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
Director of Policy & Legislation: Michael Gravitz
Conservation Analyst & MPAtlas.org Manager: Russell Moffitt
Conservation Scientist: Beth Pike
Senior Conservation Fellow: Sandra Brooke
Senior Research Fellow: Healy Hamilton
Research Fellow: Sara Maxwell
Postdoctoral Fellow: Sarah Hameed
Conservation Science Fellow: Shelly Magier
Ocean Policy Intern: Bernd Geels
Marine Biogeographer : Samuel Georgian
Marine Biogeography Volunteer: Mira Kajo
Conservation Projects Coordinator & Communications Director: Vienna Saccomanno
Director of Development: Carolina Dratva
Director of Finance & Administration: Joan Inge
Communications Intern: Marissa McBride
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.
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 forward to sailing, paddle boarding, or kayaking, when the winds visit beautiful San Francisco & Monterey Bays.
Ocean Policy Intern (Washington, DC) - Bernd is excited to join the Marine Conservation Institute’s Policy Office to work on marine protected area campaigns, protected area policy and communications. Bernd received his B.S. in Atmospheric Science from Texas A&M University. He later completed two graduate degrees: an M.A. from Naropa University in 2006 where he studied under the direction of Pamela Colorado, founder of the Worldwide Indigenous Science Network and a second from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in 2011 in International Environmental Policy. Bernd has worked at number of organizations including the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program, the Otter Project, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. In 2013 he completed a McCloy Environmental Policy Fellowship awarded by the American Council on Germany. His research focused on the role marine ecosystem services play in the designation of marine protected areas by the United States and Germany. In his free time, Bernd enjoys writing, hiking, singing and exploring the world’s parks and other protected areas.
Marine Biogeographer (Seattle, WA) - Dr. Samuel Georgian is a marine biogeographer at Marine Conservation Institute. Sam received his Ph.D. in Biology from Temple University as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. Before that, he received his B.S. in Biology and B.A. in Environmental Science from Hobart College. During graduate school, Sam studied the distribution and ecophysiology of deep-sea corals in the Gulf of Mexico and Norway. His current research interests are focused on predicting habitat suitability for marine organisms, modeling projections of sea level rise, and studying the wide-ranging effects of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems. When he’s not working, Sam enjoys hiking, climbing, and cycling.
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.
Postdoctoral Fellow - Sarah is thrilled to use her expertise in marine ecology, conservation management, public policy and education to facilitate international and dynamic solutions to the problems facing marine biodiversity. She sees her charge as ensuring that salient science plays a guiding role in efforts to protect marine wildlife and support the economies that rely on ocean ecosystem services. Sarah grew up exploring the tide pools and coral reefs of Maui. She earned her Ph.D. in Marine Ecology with a certificate in Conservation Management at the University of California, Davis, where her research focused on population connectivity along an open coast – a significant knowledge gap for marine protected area design and management. Prior to earning her doctoral degree, she earned an A.B. in Public Policy and an M.A. in Teaching from Brown University. She serves on the Advisory Council for Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary and is a Switzer Environmental Fellow. In her free time, Sarah loves surfing and building sand castles with her family.
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.
Marine Biogeography Volunteer - Mira Kajo is a geography student from the University of Helsinki in Finland, where she has focused on Development Geography, GIS and Political Ecology in her studies with a special interest in marine conservation. In the past, Mira has volunteered in Roatan, Honduras, with a local marine conservation NGO. During her Work and Travel visa visit to Canada, she worked at a local dive shop and trained to be a Divemaster during her time there. This allowed her to explore the beautiful coast of British Columbia. Seeking to learn more about marine conservation and MPAs, she traveled to Watamu, Kenya, where she did research and fieldwork for her Master’s thesis. Mira’s focus is on the social impacts of MPAs on local populations and wants to learn how to negotiate biologically and socially sustainable management plans for a MPA at hand. For her volunteer assignment at Marine Conservation Institute, Mira will be involved with MPAtlas.org and GLORES as well as other GIS projects if possible. Her aim is to improve her skills in GIS, gain valuable working experience and learn more about marine conservation. After graduation, she is determined to make a career in combining GIS and conservation. In her free time, she likes to read, hike, travel and desperately learn how to program.
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.
Communications Intern (Seattle, WA) - Marissa McBride graduated from Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington in 2015 with a B.S. in Environmental Science. She is enrolled in The University of Washington's Master of Marine Affairs program through School of Marine and Environmental Affairs. She has plans to graduate in 2018. Marissa lives in Seattle, Washington and loves how drastically the city compares with her hometown of Spokane, Washington. She is very excited to have this opportunity and to use her science background to bring an informed edge to communications. Marissa hopes to gain interdisciplinary knowledge, from this position and her graduate school, that will help her bridge the gaps between scientists, policy-makers, and businesses. In her free time, Marissa enjoys hiking, going to concerts, and yoga.
Conservation Analyst & MPAtlas.org Manager (Seattle, WA) - 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.
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 & Communications Director (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.