond and Norfolk, VA., and for Media General News Service in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia, with a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.
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Dr. Sandra Whitehouse is a marine environmental policy advisor who has worked on initiatives in Rhode Island and on the federal level. Dr. Whitehouse is a former chair of Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Management Council. She is currently the team lead for Ocean Conservancy’s Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning program.
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Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) is a member of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, and a sailor and scuba diver. He has been active in addressing global climate change and its threat to ocean and coastal ecosystems. He is also a member of the Budget Committee; the Judiciary Committee; the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee; and the Special Committee on Aging.
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Jack Wiggin is Director of the Urban Harbors Institute where he is responsible for the Institute’s interdisciplinary research and public service projects on coastal area, port, and harbor issues. He has almost 30 years experience in coastal management, port and harbor planning and management, waterfront development, community planning, and public participation. He is the chairman of the Advisory Council for the Boston Harbor Islands National Park and serves on the Coastal Resources Advisory Board of the Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management Program.
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David Wilmot, co-founder and president of Ocean Champions, is a passionate ocean enthusiast who brings over twenty years of experience in ocean science, environmental policy, non-profit governance and fundraising, and political advocacy to Ocean Champions. David also served as the Executive Director of the Ocean Wildlife Campaign (OWC) where for eight years he worked to build this coalition of six national and international organizations into the leading voice for the conservation of large ocean fishes.
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Emily Woglom is the Director of Government Relations at Ocean Conservancy where she oversees engagement with Congress and the Administration to advance science-based policy reform to improve ocean health. Emily manages a talented team to develop and implement a strategic vision to advance legislative and policy goals for Ocean Conservancy. Previously, she served as a Senior Policy Advisor for The Nature Conservancy’s marine program and worked at the Office of Management and Budget, where she oversaw budget and policy issues related to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
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Cortney Worrall is the chief operating officer for Metropolitican Waterfront Alliance. Cortney has worked in the water-related, environmental field for over 16 years. Past positions include Executive Director of the Coastal Marine Resource Center in Brooklyn, program associate at the New York – New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program, consultant to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, and environmental specialist in engineering consulting.
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Wyland is a marine life artist and conservationist who has developed an international reputation for his commitment to marine life conservation, most notably through his monumental marine life murals. This multi-faceted artist works in multiple mediums, including oils, watercolors, acrylics, Japanese ink paintings, bronze sculptures, fine art photography, and mixed media. His non-profit Wyland Foundation, in partnership with the United States Forest Service and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is actively engaged in alerting millions of students around the world to become caring, informed stewards of our oceans, rivers, lakes, streams, and wetlands.
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Rev. Richard Young, Pastor of the Greater First Baptist Church of Escatawpa, LA, is an activist pastor who advocated, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, for the petroleum industry to compensate residents of his coastal community for their material losses and health problems resulting from toxic contamination.
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Jeff Young is senior correspondent for Living on Earth, Public Radio International’s news program on the environment. He’s reported extensively on Gulf Coast issues, including wetlands loss, the engineering of the Mississippi River, Hurricane Katrina, and, of course, the Deepwater Horizon disaster. A West Virginia native, Jeff has a keen interest in fossil fuels and the full price of our energy choices.
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Cindy Zipf is Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action, a successful coalition builder, forming the Mid-Atlantic region’s largest, most effective voice for the ocean and leader in forming national coalitions with groups throughout the country. She is a proven campaigner to protect the ocean as evidenced by the precedent setting closure of eight major ocean dumpsites in the mid-Atlantic. Cindy led efforts that resulted in the passage of important landmark federal and state legislation, including the end of the nation’s ocean incineration and dumping industries, and successful campaign to designate the nation’s first Ocean Remediation Site. She is a pioneer in ocean pollution research initiatives, such as dredge material dumping alternatives, wastewater discharge, offshore energy facilities, and non-point source pollution.
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Dr. Anna Zivian joined Ocean Conservancy in 2009. She is Senior Manager of the Marine Spatial Planning program, working on coastal and marine spatial planning policy. Anna earned her Ph.D. in Environmental Studies at the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) in March 2011. Her work looks at the intersection of environmental policy, science, and society, and, in particular, issues of democracy and public participation in science.
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