Our Team

Board of Directors

Ben Tuff, Board President ~ 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. In July 2021, he exceeded his previous fundraising goal for COA by swimming from Block Island to Jamestown, the first person ever to do so. 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.
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.

Julie Frost, Board Director~ Email Julie ~ Julie joined the board in August 2021 after 10 years of volunteer service with various COA programs. A lifelong scientist and avid lover of all things water, her commitment to the organization began as a water sampler for our OCEAN program and recently served on the Strategic Planning Committee. Julie is a Principal Scientist in Process Development for Amgen, recently celebrated 20 years of tenure with the biotechnology company, and has been instrumental in helping to increase COA renewed grants with the Amgen Foundation. Raised in Atlanta, she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in biology/marine biology from Eckerd College and lives in the north end of Newport, where she is an active member of her neighborhood association.

Liz Frank, Board Director~ Email Liz ~ Liz Frank was first introduced to Clean Ocean Access in 2019 as a donor and a fan, supporting Ben Tuff’s 23-mile swim around Conanicut Island. She was deeply involved in the July 2021 event, helping Ben raise over $100,00 for the first-ever swim from Block Island to Jamestown. She quickly discovered a connection to COA on many levels: Jamestown, the Ocean, the environment and helping others. Liz grew up in Philadelphia and spent all her summers in Jamestown, RI. She is a graduate of Trinity College in CT and has an established career in fundraising. In her spare time, Liz is an avid runner and serves on the alumni board for her high school, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy.

Staff

Pam Cook, Executive Director ~ Email Pam ~ (401) 236-2561 x0 Pam joined the Clean Ocean Access team in January 2022 as the Executive Director. She will lead the team in this exciting new phase of growth, opportunity, and strategic success. Pam graduated from Regis College in 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications. Her extensive knowledge and expertise in philanthropy, leadership, marketing, and communications will help COA advance its strong foundation and build upon the mission of working for a clean, healthy ocean that is accessible to all. Aquidneck Island has always been a special place for Pam, her husband, and four children (and their dog, Pumpkin!), from taking advantage of all the island has to offer to celebrating milestones, including her wedding. She looks forward to working with and building relationships with all of our constituents in this amazing community.

Eva Touhey, Program Manager ~ Email Eva ~ (401) 236-2561 x1

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.

Casey Tremper, Program Coordinator ~ Email Casey~ (401) 236-2561 x2

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.

Max Kraimer, Program Manager ~ Email Max ~ (401) 236-2561 x5

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.

Egidia Vergano, Project Leader ~ Email Egidia ~ (401) 236-2561 x6

Egidia joined the team part-time in February 2021 to take on the challenges and opportunities of the Shrink Wrap Recycling & Life Cycle Analysis Project. In August 2021, she joined the team full-time and expanded her role to help advance both of COA’s circular economy programs, Shrink Wrap Recycling and Healthy Soils Healthy Seas Rhode Island. 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.

Merit Shalom ~ Education Outreach Coordinator ~ Email Merit ~(401) 236-2561 x3

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.

Athena Vieira ~ CRM Specialist ~ Email Athena ~(401) 236-2561 x8

Athena joined our team in 2018 as our education intern, and now serves as our Customer Relations Management (CRM) Specialist. Athena is currently an undergraduate at the University of Rhode Island majoring in marine affairs, geological oceanography, and political science. She is looking forward to engaging with the community to further COA’s initiative towards a healthy ocean that is accessible to all.

College Interns

Ewan Noble ~ Ewan Noble is this summer's Business Development and Events Planning intern. He just completed his junior year as a business major at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. Ewan has lived in Newport, Rhode Island for most of his life and is excited  to get hands-on experience with a nonprofit organization that makes a difference.
Dana Russell ~ Dana grew up in Providence, Rhode Island and just finished her junior year at Hamilton College where she is studying biology and environmental studies. As a sustainability intern for COA, she is excited to help increase adoption of composting in the local community and to learn more about how composting and sustainable waste management can help improve ecological health.