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Staff & Board

Save The Waves Staff

Nik Strong-CveticH

Chief Executive Officer

With many years of experience leading innovative conservation projects, Nik’s mission is to help provide coastal communities with the tools they need to be effective in valuing, protecting and managing their own natural resources.

Mara Arroyo

Surf Protected Area Network Manager

Mara grew up in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. She has a Ph.D. in Environment and Development, where she built a framework for surf break conservation and managed the Bahía de Todos Santos World Surfing Reserve. Mara’s family life is oriented mainly towards the ocean and surfing, and her work and research are focused on protecting surf ecosystems.

Trent Hodges

Conservation Programs Manager

Trent started as a Save The Waves WSR Fellow in 2014 completing the Surfonomics studies for Bahia de Todos Santos, Punta de Lobos, and Huanchaco. Trent‘s experience in the Peace Corps in Guatemala and subsequent years in the conservation and advocacy worlds have shaped his love for, and desire to protect the coast

Lauren Parrino

Communications Manager

As a longtime coastal dweller, Rincon devotee and Ventura native, Lauren uses her skills in nonprofit marketing, storytelling and design to protect coastal resources for future generations. Lauren began her journey with STW in 2015 as a coordinator for the Chilean campaign, Lobos Por Siempre, and continues to support the Coalition as Communications Manager today.

Mikaela Osten

Operations Manager

Mikaela, hailing from the Land of 10,000 Lakes, grew up in and around fresh water. With a B.A. from the University of Oregon, Mikaela brings project management and workflow optimization to Save The Waves with her insatiable passion for protecting the ocean while supporting global communities.

Susan Coffey

Finance Manager

Susan has a Masters of International Business Studies from the University of South Carolina and 25 years of experience in financial management and business administration in both the surf industry and conservation nonprofits. Susan and her surf oriented family have built a life that revolves around the ocean, tides and swells, and she is excited to be part of an organization that supports coastal conservation.

Diego Sancho Gallegos

Surf Conservation Data Coordinator

Diego grew up surfing in Costa Rica before moving to California, where he completed his B.S and M.S. degrees at Stanford University. He is passionate about better understanding and protecting coastal ecosystems, and brings his background in marine science, data pipelines and mapping to contribute to Save The Waves’ mission. 

Shaun Burns

Santa Cruz World Surfing Reserve Coordinator

Born and raised in Santa Cruz California, surfing since 10 years old. Studied at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo with a BS degree in Environmental Management. Committed competitor in WSL, international, and local surfing events. Passionate about protecting the ocean and waves, connecting surfers and activists with natural surf ecosystems, and bringing the surfing and conservation worlds to work together in harmony.

João De Macedo

Azores Coordinator

After first standing up on a surfboard in 1989 in Praia Grande, Sintra, João went on to become one of Portugal’s top young surfers, traveling and competing around the world while still keeping an active academic life.

Emmett Balassone

Marketing Specialist

Raised in Santa Cruz California, Emmett grew up surfing and fishing in the Monterey Bay. With a B.A. from the University of California Santa Cruz and 10 years of retail and sales experience in the surf industry, Emmett uses his marketing and retail skills to contribute to Save The Waves’ mission and protect the places he loves.

Board of directors

AL RAMADAN

Co-Chairperson of the Board

Al Ramadan is Founder and CEO at Play Bigger, LLC. He is a co-author of the best selling book on category design “Play Bigger”. He has been a CEO, entrepreneur and operating executive at tech companies such as Adobe, Macromedia, Quokka Sports and Fluid Thinking. He is a passionate surfer and is often found way out back at Middle Peak at Steamer Lane. He is passionate about conserving surf ecosystems and positively contributing to climate change. He is also a snowboarder, kite boarder, scuba diver, mountain biker, hiker and finds joy in the outdoors.

RACHEL STRADER

Co-Chairperson of the board

Rachel Strader is an artist and Executive Director of the Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation. She has over a decade of experience in ocean conservation, and is a recent graduate of CSU Monterey Bay’s natural science illustration program. She uses this combination of skills to help inspire understanding, appreciation, and protection of our important coastal places.

CHRISTY CHIN

Treasurer

Christy has devoted her career to advancing social entrepreneurship and championing high-impact philanthropy at the Skoll. Willam and Flora Hewlett and DRK Foundations.  Before focusing on social impact, Christy focused on entrepreneurship and venture capital.  Today,  she serves on nonprofit boards and advises on venture philanthropy and impact investing.  Thanks to her surfing family, Christy is learning to surf and eager to advance conservation efforts.

SCOTT ATKINSON

Vice-chair

Scott is a Managing Partner at Heidrick & Struggles Inc., an international executive search and leadership advisory firm. As H&S’s Global Head of Sustainability, Scott leads executives searches for companies and organizations that focus on advancing environmental and social impact initiatives across the globe. Scott has a Master of Science in Environmental Science & Policy from Johns Hopkins University.

DR. EASKEY BRITTON

BOARD MEMBER

Dr Easkey Britton is marine social scientist, surfer, and writer from Ireland. She contributes her expertise on national and international research and leadership development projects, fostering a more inclusive and diverse ocean and surfing environment. Her work is deeply influenced by the ocean and the lessons learned pioneering women’s big-wave surfing in Ireland. Easkey is the author of ‘Saltwater in the Blood’ and ‘50 Things to Do By the Sea’, has published numerous peer reviewed journal articles, and is a regular columnist with Oceanographic magazine.

CHRISTIAN CHARLES

BOARD MEMBER

British native and former professional ocean yacht racer, began his creative career as a writer, art director, creative director and director working on commercials for Pepsi, Lucas Films, Hershey, Ford as well as launching webMD during the internet boom.

ERIC CO

Secretary

Eric Co has 25 years of professional experience working in the fields of ocean science and management in Hawai‘i, other Pacific Islands, the Caribbean, the mainland US and Australia.  During this time, he has worked at The School for Field Studies, The Nature Conservancy in Hawaii, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and is currently at the Harold KL Castle Foundation. He has been sailing with the Polynesian Voyaging Society aboard Hōkūle‘a since 2005. He holds an MA in Marine Resource Management and an Executive MBA from the University of Hawai‘i- Mānoa. 

WILL HENRY

BOARD MEMBER

Will Henry founded Save The Waves Coalition in 2001. He mounted a grass-roots, surfer-based effort to protect many threatened surf spots on the island of Madeira, procuring initial funding support from Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia, Inc. His efforts in Madeira led to the formation of a global movement for surf-spot protection, which thrives into the modern day. Will served as Executive Director until 2007, after which he moved his family to the Central Coast of California and founded Lumen Winery and Pico Restaurant in Los Alamos, CA. He can still occasionally be seen streaking across the walls at point breaks, both in his local area and in Central Baja.

GREGORY JONES

BOARD MEMBER

With over 25 years’ experience in business growth and development, design innovation, and leadership (Google, Viator, Synopsy, McKinsey), Greg Jones provides valuable insight to private and public organizations to achieve their goals. Greg was introduced to Save The Waves over ten years ago and his passion for the protection of surf ecosystems continues to thrive. When he’s not providing strategic input and support for businesses in all stages of growth, he can be found looking for lefts along the California coast and beyond, maintaining his stoke and supporting conservation efforts in all sizes.

JOSH KARLINER

BOARD MEMBER

With more than 25 years of experience working on international environmental and human rights issues, Josh brings a deep understanding of global non-profit networks to Save the Waves.  In his day job he currently helps lead a global NGO, Health Care Without Harm’s worldwide systems change efforts to build a zero emissions and climate resilient health care sector.    He is author of two books along and a wide variety of academic and popular publications on global environmental and health policy. He lives in San Francisco, USA.



Annie Vranizan

BOARD MEMBER

Annie Vranizan channeled a lifelong passion for sport into a career dedicated to having a meaningful impact – as a coach, connector and storyteller. Now as Director of Global Marketing at Strava, she is committed to building an inclusive brand and community. Prior to Strava, Annie helped small businesses define their brand strategy and co-founded Vivanista with the sole purpose of helping nonprofits share best practices in fundraising.

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