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Staff Directory

Heal the Bay Administration

Tracy Quinn

Chief Executive Officer

Tracy Quinn joined Heal the Bay in May 2022, leading the dynamic team of scientists, policy experts, outreach specialists, educators, and advocates in pursuit of its clean water mission. Tracy is responsible for setting new science and policy goals, expanding Heal the Bay Aquarium as the premier marine science education destination in Southern California, and increasing community action throughout Greater LA. Tracy has dedicated her life to improving water quality in our rivers and ocean and ensuring safe, reliable, and affordable water for all Californians. Tracy started her career as an engineer, designing water infrastructure in Southern California and helping NPDES permittees comply with water quality objectives. Most recently, Tracy served as the Director of California Urban Water Policy at the Natural Resources Defense Council where she led efforts to pass and implement climate adaption legislation and improved climate resilience and water affordability by advancing water efficiency. Tracy received her Bachelors of Science and Masters of Engineering in Agricultural and Biological Engineering from Cornell University and is a licensed civil engineer in California.

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Meredith McCarthy

Operations Director

Heal the Bay’s long time Programs Director has recently shifted to the Director of Operations. Meredith now oversees the organizational health and wellbeing of all programs and staff.  As an avid scuba diver she has seen firsthand what putting too much in, taking too much out and ignoring the edge of the ocean has done to our coastal systems. She remains committed to Heal the Bay’s mission of protecting this health of this precious resource and the 11 million people that benefit from it.

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Aurora Nunez

Executive Assistant/Office Manager

Aurora provides administrative and executive support to Heal the Bay, and is bringing a longtime love of local beaches to her position. She grew up in LA and graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a B.A. in Sociology and an Education emphasis. Her hobbies include making sculptures out of recycled materials, attending comic book conventions, and improving her lasagna recipes.

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Gabriele Morgan

Receptionist

Gabriele has been the face, voice, and administrative angel of Heal the Bay for nearly 20 years. She can answer any question about the organization and the Bay with ease and keeps the office running smoothly. When not manning her post as velvet rope/bouncer/concierge, she can probably be found in her recording studio.

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Heal the Bay Advancement

Britta Bucholz

Major Gifts

Britta is a contractor who stewards relationships with individuals and family foundations in support of Heal the Bay’s major donor program.

Britta’s fundraising career began at City of Hope in Southern California, where she oversaw fundraising within the Music & Entertainment, Fashion and Beauty Industries. Most recently, Britta spent the last three years with Share Our Strength. In her role as the Director of Development of California for the No Kid Hungry campaign, she oversaw all fundraising efforts across the state, focusing on principal and major gifts, corporate sponsorships, and events. Prior to working with No Kid Hungry, Britta served as the Vice President of Philanthropy at the Starkey Hearing Foundation developing and implementing strategy for Starkey Hearing Technologies and Starkey Hearing Foundation.

Fun fact: Britta was on the swim team for the University of Miami, FL.

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Sheila McSherry

Associate Director of Foundation Relations

Sheila supports Heal the Bay’s fundraising goals by providing guidance on overall strategy, leveraging partnerships, and stewarding the organization’s foundation relationships. Before joining Heal the Bay in 2005, she raised money for a public health non-profit in Los Angeles. She is a South Bay native, graduated from U.C. Santa Cruz, and is also a musician. Her favorite beach destination is somewhere off Costa Rica.

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Marni Ayers

Development Specialist

Marni supports Heal the Bay’s donor stewardship efforts, membership programs, and events. Before joining Heal the Bay, Marni worked as the Development Manager for the award-winning Rogue Machine Theatre in Los Angeles, where, in addition to fundraising, she co-founded a storytelling program for underserved youth. Marni has always been passionate about the environment and has written several articles on health and non-toxic living. She graduated from USC and holds a Master’s Degree (in Creative Writing) from NYU. Marni lives in Santa Monica with her husband and children. One of her favorite activities is walking the beach with them at sunset. Fun Fact: Marni is also a playwright.

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Rachel Bonds Salguero

Development Specialist, Corporate Partnerships

Rachel supports Heal the Bay’s fundraising goals by stewarding corporate partners and leveraging cause-marketing opportunities. Her favorite thing about fundraising is getting to witness the tangible results it has for the organization’s mission. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Florida, with a focus on environmental sustainability. Rachel is passionate about making a difference in her community and loves being outdoors. In her free time, you can find her hiking with her Australian Shepherd, Magnolia, or at Hermosa Beach soaking up some sunshine.

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Heal the Bay Aquarium

Marslaidh Ryan

Aquarium Director

Marslaidh (pronounced like parsley) studied Environmental Science at the University of Oregon, Aquarium Science at Saddleback College, and Fisheries and Wildlife Science at Oregon State University. She began her career in public aquariums over fifteen years ago gaining experience in areas such as marine science education, animal husbandry, life support systems, and facility operations. She has worked and volunteered in various institutions as she made her way down the coast, such as the Marine Mammal Center, Aquarium of the Bay, Aquarium of the Pacific, and the California Science Center. She dives locally as an active PADI Divemaster and Scientific Diver, and is a member of the Grunions US Masters swim team.

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Laura Rink

Associate Aquarium Director, Operations

After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in Aquatic Biology, Laura has spent the last 10 years working in the aquarium industry at facilities housing diverse collections of aquatic life.  Her previous positions include Curator at the Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney, Senior Aquarist at The California Science Center, and Aquarist for the Calvert Marine Museum along the Chesapeake Bay.

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Michelle Zentgraf

Senior Aquarist

Michelle graduated with a degree in Marine Biology from UC Santa Cruz.  While there, she worked in a pinniped cognition lab as a marine mammal trainer, served as Divemaster in the UCSC scientific diving program, and provided support on a myriad of research projects as a scientific diver.  After graduating, she worked in an environmental toxicology laboratory before going into science education at the Middle and High School Level.  She then pursued a career in the public aquarium sector as a Life Support Technician and Aquarist.

 

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Kelly Kelly

Education Manager

Kelly is responsible for teaching bright-eyed students on field trips about the local coastal ecology, in addition to managing the Key to the Sea and Summer Camp programs. She is excited to be back with Heal the Bay and the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, not just to educate others about marine animals and habitats, but also to instill stewardship and foster change. Kelly’s also excited to be back to where she first started as an intern and naturalist in 2014. She is currently working on her M.S. in Informal Science Education at CSU Long Beach. When not teaching on the beach or going to class, Kelly loves going to the zoo (even when she worked there), taking photos, and seeing live music shows.

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Tikiesha Wilson

Public Programs Manager

“Tiki” is a graduate of the LATTC Chemical Technology Certification program, with an Associate Degree in Science. Tiki has been an enthusiastic member of Heal the Bay’s watershed monitoring team since 2011. She was honored by Heal the Bay in 2015 as a “Super Healer”. Her ambitions are to be of service to her city and home, Los Angeles, by protecting our precious waterways. In Spring of 2018, she transitioned to our Aquarium as an Education and Outreach Coordinator, and then became our Public Programs Manager in 2022, where she helps educate K-12 students, while also working with corporations to teach them about conservation and preservation.

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Robert Ramos

Education Manager

Robert Ramos is an aspiring marine biologist from Philadelphia. He discovered his passion for marine science while attending college at Wesleyan University, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in both Biology and Environmental Science. Once graduated, Robert found his way out to California by participating in an AmeriCorps internship on Catalina Island building nature trails. Eventually, Robert was welcomed into the Heal the Bay family as the Education and Outreach Coordinator, and then as the Education Manager where he works to educate and inspire young people to become stewards of their environment.

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Jenna Segal

Associate Aquarium Director, Programs

Jenna earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Northeastern University, and coordinates with educators, event planners and others who wish to use the facilities. She also acts as liaison with various city agencies and Santa Monica Pier neighbors, and oversees the facility’s public hours and retail operations. Originally from Massachusetts, Jenna moved out west to enjoy the sunshine and study marine science. She started her career at Heal the Bay as an Aquarium and MPA Watch volunteer, and officially joined the staff in 2012.

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Andreana Vetus

Public Programs Associate

Andreana is a recent graduate from UCLA, where she studied Biology and Marine Biology. She is passionate about ocean life, community empowerment helping people connect with the underwater world. Andreana worked as an intern and peer advisor with UCLA’s Samahang Pilipino organization to collaborate with youth from under-resourced communities in the greater LA area. Fostering empowerment and cultural representation, she continues her impact on youth communities at Heal the Bay Aquarium as a Public Programs Associate by interpreting facts and guiding eager minds towards awareness, action, and connection. Her favorite marine animals are manta rays and corals.

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Cat Baklarz

Public Programs Associate

Cat loves our ocean for its wildlife, wonder, and its importance for the global climate. Through volunteer work with the Los Angeles Maritime Institute, Friends of the Ballona Wetlands, and Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, she has learned that the Los Angeles coastline offers endless opportunities for exploration and many unique challenges for conservation. Cat earned her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from USC and works to help connect visitors at the Santa Monica Aquarium with their environment. She loves kayaking, art, and storytelling.

 

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Alexia Skrbic

Aquarium Program Associate

Alexia was born and raised in Southern California and spent her youth discovering her love for marine biology. She received her undergraduate degree in Biology and Environmental Science from Chapman University and Masters from the University of Miami in Florida. She has spent the last 5 years educating youth, volunteering and working with several conservation organizations, and as a naturalist on a whale watching boat. She continues to share her passion for education and conservation with youth at Heal the Bay Aquarium by engaging them in the wonders of marine life. She enjoys spending time out in nature, hiking, at the beach, scuba diving, tidepooling, and traveling.

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Crystal Sandoval

Aquarium Program Associates

Crystal is a graduate student in Environmental Education and Communication at Royal Roads University, and is working on her thesis involving embodied learning and developing sense of place and ecological identity while practicing Lua, a Hawaiian martial art. She graduated from UCLA in 2015 with a degree in Linguistics and Anthropology with a minor in Conservation Biology, and spent the next three years on the JET program, teaching English at a high school in Ishikawa, Japan. Crystal has grown up in Los Angeles and hopes to inspire passion in others for marine conservation and to help build healthy relationships with our coastal neighbors. Crystal also uses they/them pronouns, and when they are not practicing martial arts or talking about sea cucumbers, they may be leading games of Dungeons and Dragons.

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Annie Lopez

Volunteer Programs Manager

Annie graduated from the University of California, Irvine in 2017 with a bachelor’s in Environmental Science. She’s passionate about connecting with others and creating equitable educational opportunities for people to learn more about the environment and how they can become environmental stewards. In her free time, she enjoys going on hikes, watching sunsets at the beach, and spending time with her family.

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Heal the Bay Communications

Bria Royal

Senior Communications & Marketing Manager

Bria joins Heal the Bay following years split between working in mainstream film post-production and collaborating with grassroots organizations around the world as a freelance artist. Originally from Chicago, IL, Bria loves using creative modes of communication, storytelling, and technology to support movements that jointly consider our planet and all of its inhabitants. Outside of their time with Heal the Bay, Bria is a children’s book illustrator and works on short animated films.

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Jillian Marshall

Senior Communications & Marketing Coordinator

Jillian grew up in Northern Virginia and graduated from James Madison University with a B.A. in English. She has received a Princeton Prize for Race Relations and is passionate about communicating the importance of both environmental conservation and social justice. Jillian is a member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation (Long Island, NY) and is always looking forward to the next in-person Pow Wow. When she is not enjoying beach yoga or attempting to surf, you can find her reading anything by Octavia Butler or hiking the road less traveled.

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Alvin Lam

Senior Data & Information Specialist

Alvin graduated from UCLA, but more importantly, unlike Frank Drebin, he doesn’t love swimming in raw sewage. It’s this aversion that led him to Heal the Bay where he helps the team attract lovers of clean water (yes, that was a reference to the 90’s classic, Naked Gun 2 ½).

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Nazara Ali

Associate Data Specialist

Nazara’s just a girl from the Bay, working now towards healing it. Well, she’s from the San Francisco Bay, but it still applies. The beach has always been her safe space, and now she aims towards making it a safer place for everyone as Data Coordinator. Nazara has grown up around the water, living in San Francisco before moving to San Luis Obispo to study political science, and now lives in LA. Before joining Heal the Bay, Nazara volunteered at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Research and Conservation department and Morro Bay’s Pacific Wildlife Care, a rehabilitation center for wild animals. She loves traveling, hiking, and trying out new vegan recipes.

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Heal the Bay Science, Outreach, & Policy

Dr. Katherine Pease

Science and Policy Director

Katherine assesses the water quality and biological health of greater L.A.’s watersheds and assists stakeholder groups with policy recommendations. Katherine studied Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Barnard College and earned a Ph.D. from UCLA, where she wrote her dissertation on the impacts of invasive crayfish on native frog tadpoles in the Santa Monica Mountains. Katherine is passionate about freshwater ecosystems and loves to explore L.A.’s wilderness.

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Nancy Shrodes

Senior Watershed Specialist, South Santa Monica Bay

In her newest role, Nancy is the Watershed Coordinator for the South Santa Monica Bay, along side an amazing team. She looks forward to supporting communities across this watershed and in the greater Los Angeles region to achieve high water quality outcomes through projects that have multi-benefits with a focus on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities.

She continues to connect our technical work to our outreach programming. She passionately works to educate local community members and protect our watersheds and has done so for nearly 9 years at Heal the Bay. While spearheading our campaigns, Nancy earned her Master’s Degree in Water Resource Engineering at LMU, with a certificate in Sustainability. Having grown up in the South Bay, you can find her spending her free time on the volleyball courts or in the water body surfing.

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Mikaela Randolph

Senior Watershed Specialist, Central Santa Monica Bay

Mikaela Randolph joins Heal the Bay as the Watershed Coordinator for the Central Santa Monica Bay Watershed Area. In this role she looks forward to supporting communities across this watershed and in the greater Los Angeles region to achieve high water quality outcomes through projects that have multi-benefits with a focus on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities.

Mikaela brings a wealth of policy expertise ranging from the national to the local level on a variety of issues and looks forward to the opportunity to bring these complementary skills to her work at Heal the Bay team. Mikaela is a native Angelino, and a lifetime resident of South Los Angeles. She’s a fierce community advocate, proud mom to a teenage girl and dog mom to Hunny Bear, an adorable Lhasa Ahpso.

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Ava Farriday

Watershed Program Coordinator

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Ava has been an environmentalist from a young age. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Geography from Cal Poly SLO, where she focused on the intersection of people and the environment. After getting her start at Heal the Bay as an Environmental Policy intern, she now joins the team as the Watershed Program Coordinator. Her first love was marine biology, and she is excited to work for an organization whose mission is to protect the oceans and watersheds of the city she calls home. In her free time, she enjoys figure skating, going to concerts, and traveling the world.

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Kayleigh Wade

Associate Director of Campaigns and Outreach

Kayleigh (she/they) is proudly from Lynwood, CA and serves as the Associate Director of Campaigns and Outreach. They transferred to UCLA from Santa Monica College where she majored in Chicanx Studies and minored in LGBTQ Studies. With 8 years of organizing experience, her commitment to social justice has played out in a variety of spaces – from organizing with fellow students at Santa Monica College to prevent the privatization of general education courses, to serving as the Southeast LA Youth Organizer at Communities for a Better Environment, to supporting girl-identified youth at the raddest rock camp of all time, Chicas Rockeras de Sur Este Los Angeles. In their spare time, she likes plotting on which food pop-up or restaurant to try with her friends and hanging out with her pet babies Penny and Oats.

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Annelisa Moe

Water Quality Scientist

Annelisa helps to keep L.A. water clean and safe by advocating for comprehensive and science-based water quality regulation and enforcement. Before joining the team at Heal the Bay, she worked with the Regional Water Quality Control Board in both the underground storage tank program and the surface water ambient monitoring program. Annelisa completed her master’s degree in geological sciences at CSU Northridge. In her free time she enjoys caving, canyoneering and scuba diving.

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Emily Parker

Coastal and Marine Scientist

Emily works to keep our oceans and marine ecosystems healthy and clean by advocating for strong legislation and enforcement both locally and statewide. She focuses on plastic pollution, marine protected areas, sustainable fisheries, and climate change related issues. Before arriving at Heal the Bay, Emily earned a M.A.S in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, where she conducted research on sea turtle conservation in El Salvador. When not advocating for ocean rights, Emily can almost always be found on the shore catching a wave or soaking up some LA sunshine.

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Luke Ginger

Water Quality Scientist

Luke fights for the environment’s rights by advocating for water quality regulation and enforcement. But he’s also looking out for the humans who go to the beaches, rivers, and streams by managing the Beach Report Card, River Report Card, and NowCast programs. Before joining Heal the Bay, he worked as an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency compliance consultant for small businesses. He has a B.S. in Biology from The University of St. Thomas and a M.S. in Biology from Miami University. Although Luke does not consider what he does at Heal the Bay “work,” when he’s not in the office he is hiking in the National Parks or hanging out on the beach.

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Alison Xunyi Wu

Associate Data Specialist

Alison is passionate about using data and science to provide the public with the information they need to avoid environmental microbial pollutants. She is currently working on the NowCast models, Beach Report Card, and River Report Card programs by collecting and analyzing environmental bacterial datasets. Alison has a B.S. in Environmental Science from UCLA, and she earned her Ph.D. from California Institute of Technology with a focus in detection and monitoring of waterborne pathogens. As a music enthusiast, Alison plays instruments including violin and bass guitar during her free time. She also enjoys going outdoors for archery, snowboarding, and camping.

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Frankie Orrala

Angler Outreach Program Manager

Frankie manages the Angler Outreach Program, overseeing a multilingual team of five. He also develops partnerships with the Spanish-speaking community and acts as Heal the Bay’s Spanish media liaison. Before joining Heal the Bay, Frankie was a Fishing Observer for the Ecuadorian National Fishing Institute in the Galapagos Islands. He holds a bachelor’s degree in marine biology from the University of Guayaquil.

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Stephanie Gebhardt

Beach Programs Manager

Stephanie organizes Heal the Bay’s beach cleanups and community beautification projects. With experience in sustainability consulting and science communication, she unites Angelenos in protecting what they love. Originally from Pomona California, Stephanie traveled to Boston to earn her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from Wellesley College, during which time she spent summers at home interning for Heal the Bay. She then earned her master’s degree in Regenerative Studies from Cal Poly Pomona’s Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies, focusing on the sustainability of Southern California’s craft breweries. Stephanie took a slight hiatus from the non-profit sector during the four years prior to rejoining Heal the Bay in order to become an Anheuser-Busch Craft Master Brewer at Golden Road Brewing in Los Angeles, California. Now, when she’s not organizing on the beach, you may find her and her trusty equestrian stead, Strider, training for their next endurance ride or enjoying a tasting flight at a local brewery with her wife and pups.

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Daniel Chavez

Outreach Manager

Daniel was born and raised in Mexico until he moved to the states, and eventually was lucky enough to get a BS in Marine Science from Boston University. There he focused on behavioral ecology of tropical fish, particularly the clownfish, leading to his undergraduate research thesis. Daniel also went to Belize for a few weeks to participate in field expeditions involving coral reef restoration and climate change. Growing up, he played all kinds of sports; now he spends most of his time golfing, diving, hiking, and spending time with his dog, Luna. He loves being able to make a difference in his community and the feeling of giving back to nature in everything that we do.

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Andrea Nasev

Corporate Outreach Associate

Andrea is a Corporate Outreach Associate for Heal the Bay’s Suits on the Sand program. She has made her way back home from Boston after graduating with a degree in International Relations from Boston University. At school, Andrea focused on sustainable development, conservation policies, and Latin American politics. She loves and respects the way water connects life across the planet, making her passionate about protecting marine ecology. Her favorite marine animal is the orca whale which she admires for their intelligence and family structures. In her free time, Andrea listens to podcasts while stuck in traffic, watches movies and documentaries, drinks matcha lattes, and dances to funky music.

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Antonio Esquivel

Corporate Outreach Associate

Antonio was born in Los Angeles and grew up along the California coastline. From a young
age, his favorite places were the beach and aquariums, exploring his passion for marine life and the ocean. He enlisted in the Marine Corps, where he was deployed to Japan and had the opportunity to experience another culture’s connection with the ocean. Transferring from Santa Monica College to CSUN and majoring in Psychology, Antonio works to connect the well-being of people with the ocean. He now serves as a Corporate Outreach Associate with Heal the Bay, working with the Suits on the Sand program to engage businesses in exploring marine pollution. In his free time, he enjoys surfing, diving, hiking, and eating ramen.

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Crystal Barajas

MPA Watch and Angler Outreach Coordinator

Crystal (She/Her) was born and raised in LA. She is working as an MPA Watch and Angler Outreach Coordinator at Heal the Bay. She earned her B.S. in Aquatic Biology at UC Santa Barbara. There she conducted research on marine microbiology, coral reefs, marine invertebrates, and sea turtle conservation in Costa Rica. She plans to one day have a career in marine biology/ ocean conservation. On her spare time, she enjoys listening to music, watching movies, swimming, and spending time with friends, cats, and family.

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