Our Team

Board of Directors

Ian Owen, Board Treasurer ~ Email Ian ~ Ian as the 2nd term Treasurer is leading the finance efforts to achieve long term fiscal solvency and to develop an endowment. He has an EEE degree from the Royal Navy (UK) and received a commendation from the UK’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) when he helped set up and run an oiled bird rescue and rehabilitation center in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War. Ian is a program manager at Sonos Inc.
Annie Becker, Board Secretary ~ Email Annie ~ Annie is performing the role of Secretary fostering communication and ensuring proper management and utilization of organizational records, bylaws, policies and procedures, and assisting with fundraising and community events. She has a Bachelor of Science in statistics and finance from Syracuse University. Annie is a realtor on Aquidneck Island and is the President Elect of the Newport County Board of REALTOR©

Tricia Bielinski ~ Email Tricia ~ Tricia, a self-proclaimed beach bum, joined the COA board at the beginning of 2021. She is a C-level HR Director focused on the establishment of a global HR framework and organizational development and strategic initiatives. She has extensive experience in planning and building the people infrastructure to support new projects, talent acquisition and development, leadership development, succession planning, digital enablement and the accompanying change management efforts that go with all of the above. Tricia first came to COA as a volunteer and a member of the composting program, and is excited to contribute to the organizational development of COA.

Ben Tuff ~ Email Ben ~ Ben joined the COA board in January 2021 after supporting the organization for many years. He has spent his whole life in Jamestown enjoying fly fishing, sailing, and swimming. In 2019, he swam around Conanicut Island to raise $55k for COA. This summer, he plans to swim from Block Island to Jamestown to top his previous fundraising goal for COA. He is a lifelong educator and is currently the Director of Admissions at a Junior Boarding School in CT called Rumsey Hall School. His wife Gretchen is an avid Ironman athlete and they have two children: a son, Wyatt, and a daughter, Maisie.


Dave McLaughlin, Executive Director ~ Email Dave ~ Dave is the Co-Founder of Clean Ocean Access in 2006 and as Executive Director since the inception of the non-profit organization in 2014 he is working on innovative methods and strategic initiatives for transforming the organization into a sustainable non-profit such that the mission lasts forever. He earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in applied mathematics from the Florida Institute of Technology with a concentration in atmospheric science and physical oceanography in 1993 and 1996, respectively. Before this journey, Dave had a career in information technology as an enterprise architect at Hasbro Toy Company from 1996 to 2014.
Max Kraimer, Program Manager ~ Email Max ~ Max joined the team as an intern in May of 2017 focusing on Marina Trash Skimmer data collection and research.  Max is responsible to advance the big projects; Southeast New England Marina Trash Skimmers and Shrink Wrap Recycling, and program sponsorship. Max received his Bachelor of Science in marine biology with a minor in sustainability studies from Roger Williams University in 2018.
Eva Touhey, Program Manager ~ Email Eva ~ Eva joined the team as an intern in October of 2015 working on watershed reporting, and advancing education activities in 2016. As the program manager, she is responsible for core programs, big projects, volunteer management, advocacy, education & outreach, reports, and program revenue. Eva received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 2015, and a Master of Arts degree in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island in 2019, with a thesis on the influence of plastic bag bans on pro-environmental behaviors in Rhode Island coastal communities.
Egidia Vergano, Shrink Wrap Recycling Coordinator ~ Email Egidia ~ Egidia joined the team in February 2021 to take on the challenges and opportunities of a circular economy for the Shrink Wrap Recycling & Life Cycle Analysis Project. After spending the early part of her career as an engineer in the medical device industry, Egidia was drawn to the environmental challenges of our planet and committed herself to helping others reduce waste and pursue sustainability. Before coming to COA, she spent many years working in recycling and waste management, first for the Town of Narragansett and then with Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Tufts University.
Casey Tremper, Program Coordinator ~ Email Casey~ Casey joined the team in June 2021 to take over coordination of the three founding volunteer programs of Clean, Ocean, and Access. Growing up on the beach in Matunuck, Casey has always been enthusiastic about protecting the ocean and encouraging others to do the same. She has a Master’s degree in Marine Affairs from URI, water quality monitoring training with the URI Watershed Watch, and three years of experience studying sustainability and restoration with the Environmental Protection Agency in Narragansett, RI. Casey enjoys cleaning up her own neighborhood, playing guitar, and SCUBA diving in her free time.
Merit Shalom ~ Education Outreach Coordinator ~ Email Merit ~ Merit joined the team in March 2021 to advance our new mission statement with a focus on education as our Education Outreach Coordinator. Her most recent role was the Education and Outreach Facilitator at the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation, and she graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 2011 with a Bachelors in Education and Psychology and a license in teaching.
Marissa Caito ~ Customer Engagement Coordinator ~ Email Marissa ~ Marissa joined the team in March 2021 to advance our Circular Economy Initiate for Healthy Soils Healthy Seas Rhode Island. Her most recent role was the General Manager at Empire Tea and Coffee in Newport County, and attended the Massachusetts College of Art and Design with a focus in jewelry design and metalsmithing.
Emily Conklin, Communications Marketing Coordinator ~ Email Emily ~ Emily joined the team to serve as the Communications Marketing Coordinator in January 2021. Emily is a marine biologist and science communicator with an undergraduate degree from Wheaton College MA and a Master’s degree from Northeastern University. In her position, she is responsible for social media, email marketing, and marketing materials production, among others. She is focused on sharing the story of the organization with our community in support of our programs and overall mission.
Allyson Harple, Bookkeeper Accountant ~ Email Allyson ~ Allyson joined the team in January 2021 to take on the all important role of bookkeeping and accounting. She graduated from Susquehanna University in 2004 with a BA in Psychology. Most recently, Allyson worked in this role at Newport Craft Brewery and Sail to Prevail.  She is mom to two kids, age 10 and 8. Allyson was instrumental in helping Clean Ocean Access put in place composting at Hathaway Elementary School in Portsmouth and we are thrilled to have her on the team!
Devon Sarazin, Program Assistant ~ Email Devon ~ Devon joined the team as an intern in January of 2021 focusing on our shrink wrap project, conducting data analysis and communications. Devon returned as Project Assistant in June of 2021, continuing efforts on the shrink wrap project. Devon received her Bachelor of Science in marketing with a minor in psychology from Roger Williams University in 2021. She is returning to RWU in the fall to earn her Masters in Business Administration.
Karen Slattery, Program Assistant ~ Email Karen ~ Karen Slattery is one of the program assistants at Clean Ocean Access for Summer 2021. She graduated from the University of Miami with a BA in Marine Affairs and Ecosystem Science and Policy in 2019. Karen is currently a student at the Roger Williams University School of Law, working towards becoming an Environmental lawyer. She will start her second year of law school in the fall. Karen also plans to earn her Master's in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island through their joint degree program with Roger Williams.

College Interns

Carly Headshot Carly Ferreira ~ Carly Ferreira is currently a sophomore at Roger Williams University where she is double majoring in Chemistry and Secondary Education. Carly is a Bristol resident and volunteers with Save Bristol Harbor as a water tester and with Clean Ocean Access as a public access monitor. She is now working with Clean Ocean Access as an Environmental Education Intern. Carly is excited for the opportunity to work with campers and teach them about their local waters around Aquidneck Island.
Fiona Chlebecek ~ Fiona Chlebecek is a senior at the University of Rhode Island currently double majoring in Marine Affairs and Theatre, with a minor in Writing and Rhetoric. She has joined the team to assist in the myriad of environmental education programs Clean Ocean Access offers to the community of Aquidneck Island. Fiona’s passion for environmental stewardship is leading her to pursue a museum centric career in which the gap between art and science is bridged.
Andrew Sheerin ~ Andrew is currently a graduate student at University of Rhode Island working towards a Masters in Civil and Environmental Engineering, with a focus in water quality. He graduated from The George Washington University with a degree in Systems Engineering and a minor in Sustainability. Andrew is a Newport local, is passionate about sailing and the ocean, and hopes to start a career as an environmental engineer. Andrew is a water quality intern, where he will help collect water samples and perform an analysis to determine areas of concern and potential sustainable solutions to keep our waters clean.
Kelsey Wells ~ Kelsey Wells is a senior at Roger Williams University, where she majors in environmental science and double minors in sustainability and marketing. Her passion for the environment led her to join the Clean Ocean Access team to assist in running weekly beach cleanups. In her future, Kelsey plans to pursue a career in environmental conservation and is thrilled to be working with COA as the first step towards achieving this goal.
Samantha "Sam" Jackson ~ Sam Jackson is a senior at the University of Rhode Island, and is double majoring in Marine Affairs and History. She is originally from New Mexico, and has moved to Rhode Island to work with the ocean. She is passionate about cleaning up the ocean and environmental sustainability.
Michelina Smith ~ Michelina is a rising sophomore at Fordham University Lincoln Center majoring in Theatre with a concentration in Directing. As a Rhode Island native, she grew up sailing and developed an appreciation for the ocean at a young age. Michelina is extremely passionate about the environment and sustainability and is super excited to join the Clean Ocean Access team as a Marketing and Communications Intern.
Kara's Headshot Kara Waldheger ~ Kara is a recent graduate of The George Washington University's class of 2021. She received a degree in International Business and Innovation with a minor in Graphic Design through the Corcoran School of the Arts. Kara is a Rhode Island local from South Kingstown and is currently based out of Washington DC. She is very passionate about protecting the local ecosystem and enjoys assisting with COA's marketing and communication efforts through her skillset in graphic design. 
Lulu Wright ~ Lulu is currently a sophomore at Middlebury College, where she is majoring in Biology and minoring in Mathematics. She joined the team to assist in the Marine Trash Skimmer program in addition to office work. Lulu is very passionate about environmental stewardship and research and hopes to pursue a career in marine biology in the future.
Claire Williams ~ Claire Williams is currently a junior at Connecticut College, majoring in Environmental Studies and a part of the Social Justice and Sustainability Pathway. She is from Portsmouth, Rhode Island and has always loved the ocean and the environment. This passion led her to joining the Clean Ocean Access team as a Marina Trash Skimmer Intern. She helps with debris removal, data collection, and checking in with skimmer partners. She is very excited to be working alongside the Clean Ocean Access team because it provides a great balance between field and office work.   
Mathilde Tash ~ Mathilde Tash is currently a Senior at the University of Rhode Island where she is double majoring in Communications and French. Mathilde is a Newport resident and has been passionate about environmental conservation since a young age. She hopes to pursue a career in Environmental Communications in the future and is excited to join the Clean Ocean Access team as an Environmental Communications Intern.