Meet Our 2016 Summit Speakers

Mark J. Spalding

President, The Ocean Foundation

Mark J. Spalding has been the President of The Ocean Foundation since its founding 13 years ago. He  drove the design and establishment of the Alaska Oceans Program, the Shipping Safety Partnership, the Loreto Bay Foundation and the St. Kitts Foundation. Mark is the advisor to the Rockefeller Ocean Strategy (an unprecedented ocean-centric investment fund), and designed the first-ever blue carbon offset program, SeaGrass Grow. He is a member of the Pool of Experts for the UN World Ocean Assessment, and a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Blue Economy, at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. He holds a B.A. in history with Honors from Claremont McKenna College, a J.D. from Loyola Law School, and a Master in Pacific International Affairs (MPIA) from IR/PS.

Boyan Slat

Boyan Slat is a Dutch entrepreneur and inventor. He is the founder & CEO of The Ocean Cleanup, where he is responsible for overall strategy and cleanup technology development. Boyan devised an ocean-current driven system through which plastic would concentrate itself, reducing the theoretical cleanup time from millennia to mere years. Boyan has been recognized as one of the 20 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs Worldwide (Intel EYE50), and was crowned 2014 Champion of the Earth. In 2015, HM King Harald of Norway awarded Boyan the maritime industry’s Young Entrepreneur Award, and Foreign Policy magazine included Boyan in their 2015 list of Global Thinkers.

Nicholas Mallos

Director, The Ocean Conservancy

Nicholas Mallos is Director of the Trash Free Seas® Program at Ocean Conservancy. Nick oversees Ocean Conservancy’s work on marine debris, including its global initiative on ocean plastics, annual International Coastal Cleanup, and the Trash Free Seas Alliance®, a co-operative group of businesses, leading environmental organizations and scientists focused on developing solutions to address ocean trash. Trained as a marine biologist, Nick has extensive field experience research ocean plastics – his debris-related assignments have taken him from the North Pacific Gyre to the remote shores of Alaska and the tsunami-stricken coasts of Japan. 

Karen Sack

(fmr.) Senior Director, The Pew Charitable Trusts

Karen has over 20 years of experience working for international non-governmental organizations on environmental issues around the world. She was formerly the Senior Director for International Oceans at The Pew Charitable Trusts where she helped initiate the Global Ocean Commission. With training in international law and policy, she has led and participated in NGO and government delegations to the International Whaling Commission, Antarctic Treaty meetings, and UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Biological Diversity and Climate Change. 

Eric DesRoberts

Manager, The Ocean Conservancy

Eric DesRoberts is the Manager of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Program. Eric works closely with Trash Free Seas Alliance to create a forum for pragmatic, real world collaboration focused on the measurable reduction of the amount of trash entering the ocean. Prior to joining the Ocean Conservancy, Eric worked with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition at GreenBlue. There, he was primarily responsible for conducting technical research on packaging materials and other sustainable packaging issues to support the growing SPC project portfolio. 

Nelson Switzer

Cheif Sustainability Officer, Nestle Waters

As the Chief Sustainability Officer of Nestle Waters North America, Nelson’s professional goal is to help organizations embed the principles of sustainable development into business decision-making so they may create natural, social and economic capital that benefits all.  His unique experience as a strategic advisor – including work with global and local, public and private sector companies, governments, academia, associations and advocacy groups – has shaped his ability to solve problems collaboratively.

Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

(fmr.) Executive Director, waitt Institute

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a Ph.D. marine biologist, conservation strategist, and policy wonk, currently working as an independent consultant. Prior, she was Executive Director of the Waitt Institute where she co-founded and led the Blue Halo Initiative, partnering with the Caribbean governments and communities of Barbuda, Montserrat and Curaçao to overhaul ocean management for sustainability.

Simeon Pieterkosky

Cofounder, CVO & Co-CEO, The Aquaai Team

Simeon Pieterkosky, Cofounder, CVO & Co-CEO, Simeon has been inventing gadgets since childhood. He has a multi-faceted background in sociobiology, zoology, etho-robotics, animatronics and robotics. Considered a pioneer in understanding human/robot relationship, Simeon has lectured university students on robotics, discussed the future of robotics as guest speaker of Innovation Collective and was on the Ethics of Robotics panel at the Think Big Robotics AI Festival. Today, Simeon is obsessed with green tech, water issues, and marine robotics.

Douglas Vargas

Cofounder, & Lead Programmer, The Aquaai Team

Douglas Vargas, Cofounder & Lead Programmer, is well-rounded web developer with strong abilities in linux, cloud administration and agile dev methods. He is well versed in artificial intelligence algorithms and machine learning, particularly neural networks, genetic algorithms, swarm intelligence, neurobiology and whole brain emulation. He’s been a Senior Application Developer at eTouch at Google and a CTO at Samegrain, where he managed the fusion of cutting-edge web development with intelligent analysis of various datasets. 

Liane Thompson

Cofounder & Co-CEO, The Aquaai Team

Liane Thompson, Cofounder & Co-CEO, has 20 years experience spearheading radical change in the media industry from both a technical and content perspective. The 3-time Prime Time Emmy nominee & former New York Times executive has reported globally a la solo as well as managed large, multiple teams delivering branded and innovative products with mass audience appeal. As an entrepreneur, Liane set up new media businesses in the volatile markets of Hungary and Israel where she served as Chief Editor & Chief Content Officer respectively.

Holly R. Koehler

Vice President, International Seafood Sustainability Foundation

Holly R. Koehler, vice president of policy and outreach for the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), spearheads the organization’s global advocacy activities to regional fisheries management organizations, governments, NGOs, vessel interests and retailers, bringing to bear the voice of approximately 75% of the world’s global tuna producers to affect positive change. Under Koehler’s leadership, ISSF has implemented an integrated and comprehensive global advocacy approach designed to deliver impactful change to ensure the sustainability of global tuna stocks.

Susan Shaw

Director & Founder, Marine & Environmental Research Institute

Dr. Susan Shaw is the Director/Founder of the Marine & Environmental Research Institute based in Blue Hill, Maine and Adjunct Professor, School of Public Health, University at Albany, NY. She is a globally recognized expert on the health effects of environmental chemical exposure in wildlife and people. Dr. Shaw has received numerous awards and honors, including a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellowship, an Explorers Club Citation of Merit, and the Gulf of Maine Visionary Award from the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment. In 2011, she received the Society of Women Geographers’ Gold Medal Award, the society’s highest award given to only 20 women since 1935, including Amelia Earhart, Margaret Mead, Sylvia Earle, and Jane Goodall.

David Helvarg

Executive Director, Blue Frontier

David Helvarg is Executive Director of Blue Frontier and the author of six books. He is editor of the Ocean and Coastal Conservation Guide, organizer of ‘Blue Vision’ Summits for ocean activists and the Peter Benchley Ocean Awards (co-hosted with Wendy Benchley). An award-winning journalist, he produced more than 40 broadcast documentaries for PBS, The Discovery Channel, and others. His print work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, LA Times, Smithsonian, National Geographic, Popular Science, Sierra, and Parade. 

Rachael Miller

Cofounder & Executive Director, A Clean Ocean

Rachael Miller is the co-founder/Executive Director of Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean. As the Executive Director, Rachael leads the program in vision, program development, putting together a great team, partnerships and working toward achieving Rozalia Project’s mission of protecting the ocean and conserving a thriving marine ecosystem. Her academic background is in marine studies and underwater archaeology which she studied at Brown University.