Meet the

Billion Oyster People


Executive Director
As written by: Maddy
How do you like your oysters?
“Straight out of the water, as they are”

Having grown up on an oyster farm on Fishers Island, compassion for the environment is second nature to Pete. For most New Yorkers, early morning Harbor boat rides would be the ultimate work perk, but Pete’s favorite thing about BOP is watching students become experts in their field. This makes good sense considering he got his start at the New York Harbor School, BOP’s flagship school, teaching the Aquaculture Career Technical Education Program.

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Education Outreach Coordinator
Written by: Juan Pareja
How do you like your oysters?
“With a pearl inside!”

Agata is a New York City transplant from Long Island. After an internship in Sri Lanka, where she worked with a water resource management NGO in the national rainforest, Agata chose to study Sustainable Development and Natural Resource Management as her major at the CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies. Agata began her work at Billion Oyster Project as a summer fellow. Now she works with the education team as the Education Outreach Coordinator. In her non-oyster hours, Agata has a pottery studio with her mother where she teaches ceramics classes and sells her pots.

Contact Agata for information about Billion Oyster Project educational adventures on Governors Island or to install an Oyster Research Station for your school or community.
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Director of Education
Written By: Robina

As a founding teacher of New York Harbor School, Ann brings her knowledge of field science and love of teaching to the Billion Oyster Project. When she's not in the classroom or at the water's edge educating others, you will find her enjoying the outdoors and spending time with her son, Theo. Similar to her spirit animal, the wolf, Ann is a pathfinder currently working to expand harbor literacy through the development of new Harbor Schools focused on the marine environment and careers.
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Curriculum and Teaching Specialist
A high school science teacher by trade, Annie is inspired by the work of BOP teachers throughout the city, who bring their students to New York Harbor, and bring the harbor into their classrooms.

Contact Annie about teaching, curriculum, professional development, and that thing that makes you or your students so curious about New York Harbor. Annie’s mission is to support teachers, teaching, and inquiry
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Community Stewardship & Engagement Manager
Written By: Rob
How do you like your oysters?
“In New York Harbor!"

Although raised in Jamaica, Queens, and land-locked by JFK airport, Blyss always had a passion for the ocean. Her childhood dream of being a veterinarian, combined with her passion for the marine environment and animals brought her to Boston University, where she studied Marine Biology, then Queensland, for her Master's in Marine Protected Area Management. Now she’s back from her ocean adventures, and excited to help New Yorkers connect with their waterfront!

Contact Blyss for outreach and community engagement opportunities, volunteering and community partnerships.
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Professional Welder and NYHS Marine Systems Technology Instructor
Written by: JonPaul
How do you like your oysters?
Clarke like his oysters raw with a bit of mezcal.

Clarke is a kendo black belt, avid traveler, welder, and multi-media artist. Working with Harbor School, Clarke runs the welding shop and does everything from inspiring students to create eco-friendly reefs to creating art projects with metal.

Contact Clarke to learn more about welding at the Harbor School or for stories about ironwork at the South Street Seaport
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Restoration Manager
Written By: Katie
How do you like your oysters?

Danielle comes to New York Harbor from the local waters of South Shore Long Island and the Bronx River. Her passion for NY Harbor and her fellow New Yorkers runs deep, as does her respect for all living creatures — shucking oysters may be this vegan’s least favorite work-related activity. When Danielle is not working to get oysters in the water, you can find her exploring the local environment and soaking up NYC’s diverse culture.

Contact Danielle for information about the Living Breakwater project in Staten Island and other developing State-funded projects
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Digital Learning Specialist
Written by: Mari-len
How do you like your oysters?
"Raw with lemon and weirdly likes to shoot the mignonette instead of putting it on the oysters"

Heather grew up in Connecticut and moved to New York for college to pursue acting until she realized that she didn’t like acting- she’s just loud. Heather loves museums, historical buildings, and exploring waterfront places. With her love of water, Heather brings her wonderful spirit and energy to BOP. For her, the best things about working at BOP are getting out on the water and working with all the smart and interesting people in the BOP community!

Contact Heather about the Billion Oyster Project Digital Platform , open source software development and open data, and NYC history!
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Communications Manager
Written by: Laurie Bratone
How do you like your oysters?
"Alive and hanging out with seahorses near the reef"

Yes, there are seahorses in New York Harbor! One of the things Jennifer loves best about NYC are the green and blue environments integrated into the urban landscape—from Central Park and the High Line to the city’s largest public space, the harbor. Jennifer is working to tell the remarkable story of how the mighty oyster can transform New York Harbor into a space that inspires New Yorkers and invites life for thousands of species. She is also an artist and creator of the NYC-themed picture book Arnold’s Green Adventure.

Contact Jennifer with press inquiries and ideas for telling the Billion Oyster Project story.
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Fabrication Technician
Written by Ryan Morrison
How do you like your oysters?
“In the reef!"

Johnny is a Harbor School graduate, and his passion for helping natural and human ecosystems led him back to Billion Oyster Project. Our oyster reef restoration wouldn’t be possible without Johnny, as he leads volunteers in helping to construct oyster reef structures that end up in the water across NY Harbor. In his free time, Johnny enjoys fixing and riding bikes. He is a native New Yorker and grew up in Brownsville, NY.
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Mechanical Engineer
Written By: Clarke
How do you like your oysters?
“Raw with a little lemon juice”

Meet JonPaul Turner, co-teacher with the Ocean Engineering program at NY Harbor School & BOP. JonPaul has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Clemson. Having a father in the Navy, he hails from many different places. When he isn’t imparting his knowledge to students at Harbor School, he can be found behind the wheel of race cars, virtual and real.
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Hatchery & Field Technician
Written By: Zoë
How do you like your oysters?
“Raw & with a bit of lemon”

One of 8 kids, Juan dreamed of a life as an architect or a fireman or perhaps an oyster master… Juan moved through Brooklyn throughout his childhood. From Harbor School to SUNY Maritime, Juan has now found his home on GI 'putting oysters out there’. What does he do for fun? Not much, just don't ask him to repeat himself. Fun fact: His last name “Pareja" means “couple”
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Director of Restoration
Written By: Danielle
How do you like your oysters?

Katie, who was born in upstate New York and grew up in Rutland, VT, found her true passion here in NYC — restoring oysters in NY Harbor. She is incredibly determined to get oysters in the water but she doesn’t stop there, she also strategically thinks about how to maximize BOP’s collaborative efforts to realize our long-term goals for restoring oysters to New York waters. Katie prefers working outdoors and when she is not working enjoys spending time with her two teenage kids.

Contact Katie for more information about BOP oyster research and restoration projects throughout NY Harbor.
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Director of Development
Written by: Jennifer Ballesteros
How do you like your oysters?
"Icy cold with a shot of Russian sea water"

Laurie grew up on the Jersey shore, where her love for the water and respect for animal and plant life took root. After graduating from Syracuse University, she lived in the Big Apple for 10 years, getting her start in advertising and then joining the nonprofit sector. Laurie raises money in support of hardworking bivalves and students, while she and her husband raise three kids on the Jersey coast.

Contact Laurie if you’d like to make a financial contribution to restoring life to New York Harbor and breaking the STEM barrier for tri-state students.
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Restoration Ecologist
Written by: Montana
How do you like your oysters?
"Fast-growing and restored in the Harbor"

Even as a kid growing up on Long Island, Liz always knew she wanted to be a scientist. Her passion and drive saw that dream realized when she received her PhD from Boston University in the summer of 2017, where she studied coral recovery and resiliency. Liz has had the opportunity to study marine ecosystems in some beautiful locations, including the Turks and Caicos and Belize. But now, she is back in New York inspiring Harbor School students to follow in her footsteps as a co-instructor for the Marine Biology Research Program and BOP Restoration Ecologist.

Contact Liz for information about research, science, and monitoring at the BOP and the Marine Biology Research Program at Harbor School.
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Assistant Waterfront Director
Written By: Sam Janis

Luis Melendez is an educator, captain and above all a humanist with a heart that spans the seven seas. Luis comes to Harbor Foundation after a rigorous on-the-job apprenticeship. He is a member of the first graduating class of NY Harbor School. The harbor is blood for Luis Melendez. When not driving boats, teaching our children on restoring oysters, Luis can be found every single day at the gym starting at 6am. Yes that’s right everyday! Luis directs the Harbor School Waterfront Club, vessel maintenance and operation nerve center. In summary, Luis is both the anchor, engine and GPS of the Harbor Foundation. And oh yeah did I mention his heart. Dude is also a zen master. He was a hard core vegetarian for four maybe six years.
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Director of Strategic Partnerships
Written by: Pete
How do you like your oysters?
"Directly from the farmer"

A native New Yorker, Maddy Wachtel came to BOP as an avid cork collector interested in teaming up with our Shell Collection Program and passionate about the need to save corks from the Landfill for upcycling. As one of our Shell Collection Program Managers she has turned this passion into a thriving Shell Collection Program currently collecting five tons of shell per week from sixty restaurant partners. In addition to the Shell Collection Program Maddy now oversees all strategic partnerships for Billion Oyster Project. Maddy is motivated by working through the daily complex challenges that come with convincing corporations and restaurant partners to join our effort to restore New York Harbor. In her free time, Maddy enjoys cooking and spending time with friends and family.

Contact Maddy for information about the Shell Collection Program and The Billion Oyster Party.
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Written By: Heather
How do you like your oysters?
"Raw with lemon and mignonette"

Mari-len grew up in both the Philippines and San Francisco. She’s a world traveler, history lover, lucid dreamer, and overall adventurer who loves exploring both local and international spots, from photographing NYC landscapes to visiting the filming location for Cersei’s “shame” walk from Game of Thrones in Croatia. Her favorite thing about BOP are all the people who are so passionate about what they do!

Contact Mari-len for anything BOP finance related especially accounts payable.
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Institutional Funding Officer
Written by: Alberto
How do you like your oysters?

Matthew grew up sailing on Long Island Sound and practiced law for 15 years before joining BOP in 2010. He currently serves as Institutional Funding Officer. Matthew is inspired by the chance to provide young people in New York City with opportunities to explore the waters that surround them and to consider career pathways in marine STEM fields.

Contact Matthew for information on corporate donations, foundation grants and government contracts
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Waterfront Operations Manager
Written By: Murray Fisher
How do you like your oysters?
“As friends”

After a two decade long career in publishing, Mike has found his way back to his original passion: driving boats in NY Harbor. Only this time is better than ever because in addition to his responsibility managing the Foundation Maritime assets, Mike gets to spend nearly every single day as a coach, teacher and guide to Harbor School students.

Contact Mike “if you want to know more about our boats or for proofreading help”
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Development Associate
Written by: Liz
How do you like your oysters?
"Raw on the half shell with mignonette"

Growing up on the Florida coast, Montana always had a passion for marine life. As a masters student at the College of Charleston, Montana began her career by teaching environmental geology to undergraduates and creating professional development curriculum to teach middle school teaches about marine debris. Today, at BOP, Montana has translated these passions and skills into her role as a member of the development team!

Contact Montana for information on donations, in-kind gifts, tax receipts, or if you are interested in supporting BOP!
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Hatchery Manager
Written by: Johnny Anderson
How do you like your oysters?
“Alive and filtering water!”

Rebecca leads Billion Oyster Project’s hatchery on Governors Island, growing millions of oysters with Harbor School students. Her passion for marine life started as a young girl growing up on the beach in Breezy Point, Queens. Following her passion, she received a degree in Marine Biology from Roger Williams University. Rebecca worked for Great Atlantic Shellfish Farms for several years, where she helped run the hatchery and produced millions of oysters and clams each year. She also designed The Great South Bay Oyster Gardening Program, teaching students and locals about oyster aquaculture through hands-on experiences. When she isn't working, Rebecca enjoys going back to her roots, visiting the beach.
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Field Technician and Boatbuilder
Written by: Blyss
How do you like your oysters?
"Freshly shucked with shallot vinaigrette"

Hailing from the west coast, Rob grew up with a close connection to the ocean. Although he has extensive journalism and magazine writing experience, his passion for the ocean now takes him to the forefront of waterfront access efforts alongside urban communities. When he’s not advocating for New York Harbor you’ll find him you’ll find him in the boat shop working with student builders.

Contact Rob for ORS support, boat building & a unique experience exploring the nooks and crannies of our urban waterfront.
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Assistant Director of Education & Outreach
Written by: Ann
How do you like your oysters?
"With an Epipen"

Robina began her career wanting to direct movies and write screenplays. She still has that ambition, but at the moment she is inspired by the passion and mission found at Billion Oyster project and New York Harbor School, and is especially motivated by seeing the excitement and wonder on young students’ faces when they get to see a real life critter from the harbor. Having raised four boys it’s understandable that her preferred superpower would be to control time.

Contact Robina to learn how to get your school involved, bring your students on a tour BOP/New York Harbor School, come out to Governors Island for a Day of Service, or to give a presentation at your next school event.
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Project Manager
Written by: Rebecca Resner
How do you like your oysters?
“Filtering water!”

Ryan is leading the charge on one of our largest oyster reef projects to date, the Soundview Project in the East River. With a background in ecological restoration and water resource management, Ryan has worked on NOAA Marine Debris Removal and EPA Wetland Programs, as well as with the NYC Parks Department. He received his BS in Wildlife Biology and his Masters in Ecological Engineering. A native Brooklyner, Ryan appreciates diversity in New York Harbor and New York City.
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Community Reefs Regional Manager
Written by: Jeremy
How do you like your oysters?
"On double-side knit, with a contrasting background"

Tanasia’s love for the remote green & vast blue in and among her concrete jungle started before she even made it to The Harbor School. Since graduating, she’s kept her promise of change through action and now leads efforts to install community reefs in South Brooklyn. Legend has it that she once knitted an entire oyster reef before permits arrived for an actual install.

Contact Tanasia if you’re a South Brooklyn oyster advocate!
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Director of Finance & Operations
How do you like your oysters? "Fresh from the sea or cooked with duck foie gras on top"

Vicky grew up in Manila, Philippines but had short-term assignments in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and the Netherlands prior to moving in New York. She has 25 years experience in Finance, Contracting and Procurement & HR working with global teams in Production B.V & Shell Exploration. Now with BOP, she's much more connected to shells, but now it's all about oyster shells! Vicky loves to learn new things from the diverse work environment, culture and people with diverse knowledge and experience. An avid tennis player she loves traveling & spending time with family and friends over tapas and happy hour drinks. Reading minds would be her superpower because I like to know what ideas go on great minds.

Contact Vicky for BOP Finance Management, Insurance & HR administration information.
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BOP Professional Team Lead and Dive Safety Officer
Written by: Juan Pareja
How do you like your oysters?
"Picked by my divers, steamed on the beach and smothered in butter"

Zoë grew up in Brooklyn, traveled the world working underwater, and ended up back in Boerum Hill doing what she loves right here at home in NYC. She wanted to live beneath the waves as a kid and is now diving as our own BOP mermaid, paving the way for future merpeople.

Contact Zoë for information on professional diving.
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