Meet Our Bookkeeper: Sarah Fernandez

Growing up on the Long Island peninsula, Sarah Fernandez remembers visiting the beach and local maritime museum, where she learned about the fascinating underwater world that has captivated her ever since. These early memories of the ocean peaked her interest in marine biology, though she later discovered her innate knack for numbers.

Sarah is currently a senior at Salve Regina University, working towards her bachelor’s in finance with a concentration in cybersecurity, and is concurrently pursuing her master’s in business administration. In fall 2018, she joined COA as an accounting intern during which time she managed donations and reconciled purchases. She gained invaluable skills using our customer relationship management system, accounts receivables, accounts payable, and was exposed to our balance sheets, cash summary, and financial income statements.

Though her day-to-day work involves excel documents and balance sheets, she has been a steadfast ocean-lover and avid sailor for the past ten years. Before coming to COA, Sarah worked as a sailing instructor at the Waterfront Center in Oyster Bay, New York, where she was able to pass on her love for the ocean and sailing to the next generation of students.

Sarah’s great work ethic and mastery of finance and accounting, as well as her passion for ocean conservation has resulted in a part-time position with COA in 2019. As our bookkeeper Sarah makes sure our nonprofit wheels keep turning, helping to run our financial accounting, donor management and annual appeals accounting. Upon graduating with her MBA in 2020, Sarah plans to take her CPA exam and hopes to enter the forensic accounting field in New England or New York.

Meet Our Communications & Development Manager: Gloria Kostadinova

As a storyteller and science communicator it is my obligation to give our ocean a voice.

For Gloria Kostadinova, storytelling is second nature. As a passionate environmental advocate, she is keen on communicating science stories that captivate, inform and inspire audiences. Gloria comes to Clean Ocean Access with five years of strategic communications and public relations experience. She’s worked in communications departments across multiple sectors including nonprofit, federal, private, and higher education.

Most recently. Gloria worked as a graduate communications fellow for the University of Rhode Island’s College of the Environment and Life Sciences, where she honed her science communications skills under the mentorship of skilled professionals at the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting.

Previously, Gloria worked in Washington, DC at two strategic communications firms and served as a communications intern at the White House Council on Environmental Quality during the Obama Administration.

A proud Rhode Islander, Gloria knew she wanted to use her experience and expertise to give back to her community and advance environmental stewardship in the Ocean State.  As the communications and development manager at Clean Ocean Access she hopes to captivate audiences through stories of the seas, inform readers about the many challenges of ocean pollution, and inspire communities to act and stand up for a healthy ocean for generations to come.

Gloria also sits on the board of directors of ecoRI News, a local environmental news group dedicated to reporting on environmental and social justice issues in southern New England. She holds a master’s in environmental science and management from the University of Rhode Island and a bachelor’s in English from Boston College.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Bulgaria and moved to the United States when I was three years old. I’ve lived in many places including Ohio, New York, Indiana, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Washington, DC, and Spain. The Ocean State is where I call home.

What is your first memory of the ocean?

When I was in elementary school I lived on Long Island. My family and I used to picnic on Long Beach. It was my favorite place to visit and walk along the seemingly endless coastline. My memories of the ocean are tied with memories of being surrounded by family and friends.

What is your favorite ocean activity?

I really enjoy walking on the beach. I love the serenity of listening to the waves crashing, the feeling of sand beneath my feet, the ebb and flow of the tides. Walking along the shoreline gives me a time to think, a time to reflect and a time when I can be just one of the billions of grains of sand on the beach.

What motivates you to work in ocean conservation?

The ocean covers about 71% of the earth’s surface – it sustains life on earth, provides us with food, drives global currents and influences our climate. The ocean is a mysterious and magnificent place yet, like many natural resources, it cannot protest or speak to its needs and grievances. As a storyteller and science communicator it is my obligation to give our ocean a voice.

Meet Our Communications & Marketing Intern: Eileen Dillon

Eileen Dillon is a junior at the University of Rhode Island pursuing her bachelor’s in marine affairs. She has served as COA’s communications and marketing intern since September 2018, helping to advance and communicate COA’s many programs, projects and initiatives to the general public.

Eileen has helped create and draft digital content for COA’s social media platforms and email marketing campaigns, interviewed and photographed volunteers at beach cleanups, and represented COA at public events. After graduation Eileen hopes to attend law school.

Outside of her classes and internship with COA, Eileen is a member of the Kappa Delta sorority at URI. She is a native of Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, but spent many summers in Newport on Aquidneck Island. Eileen’s first memory of the ocean is of her father teaching her how to surf and falling off the surf board. Her surfing skills have since improved, though she prefers to relax at the beach and walk the Cliff Walk.

“I was motivated to intern with COA because I had previously known about all the work the group does on Aquidneck Island, and how people can directly see the impact of their efforts,” says Eileen. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a part of an organization that makes a difference in the community.

Meet Our Marine Debris Specialist: Max Kraimer

I hope to make a difference by using my science background to collect meaningful data that’s accessible to the local community and inspires change.

When he’s not analyzing microplastics and crunching data, Max Kraimer nurtures a love of the deep sea. His fearless curiosity and desire to explore the unknown leads him to the depths of the ocean floor, uncovering shipwrecks and underwater species.  

Max holds a Bachelor of Science in marine biology, with a minor on sustainability studies from Roger Williams University. Initially, his undergraduate studies focused on oyster farming and aquaculture. He soon learned about the pervasive problem of plastic pollution and marine debris in our coastal waters, a challenge that affects all trophic levels in the marine environment, from oysters to large mammals. 

His research focus at Roger Williams shifted to working with plastic pollution and identifying coastal locations along Narragansett Bay with the most marine debris accumulation. Today, Max is in the unique position to realize his undergraduate work and use his research to solve real-world problems.

Since joining the team in 2017 Max has worked to expand marina trash skimmer technology in Southeast New England by leveraging relationships with residents and local, state and federal officials.  He is responsible for maintaining and operating four marina trash skimmers located on Aquidneck Island, with prospects to expand the technology into other cities throughout New England.

“I hope to make a difference by using my science background to collect meaningful data that’s accessible to the local community and inspires change here and now,” says Max, who is also a PADI rescue diver certified in scientific diving by the American Academy of Underwater Sciences.

Before coming on board as a marine debris specialist, Max gained experience with COA as an environmental science intern for three consecutive semesters, performing inspections of the marina trash skimmers, leading the weekly AFTER5 cleanups and organizing events.

“The biggest threat to our oceans is the thought that someone else will save them,” says Max, referring to one of his favorite quotes by Marcus Eriksen of the 5 Gyres Institute. “That’s why I think it’s really important for us, as the next generation, to take action and ensure that our coastal waters are healthy so that we can enjoy ocean activities for years to come.”

Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in West Hartford, a suburb smack in the middle of Connecticut. With the ocean roughly 50 miles away, I wasn’t readily at the beach and spent most of my weeknights and weekends playing sports with my friends.

What is your first memory of the ocean?

 During my childhood, I have an ingrained memory of not necessarily building sand castles but overall just playing in the sand.  Digging, throwing it at my sister and the occasional full body burial. The more recent memories I have are the relaxing times on simply laying on the beach catching some rays and letting the oceans energy absorb my unwanted stress.  

What is your favorite ocean activity?

Favorite ocean activity would have to be SCUBA diving. I have over 120 logged dives with a max depth of 103 ft.  I love swimming among the fish and observing underwater boat wrecks when the water is clear. Living in RI where the visibility rarely extends past 5ft I enjoy crawling on the seafloor observing the abundant life that Narragansett Bay has to offer.

What motivates you to work in ocean conservation?

 Through my studies I struggled to find exactly what topic to study in the vast field of marine biology.  With an ecosystem as diverse as the ocean, it was hard to really pick just one species to focus on. When I started to learn more about plastic pollution and marine debris it was easy to jump into the study because I realized that this a newly developed, understudied, topic that affects all trophic levels in our oceans.  I saw an opportunity in the ocean conservation field and I ran with it. While growing in this rapidly moving field I get more imbedded within ocean conservancy as a whole, and use it as a way to make personal sustainable changes on land.


COA Ocean Science Speaker Series

This month Clean Ocean Access is launching a monthly Ocean Science Speaker Series featuring scientists and researchers across disciplines, ranging from marine biology and engineering  to marine affairs and pharmaceutical sciences.

COA board president, Monica DeAngelis, kicks-off the first presentation on Tuesday, November 13th at the Newport Public Library from 6:00 to 7:00PM. Monica is a marine mammal biologist at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. She holds a Bachelors of Science in biology from University of New Hampshire and a Masters of Science in biology from San Diego State University.

Marine animals use sound to navigate, communicate, find food, locate mates, and avoid predators. Noise is a recognized form of pollution and we’ve begun to recognize the threat it poses to marine life. Monica’s presentation will focus on the impacts of ocean noise on marine life, the sources of human-generated ocean noise, and what is being done and what you can do to address anthropogenic (man-made) ocean noise.

All presentations will be held at the Newport Public Library from 6:00 to 7:00PM.

2019 speaker dates coming soon!