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. 

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 in the power of communication to both ground and transform our understanding of the world around us and our place in it. As communications manager, she is energized by the opportunity to expand and engage COMPASS’s network of scientists who are helping reimagine a better world for people and nature. 

A self-proclaimed bibliophile, Paola spent her education immersed in stories, earning a B.A. in creative writing from the University of Houston.  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 Central Texas 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.

Noor Jaber

Administrative Associate

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Noor Jaber

Administrative Associate

Noor’s passion for her communities, accessibility, communication, and grounded, real-world approaches to science drew her to her current role at COMPASS. As Administrative Associate, Noor keeps things running smoothly by supporting the administration, planning, and delivery of COMPASS trainings, workshops, events, and more. She also supports behind the scenes with finance and development. Her balanced, multifaceted perspective is a hard-earned asset: Noor brings a background in physics, creative writing, program coordination, and grants to this work. 

When she’s not wearing her Administrative Associate hat, Noor is usually writing poetry, leading indie writing workshops online, journaling, reading, listening to music, or resting.

Heather Mannix

Interim Co-Executive Director and Director of Strategic Engagement

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Heather Mannix

Interim Co-Executive Director and 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.

Meg Nakahara

Associate Director of Capacity Building

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Meg Nakahara

Associate Director of Capacity Building

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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

Interim Co-Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer

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Kelly Reardon

Interim Co-Executive Director and 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

Interim Co-Executive Director and Director of Capacity Building

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Heather Reiff

Interim Co-Executive Director and Director of Capacity Building

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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 COMPASS and the Capacity Building program. As Director of Capacity Building, Heather loves collaborating with her colleagues to innovate COMPASS’ programing 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.

Sarah Sunu

Associate Director of Capacity Building

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Sarah Sunu

Associate Director of Capacity Building

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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

Ocean Justice Director at Ocean Conservancy

Jessica Hellmann

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

Faisal Moola

Associate Professor at the University of Guelph

Emily Patrolia

Founder and CEO, ESP Advisors

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.