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.
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 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.
Carla Camacho, 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.
Joel Barkan, Research & 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.
Rochelle Mothokakobo, Program Manager
As Student Initiative Manager, Rochelle leads the team of instructors who reach 3,750 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.
Jo Vance, Program Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
As Program Manager, Jo supports both community programs that engage young people and their families in daily conservation science activities and intensive middle school to college and career programs designed to foster leadership in the STEM fields. Jo holds a B.S. in Environmental Management from the University of Redlands and an M.A. in Environmental Science with an emphasis in experiential and special education from California State University Fullerton.
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 social-emotional learning with leading research about the education pipeline, she has helped students successfully pursue higher education and rewarding careers 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.
Rachel Whelan, Program Coordinator email@example.com
As Program Coordinator, Rachel supports the student programs that bring hands-on ocean science to over 3,750 elementary and middle school students in City Heights each year. She works closely with the AmeriCorps Discovery Fellows and a cohort of volunteers to facilitate student and instructor engagement, program development, and enhancement. A Notre Dame AmeriCorps alumna, Rachel holds a B.A. in Marine Science from the University of San Diego.
Nalleli Arriaga, Development Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
As the Development Coordinator, Nalleli is responsible for coordinating our premier annual fundraising event, the Bubble Up! Gala. She also works closely with the development team on activities that advance our fundraising abilities, including grant research and gift processing. Nalleli is an Ocean Leader alumni and began her involvement with Ocean Discovery in 2004 as a middle school student. Nalleli grew up in City Heights and she is passionate and committed to making a difference in her community. Nalleli holds a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus in Communications, Spanish, and Hospitality and Tourism Management from San Diego State University.
Christian Macedo, Facilities Operations Coordinator
As Facilities Operations Coordinator, Christian provides support for all Ocean Discovery Institute technology 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 brings 14 years of experience working as an IT Support Technician.
Lupita Sandoval, Volunteer Coordinator email@example.com
As Volunteer Coordinator, Lupita helps ensure the Ocean Discovery staff, volunteers, and Board of Directors are supported in their efforts to transform young lives through science. She works to increase our numbers of volunteers, deepens volunteer connection to the mission, and celebrates their impact. Lupita holds an A.S. degree in Math, Natural and Computer Science from Grossmont College and a B.S. degree in Environmental Science from San Diego State University. Lupita is also a City Heights native and a Spanish speaker.
Danielle Geving, AmeriCorps Discovery Fellow firstname.lastname@example.org
Danielle is a second year Notre Dame AmeriCorps Discovery Fellow teacher and holds a B.S. in Biological Sciences from California Polytechnic State University. She is passionate about marine biology and science education.
Pilar Soria, AmeriCorps Discovery Fellow email@example.com
Pilar is an Ocean Leader Alumni. She first joined Ocean Discovery through the Bahia program in high school. She comes from a family of Ocean Leaders, where her older brother, sister and younger brother all went through the same Ocean Leader experience as she did. Now she is excited to be back working as a Notre Dame Americorps Fellow where she helps lead those same after school programs that she was a part of as a student, all while attending Community College and pursuing a degree in Psychology.
Ranielle Cunanan, AmeriCorps VISTA Discovery Fellow firstname.lastname@example.org
Being born and raised in San Diego, Ranielle was able to spend a lot of time at the beach where she developed a love for the ocean. This motivated her to go to the University of California, Santa Barbara for her undergrad where she pursued a degree in environmental studies. She interned for LiMPETS where she would help take underserved kids to the rocky intertidal and teach them about monitoring and data collection. She decided to go back home to San Diego after graduating and was excited to find out about Ocean Discovery Institute and soon got involved as a volunteer. Now, as an AmeriCorps Fellow she is excited to help as much as she can and grow with the organization.
Maria Neidhardt, AmeriCorps VISTA Discovery Fellow email@example.com
Maria is a 2014 graduate of Cal State Monterey, with a B.S. in Environmental Science. Within the last eight years: She has conducted research in Texas, studied abroad in Germany, assisted with marine science education programs in Maryland, led hikes at an outdoor science camp in Sonoma County, and participated in living history programs at Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento. She is especially passionate about education, and its ability to both inspire and empower future leaders.
Lesley Reyes Ponce, AmeriCorps VISTA Discovery Fellow firstname.lastname@example.org
Lesley is a first generation college student attending San Diego State University. Her major is Single Subject Teaching for Spanish with a minor in Latin American Studies. Lesley is excited to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA and continue making a positive impact in the community she grew up in; City Heights. In her spare time, she enjoys going on hikes, finding new places to eat and being open minded to new experiences.
Jessica Antunez, AmeriCorps Discovery Fellow email@example.com
Jessica is a first year Notre Dame AmeriCorps Discovery Fellow. Jessica goes to Grossmont Community college and is pursuing to become a detective. Jessica is Bilingual; she speaks both Spanish and English.
Delia Barajas, AmeriCorps Discovery Fellow firstname.lastname@example.org
Delia is an Ocean Leader Alumni. She joined Ocean Discovery through the Bahia program in high school. Delia continued to pursue her love for science and partook in the Bycatch Imaging Research Fellowship with Ocean Discovery. She is now a first-year Notre Dame AmeriCorps Discovery Fellow and is thrilled to work with students and learn from her peers in the process. Delia is also a Spanish speaker.
Denise Becerra, AmeriCorps Discovery Fellow email@example.com
Denise is a first year Notre Dame AmeriCorps Discovery Fellow. Denise is thrilled to be working in the community that she grew up in. Denise is bilingual; she speaks both English and Spanish.
Gabriel Lopez, AmeriCorps Discovery Fellow firstname.lastname@example.org
Gabriel graduated from the University of California – San Diego in 2019 with a B.S. in Marine Biology. He is passionate about empowering the community and young scholars. He is also fluent in English and Spanish.
Jose Tamayo, AmeriCorps Discovery Fellow email@example.com
Jose is a first year Notre Dame AmeriCorps Discovery Fellow . He has been an Ocean leader since the sixth grade, and is passionate about marine life and education.
Tsega Weldemariam, AmeriCorps Discovery Fellow firstname.lastname@example.org
Tsega is an Ocean Leader Alumni. Her brother introduced her to the Ocean Leader program when he went through the Bahia Program. She joined Ocean Discovery through the Student Initiative and Bahia Program in High school. Now she is excited to be back working as a Notre Dame Americorps Fellow helping students in the class and after school in the programs that she was a part of as a student. Tsega is also attending Community College and pursuing a degree in Architecture.