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

Lori Arguelles

Director of Policy Engagement

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Lori Arguelles

Director of Policy Engagement

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As COMPASS’ Director of Policy Engagement, Lori leads our work to connect scientists to decision makers in the United States, bridging the worlds of science and policy and supporting scientists to engage. Prior to joining COMPASS, Lori served as the President & CEO of the Alice Ferguson Foundation. Her 25 years of experience in executive management, public relations, and government relations included positions such as Vice President of Media and policy strategy for the marine conservation non-profit organization SeaWeb, founding President and CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, Director of Communications for Girl Scouts of the USA, and Director of Public and Constituent Affairs for the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Lori started her professional career as a radio reporter, and worked for several local and national outlets as an anchor, reporter, and producer. She also served as press secretary for two members of congress. Lori received an undergraduate degree in broadcast journalism and political science from Northern Arizona University and her MA in public communication from American University. Lori likes to travel, read, and practice yoga. When she’s not working, you can find her enjoying time with her family exploring woodlands, wetlands and waterways.

Nancy Baron

Director of Science Outreach

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Nancy Baron

Director of Science Outreach

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Nancy Baron is the Director of Science Outreach for COMPASS. Nancy holds workshops around the world for academic, government, and NGO scientists helping them make their work relevant to journalists, policy makers, and the public. Nancy began her career as a biologist in Banff National Park, spent 6 years as Director of Education at the Vancouver Aquarium, then morphed into journalism. She has won numerous writing awards including the Canadian Science Writers Science in Society and National Magazine awards.

An ardent naturalist, she published a popular field guide, The Birds of the Pacific Northwest (Lone Pine Publishing) and a “how to” communications guide book for scientists titled Escape from the Ivory Tower (Island Press). Nancy received the 2013 Peter Benchley Ocean Award for Excellence in the Media for her work at the intersection of science and journalism. Through the design and delivery of fellowship programs for scientists, Nancy focuses on building communities of communication support and collaboration. She is an advisor to the Liber Ero Fellows Science Advisory Committee in Canada and to SciLine at AAAS. Her office perch is at the National Center of Ecological Analysis, UCSB where she is a Senior Fellow.

She spends as much time as she can in wild places, binoculars in hand, with her writer husband Ken Weiss. They live on an organic avocado orchard outside Santa Barbara.

Megan Dearden

Project Manager

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Megan Dearden

Project Manager

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Megan transforms ideas into reality, planning and managing the delivery of COMPASS events that train scientists and connect them to the world. Her superpower is translating large, complex, messy concepts into beautifully color-coded Gantt charts and project plans. Since joining the team in 2014, she has helped choreograph many of COMPASS’ signature events, from the Wilburforce Fellowship in Conservation Science to our Journalist Fellowship programs. Megan leads efforts to make COMPASS a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive space where we challenge the status quo and find ways to bring people together.

Megan has a professional certificate in Project Management from Portland State University and a B.S. in Sociology with an emphasis in Crime & Justice from Oregon State University. She loves exploring the natural world through backcountry and downhill skiing, trail running, biking, and backpacking. When she is not on a trail in the scenic Pacific Northwest, she’s spending time with friends, family and her fur children—Hank, a 23-year-old horse, and Teddy, a border collie.

Francisco Guerrero-Bolaño

Science Communication Liaison

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Francisco Guerrero-Bolaño

Science Communication Liaison

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As our Science Communication Liaison with the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), Francisco tailors our training, coaching, and strategic support tools to help researchers at NCEAS communicate effectively across many audiences. Francisco strongly believes that connection is one of the key ingredients for diverse communities to thrive amid the environmental challenges we face.

Francisco joined COMPASS and NCEAS after an exciting journey across multiple natural and professional environments. Trained as an aquatic biologist studying litter decomposition in the tropical Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta (the tallest coastal mountain in the world) and after obtaining a master’s degree in Hydrosystems (Bogota, Colombia), he moved to Oregon to understand the effects of forest cover changes on the amount of terrestrial carbon exported to lakes and oceans. While working on his dual Ph.D. degree in Sustainable Forest Management and Water Resources Science from Oregon State University, Francisco discovered his passion for science communication. This passion led Francisco to amazing opportunities, including being a Mass Media Fellow at CNN Español for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Water Science-Policy Fellow at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Francisco loves being in touch with water, from swimming in pools to enjoying hot springs. Francisco also enjoys watching science fiction movies and reading fast-paced thriller novels.

Kacey Hirshfeld

Program Assistant

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Kacey Hirshfeld

Program Assistant

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Kacey first saw the importance of science communication in college, when she realized that some of the smartest scientists she knew had voices that got lost outside of the laboratory. Now, she’s excited to be working with COMPASS to help scientists find their voices and have a place at the table. As the Program Assistant for COMPASS in Washington, D.C., Kacey keeps the D.C. office running smoothly, and supports staff in delivering policy events and other engagement activities designed to bring scientists in direct dialogue with decision makers.

Before joining COMPASS, she worked with a consulting firm to aid government agencies in furthering their sustainability initiatives. A lifetime lover of the ocean, Kacey earned her B.S. in Marine Biology from the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina. While in college, she participated in the NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship Program, studied sea level rise policy in the coastal counties of South Carolina, and interned with an environmental non-profit. Kacey loves watching baseball and women’s soccer, hiking, and spending time at, on or near the water.

Heather Mannix

Assistant Director of Policy Engagement

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Heather Mannix

Assistant Director of Policy Engagement

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As Assistant Director of Policy Engagement for COMPASS, Heather works with scientists to help them to more effectively share their knowledge and insights with decision-makers involved in natural resource issues. She facilitates opportunities to bring scientists and policymakers together in collaborations that drive new thinking and approaches to natural resource policy and management.

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 traveling and being outdoors, especially running, biking, swimming or hiking.

Karen McLeod

Deputy Director

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Karen McLeod

Deputy Director

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Karen believes that if we want to create lasting and meaningful change in the world, we need to start with ourselves. She is passionate about empowering scientists to more fully realize their potential as leaders of social and environmental change by integrating personal development with strategic engagement. She’s worn many hats since she joined COMPASS in 2003—coach, facilitator, fundraiser, mentor, organizational leader, strategist, synthesizer, trainer, and Interim Executive Director (2017). She’s also recently become a certified professional coach through New Ventures West.

Karen serves as courtesy faculty in the Department of Integrative Biology at Oregon State University (OSU) where she teaches a graduate course on science communication. Trained as a marine ecologist, her appreciation of nature’s bounty and fragility was strongly influenced by the thousands of hours she spent underwater on coral reefs in various parts of the world. She earned a Ph.D. from OSU, an M.S. from the University of South Florida, and a B.A. from Franklin and Marshall College. She believes in the power of synthesis to create something larger than the sum of its parts, and has led numerous efforts to synthesize science in support of more robust decision-making, including co-editing Ecosystem-Based Management for the Oceans (Island Press, 2009) with Heather Leslie (University of Maine). Karen enjoys backpacking, hiking, meditation, poetry, trail running, yoga, and soaking in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two daughters.

Aleda McMonagle

Administrative & Event Assistant

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Aleda McMonagle

Administrative & Event Assistant

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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

Science Communication Trainer

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Meg Nakahara

Science Communication Trainer

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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

Assistant Director of Trainings & Communications

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Heather Reiff

Assistant Director of Trainings & Communications

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Heather oversees all of COMPASS’ science communication workshops. Her role is part train conductor, part artistic director—keeping COMPASS’ workshops organized and on schedule, and crafting and overseeing our visually engaging presentations and materials. She makes sure that everything you see from COMPASS is both on time and beautiful.

Heather has a deep and abiding love of the ocean. 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 the Monterey Bay, 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 cat Sunny from her home office.

Estelle Robichaux

Assistant Director of Regional Engagement

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Estelle Robichaux

Assistant Director of Regional Engagement

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As Assistant Director of Regional Engagement for COMPASS, Estelle’s work is focused on engaging with and connecting scientists and decision-makers on natural resource issues throughout the western U.S. She believes very strongly that we need all types of scholarship and science to be brought into decision-making in order to effectively address the increasingly complex environmental issues faced by society.

Before coming to COMPASS, Estelle worked for Environmental Defense Fund on coastal restoration in her home state of Louisiana. Estelle did her graduate studies at the University of Florida, where she received an MS in Interdisciplinary Ecology, with a concentration in Wetland Sciences, and completed her PhD coursework and qualifying exams in the same program, with a concentration in Political Science. Estelle received a BA in Economics and French from Wellesley College. She also had incredible opportunities to conduct field research in the Turks & Caicos Islands, Costa Rica, and South Africa.

Estelle loves being outdoors, especially if it involves rock climbing, kayaking, or tropical fish. She also enjoys spending time baking, perfecting her gumbo recipe, and reading.

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

Project Manager

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Sarah Sunu

Project Manager

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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. A renaissance woman, 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

Steve Gaines

Dean & Professor at Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, UC Santa Barbara

Jessica Hellmann

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

Justin Kenney

Senior Advisor of Climate, Energy & Environment at United Nations Foundation

Faisal Moola

Associate Professor at the University of Guelph

Mary Ruckelshaus

Managing Director for the Natural Capital Project at Stanford University

Vikki Spruill

President and CEO, New England Aquarium

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.