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

Conservation Programs 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

Diego Sancho Gallegos

Conservation Programs Manager

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. 

Lauren Parrino

Director of Communications

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 and continues to support the Coalition as Director of Communications today.

Mikaela Osten

Director of Operations

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.

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.

Emmett Balassone

Communications Coordinator

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.

André Vasconcelos Avelar

SPANs Coordinator - Azores

Azorean; MBA – Master in Business Management; degree in Cardiopneumology; medical emergency trainer; manager in nautical sports clubs for over 20 years; President of the Surf Association of Terceira Island – Azores; and imperfect environmentalist.

“The ocean was my playground because I always lived next to the sea, practicing canoeing, bodyboarding, surfing and fishing, so I learned to preserve and respect it, because in my family there was always a consciousness to preserve our greatest wealth that allowed our survival in these islands. My greatest dream is the preservation of nature, the bio diversity and the waves in the Azores Archipelago, contributing to the sustainability of our planet, ensuring a future for humanity ” The sea is what unites us.”

Laura Zumbado

SPANs Coordinator - Costa Rica

Laura was born and raised in Costa Rica and moved with her family to Playa Hermosa to surf and work on coastal protection. After 10 years of working on climate change mitigation and adaptation she’s driven by collective creativity and its multilevel application to sustainable urban design. She’s motivated by the challenge of re-generating and shaping coastal places with their communities for the wellbeing of multiple forms of life. She is an environmental engineer and holds and masters degree from University College London in sustainable urbanism.

Adrian Reifsnyder


Adrian is a lawyer based out of Oahu, HI. He graduated from the University of Hawai’i Manoa holding a JD & MBA with a focus on environmental policy & economics. His professional efforts are focused on creating legal frameworks that protect surf ecosystems as well as developing financial models that build environmental and economic resilience among coastal communities. Adrian is passionate about surfing as a sport and culture and enjoys spending most of his free time either in, on, or under the water. 

Board of Directors

Scott Atkinson


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.

Annie Vranizan

vice chair

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.

Christy Chin

Board Member

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.

Eric Co


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. 

Rahim Walker


Rahim Walker is a Bay Area technology professional with over a decade of operational and leadership experience in sales, marketing, and customer service. As an enthusiastic global explorer, Rahim spent close to 4 years surfing and traveling in more than 20 countries at a time when surf travel was in its infancy and not yet mainstream allowing him to experience some amazing cultures in Africa, Central and South America, and Oceania. Rahim holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill along with a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Santa Clara University.  He can typically be found in the surf lineups of the coastside spanning Pacifica, San Francisco, and Half Moon Bay or on a surf trip to his favorite surf destination of Hawaii.

Dr. Easkey Britton


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.

Will Henry


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


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.

Al Ramadan

board member

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.

Laura F. Rodriguez


Laura is eternally thankful to her family who took her to the Pacific Ocean since she was a child, where she discovered her happy place dipping her head under a crashing wave and then found her calling by peering into the deep blue through a snorkeling mask. Currently she is Senior Program Officer of the Oceans Program at Builders Initiative, and previous experience includes working to catalyze sustainable fisheries management in Latin America and researching marine invasive species. Laura is passionate about building scalable and inclusive solutions to secure thriving communities and a healthy natural environment. She has been learning to surf for the past 20 years.

Hugo Tagholm


Hugo is a surfer, campaigner, and environmentalist. He currently heads up the global marine conservation NGO Oceana in the UK. He previously led the NGO Surfers Against Sewage, campaigning from the beach front to the front benches of Parliament. Hugo founded the Plastic Free Communities movement, the Million Mile Beach Clean & Safer Seas Service and has been instrumental in exposing water company sewage pollution. Hugo was awarded a Doctorate of Science by Exeter University for his services to the marine environment; Environmentalist of the Year 2021 by Save the Waves; featured in the ENDS Report 2022 Campaigning Power List, and has been shortlisted as Leader of the Year in the 2023 Purpose Awards. 

Emeritus Board

Dean LaTourrette


 Dean works as a strategic marketing consultant and early-stage advisor, helping grow organizations and brands. An accomplished writer, publisher, and marketing professional, he was a founding board member for Save The Waves and served as the organization’s Executive Director from 2007 – 2013, before rejoining the board. He’s served as Board President, Vice President, and Treasurer, as well as founding chair of the World Surfing Reserves Executive Committee, and is currently a member of the WSR Vision Council. Dean has a passion for the ocean and environment that began at an early age surfing the waters around Santa Cruz. He now lives with his family at Ocean Beach, San Francisco, where he battles walls of whitewater, secretly wishing that the paddle out was somehow easier.

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