Board of Trustees

James Hnat

Chair

Julian Myers-Benton

Vice Chair

Holt Thrasher

Treasurer

Don Baur

Secretary

Barbara Birdsey

Gary Demasi

Dr. Steve Gaines

Susanna Kondracki

Heather Ludemann

Mark McDade

Ilarion (Larry) Merculieff

Hon. Toby Moffett

Dane Nichols

Dawn Rodney

John Rudolf

Lynn Scarlett

Andy Winer

Laura Zagar

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James Hnat

Chair

James Hnat is a certified diver, surfer and frequent traveler to ‎oceanic destinations. He formerly served as JetBlue’s executive vice president and general counsel, responsible for legal, government affairs, compliance and sustainability at the New York-based airline. Prior to JetBlue he served as an attorney at the New York office of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy, LLC. James received a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from Boston University and his law degree from Notre Dame Law School.

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Julian Myers-Benton

Vice Chair

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Holt Thrasher

Treasurer

Holt has more than 35 years’ experience in investment banking, operating management and consulting. He also brings to the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation two decades’ work in leadership roles for not-for-profit environmental and conservation groups.

Holt is currently Founder and CEO of Synovia Capital, focused on investing in the ecosystem management and data analytics sector. In 2002, he founded and served as Managing Partner of Mooreland Partners, an information technology sector focused investment bank. Holt previously was a partner at Broadview Holdings, a global merger and acquisition advisory and investment firm. He was also a vice president at Smith Barney, Harris, Upham & Co. and associate with Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.

In addition to his National Marine Sanctuary Foundation role, Holt is a member of the President’s Council of CERES, a sustainability focused non-profit. He is also Chairman Emeritus of the National Audubon Society and has been an active conservationist and nature enthusiast for more than 20 years. In 2001, he was a founding member and Chair of the Board of Audubon Connecticut. He joined the National Board five years later and was named Chair in 2008. His leadership played a critical role in advancing Audubon’s legislative, educational and conservation operations; guiding it to re-establish its science based mission to conserve birds and their habitats; and strengthening Audubon’s place as one of the nation’s foremost environmental organizations.

Holt has a B.A. from Colby College and an M.B.A. from the International Institute of Management Development, Switzerland.

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Don Baur

Secretary

Don Baur is currently a partner at Perkins Coie in the Environment, Energy and Resources practice. In that role, he provides federal policy-level and project-specific counseling as well as legislative and litigation assistance in a wide range of environmental and natural resources areas. He has been involved in marine protected area, ocean species conservation and offshore energy development issues in both U.S. and international waters. Mr. Baur previously was an attorney in the Office of the Solicitor of the U.S. Department of the Interior and General Counsel of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission before joining Perkins Coie in 1987.

A frequent speaker, instructor and author on environmental and natural resources legal topics, he is lead editor and author of the American Bar Association’s books The Endangered Species Act: Law, Policy, and Perspectives and Ocean and Coastal Law and Policy. Mr. Baur serves on the Environmental Law Institute Leadership Council and has been on the faculty of the Environmental Law Center, Vermont Law School since 1998.

He received a B.A. from Trinity College and J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Barbara Birdsey

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Gary Demasi

Gary Demasi is the Senior Director of Data Center Location Strategy and Energy for Google. He is responsible for developing the overall direction for Google’s global data center location strategy, managing teams across four continents, including specialists in renewable energy procurement and energy market development, and end-to-end data center sustainability.  Under Gary’s management, his team has secured over five gigawatts of renewable energy under long term contracts, making Google the largest corporate buyer of renewables ever.  In 2020, the company announced that for the third year in a row, it purchases as much renewable energy as the company consumes across all of its operations around the world.  Gary holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from the University of Vermont and a Master of Science in Real Estate from the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University.

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Dr. Steve Gaines

Dr. Steve Gaines serves as Dean of the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB). There, he teaches Marine Science and Sustainable Fisheries and conducts research focused on marine ecology and conservation, sustainable fisheries, the design of marine reserves and the impact of climate change on ocean ecosystems.

He previously served as Acting Dean of Science, Acting Vice Chancellor for Research and Director of the UCSB Marine Science Institute. Dr. Gaines also currently serves as a principal investigator for the Sustainable Fisheries Group, which seeks scalable solutions for the world’s fisheries through partnerships among UCSB researchers, industry leaders, NGOs and governments.

From 2003 to 2006, Dr. Gaines held a prestigious Pew Marine Conservation Fellowship. He is the recipient of the inaugural “Marc J. Hershman Excellence in Mentoring Award” from the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative and the 2014 “Peter Benchley Ocean Award” for contributions in ocean science. In 2008, a paper he co-authored on the innovative “catch shares” management strategy, which can reverse fisheries’ collapse, was designated “top research highlight for the year” by the scholarly journal Nature.

Dr. Gaines received a B.S. from the University of California Irvine and Ph.D. in Ecology from Oregon State University.

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Susanna Kondracki

Susanna Kondracki is the principal of Golden Woods Consulting LLC, focused on supporting Woman Owned Small Businesses and advancing Female Executive Leadership. Prior to founding her own firm, Mrs. Kondracki spent 30 years in Financial Services leading large Risk Management, Operational Management, and Structured Finance Teams at systemically important institutions including Capital One and Freddie Mac. As a transformational leaders, she is passionate about balanced leadership that drives sustainable, efficient, and effective execution in both the public and private sectors.

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Heather Ludemann

Heather Ludemann leads the David & Lucile Packard Foundation’s work on marine conservation in the U.S. Her grantmaking and investment portfolio at the Foundation focuses on advancing the ability of U.S. marine ecosystems to sustain biodiversity and productivity as pressures and demands on these systems grow. Prior to joining the Foundation, Heather was a Presidential Management Fellow at analyst at NOAA Fisheries. Heather brings nearly two decades of experience working on marine conservation and fisheries management in the U.S. Heather has a master’s degree in marine policy from the University of Washington and an undergraduate degree in biology and environmental studies from Tufts University. In her free time, Heather spends time skiing, hiking and camping with her partner Dan and husky Quinn.

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Mark McDade

Mark McDade is Managing Partner of the Qiming US Healthcare Fund, a venture capital firm based in Seattle and formed in January 2017. Prior to Qiming, from April 2008, Mr. McDade was EVP and Chief Operating Officer at UCB S.A., a Belgian biopharmaceutical company, until his retirement from UCB in October 2016. From 2002 to 2007, Mr. McDade served as Chief Executive Officer and a member of the board of directors of PDL BioPharma, Inc., a biotechnology company. From 2000 to 2002, Mr. McDade was Chief Executive Officer of Signature BioScience, Inc., a drug discovery company. From 1994 to 2000, Mr. McDade served as Chief Operating Officer and a director of Corixa Corporation, a biopharmaceutical company he co-founded. Prior to Corixa, Mr. McDade held various roles at Boehringer Mannheim and previously Sandoz (now part of Novartis). Mr. McDade serves on the board of directors of Dermira, Inc. (DERM-nasdaq), a biopharmaceutical company, and chairs the board of Aimmune Therapeutics (AIMT-nasdaq). Mr. McDade received a B.A. in History from Dartmouth College and an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kristina and enjoys kayaking and skiing in the Pacific northwest, and has two daughters residing in the Seattle area.

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Ilarion (Larry) Merculieff

Ilarion (Kuuyux) Merculieff was raised in a traditional Unangan (Aleut) way and received his Unangan name Kuuyux at age 4, by the former Kuuyux of his people. The name is given to one person in each lifetime amongst his people. Roughly translated, Kuuyux means: a bridge, an arm extending out from the body, a carrier of ancient knowledge into modern times, a messenger. Today he is living the legacy of his name.

Merculieff is co-founder and former chairman of the Alaska Indigenous Council on Marine Mammals; former chairman of the Nature Conservancy, Alaska chapter; former co-director of the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society, Alaska chapter; as well as co-founder of the International Bering Sea Forum, the Alaska Forum on the Environment, and the Alaska Oceans Network. Merculieff served on the National Research Council Committee on the Bering Sea Ecosystem and presented at numerous scientific conferences. He chaired the Indigenous knowledge sessions at the Global Summit of Indigenous Peoples on Climate Change, chaired the scientific working group for Snowchange that involved representatives from 8 Arctic nations focused on climate change, and served as the U.S. chair for the 2008 North American Gathering of Indigenous Peoples for the Healing of Mother Earth in Merida, Mexico.

He has authored Wisdom Keeper: One Man’s Journey to Honor the Untold Story of the Unangan People, and co-authored Stop Talking: Indigenous Ways of Teaching and Learning, and Perspectives on Indigenous Issues: Essays on Science, Spirituality, Partnerships, and the Power of Words.

Close to Merculieff’s heart are issues related to cultural and community wellness, traditional ways of living, Elder wisdom, climate change and the environment. Having had a traditional upbringing, Merculieff has been, and continues to be, a strong voice and activist calling for the meaningful application of traditional knowledge and wisdom obtained from Elders in Alaska and throughout the world in dealing with modern day challenges. He founded and currently heads the Global Center for Indigenous Leadership and Lifeways (www.gcill.org). His present work is with a new organization he has founded called the Wisdom Weavers of the World, www.wisdomweavers.world to take the messages of Elders from throughout the world to global attention.

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Hon. Toby Moffett

Since 2014, Toby Moffett has been senior advisor in the Washington, D.C. office of law firm Mayer Brown and co-leads its interaction with governments, both in the U.S. and globally.

He previously served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives (D-CT). His work in Congress included chairing the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee. During his chairmanship tenure, he led national investigations into nuclear power plant safety, groundwater contamination and drafted and enacted the conservation title to an omnibus energy bill.

Mr. Moffett’s previous firm, The Moffett Group, represented the governments of Angola, Morocco, Kenya, Malawi and the Republic of the Congo; Virgin Nigeria Airways; the South African Wine Industry Trust; and TP Mazembe, the soccer club of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the U.S., his company represented Caithness Energy, the developers of the country’s largest wind project, and a number of other developers of wind, solar and hydropower assets. He also was a vice president at The Monsanto Company where he helped create private non-profit partnerships in microfinance.

For five years, Mr. Moffett was one of the leaders of the coalition that helped win passage of the James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, bringing health benefits to workers from the Ground Zero site and indemnity to the contractors who did heroic work immediately following the tragedy. He was also a member of the Board of Friends of the Earth and the Chairman’s Council at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Mr. Moffett has a B.A. from Syracuse University and M.A. from Boston College.

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Dane Nichols

Dane Nichols has actively and enthusiastically engaged in environmental conservation and other not-for-profit projects for decades, including work in Belgium and Paraguay.

In Paraguay, she was instrumental in protecting a 159,000-acre sub-tropical Atlantic rainforest, the Mbaracayu Forest Nature Reserve, working with a team from The Nature Conservancy, the US embassy, and a Paraguayan environmental organization.  The United Nations declared Mbaracayu bio-reserve in 1991.  Dane has also lived in Brazil and Cuba.

Dane also was a founding board member of The Natural Step US, an organization that supports the transition to a sustainable global society, serving as both Vice Chair and Chair. She was a member of the Founders Circle of Rachel’s Network, a group of women environmental philanthropists.  She has served on the boards of Ocean Conservancy, Island Press, and the DC Environmental Film Festival.

She grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan.  She spends much of her time in Rhode Island, the Ocean State, swimming in the sea, and taking walks along the beach.

Dane’s son is a wind energy tech for Vestas and her daughter is a designer who is certified in sustainable design. Dane speaks Spanish, French and Portuguese.

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Dawn Rodney

Dawn Rodney joined the National Wildlife Federation in 2018 as the Vice President for Innovation and Chief Marketing Officer. Dawn has a wealth of experience and proven track record in building businesses and engaging people around the world for iconic brands. Rodney is responsible for developing additional revenue streams fueling the conservation and educational programs, as well as advocacy work of the National Wildlife Federation.

She previously served as senior vice president of marketing and brand at the National Geographic Society. During her tenure, Rodney led the global brand and unified the vision, messaging,
and expression of it across the world. She orchestrated campaigns reaching more than three billion people across social and digital platforms, and transformed the marketing strategies
for enterprise-wide content initiatives driving significant revenue and growth. Rodney also launched the National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo WILD.

Dawn also worked at the Discovery Networks, including Animal Planet, leading branding initiatives and on-air strategy as well as producing campaigns for its highest priority programming.
Rodney has received many awards for her work including an Emmy for the “Next Generation of Explorers” campaign and a 2018 Webby for Best Homepage.

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John Rudolf

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Lynn Scarlett

Former Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Lynn Scarlett is Co-Chief External Affairs Officer at The Nature Conservancy and Global Climate Strategy Lead. In these roles, Scarlett directs all policy in the United States and the 70 countries in which TNC operates. Scarlett also served at Interior as the Acting Secretary of the Interior in 2006. While Interior’s Deputy Secretary, Scarlett initiated and chaired the Department’s Cooperative Conservation Working Group and its first-ever Climate Change Task Force. She is author or co-author of publications on climate change adaptation; ecosystem services; large landscape conservation; and science and decision making. She chairs the Science Advisory Board of NOAA, recently co-chaired the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives Council established in 2014 by the U.S. Department of the Interior and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences Sustainability Roundtable. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in political science from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she also completed her Ph.D. coursework and exams in political science and political economy.

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Andy Winer

Andy Winer has over 35 years of legal, governmental, and political campaign experience.  Currently, Andy is Executive Vice President of Strategies 360 in Washington D.C., where he provides strategic advice and advocacy to a range of clients focused on federal appropriations, ocean conservation, science, climate change, tourism, indigenous people and electing STEM professionals to Congress.

From 2013 to 2019, Andy served as Chief of Staff to Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI).  In this role, Andy developed and coordinated bipartisan strategy resulting in the passage of several bills including the Weather Forecast Improvement Act, the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience Act, and the Billfish Conservation Act, and he led the office’s successful appropriations advocacy resulting in increased funding for numerous Hawaii priorities including the East West Center, the University of Hawaii, clean energy research, tourism, marine monuments, endangered marine species, coral reefs, and IUU enforcement.

Andy also developed and implemented strategy in collaboration with the Obama Administration and key Hawaii and national stakeholders resulting in the expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Before his time in the Senate, Andy served as the Director of External Affairs at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as a political appointee.  In this role, Andy served as a senior adviser to NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco.

Prior to his government service in Washington, D.C., Andy practiced law in Hawaii for over twenty years, and he founded and served as the managing partner of a successful law firm in Honolulu for fifteen years.  Andy’s law practice emphasized construction, real estate, regulatory, land use, insurance, and environmental advocacy and litigation.

Andy has a successful track record managing and advising on political campaigns. In 2008, Andy served as the Hawaii State Director for the Obama for America presidential campaign.  In 2006, Andy served as Senator Daniel Akaka’s campaign manager, where he developed the winning strategy in a hard fought campaign for an endangered incumbent versus a popular Member of Congress.  In 2012, Andy served as the senior adviser to Senator Mazie Hirono’s successful U.S. Senate campaign.  Most recently, in 2018, Andy served as the senior adviser to State Senator Josh Green’s successful campaign for Hawaii Lieutenant Governor.

Andy graduated summa cum laude from UCLA (B.A. in political science and history), and from the University of California at Berkeley (J.D.), where he served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Industrial Relations Law Journal.  Andy lives in Alexandria, Virginia with his wife and their active golden retriever.

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Laura Zagar

Laura Zagar guides clients in the development of multijurisdictional water, energy and infrastructure projects and complex litigation. Laura plays a prominent part in innovative energy, water and infrastructure projects in the Western United States.  Laura has been involved in projects involving marine protected areas and offshore energy development issues in both U.S. and international waters. Laura has deep experience engaging with the wide range of stakeholders on ocean issues, including environmental organizations, commercial and recreational fishermen, local elected officials, tribes, and regulators.

Laura currently serves as the Managing Partner of Perkins Coie LLP’s San Francisco Office and is a member of the firm’s Environment, Energy, and Resources practice group.  Prior to starting her private practice, Laura served as a law clerk to the Honorable Nora M. Manella in the Central District of California and the Honorable James R. Browning on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Laura received an A.B. from Princeton University and J.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles.

When not at her desk, Laura is swimmer, surfer, sailor, and skier and feels most comfortable when she’s on or in water (in its liquid or frozen form).