Our Board

Board Members

President: Lance Morgan
Chair: David Johns
Vice Chair: Nathalie Udo
Treasurer: Jeff Smith
Secretary: Sebastian Nicholls
Founder: Elliott A. Norse
Steve Olson
Gail Osherenko

Board Advisors

Development Committee: Michael Sutton


James C. Greenwood
Sylvia A. Earle

Sylvia A. Earle

Emeritus - Dr. Sylvia Earle, Explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society, is the world's most famous marine biologist and undersea explorer. She is the author of more than 125 scientific and popular publications, including a 1995 book Sea Change, has led more than 50 expeditions totaling more than 6,000 hours underwater, and holds the world depth record for solo diving. Born in New Jersey, she received her bachelor's from Florida State University, and her master's and doctorate degrees from Duke University. She served as the Chief Scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from 1990-1992, has been awarded 12 honorary doctorates, and was named by Time magazine as its first "hero for the planet" in 1998.

James C. Greenwood

Emeritus - James Greenwood is President and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) in Washington DC. He represented Pennsylvania's Eighth District in the US House of Representatives from 1993 through 2005. Before his election to Congress, Jim earned a B.A. in Sociology from Dickinson College and served in the Pennsylvania General Assembly and Senate. In 2000, he co-founded the bipartisan House Oceans Caucus to encourage efforts to explore and protect the oceans. He introduced the Deep Sea Coral Protection Act to protect vulnerable seafloor ecosystems against bottom trawling, and the OCEANS 21 Act to strengthen ocean and research and management in keeping with recommendations from the US Commission on Ocean Policy and Pew Oceans Commission. The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation awarded Congressman Greenwood the 2004 Leadership Award in recognition of his work to conserve and explore the oceans.

David Johns

Chair - David Johns is Adjunct Professor of Political Science, Portland State University, Portland OR. He specializes in place-based ecosystem conservation on a continental scale and in assuring the accountability and financial health of small nonprofits. In addition to teaching law and political science, he serves as Treasurer of the Society for Conservation Biology, co-founded and remains a Board Member of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative and co-founded and was the first executive director of The Wildlands Project. David has published and spoken widely on the relationship of politics, science and advocacy, and brings to Marine Conservation Institute crucial insights on ecosystem-based management and nonprofit management. David received the 2007 Denver Zoological Foundation Conservation Award for his contributions to large-scale conservation efforts and his writing.

Lance Morgan

President - Dr. Lance Morgan is a marine biologist who came to Marine Conservation Institute in 2000, becoming 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. 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 research interests range from zoology to conservation science and he has studied taxa as diverse as deep sea corals, rockfishes, seabirds and marine mammals. 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, participating in DeepWorker surveys of deep-sea corals in British Columbia waters. Having played a significant role in the designation of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, Lance traveled to the remote Johnston Atoll to help establish the first field camp at this new marine protected area. He is currently Chairman of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, a member of the steering committee of the High Seas Alliance, the conservation representative to the Cordell Bank Sanctuary Advisory Council, a member of the Hope Spot science council and holds a research faculty appointment at Bodega Marine Laboratory. As president of Marine Conservation Institute he oversees their largest initiatives, Blue Parks and the Atlas of Marine Protection - MPAtlas.org.

Sebastian Nicholls

Secretary - Sebastian Nicholls currently works as a consultant at Accenture, where he enjoys thinking about the role new technologies can play in creating a better future. Colombian by birth, he has lived in 7 countries and speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Arabic. He graduated Cum Laude from Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service in 2016 with a degree in Science, Technology, and International Affairs, focused on Energy and the Environment. He has written petitions on the need for a Sustainable Development Goal on the ocean and expanded marine protected areas, and he has engaged world leaders to advance marine conservation. He believes restoring marine ecosystems and mitigating climate change are the critical challenges of our time, as both are crucial for a prosperous future. Sebastian has contributed to the Huffington Post, planned conferences at Georgetown University featuring world leaders discussing ocean conservation, and developed a vision to empower youth to create a sustainable future. He was the main student involved in planning the first-ever youth component of the Our Ocean Conference in 2016 and a parallel youth summit has become a fixture of the event since then. Sebastian also serves on the Board of Directors of the International Ocean Film Festival and California EV nonprofit Charge Across Town.

Elliott A. Norse

Founder - 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.

Steve Olson

Steve Olson is the Vice President of Federal Relations for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). In this capacity, he represents the interests of AZA before Congress and Federal agencies; monitors Federal legislation and regulations; analyzes the impact of bills and regulations on AZA members and develops position recommendations; and works with government officials on developing effective Federal agency partnerships. He has served in this role with AZA for the past 14 years. In 1985, Mr. Olson began working for the Texas A&M Sea Grant College Program as a research specialist working on marine mammal and protected marine area management issues. In 1987, he was selected as a John Knauss Sea Grant Fellow for the U.S. House of Representatives' Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee. Since then, he has worked for the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges as the Director of Marine Affairs; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sanctuaries and Reserves Division as the Project Manager for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary; and the National Coastal Resources Institute as Executive Director. He came to AZA as Director of Governmental Affairs in March 2000. Mr. Olson has a deep love for the Western United States and its parks and wildlife as well as the ocean environment.

Gail Osherenko

Gail Osherenko, who has decades of experience in marine and coastal conservation, as well as Arctic affairs, is an environmental lawyer turned documentary filmmaker. Her newest film BROKE tells the story of an oil pipeline that spilled over 140,000 gallons of crude oil onto the Gaviota coast and ocean in Santa Barbara. Formerly, she was a project scientist in law and policy at the Marine Science Institute of the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB). She taught courses in coastal and ocean law and policy in the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management and the Environmental Studies Program at UCSB. Her research has focused on property rights and sea tenure, the role of marine spatial planning and ocean zoning, the public trust doctrine and the effectiveness of the California coastal management regime. She was a principal investigator in the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) working group on Ocean Ecosystem-Based Management: The Role of Zoning, and a co-author of the most cited paper on marine spatial planning (Crowder et al., “Resolving Mismatches in U.S. Ocean Governance,” Science vol. 313, 4 Aug. 2006). Gail is past president and a current member of the Board of the Environmental Defense Center, a non-profit environmental law firm serving the Central California Coast. www.broketheoilspillfilm.com

Jeff Smith

Treasurer - Jeff Smith is a 30 year enterprise software industry executive and currently coaches and mentors young technology company executives through the Tech Futures Group in Berkeley, CA. Prior operating roles include sales, product line management, business and corporate development, alliance management and corporate venture capital management. Smith is a passionate environmentalists, outdoorsman and diver. He was the prior Chair and Board Member of the National Wildlife Refuge Association and has been actively involved in several land trusts in California. Jeff is an honors graduate of Boston College School of Management, received his MBA from Southern New Hampshire University, his Masters in International Management/Finance from Thunderbird, has taken several executive education programs at Stanford and recently obtained a Professional Certificate in the Advanced Program in Sustainability Management from UC Berkeley.

Michael Sutton

Development Committee - Michael Sutton founded the Center for the Future of the Oceans at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and is currently the Executive Director at Goldman Environmental Foundation. Governor Schwarzenegger twice appointed him to the California Fish & Game Commission, where Mike overcame fierce opposition to establish the nation’s largest network of marine protected areas. He recently co-authored the book, Ocean & Coastal Law and Policy, published by the American Bar Association.

Nathalie Udo

Vice Chair - Nathalie Udo, founder of InDepth Strategies, is a senior business strategy consultant with more than 20 years of experience in leadership positions focusing on translating business strategy into execution, designing & implementing process improvements, and program management. As a strategic advisor, Nathalie guides organizations on Strategy and Sustainability. She is a seasoned professional with extensive international experience and uses her infectious enthusiasm to inspire people to achieve things previously thought impossible. Nathalie is the co-author of Organizational Survival: Profitable Strategies for a Sustainable Future (@2013 McGraw-Hill), which provides a compelling case for organizations to integrate sustainability into their core business strategy positively impacting society and their bottom-line. Nathalie is an avid scuba diver since the mid 90s and has seen the impact to our underwater world first hand. Nathalie has a Master’s Degree in Economics and Business Administration from University of Maastricht, Netherlands. She is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC®) and a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). When she is not traveling the world, Nathalie lives in San Francisco.