Shara Fisler, Executive Director & Founder
As Executive Director, Shara envisions what Ocean Discovery Institute can achieve and how we can make the greatest difference possible. Her leadership ensures that the organization has the resources and guidance needed to carry out the mission of transforming young lives through science. Shara has been recognized with numerous commendations, including the CNN Hero Award, the California Society for Ecological Restoration President’s Award, KPBS Union Bank Women’s History Month Local Hero Award, and Sunset Magazine Coastal Hero Award. Shara holds a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a M.A. in Marine Resource Management from the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, and previously served as adjunct faculty at the University of San Diego.
Lindsay Goodwin, Associate Director
As Associate Director, Lindsay oversees educational initiatives to ensure that Ocean Discovery Institute provides comprehensive, innovative programs that empower young people to become science and conservation leaders. She also spearheads efforts for strategic growth so that the organization may expand to reach more students. Lindsay holds a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Notre Dame and a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Teaching.
MacKenzie Sandy, Director of Philanthropy
As Director of Philanthropy, MacKenzie plans and leads Ocean Discovery Institute fundraising efforts through stewarding donors and securing the contributions needed to provide tuition-free science education programs. In these programs, young people develop the spark that makes them want to learn. She is also responsible for establishing and meeting annual philanthropy goals and developing strategies to help Ocean Discovery Institute reach sustainability. MacKenzie holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from San Diego State University.
Elvia Meza, Director of Finance & Administration
As Director of Finance & Administration, Elvia is responsible for financial management and compliance. She ensures that funds are stewarded and that each member of the team and the organization as a whole has the resources needed to carry out the Ocean Discovery Institute mission of transforming young lives through science. Elvia holds a B.S. in Business Administration, with an emphasis in International Business from California State University, San Marcos and is bilingual (English/Spanish).
Travis Kemnitz, Director of Talent & Culture
As Director of Talent & Culture, Travis ensures our staff, Board of Directors, and volunteers are provided the resources and guidance needed to empower underserved youth on their path to becoming science and conservation leaders. He supports our staff in their development as leaders, oversees the engagement of thousands of volunteers to meet critical needs of the organization, and maintains an organizational culture that enables exceptional results. Travis is a RISE San Diego Fellow and holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of San Diego.
Sheri Glowinski, Director of Programs
As Director of Programs, Sheri leads a dynamic team who deliver rigorous science programs that result in increased science test scores, students enrolling in college, and ultimately science and conservation leadership. She oversees all aspects of Ocean Discovery Institute’s educational initiatives, including programming, budgeting, and evaluation. She is also responsible for developing new programming for Ocean Discovery Institute’s new Living Lab facility opening in 2017, with the goal of empowering all youth in City Heights to transform their lives and communities through science and conservation. Sheri holds a PhD in Biological Sciences from The University of Southern Mississippi. Her interdisciplinary PhD work incorporated ornithology, environmental sociology, citizen science evaluation, and sustainable development initiatives. Sheri was also a National Sciences Foundation GK-12 Biology Teaching Fellow working with a high school in south Mississippi and received a Distinguished Teacher Award nomination while faculty at Lake Superior State University.
Anne Correia, Facilities Operations Manager
As Facilities Operations Manager, Anne ensures the growth and sustainability of the organization through the maintenance of current facilities and the planning and development of the Living Lab. This new, state-of-the-art science education facility (set to open in 2017) will be Ocean Discovery Institute’s permanent home in City Heights and will allow the organization to engage 14,000 more students from the community each year. Anne holds a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Vermont.
Jason Tucker, Manager of Donor Relationships
As Manager of Donor Relationships, Jason leads the Donor Relationships team to build relationships with individuals, foundations, and corporations in support of the transformative work of Ocean Discovery Institute in City Heights. The stewardship of these relationships is critical to engaging our current supporters and expanding our network to reach new partners in our life-changing educational programs. Jason holds a B.A. with a double-major in Music Education and Spanish from Point Loma Nazarene University, as well as his Single-Subject CLAD Teaching Credential in both content areas.
Carla Pisbe, Manager of Business Development
As Manager of Business Development, Carla uses her knowledge of the City Heights community she grew up to grow the impact of Ocean Discovery Institute. She works closely with the City Heights community in order to build readiness for the Living Lab facility that will provide greater opportunities. In addition, she is leading efforts to explore the replication of the Ocean Discovery Institute model in other areas of the country through a partnership with the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Association. Carla holds a B.A. in Politics and Latin American Latino Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Melissa Katigbak, Leaders Programs Manager
As Leaders Programs Manager, Melissa manages the staff, curriculum development and program implementation of the Ocean Discovery Institute Leaders Programs. Her commitment to applying best practices in curriculum development and her understanding of the needs of underserved young people has increased student interest in pursuing careers in diverse range of science and conservation fields. Melissa holds a B.A. from the University of San Diego and a Multiple Subject CLAD Teaching Credential, and is proficient in Spanish.
Rochelle Mothokakobo, Student Programs Manager
As Student Programs Manager, Rochelle leads the team of instructors who reach 6,000 City Heights students annually through hands-on science education, field exploration and environmental stewardship. Rochelle also works closely with City Heights teachers, providing professional development and the resources to help them bring more science into their classrooms. Rochelle holds a B.S. in Marine Biology from Hawaii Pacific University and a M.S. in Biology/Ecology from San Diego State University.
Joel Barkan, Research and Restoration Manager
As Research and Restoration Manager, Joel ensures that authentic science research is integrated into Ocean Discovery Institute programs, exposing students to relevant science through intensive research experiences. He also manages the restoration of City Heights’ urban canyons into safe, vibrant environments within the community. Joel holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Vassar College and a M.A.S. in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Christina Contreras, College & Career Coordinator
As College & Career Coordinator, Christina guides Ocean Discovery Institute students through their journeys of self-discovery and along their paths to overcome adversity and achieve. Pairing her passion for teaching with leading research about the education pipeline, she has helped students successfully pursue post-secondary education and rewarding careers in all areas of STEM so that they may make a difference in the world. A Teach for America alumna, Christina holds a B.A. in Economics with a minor in Spanish from Pomona College and a M.Ed. in Learning and Teaching from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Helen Yip, Middle School Education Coordinator
As Middle School Education Coordinator, Helen works in the Leaders Initiative coordinating and leading middle school students in an intensive, research-focused after-school program. With her deep understanding of the scientific process through her M.S. program combined with her passion in marine science and public education, Helen is dedicated to raising our future leaders in science. Helen holds a B.S. in Biology from University of Alberta and a M.S. in Biology from California State University, Los Angeles.
Deborah Seitz, Donor Relationships Coordinator
As Donor Relationships Coordinator, Deborah develops and grows relationships with Ocean Discovery donors and partners to ensure that Ocean Discovery continues to offer high-quality science education. Her background consists of hands-on ocean science education, communication coordination, organizational nonprofit experience, and sales account management. Deborah is a San Diego local and holds a Bachelor of Science in Communication from San Diego State University.
Jerry Webber, Donor Relationships Coordinator
As Donor Relationships Coordinator, Jerry builds new, and strengthens existing, relationships with Ocean Discovery donors and partners to ensure that Ocean Discovery continues to offer high-quality science education. Jerry ‘s background includes five years of nonprofit, community development and fundraising experience. He is a San Diego native with a passion for the ocean. Jerry is a writer in his off time and holds a B.A. in Journalism from San Diego State University.
Janani Sivasankaran, Student Programs Coordinator
As Student Programs Coordinator, Janani works in the Student Initiative bringing ocean science lessons to elementary students. She works with the Discovery Fellows to deliver hands-on engaging science lessons to all students involved in the Initiative. Janani holds a B.S. in Evolution, Behavior and Ecology from UC San Diego, a Multiple Subject teaching credential and a M.A. in Secondary Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in Science from San Diego State University.
Catherine Bevens, Student Initiative Specialist
As Student Initiative Specialist, Catherine supports the student programs that bring hands-on science to over 6,000 elementary school students in City Heights every year. She works closely with teachers and the Discovery Fellows to facilitate student and staff growth, and program development and enhancement. Catherine is an Ocean Discovery AmeriCorps alumna and holds a B.A. in Sociology and French from Chapman University.
Christina Vassos, Volunteer Coordinator
As Volunteer Coordinator, Christina helps to ensure the Ocean Discovery staff, volunteers, and Board of Directors are provided with the support they need to successfully execute their roles and continue to deliver extraordinary results. She also provides financial administrative support. Christina holds a B.S. in Cognitive Science with an emphasis in Neuroscience from UC San Diego.
Carey Tinsley, Administrative Assistant
As Administrative Assistant, Carey provides support to all Ocean Discovery Institute programs and staff, ensuring that the organization has all of the resources necessary to carry out its mission of transforming young lives through science. Carey brings a passion for detailed work that ensures quality outcomes in every area and 13 years of volunteering with youth in San Diego Unified School District athletics.
Christian Macedo, Facilities Technician
As Facilities Technician, Christian provides support to all Ocean Discovery Institute facility and staff tech and facilities problems, ensuring that the organization has all of the tools needed to carry out its mission of transforming young lives through science. Christian Possesses a thorough knowledge of computer hardware and software applications. Has vast knowledge in Computer Information Systems and 14 years of experience working as an IT Support Technician.
AmeriCorps Discovery Fellows
From Left: Sebastian Revels, Daisy Mercado, Lupita Sandoval, Heather Buckley, Rachel Whelan, and Isabel Herrera
Our team of fellows volunteer for a two-year service commitment to deliver rigorous science education to urban and underserved young people. They bring a passion for making a difference and dedication to building their own skills in the process. These volunteers support Ocean Discovery Institute through a partnership with Notre Dame Mission Volunteers.
Interested in joining our amazing team? Visit our Careers page to see what opportunities are available.