About Us

Our Mission

COMPASS champions, connects, and supports diverse science leaders to improve the well-being of people and nature.

Preparing scientists to become agents of change

Our History

COMPASS began in 1999 as a joint project of Island Press, SeaWeb, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium with the goal of helping ocean scientists effectively share their knowledge in the public discourse and decision-making. Our founders Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Vikki Spruill, Chuck Savitt, and Chris Harrold worked in partnership with the David and Lucile Packard Foundation to create an innovative program to increase understanding of ocean science. 

COMPASS, which originally stood for “Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea,” had early successes developing a scientific consensus statement on marine reserves, publicizing major scientific papers, and generating hundreds of news stories in major media outlets. We blazed new trails in the emerging fields of science communication and science communication training. In 2008, COMPASS completed a transition from being a joint program to becoming an independent organization, and in 2012 we broadened our focus beyond oceans and simplified our organization name to just COMPASS. Since then, we’ve evolved our mission to champion, connect, and support diverse scientist leaders to improve the well-being of people and nature. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation continues to be a core partner to this day, and we are deeply appreciative of their ongoing support.

of delicious snacks at events, workshops, and retreats

asked to identify their “so what”

shared by scientists around the campfire

Our Commitment to Diversity & Equity

Modeling a new culture of science

Our Core Values

Partners & Collaborators

We collaborate with many institutions and boundary organizations operating at the intersections of environment, communication, policy, and society.

Partners & Collaborators

We collaborate with many institutions and boundary organizations operating at the intersections of environment, communication, policy, and society.

Partners & Collaborators

We collaborate with many institutions and boundary organizations operating at the intersections of environment, communication, policy, and society.

Staff & Board

Our Staff

Bob Crimian

Program Manager

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Bob Crimian

Program Manager

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As a Program Manager for COMPASS, Bob supports the Strategic Engagement team through designing and facilitating opportunities to connect scientists and decision makers. He helps foster meaningful conversations and collaboration, leading to lasting relationships and equitable solutions to climate change and biodiversity loss. A self-described amateur sleuth, he also assesses scientific landscapes to inform strategies and connect with scientific leaders across various fields.

A Philadelphia area native, Bob has a B.S in marine science from Coastal Carolina University and a M.S. in environmental studies from the College of Charleston. He was previously the Southeast Ocean Conservation Specialist for The Nature Conservancy, leading and cooperating on ocean protection and sustainable fisheries projects throughout the Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico. Now living in Savannah, GA, Bob loves getting out from behind a desk whenever possible to enjoy the outdoors, take a Zumba class, and spend time with family and friends.

Paola Estrada

Communications Manager

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Paola Estrada

Communications Manager

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Paola believes community is our most powerful renewable resource. As communications manager, she is energized by the opportunity to expand and engage COMPASS’s diverse community of scientists and decision-makers who are doing the crucial work of reimagining the world. 

A self-proclaimed bibliophile, Paola spent her education immersed in stories, earning a B.A. in creative writing from the University of Houston. She is heartened by the power of storytelling to both ground and transform our understanding of the world around us and our place in it. Prior to joining COMPASS, Paola worked in marketing where she practiced crafting and weaving stories that inspire action and measurable results.

Outside of work, she usually spends her time learning from her gardening mistakes or exploring the Pacific Northwest with her partner and their pup, Ella. She also loves an engaging conversation over a warm cup of coffee.

Nicolle Etchart

Science Communication Trainer

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Nicolle Etchart

Science Communication Trainer

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At COMPASS, Nicolle gets to do what she loves the most: strategize and collaborate with others on inclusive science communication that brings attention to the biggest challenges facing our communities and environment. Nicolle leads and supports COMPASS trainings, where she helps researchers and technical experts bring their knowledge, experiences, and research findings into public conversation and policy-making spaces. She believes that engaged scholarship can help us reimagine our communities and planet.

Born in Miami, Florida, Nicolle grew up in a Cuban-American, Chilean, Chinese-Jamaican family, in a city known for living the challenges and jubilations of multicultural conversations over cafecito. These early experiences showed her the value and power of bringing diverse identities and stories to the table to build inclusive, just, and equitable change. Nicolle received a B.S. in Advertising from the University of Florida, a Master’s in Anthropology from FLACSO-Ecuador, and is currently completing the last leg of her doctoral work for a PhD in Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her doctoral research looked at the impacts of conservation policies on rural lands and communities in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Outside of work, Nicolle loves learning everything she can about the prairies, lakes, and histories of her new home in Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband, two daughters, and her pup, Moo.

 

Robin Garcia

Science Communication Trainer

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Robin Garcia

Science Communication Trainer

Robin has dedicated her career to communication and policy as a means of connecting scientists, decision makers, and community members around sound science. In her role as a Science Communication Trainer, she leads and supports trainings, with a focus on government agencies and engagement with decision-makers.

A DC native, Robin has a B.S. in marine science and biology from the University of Miami and a M.S. in marine biology from the College of Charleston. She was previously a contract employee at NOAA programs including the National Sea Grant Program, the Office of Response and Restoration, and the Coral Reef Conservation Program. Robin enjoys crafting, traveling, exploring museums, and spending as much time as possible near the water.

Alex Griffith

Program Associate

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Alex Griffith

Program Associate

As a Program Associate for COMPASS, Alex works as a part of the Strategic Engagement team by facilitating programming and conducting research in order to connect scientists with decision makers and the media. A dedicated advocate for the environment, he works closely with experts and other partners to address the myriad challenges facing the natural world.

A native North Carolinian, Alex has a B.S in environmental science from Duke University and a Master of Natural Resources, with a science communication focus, from the University of Idaho. Prior to his work at COMPASS, Alex worked in education, where communicating complex science to diverse audiences was central to his day-to-day work. Currently living in Durango, CO, Alex enjoys mountain biking in the desert, skiing in the mountains, and playing his guitar and reading fiction he doesn’t understand on his porch.

Christina Hoenow

Program Associate

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Christina Hoenow

Program Associate

As Program Associate for COMPASS, Christina supports the Strategic Engagement program through policy research, legislative monitoring, and background research. A passionate advocate for effective science communication, Christina also supports the policy team’s science communication trainings which help scientists effectively and efficiently share the critical value of their work with policy makers.

Prior to joining COMPASS Christina worked as a marine protected area analyst for the Marine Conservation Institute where she contributed to a global audit of marine protected area effectiveness as well as contributing to the Blue Parks program. Christina holds a M.A. from the University of Rhode Island in Marine Affairs, a MLitt from the University of St Andrews in International Security Studies, and a dual B.A. from Washington & Jefferson College in Political Science and History.

Heather Mannix

Director of Strategic Engagement

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Heather Mannix

Director of Strategic Engagement

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As the Director of the Strategic Engagement program at COMPASS, Heather brings her passion and background for connecting science and policy. In this role, she directs the organization’s work to facilitate opportunities for collaboration between scientists and policymakers that drive new thinking and approaches for positive change in the environment.

Before coming to COMPASS, Heather spent over seven years at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership in Washington D.C. working with large ocean research programs such as the Census of Marine Life and the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative. She also managed the Ocean Research Advisory Panel, a science advisory body to the Federal Government. Heather received a B.A. from Hood College in Environmental Science and Policy and an M.A. from American University in Global Environmental Policy. She loves being outdoors, especially running, biking, swimming or hiking.

Lauren A. Mariolis

Program Associate

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Lauren A. Mariolis

Program Associate

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Lauren believes in the power of activating human connection to create a just and sustainable future. At COMPASS, she connects people to the ideas, resources, and networks they need to make this future possible. Using her organizational wizardry and strategic sleuthing, Lauren supports the design and delivery of policy and science communication trainings, while keeping things sailing smoothly for the Strategic Engagement team.

Lauren earned a BS from Saint Michael’s College in Environmental Science and a Master of Environmental Management from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, where she focused on the social dimensions of ocean and coastal ecosystems. 

Lauren loves a good conversation about the universe, reading science/historical fiction in her hammock, and afternoon tea time with the flora & fauna on her back porch.

Aleda McMonagle

Operations & Training Associate

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Aleda McMonagle

Operations & Training Associate

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Aleda believes that effective communication can help solve our most pressing environmental challenges and that scientists play a key role in generating those solutions. Her passion for supporting scientists to be better communicators brought her to COMPASS, where she keeps things running smoothly at the Portland office, supports trainings and events, and assists leadership.

Prior to joining COMPASS, Aleda worked at an intercultural center where she developed cross-cultural communication skills, coordinated intercultural communication workshops, planned events, and supported leadership. She earned her B.A. in International Studies and French, with a focus in Peace and Conflict studies at University of Oregon. A Midwesterner turned Pacific Northwesterner, Aleda explores, backpacks, hikes, and runs around the region. In her spare time, she enjoys being the fun aunt to her furry niece Zoey (a lab/blue heeler mix) and trying to make a dent in her ongoing list of books to read and podcasts to listen to.

Meg Nakahara

Associate Director of Trainings

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Meg Nakahara

Associate Director of Trainings

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Meg helps scientists change the world, one conversation at a time. Through workshops and coaching, she teaches scientists how to uncover the “so what?” of their research and how to connect with the audiences that need to hear about their work. She works with a wide range of people—across biophysical and social sciences, in academic and agency settings, from coastal to mountain geographies. She often coaches researchers on engaging with policy, helping them bring our evolving understanding of the natural world to those making decisions about how we live in it.

Meg began her career in Washington, D.C. working at the intersection of environmental science and policy. She earned a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in Environmental Science and Political Science and an M.P.A. from the University of Washington. She enjoys organizing her books by color, watching bad scifi movies, and telling you about her cats, Zubenelgenubi and Event Horizon.

Kelly Reardon

Chief Financial Officer

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Kelly Reardon

Chief Financial Officer

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As COMPASS’ Chief Financial Officer, Kelly oversees and manages all aspects of the organization’s finances, human resources, administrative systems and infrastructure so that the rest of the team has the resources they need in order to be successful.

Prior to joining COMPASS, Kelly spent the previous 17 years at Sustainable Northwest where he was Vice President and CFO for the last several years. Kelly also provided a variety of other non-profit partners with various levels of financial system support or setup.

When not watching the numbers for COMPASS, Kelly enjoys attempting to learn classical guitar, time outdoors in the garden or wilderness, getting lost in a good book, old movies, and spending time with family and friends.

Heather Reiff

Director of Trainings

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Heather Reiff

Director of Trainings

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At COMPASS, Heather seeks to help scientists realize their individual and collective awesome. Since joining the COMPASS team in 2011, Heather has worked with or performed almost all elements of COMPASS’s work, from regional policy engagement to overseeing the creation of visually engaging presentations and materials, landing her ultimately at the helm of the Trainings program. As Director of Trainings, Heather loves collaborating with her colleagues to innovate the Trainings program to better meet the needs of scientists.

Heather’s deep and abiding love of the ocean has driven her life and career. She spent many summers as a SCUBA instructor leading experiential education and diving trips across the globe, including Belize, Egypt, the Caribbean, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands. She studied marine science, policy, and education, earning a B.A. in Biology with a specialization in marine science from Boston University and a M.S. in Marine Resource Management from Oregon State University. Since moving to Monterey, CA Heather enjoys immersing herself in the macro and micro fauna of the area through her underwater photography, volunteering at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter research program, and admiring her cats from her home office.

Amanda Stanley

Executive Director

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Amanda Stanley

Executive Director

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Amanda seeks to transform the relationships between scientists and society, challenging the status quo and catalyzing new thinking around the role of science in environmental decision making. As COMPASS strategist in chief, she brings a big-picture view to the work of the organization and how that work fits into broader systems of impact. She also leads and supports the COMPASS team to excel as coaches, connectors, and conversation changers.

Amanda’s experiences as an ecologist in western North America shaped her awareness of the links between individuals, communities, and systems. During her six years as the Conservation Science Program Officer at Wilburforce Foundation, Amanda led efforts to ensure that science informed conservation efforts, and that scientists felt supported and ready to step into new leadership roles. Under Amanda’s stewardship, COMPASS has forged new collaborations and evolved programming to meet emerging needs. Amanda earned her PhD in Biology from the University of Washington and a BS in Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana. When she isn’t swimming in the chilly Puget Sound you can often find her with a warm cuppa tea, sharing hot bread baking tips.

Sarah Sunu

Associate Director of Trainings

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Sarah Sunu

Associate Director of Trainings

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Sarah believes in the power of conversation and common ground to achieve positive change. She connects science leaders to the ideas, skills, and people that can make that change possible. Sarah has spent over ten years exploring the many ways people communicate about the environment—facilitating conversations around difficult topics, capturing the heart of a discussion through graphic recording, and distilling the essence of our work on the COMPASS Blog. Sarah has worked across the full suite of COMPASS activities, from leading trainings to writing grant proposals.

Sarah’s curiosity drives her to look for the story behind the story; an avid and omnivorous curator of information, she balances her drive to learn with critical thinking and a strong analytical streak. She loves meeting people who are as passionate about their work as she is about helping them to share it, and making sure those people also meet each other. Sarah earned a B.A. from Wesleyan University and a M.E.M. in coastal ecosystems from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. She delights in exploring the outdoors, can wax poetic about word choice, and has a board game for pretty much any situation you can think of.

Our Board

Bray J. Beltrán

Conservation & Equity Director at Heart of the Rockies Initiative

Anthony Dudo

Associate Professor at Moody College of Communication, The University of Texas at Austin

Jessica Hellmann

Director of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment

Faisal Moola

Associate Professor at the University of Guelph

Mark Schwartz

Professor Emeritus, Department of Environmental Science & Policy, University of California, Davis

Support Our Work

Be a force for change today and help scientists become agents of change. By donating to COMPASS, you’ll help even more scientists build the communication skills, networks, and strategies they need to advance solutions to today’s biggest challenges.