Our Staff

Kristen Sarri

President and CEO

Allison Alexander

Vice President, Program Operations

Shannon Colbert

Vice President, External Affairs

Veronica Ali

Vice President, Finance

Carol King

Chief of Staff

Chip Weiskotten

Director of Strategic Communications

Cher Mollé

Director of Development

Hallie Segerman

Human Resources Generalist

Deanna Balistreri

Program Operations Manager, Education & Outreach

Erin Jaszczak

Program Operations Manager, Conservation & Science

Lynn Wisniewski

Senior Accountant

Megan Fraser

Mission: Iconic Reef Restoration Implementation Manager

Greg Wells

Gear Innovations Manager

Teresa Mackey

Communications Manager

Laurie VanBenschoten

Development Manager

Abigail Rodgers

Capitol Hill Ocean Week Manager

Michaela Miller

Conservation Manager

Jenny Larsen

Policy Manager

Liz Hoadley

Ocean Exploration Program Manager

Lisa Henschel

Corporate Relations Manager

Trish Albano

Office of Exploration and Research (OER) Internship Coordinator

Maddie Cholnoky

Community Stewardship Coordinator

Brady Clarke

Multimedia Communications Coordinator

Brittany Griffith

Program Operations Coordinator

Marcie Orenstein

Ocean Exploration Education and Communications Coordinator

Jacob Hyler

Administrative Assistant

Marta Munoz

Accounting Assistant

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Kristen Sarri

President and CEO

Kris joined the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation as President and CEO in October 2016. A native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Kris formed an early, life-long connection to environmental stewardship growing up surrounded by the Great Lakes. Her interest in marine conservation began when, at nine years old, Kris’ family moved to Australia and she spent endless hours exploring the life in tide pools. Kris’ lifelong passion is finding innovative ways to promote environmental stewardship through community engagement in conservation.

Kris’ career spans over 19 years working on ocean, land and climate policy. Kris most recently worked at the Department of the Interior, where she served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management, and Budget from 2014 to 2016. Prior to joining the Department of the Interior, Kris was the Associate Director for Legislative Affairs for the Office of Management and Budget. She also served as Deputy Director of Policy and Strategic Planning for the US Department of Commerce, acting as the Secretary’s principal advisor on the ocean, fisheries, climate, and energy issues, and as a policy liaison for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Kris also spent eight years in the US Senate where she was on the Professional Staff of the Senate Commerce Committee with responsibility for the Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard Subcommittee; she was Senior Policy Advisor of the Office of Senator Jack Reed; and the Legislative Director of the Northeast-Midwest Senate Coalition.

Kris received a B.A. in Biology from Washington University, St. Louis and an M.S. and M.P.H. from the University of Michigan. She is an avid SCUBA diver.

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Allison Alexander

Vice President, Program Operations

Allison Alexander joined the Foundation in 2007 and works to ensure the Foundation maintains its values and fulfills its mission. She is the primary liaison for the Foundation’s federal financial assistance awards, and provides oversight of externally funded grant programs. She has more than fifteen years of experience in fundraising, public relations, and non-profit management.

A native of coastal Georgia, Allison received her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia in Athens.

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Shannon Colbert

Vice President, External Affairs

Shannon Colbert has an interdisciplinary background with experience in policy, conservation, and economics. Prior to joining the Foundation in November 2013 as the Policy and Conservation Manager, Shannon served as a Communications Specialist in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) focusing on the agency’s efforts to assess injuries to natural resources and to restore the environment following oil spills, hazardous waste releases, and ship groundings. She has also worked in a U.S. Congressional Office, the California Natural Resources Agency, Georgia Sea Grant, and the non-profit organization, San Diego Coastkeeper. Shannon received her Master’s degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the University of California, San Diego and her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Economics and Management from the University of Georgia

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Veronica Ali

Vice President, Finance

Veronica joined the Foundation in February 2021 as the Director of Finance. Veronica is a certified association executive with extensive experience serving in various capacities in the not-for-profit world. She ensures integrity of the financial information customarily accepted in the 501(c)(3) environment. She partners closely with the leadership team and will lead all initiatives to strengthen, rebuild and expand the association’s financial resources to ensure continued vitality and growth.

Prior to joining the Foundation, she held the position of Director of Finance at the Consortium of Catholic Academies, where she led the restructure, rebranding, and strategic planning for operations in the organization’s finance and human resources (HR). Veronica has devoted over 20 years serving in the not-for-profit sector, where she has gained an expansive knowledge in accounting, finance, HR, IT, endowments, and grants management.  She also gives back to the not-for-profit sector by facilitating sessions and trainings during national association meetings and events. She is also a new Board Member of The Arc – Prince George’s County.

Outside of the Foundation, Veronica enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, attending her children’s many sporting events, and planning her family’s next outdoor adventure. One of her family’s favorite past time is biking around Mackinac Island, northern Michigan, which is situated in Lake Huron.

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Carol King

Chief of Staff

Carol King joined the Foundation in 2017 as Director of Development, overseeing all aspects of the Foundation’s fundraising program, including corporate philanthropy and individual giving. In her current role as Chief of Staff, she remains focused on growing the organization’s capacity to fulfill its mission and strategic goals. Prior to joining the Foundation, Carol served as the Director of Community Philanthropy at the Humane Rescue Alliance, and she continues her work on behalf of animals as a board member of Thoroughbred Placement Resources. She is a passionate advocate for the role that all communities can play in creating opportunities and improving our world. Carol is credentialed as a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) and is an alumnus of American University.

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Chip Weiskotten

Director of Strategic Communications

Chip Weiskotten is Director of Strategic Communications at the Foundation, where he oversees all facets of the Foundation’s messaging and outreach operations. He develops and implements communication strategies to promote and support the Foundation’s ocean and Great Lakes conservation work in traditional and digital media. This includes social media, public relations, promotions and marketing, corporate partnership communications, brand management, internal communications and whatever mini-crisis pops up that day.

Previously, Chip worked in communications at the Wildlife Conservation Society, where he advocated for a range of wildlife conservation issues as they intersect with U.S. government funding and policy interests. Working closely with field scientists, policymakers and journalists, Chip led campaigns to conserve elephants and other frequently trafficked wildlife, as well as efforts to restore bison to the American plains.

Before that, he handled communications for a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and worked as a field organizer on a Congressional campaign. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Analysis & Policy and a Master’s degree in Energy & Environmental Analysis from Boston University. Chip lives in Washington, DC and enjoys photography, hiking, maps, and spending time with his three kids.

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Cher Mollé

Director of Development

Cher Mollé is a nonprofit development, marketing, and evaluation professional with nearly eight years of experience in local, national, and international nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations. Cher has worked in public policy, community development, economic development, and educational institutions. She holds a Master of Social Work in Practice with Communities and Policy Arenas from Temple University and a Citizen Planner Certificate from the Citizens Planning Institute of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission. Before joining the Foundation, Cher consulted with nonprofits, nongovernmental organizations, and government agencies through her firm, Mollé Consulting, where she conducted strategic planning, development consulting, and impact evaluation work. She is also incredibly passionate about environmental protection, food insecurity, and income inequality. In 2018, she was featured in the Routledge Handbook of Green Social Work, an internationally published anthology serving as a global authority on the emerging field of green social work. Cher’s chapter in this book is titled Food Insecurity: Where Social Injustice Meets Environmental Exploitation, which explores the links between issues of race, gender, and class as they relate to environmental degradation, food insecurity, and hunger. 

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Hallie Segerman

Human Resources Generalist

Hallie Segerman is originally from Virginia Beach, VA but has lived in the DC area for the past few decades.  She joined the Foundation in January 2022 as a Human Resources Generalist.  Prior to joining the Foundation,  she served in an HR capacity at a variety of organizations, including a public accounting firm, an ambulatory surgery center, and two non-profit associations.  She earned a B.S. in Psychology at Union College, and an M.A. in Human Resources Management at George Washington University.

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Deanna Balistreri

Program Operations Manager, Education & Outreach

Deanna Balistreri grew up in the Santa Cruz mountains, next to Monterey Bay. Deanna earned her undergraduate degree in Anthropology at the University of California, Merced. After graduation, Deanna worked for an environmental non-profit in the Silicon Valley.  She began graduate school in 2016 and received her Master of Public Administration from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. While getting her Master’s, Deanna worked at a local non-profit in Carmel-By-The-Sea that focused on beach restorations and educational programs within the Monterey Bay national marine sanctuary. In 2017, Deanna moved to Washington, DC to work on USAID-funded international agricultural programs. Overall, Deanna has traveled to seven of the National Marine Sanctuaries in the United States and is excited to learn about the other ones she has yet to visit.
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Erin Jaszczak

Program Operations Manager, Conservation & Science

Erin joined the Foundation in 2022 as the Program Operations Manager for the conservation, restoration, science, and technology mission areas. She grew up Tarpon Springs, Florida and received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Florida. Erin recently received her master’s degree in Global Sustainability with a concentration in Sustainable Tourism from the University of South Florida’s Patel College of Global Sustainability where her research explored scuba diving in marine protected areas and diver perceptions of sustainability in the dive industry.

Erin is a master scuba diver and certified yoga instructor. She enjoys adventures with her family, traveling, hiking, paddleboarding, boating, and of course scuba diving!

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Lynn Wisniewski

Senior Accountant

Lynn Wisniewski has over 30 years of accounting and related experience. Prior to joining the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, Lynn worked for a variety of industries including construction, marketing, technology, and government. Lynn grew up in the Washington DC area and is thrilled to be working for a company with a mission that she can be proud of.

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Megan Fraser

Mission: Iconic Reef Restoration Implementation Manager

Megan Fraser joined the Foundation in November 2020 as part of a joint partnership between the Foundation, NOAA’s Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and United Way of Collier County and the Keys, to partake in Mission: Iconic Reef’s initiative to restore the Keys reef tract. Megan’s marine background is multidisciplinary in both education and experience–with research in marine diseases, genomics, and human dimensions of subsistence coastal communities, as well as established experience in the more social sciences of communications and outreach, public speaking, and project management. The Iconic Reefs initiative essentially marries these varied disciplines, enabling the most robust approach toward collective, well-researched, and sustainable reef restoration. Megan’s personal motto of ‘happy heart, happy mind, hard work,’ continues to provide the drive to seek approaches to conservation work that are evermore innovative, engaging, and forward-thinking. Prior to joining the Foundation, Megan worked in several marine environmental consultancies and volunteered in various reef restoration conferences, initiatives, and working groups. She continues active involvement in the Coral Restoration Consortium’s working groups and is a feature author for ECO Magazine.

Megan received her B.S. in Marine Science and Biology–with additional minors in Spanish and Chemistry–from the University of Miami RSMAS, during which time she also lived abroad studying the Galapagos Islands’ marine ecosystems. She then obtained a MSc in Marine Biology and Ecology from James Cook University in Australia, where she had a particular focus in applied sciences through marine management and consultancy work. At the Foundation, Megan works closely with the Policy and Conservation Director to collaboratively work towards achieving Iconic Reefs’ goals.

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Greg Wells

Gear Innovations Manager

As Gear Innovations Manager, Greg oversees a collaborative project to test and evaluate fishing gear to mitigate marine life entanglements in collaboration with Dungeness crab fishermen, state and federal resource agencies and other partners in California.

Greg has more than 15 years of experience supporting fisheries management and conservation initiatives, working with diverse stakeholders including fishermen, state and federal managers, non-government organizations, scientists and the concerned public. His experience includes coordinating strategic outreach and policy campaigns to advance ecosystem-based fisheries management in New England, supporting stakeholder-centered approaches to fisheries management in southern California, and working with small-scale fishermen to create community managed marine areas in Mozambique.

Greg also has experience working on commercial fishing boats as a fisheries observer in California and Alaska and served as a US Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines, working on community-based coastal resources management. He holds a master’s degree in marine biodiversity and conservation from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a bachelor’s degree in marine biology from Sheldon Jackson College in Alaska.

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Teresa Mackey

Communications Manager

As the Foundation’s Communications Manager, Tess plays a key role in executing the Foundation’s messaging and outreach, with an emphasis on social media and digital presence, and supports the Director of Strategic Communications. Before joining the Foundation, she was the Programme Manager for the Sargasso Sea Commission through The Ocean Foundation and the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Her previous experience also includes working with Virginia Sea Grant and the Virginia Coastal Policy Center as a correspondent, and with an environmental consulting firm specializing in science communication.

Tess graduated from the College of William & Mary with a B.A. in English and minor in Marine Science through the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. She also participated in a field research course through the Bangor University School of Ocean Sciences in Wales.

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Laurie VanBenschoten

Development Manager

Laurie VanBenschoten joined the Foundation in June 2021. Growing up, she spent her summers on the shores of Cape Cod where she developed a love for the ocean. Laurie is SCUBA certified and loves spending time in, on, and around any body of water she can find.

In her capacity as Development Manager, she supports the Foundation’s fundraising efforts through the administration and development of the Foundation’s Salesforce NPSP CRM and related systems. She is also responsible for managing partnerships, sponsorships, and incoming donations, and providing fundraising support to sanctuary sites and Foundation chapters.

Laurie is an alumna of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY where she was captain of the William Smith Rowing team and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in both Sociology and French & Francophone Studies.

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Abigail Rodgers

Capitol Hill Ocean Week Manager

Abby Rodgers joined the Foundation in November 2021 as the Capitol Hill Ocean Week Manager. She has an interdisciplinary background with experience in law, policy, and marine science. Prior to joining the Foundation, Abby graduated from the University of Maryland Carey School of Law with a concentration in Environmental Law. During her third year of law school, she was a student attorney with the Maryland Environmental Law Clinic working on Environmental Justice issues. She previously held internships at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in the Fisheries & Boating Division, and the Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

Prior to law school Abby worked at Concourse Federal Group as a Program Analyst working on an Environmental Impact Statement for the Department of Veterans Affairs. She received a B.A. in Ocean Studies and Marine Affairs–with additional minors in Environmental Studies and Latin American Studies–from the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine. While in undergrad she interned with Friends of Casco Bay, a Baykeeper organization.

Abby is a native of Maryland and in her spare time she enjoys trying new recipes, reading, and rock climbing.

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Michaela Miller

Conservation Manager

Michaela Miller joined the Foundation in December 2021 as the Conservation Manager. She has a background in environmental science with experience in coastal and marine science and resource management. Prior to joining the Foundation, Michaela worked as a researcher studying regional sediment management practices and coastal erosion in Southern California for the Beach Erosion Authority for Clean Oceans and Nourishment (BEACON). She was also the 2020 California Seagrant Fellow for the California Ocean Protection Council’s Climate Change Program where she worked on a variety of pressing coastal and marine issues in California. She also managed a marine debris removal and monitoring program on the Channel Islands with the Santa Rosa Island Research Station and has worked extensively on the Channel Islands. Michaela earned a MS in Applied Marine and Watershed Science from California State University Monterey Bay and a BS in Environmental Science from California State University Channel Islands. Michaela lives in Ventura, California with her dog Mav.

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Jenny Larsen

Policy Manager

Jenny Larsen joined the Foundation in December 2021 as the Policy Manager. Growing up in South Florida and California, the ocean has always felt like home for her.

An attorney, Jenny has a background in law and policy. Prior to joining the Foundation, she was a senior associate at Strategies 360 where she worked on a variety of policy issues including ocean policy.

During her time in law school Jenny worked in the Senate as a law clerk and in the House of Representatives as a legislative intern. She also held an internship as a law clerk at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, a non-profit focused on mental health law and criminal justice reform.

Jenny earned a JD from Georgetown University Law Center and a BS from the University of Utah. She enjoys traveling and has a goal to visit all 63 National Parks.

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Liz Hoadley

Ocean Exploration Program Manager

Liz joined the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation in 2020. As the Ocean Exploration Program Manager, Liz is responsible for supporting ocean exploration education initiatives that are funded through the Foundation’s cooperative agreement with NOAA Ocean Exploration, including the development of educational materials, implementation of educator professional development workshops, and curating materials for an ocean exploration education web and social media presence. 

Liz grew up in Delaware, where she spent every summer as a child at Rehoboth Beach looking for horseshoe crabs, boogie boarding in the waves, and building sand forts. She credits these early life experiences as what set her on a path to want to inspire the next generation of ocean stewards.  Liz has a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences Education from the University of Delaware. After graduating, Liz taught high school marine biology in Delaware for a few years, before moving out to Monterey, CA, where she discovered the wonder of environmental education while working for an outdoor school along the coast of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. One of her favorite parts of ocean education is being able to be a part of bringing students to the beach for the first time and sharing the wonder of the ocean with these future stewards. She is currently working on her master’s degree with Miami University to pursue her research interests of better understanding the intersection of education and stewardship. 

Many of Liz’s best ocean memories are from when she lived in Monterey, CA where she could suit up at home, walk out her front door, and be snorkeling or diving in the kelp forest within 5 minutes. Her favorite kelp forest find was a baby mola mola that swam right up to her and followed her around for a bit during one of her dives. Liz now lives in Dauphin Island, AL, where her favorite things to do are kayak, cook a new recipe, or catch a great sunset on the beach with her family.

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Lisa Henschel

Corporate Relations Manager

Lisa Henschel holds a B.A. in Economics from Dickinson College.  After a career in investment sales and asset management with Nuveen and Ferris, Baker Watts, she left the business world to pursue other interests and to focus on her family, volunteer opportunities, charitable fundraising and writing. Lisa served as co-chair for the 2019 and 2020 Ocean Awards Gala and served as the Gala’s chair in 2021. Lisa is the mother of two children and lives in Potomac, Maryland with her husband John, her children and a rescue Beagador named Miley.

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Trish Albano

Office of Exploration and Research (OER) Internship Coordinator

Growing up in South Florida, Trish’s life was intertwined with the ocean from a young age. Spending her early years exploring mangrove forests and coastal reefs, her love for the ocean became a major force in her life.

While earning her Bachelor’s degree in Marine & Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami, Trish was part of the Shark Research & Conservation Program. She conducted research in Miami and the Bahamas and served as Outreach Coordinator. Trish continued at the University of Miami for her Master’s in Marine Ecosystems & Society and managed the shark lab’s internship programs. As a graduate student, she worked in a remote town in South Africa with resource managers and the local community to build a research project evaluating the efficacy of a marine reserve for shark protection. Trish’s unique experiences with public engagement and protected area research make her excited about the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s mission to preserve these special areas while connecting people, especially young scientists, to the marine environment.

Trish joined the Foundation team in 2020 as the OER Internship Coordinator. She works closely with the NOAA Office of Exploration and Research (OER) to facilitate OER’s student internship program involvement and promote opportunities for students from underrepresented
communities in STEM. Fun fact: Trish has worked with 25 different shark species and her favorite ocean memories include spending time in/on the water with whales, penguins, great white sharks, and leatherback turtles. On the weekends, you can find her exploring local
waterways on her paddleboard!

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Maddie Cholnoky

Community Stewardship Coordinator

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Brady Clarke

Multimedia Communications Coordinator

Brady Clarke joined the Foundation in March 2022 as the Multimedia Communications Coordinator and is responsible for executing several technical facets of communications strategy, with an emphasis on creating engaging visual media and digital communications. His experiences leading up to this position include a science communication internship with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, co-founding a marine plastic education outreach nonprofit, and hands-on science communication as an expedition guide/naturalist in Southeast Alaska. Additionally, Brady has spent the past six years as a freelance photographer, videographer, and has fulfilled contracts to aid in other visual media storytelling.

Brady earned a B.S. in Marine, Estuarine, and Freshwater Biology and a Minor in Conservation and Sustainability from the University of New Hampshire. He leverages his science background to provide an extensive understanding of the inner workings of the subject at hand, and therefore, effectively communicate the issues and impacts.

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Brittany Griffith

Program Operations Coordinator

Brittany joined the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation in April 2022 as the Program Operations Coordinator. She grew up in Pittsburgh, PA and received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Allegheny College in Meadville, PA where she currently lives. Prior to joining the Foundation, she served as an AmeriCorps VISTA member during which time her primary goal was to support economic growth and engagement in her community.

 

Brittany has spent much of the last few years traveling around the United States, Europe, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. Through these adventures, she has discovered a lot about her interests and passions, which include ocean conservation, outdoor recreation, and cultural preservation. She has loved going to the ocean and being in the water since she was a kid on vacation with her family in Hilton Head Island. In 2020, she completed her Divemaster certification in Koh Tao, Thailand and now works as a Divemaster in Erie, PA.

 

When she’s not working, traveling, or scuba diving, you can find Brittany surfing, snowboarding, cooking, or listening to jazz with a glass of wine in hand.

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Marcie Orenstein

Ocean Exploration Education and Communications Coordinator

Marcie Orenstein joined the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation in April 2022. As the Education and Communications Coordinator for Ocean Exploration, Marcie supports cooperative initiatives between the Foundation and NOAA Ocean Exploration. She is responsible for building public engagement with deep ocean exploration, especially among informal and formal educators. Her work includes regular newsletters, reports, and digital communications, supporting the development of education materials, and serving as lead logistical support for professional development workshops with Alliance Partner Institutions.

 

Marcie has always been curious about the aquatic world, spending hours searching for tiny shells at the beach and exploring tide pools. Her affinity for the natural world led her to study biology at the University of Michigan and marine science at the Duke University Marine Lab and the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences. An internship at Reef Environmental Education Foundation sparked an interest in science education, a path she has pursued for the past nine years. Marcie joins the Foundation with both formal and informal teaching experience including boat-based education in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and work developing education programs for both the National Aquarium and Shedd Aquarium. Marcie enjoys the creative process of communicating and translating the work of scientists into engaging content for educators and learners. She is excited to promote conservation, curiosity, and critical thinking skills in audiences as they discover wonder in the deep sea.

 

Marcie currently lives in Chicago and enjoys running, art projects, and SCUBA diving trips.

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Jacob Hyler

Administrative Assistant

Jacob Hyler joined the Foundation in March 2022 as the Administrative Assistant. Prior to joining the Foundation, he served in an administrative capacity for several organizations, including an intercollegiate athletics department, and is currently volunteering for the non-profit SAFE Worldwide as their fundraising coordinator.

He earned a B.S. in Exercise, Sport, and Health Education at Radford University, and an M.S. in Sports Administration at Arkansas State University. He plans to pursue an M.S. in Energy and Environmental Management.

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Marta Munoz

Accounting Assistant

Prior to joining the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, I held the position of Account Receivables/Tuition collection at the Consortium of Catholic Academies, where I managed enrollment, Tuition accounts collection for four Catholic Schools in the District of Columbia, worked with the organization’s finance team department receiving and distributing grants, also work closely with a government agency that provide scholarship funding for low-income families to ensure accuracy of scholarships payment. I have worked in the non-profit sector seven years under the finance department, previously to working in the accounting sector I worked in hospitality industry where I achieve my Executive Chef Title while working as a chef, In the culinary industry in this field is where I gained knowledge in budgets, and financials management.

Outside of the work, I enjoy spending time with my husband and three children doing outdoor activities such as gardening, making flower arrangements, my most favorite thing to do is travel with the family and friends.