We are a data-driven and solutions-focused organization that punches far above its weight. Small by design -- with approximately the equivalent of 3 full-time employees -- we take a strategic "network of networks" approach to our work so we can be as efficient and effective as possible and scale our impact. Special thanks to amazing young leaders worldwide and seasoned professionals who serve on our Advisory Councils!
Kate Sutter, Community Engagement Lead
Kate Sutter is a big ocean fan. Kate has been consulting for The Ocean Project on social media and community engagement since March 2021. In addition, she is a Community Manager for Only One. She has previously worked at The American Museum of Natural History in Exhibitions, Communications, and Conservation. Before joining Only One, she was at The Ocean Agency where she managed projects alongside the team who produced Google Underwater Street View and the Netflix Documentary, Chasing Coral. She is a member of the Explorers Club, an avid scuba dive instructor, she has also been featured on Disney as a ‘shipwreck expert.'
Kate has a B.A. from Fordham University, where she focused on Environmental Studies, Urban Studies, and Bioethics.
Samantha Gibb, Senior Program Manager
Samantha Gibb consults for The Ocean Project by directing the implementation of the organization’s priority programs. She manages the World Ocean Day flagship program, assists in directing the World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council and Rising Blue youth initiative, develops partnerships, and helps coordinate operations to increase efficiency and effectiveness. Samantha joined the team in January 2022, bringing with her 15 years of community organizing experience working to protect the environment, alleviate poverty, and increase voter participation during elections. While living in California in 2011, she worked with public advocacy and environmental organizations to eliminate single-use plastic bags in the city of Los Angeles, effectively removing 3 billion bags from our ocean, communities, and landfills. After this victory, Samantha went on to manage fundraising and political campaigns to pass single-use plastic bans in Maine, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.
Samantha has a B.A. from Lawrence University where she focused on Psychology and International Relations and spent five months studying abroad in India conducting an Independent Study on urban poverty. In 2019, feeling a pull to do more direct work to protect the ocean and its species, she spent time volunteering with a sea turtle conservation program in Indonesia. She now lives in Philadelphia and, when not working to protect our global ocean, she works locally with The Food Trust directing their Farm to School program to increase access to nutritious food in schools across Pennsylvania.
Laura Johnson, Youth Program Supervisor
Laura Johnson (she/they) is a 25 year old environmental advocate & ocean enthusiast based in Long Beach, California. She served for 5 years as the Youth Representative on the Board of Directors at Big Blue & You, an organization focused on combining "artivism" with science communication, to empower the youth of marginalized communities in South Florida to take action for the ocean and climate. She earned an Associate's Degree from Florida Atlantic University, and two certificates in Environmental Education & Climate Science Communication from Cornell University. Their experience also includes working as a data analyst for both FAU's Harbor Branch Dolphin Lab & 5Gyres, as an undergraduate intern with University of Miami's RSMAS Shark Tagging team, as a community canvasser for Greenpeace, and as a marine science educator at the Aquarium of the Pacific.
Laura was a student delegate in the inaugural class of Sea Youth Rise Up in 2016, returned to the program as a student mentor in 2018, and will assist in coordinating the upcoming program in 2023. She has been working directly with The Ocean Project's youth initiative since 2020. Their work at the organization has included co-coordinating Youth-A-Thon in 2020 and 2021, managing the World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council, and leading The Ocean Project's multi-week virtual youth Advocacy Training series. Laura is currently pursuing their Bachelor's in marine biology & sustainable aquaculture, with a focus on environmental justice & social change, at Unity College.
Laura is passionate about mental health as it relates to being an environmental advocate, and is always willing to be a shoulder to lean on for young people struggling with climate anxiety. They believe that connecting with nature is an excellent way to fight these feelings; She has logged over 100 dives and has swam with over a dozen species of sharks, and has visited 30+ states, 18 national parks, countless state parks, and 13 countries. In their free time, Laura loves hiking, photography, making art in a variety of mediums, and tending to her 65+ houseplants, 2 cats, and 8 snakes.
Bill Mott, Executive Director
For 35 years, Bill Mott has focused on building networks and coalitions to promote more collaborative and strategic ways to bring about a better future. Bill has directed The Ocean Project since 1997, growing it from founding five partner North American organizations into 2,000+ partner organizations in 150 countries. Starting in 2002, Bill helped launch and lead global efforts to coordinate and collaboratively grow the reach and impact of World Ocean Day as a rallying point for the ocean every 8 June, with continued year-round engagement and action.
Bill began his professional career at the Center for Environmental Education (now Ocean Conservancy) in 1988, where he grew support for marine protected area designations nationally and internationally, including Monterey Bay, Flower Garden Bank, Stellwagen Bank, Olympic Peninsula, and in the Dominican Republic; he also coordinated the Coral Reef Coalition, whose efforts led to the establishment of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in 1990. Following graduate school, Bill served as director of the recently-created Marine Fish Conservation Network, grew it into a diverse coalition with more than 100 conservation, scientific, and fishing organizations, and led an innovative national media and grassroots lobbying campaign that resulted in the first comprehensive conservation overhaul of the United States' principal fisheries law, through the 1996 reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Bill then worked for seven years with SeaWeb, where he advocated for sustainable aquaculture and supported the early development of the sustainable seafood movement. During those seven years, he also focused half-time on developing The Ocean Project, and full-time since 2005.
Bill received an M.E.S. from the Yale University School of the Environment in 1993 and a B.S. in Natural Resources with a minor in International Agriculture from Cornell University in 1987. Bill lives in Providence, Rhode Island with his wife, Stephanie, two children, Sophia and Nicholas, faithful hound, Joey, a variety of geckos, and hundreds of composting worms. He is involved with several community and local education and sustainability efforts.
Baylee Ritter, Strategic Advisor, Youth Initiative
Baylee Ritter is a conservation communicator and environmental educator who believes in the power of community engagement and youth empowerment. She served as a key part of The Ocean Project team for four years and now serves as an advisor on our youth initiative. Baylee is also a former member of the World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council and spoke on the Council's behalf on the harm of single-use plastics at a 2017 United Nations General Assembly special session on the ocean. In addition, Baylee was a delegate on the first iteration of Sea Youth Rise Up and has helped mentor each delegation class since 2016. Baylee is a DePaul graduate and received her B.A. in Public Relations & Advertising and Environmental Communication. Although she lives in a farming community in Illinois, she loves (and always encourages others) to find their connection to the ocean!
Nicola Tsiolis is a 21-year-old Cypriot-Australian with a deep passion for our ocean. A recent graduate of a Bachelor of Marine Science at Deakin University in Australia, she is passionate about our beautiful ocean and our blue planet, sustainability and the importance of investing in a circular economy. She is committed through her daily practices and working with different organizations and people from all walks of life, to encourage self-connection to nature, as well as educating, advocating and taking action on the very real universal issues we all, including our blue planet, faces.
From an early age, Nicola has aspired to become a marine biologist and work within the ocean: discovering, protecting and conserving the abundant, extraordinary life that lives within the ocean’s depths. After growing up in the incredible Wurundjeri bushland, and being exposed to Australia's beautiful beaches and coast, her holistic passion and love for the ocean runs through her veins. Her passion and ambition for environmental advocacy, conservation and connection is the driving force behind her active involvement in all things related to the ocean. Nicola began her community related work while in high school. In 2020-2021, she was selected to become a member of the World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council where she sought every opportunity to learn and grow deeper with a team of like-minded young people. She and a fellow Council member, Maha Fier, created a podcast 'The Greenstyle Podcast' which is all about saying farewell to fast fashion and uplifting the voices of brands in the ethical fashion sector. She currently working alongside a number of environmental organizations including the Marine Stewardship Council, Plastic Oceans Australasia and The Ocean Project. Nicola's innate love and passion for the ocean and earth, is at the core to all her life ambitions.
Nicola is a passionate photographer, SCUBA diver and enjoys reading, dreaming about sailing the ocean, pottery, art, walking/dancing barefoot in nature, cooking for her friends and, most importantly, being in the ocean. LinkedIn profile here.
Victoria Kurakata is in her penultimate year of high school in Singapore, originally from Seattle, Washington. She is inspired by the power of collective action and youth advocacy in protecting our oceans, and she is incredibly excited to work with The Ocean Project to continue building the path towards a healthy planet. In the future, she hopes to study political science and government and pursue a career in environmental policymaking. In her free time, she enjoys debating, solving crossword puzzles, and listening to Taylor Swift.
Katherine Escalante is a sophomore at Eastern Connecticut State University studying Political Science and Philosophy. Katherine is the Yale Conservation Scholar matched with the Ocean Project for 2023 summer. She is passionate about policy, sustainability and climate education and is very excited to contribute to The Ocean Project's mobilization and education efforts. Throughout her life she has fostered a love for the outdoors and in her free time she enjoys, hiking, reading, listening to music and thrifting.
Jihyun Lee is a 24-year-old ocean lover from South Korea. Growing up in Boulder, Colorado during her formative years, Jihyun sprouted her interest and love for animals and nature. The gorgeous and mighty Orca especially captivated the heart of the 5-year-old child. For the past three years, she has been working for ocean conservation and youth advocacy in national and international non-profit organizations while in university and is soon to graduate from Yonsei University in Seoul. She served for over 2 years as a High Seas Youth Ambassador at the High Seas Alliance and 3 years as an intern at the Citizens' Institute for Environmental Studies (CIES), determined to work for a healthier, bluer, biodiverse ocean and planet. Jihyun has been engaging with the public by leading youth webinars, supporting public campaigns and academic research, amplifying youth voices by giving speeches at international conferences, and most of all, by staying connected to fellow ocean lovers. She learns from them every day and aspires to continuously grow as an environmental advocate.
Jihyun enjoys walking, indoor bouldering, listening to music, gastronomy, traveling around the world, meeting new people, talking about life, and is always excited to experience new things and learn! LinkedIn profile here.