Board of Trustees

James Hnat

Chair

Julian Myers-Benton

Vice Chair

Susanna Kondracki

Treasurer

Mark McDade

Secretary

Jose Astorqui

Barbara Birdsey

Gary Demasi

Dr. Justin Dunnavant

Heather Ludemann

Ilarion (Larry) Merculieff

Dane Nichols

Martin Peters

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

Julian Myers is an avid adventurer whose travel has taken her as high as Tangboche Monastery on Everest and as deep as the North Wall in Grand Cayman. Her love of oceans and marine life comes from living near the sea, whether in her native Tokyo or on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Julian is a principal at The Myers Group, LLC, an advisory firm serving clients including health care technology ventures, national and international medical research firms, and senior care companies.

Previously, she was Senior Healthcare Counsel for Revolution Health Group and Chair of RHG’s Health Policy Committee. She has also served as Vice President and Corporation Counsel for Sunrise Senior Living and has been associated with several law firms in Washington, DC. She attended the Harvard Business School Executive Education Program, holds a law degree from Duke University Law School and is a graduate of the University of Virginia.

“In my career in health care, I have seen how critical our oceans and sea life are to advances in human health and wellness. I am very honored to be part of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s future and look forward to continuing to increase global awareness of our marine sanctuaries.”

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Susanna Kondracki

Treasurer

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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Mark McDade

Secretary

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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Jose Astorqui

Jose Astorqui has more than 23 years of experience in the reinsurance intermediation industry, where he is a recognized leader, having developed most of his professional career in Madrid, London, and over the last 13 years in Miami. He is the Chief Commercial Officer of BMS Group Ltd and CEO of Lions Gate Underwriting Latin America, its underwriting platform. Jose is adept at working cross border and leading multi-cultural teams with an extensive network of clients and contacts in Latin America, the Caribbean, the UK, the USA, and Spain. He graduated from Universidad Complutense de Madrid with a Bachelor of Law and earned his Master of Laws from IE Business School. Jose is an active member of Miami kitesurfing and windsurfing communities, a history aficionado, avid traveler, and water sports enthusiast.  

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Barbara Birdsey

Barbara Birdsey is the founder of the Pegasus Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to animal protection, environmental preservation, and public education in various parts of the United States, Africa, and the Caribbean. Previously she founded the Orenda Wildlife Land Trust in Massachusetts and helped co-found the Cape Cod Stranding Network. Before that, she was a licensed Social Worker for the Department of Social Services, Commonwealth of Massachusetts. She graduated from Boston University (M.A.) with a B.A. in psychology and from Bridgewater State College with a Masters of Education in counseling. She has been visiting the Treasure Coast area of Florida for many years and is now a resident. She still has ties to New Hampshire and Massachusetts, where she has interests in various environmental projects. Barbara has had a lifelong interest in child protection, animal welfare, wildlife protection, and land conservation. 

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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. Justin Dunnavant

Dr. Justin Dunnavant is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at UCLA. His research focuses on the terrestrial and maritime archaeology of Africa and the African diaspora. In addition to his archaeological research, Dr. Dunnavant is co-founder of the Society of Black Archaeologists and an AAUS Scientific SCUBA Diver. In 2021, he was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and inducted into The Explorers Club as one of “Fifty People Changing the World that You Need to Know About.” His research has been featured on Netflix’s “Explained,” Hulu’s “Your Attention Please, ” and in print in American Archaeology and Science Magazine 

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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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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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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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Martin Peters

Martin Peters joined Yamaha in 2006 and currently leads Yamaha’s U.S. Marine Business Unit’s government relations, advocacy, conservation, and Yamaha Rightwaters™ sustainability efforts. He also leads teams that create communication, education, and sponsorship strategies that support the marine brand. In January 2017, Peters was appointed to NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Business Advisory Council (BAC). He currently serves on the Natural Resources and Energy Policy Sub Committee for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Government Relations Committee of the American Sportfishing Association® (ASA). Peters holds a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from Towson University and a master’s degree in Publications Design from the University of Baltimore. His father handed him a fishing rod for the first time at age six on the Patuxent River in Maryland.  

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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

John is Chairman of Glacier Peak Capital. He attended Gonzaga Prep, received his undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame and attended the Columbia University Graduate School under the Herbert Lehman Doctoral Fellowship. 

In 1974 John began his investment career in New York City and joined Oppenheimer & Co. in 1975. In 1984, he founded Summit Capital Partners, a value-oriented private investment fund. In 2012 he sold his interest in Summit Capital and founded Glacier Peak Capital to focus on managing Glacier Peak U.S. Value Fund and Glacier Peak Global Value Fund (originally called Summit Capital Partners).

John has always been active in his communities with selected activities including Chairman of the Building Committee for the Pelham Art Center; board member and co-chair of the Million Dollar Roundtable of the United Way of King County; board member and chair of the University of Notre Dame Art Museum; trustee of the Pacific Northwest Ballet; chairman of the College Baseball Classic Foundation; board member of Andean Health and Development; advisory member of the Investment Management Program at the University of Notre Dame Business School; and member of the executive advisory committee of the Institute For Prostate Research [a consortium of the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center]. John is a very active athlete and enjoys mountain climbing, cycling, tennis, skiing, golf, and most water sports.

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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).

Trustees Emeriti

Trustee

Robert Ballard 

Dr. Sylvia Earles 

Robert Lyn Nelson

Terry Garcia

The Honorable Leon Panetta 

Bob Talbot 

Jean-Michel Cousteau

Patricia Thompson

The Honorable Lowell Weicker

Dr. Kumar Mahadevan 

Bob Hollis 

Dawn Martin

The Honorable James Connaughton

Andy Karsner 

Bob Trainor 

Richard Ben-Veniste 

Years of Service

June 2001 – June 2007

June 2001 – June 2007

June 2001 – June 2007

October 2001 – October 2007

June 2003 – June 2009

June 2004 – December 2016

February 2005 – June 2007

March 2006 – September 2013

June 2006 – June 2007

June 2007 – September 2012

June 2007 – June 2013

March 2009 – December 2015

June 2009 – June 2015

December 2009 – June 2015

December 2013 – October 2019

February 2014 – June 2018