OPC Staff

Photo of Mark GoldMark Gold, Executive Director, Ocean Protection Council; Deputy Secretary for Ocean and Coastal Policy, California Natural Resources Agency

Mark Gold joined OPC in July of 2019. As Executive Director of OPC and the Deputy Secretary for Ocean and Coastal Policy for the California Natural Resources Agency, Mark serves as a key advisor to Governor and the Secretary of Natural Resources and directs policy, scientific research, and critical partnerships to increase protection of coastal and ocean resources in California. Prior to his appointment, he was the UCLA Associate Vice Chancellor for Environment and Sustainability where he led their Sustainable Los Angeles Grand Challenge effort. Prior to UCLA, Mark was the first hire at Heal the Bay, where he served as their President for 18 years. During that time, he worked on ocean and coastal legislation and policy, stormwater, watershed management, and marine conservation and coastal restoration issues, projects and programs. Over the course of his career, his research focused on beach water quality and health risks, as well as sustainable water resources management. Mark received his bachelor’s and master’s in Biology as well as his doctorate in Environmental Science and Engineering, all from UCLA.



Jenn Eckerle, Deputy Director, Ocean Protection Council

Jenn Eckerle joined OPC in December 2016.  As OPC’s Deputy Director, she is responsible for supervising staff and helping set the strategic priorities for coast and ocean policy in California. Before joining OPC, Jenn spent eight years as an ocean policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council, where she conducted technical analysis and developed policy recommendations to advance ocean conservation. Prior to that, she was a coastal program analyst for the California Coastal Commission and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission.  Jenn earned an M.S. in Marine Biology from the Florida Institute of Technology and a B.S. in Biology from the University of Vermont.  She is an East Coast transplant that has spent the last two decades trying to forget the cold winters of New York. Jenn loves being outdoors, especially when it involves camping, hiking, scuba diving or paddleboarding.

Contact: (916) 654-9055 or jenn.eckerle@resources.ca.gov



photo of Whitney Berry, OPC StaffWhitney Berry, OPC Climate Change Program Manager

Whitney joined the OPC in January of 2018. Her work focuses on ocean acidification and hypoxia, sea level rise, and other efforts concerning changing ocean conditions due to a changing climate. She began working with the OPC as a California Sea Grant Fellow focusing on climate change policy. Before the OPC, Whitney worked at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in the Conservation & Science program. She worked with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Global Marine and Polar Program in Switzerland where she published a report on the potential impacts of deep seabed mining to the marine environment. Whitney spent time working in the South Pacific where she developed a “ridge-to-reef” management plan for the local government of Pohnpei, Micronesia. She earned her Master’s degree in International Environmental Policy, concentrating in Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Whitney loves all things outdoors and is always looking forward to her next adventure.

Contact: (916) 653-9416 or whitney.berry@resources.ca.gov



Paige Berube, OPC Sustainable Fisheries Program Manager

Paige Berube joined the OPC in January 2016. Her work focuses on supporting the sustainable management of California’s marine fisheries. She began working with the OPC as a Sea Grant Fellow focusing on climate change policy, including sea level rise and ocean acidification and hypoxia. Before the OPC, Paige worked as a Research Fellow with the Sustainable Fisheries Group at UC Santa Barbara, where she served as the Lead Consultant on a markets project to facilitate the sustainable management of small-scale fisheries in the developing tropics. Paige earned her master’s in Environmental Science & Management from the Bren School at UC Santa Barbara and a B.S. in Environmental Geoscience from Boston College. Working with NOAA and The Nature Conservancy, her master’s thesis group project evaluated management scenarios in the California commercial swordfish fishery, focusing on balancing conservation and economic goals through a global lens. She enjoys going on ocean swims, playing soccer, and cooking up fresh fish tacos.

Contact: (916) 651-1264 or paige.berube@resources.ca.gov



Marina Cazorla, OPC Program Manager & Tribal Liaison

Marina joined OPC in August 2017. Through the Proposition 1 grant program, her work focuses on coastal habitat restoration and multi-benefit projects. Marina is also the OPC Tribal Liaison. Prior to joining OPC, Marina promoted strategic collaboration among private foundations supporting coastal and marine conservation in Mexico. Before that role, Marina worked at the State Coastal Conservancy on San Mateo County coastal projects that included land acquisitions, riparian and wetland habitat restoration, coastal trails and public access improvements; she later worked at the nascent OPC on establishing a fisheries fund, creation of a seafloor mapping program, and MPA baseline monitoring. Marina also worked at the Coastal Commission reviewing energy and ocean resources permit applications. She received her B.A. from Claremont McKenna College and her M.A. in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Contact: (916) 653-0540 or marina.cazorla@resources.ca.gov



Adrian DahoodMarine Protected Area Senior Scientist/Policy Advisor

Adrian Dahood joined OPC in April 2019. Her work involves leading the state’s ongoing efforts to manage California’s network of marine protected areas. Prior to joining OPC, Adrian spent nine years working on Antarctic environmental science and policy with the National Science Foundation, NOAA, and as a PhD student. She helped to establish and manage Antarctic Specially Protected Areas and Antarctic MPAs. Adrian earned a PhD from George Mason University for which she developed and applied dynamic ecosystem models of the Western Antarctic Peninsula region to evaluate potential MPA boundaries. She earned an M.S. from Texas A&M University studying dusky dolphin occurrence and movement patterns near Kaikoura, New Zealand. She earned a B.S. in Fisheries Science and a B.S. in Zoology from the University of Washington.  Adrian enjoys showshoeing, SCUBA diving, and traveling

Contact (916)-653-6598 or Adrian.Dahood@resources.ca.gov



Michael Esgro, OPC Marine Ecosystems Program Manager

Mike Esgro joined OPC in March 2018. As Marine Ecosystems Program Manager, Mike works across program areas to connect science, policy, and people for effective ecosystem-based management in California. His work focuses primarily on marine protected areas, ecosystem restoration and resilience, biological/environmental monitoring, big data, sustainable aquaculture, and biodiversity conservation. Prior to joining OPC, Mike earned a B.S. in Biology from UCLA and an M.S. in Applied Marine and Watershed Science from CSU Monterey Bay. His graduate research centered around MPA baseline monitoring and the role of “de facto” marine reserves in ocean conservation. When not at work, Mike can usually be found scuba diving, surfing, or backpacking.

Contact: (916) 651-2497 or Michael.Esgro@resources.ca.gov



Tova Handelman, OPC Marine Protected Areas Program Manager

Tova leads OPC’s Once-Through Cooling Interim Mitigation Program while providing support for our other MPA program priorities. Tova joined OPC in March 2017 as a California Sea Grant Fellow in OPC’s MPA program, and has prior experience working on MPA management for Heal the Bay in Santa Monica. She has a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science and Management from the Bren School at UC Santa Barbara, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Policy from UC Irvine. Her group thesis work evaluated citizen science as a method for monitoring the rocky intertidal zone. At the Ocean Protection Council, Tova manages an on-going effort among several state agencies and partners to effectively collaborate on the long-term management of MPAs across the state. She integrates scientific information to support decision-making regarding MPAs to best protect the health of the ocean and coastal communities.

Contact: (916) 653-9486 or tova.handelman@resources.ca.gov



Justine Kimball, Senior Climate Change Program Manager

Justine joined the OPC in March 2019. Her work involves leading the climate change program, and focuses on sea-level rise adaptation, coastal resiliency, ocean acidification, and other efforts concerning the impacts of climate change on the ocean. Prior to joining OPC, Justine spent five years in Washington, D.C. at NOAA’s Coral Program and as a Knauss Fellow at the Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy. Justine earned her PhD from Stanford University studying deep-sea corals in the Pacific Ocean and her B.A. in Biology with a minor in Geology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Justine enjoys farmers markets, baking, and all things ocean and wilderness.

Contact : (916) 653-0539 or  justine.kimball@resources.ca.gov



Chris Potter, OPC Program Manager

Contact : (916) 654-0536 or  chris.potter@resources.ca.gov



Holly Shand, Associate Governmental Program Analyst

Holly joined OPC in May 2018 and provides contract and grant support to OPC staff. Prior to coming to OPC, Holly worked for the Marine Region of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife processing grants and contracts. Holly has additional experience with the state’s new accounting system (FI$Cal) and developing processes and procedures to increase workflow efficiency. Holly also has over a decade of analytical experience in serious injury claims and settlements. You can normally find Holly with her nose in a book. Her other interests include cooking, baking her own bread, and all things dogs.

Contact (916) 654-2757 or holly.shand@resources.ca.gov



Web-photo-smallHolly Wyer, OPC Marine Pollution Program Manager

Holly Wyer joined the OPC in March 2016, and her work focuses on marine debris and trash pollution. She started working on coastal and ocean management for the State in 2012 with the State Lands Commission. At the State Lands Commission, her work focused on industrial and emerging uses in the ocean, including offshore renewable energy. In 2011, Holly earned a master’s in Environmental Science & Management from the Bren School at UC Santa Barbara, and she earned a B.A. from Western Washington University in 2008. Her master’s thesis group project worked with Ecotrust and the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans to integrate tribal marine resource use into California’s marine protected area planning process on the north coast. She enjoys traveling, backpacking, and exploring the outdoors.

Contact: (916) 653-0538 or holly.wyer@resources.ca.gov



Allison Kellum, 2019 CA State Sea Grant Fellow – Climate Change

Allison Kellum joined OPC in January 2019 as a CA State Sea Grant Fellow. She supports OPC’s climate change program with a focus on sea-level rise, ocean acidification, and other climate impacts on marine and coastal resources. Allison is an experienced science communicator and project manager. She developed programming and exhibits on topics from marine toxic pollutants to biology and ecology at science institutions throughout the country, including the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. She earned her Masters in Advanced Studies in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation in 2018 from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD, and holds a B.S. in Biology from the College of William and Mary. Outside of the office she enjoys biking, painting, and camping.

Contact: (916) 651-0237 or Allison.Kellum@resources.ca.gov



Scott Shatto, 2019 CA State Sea Grant Fellow – Marine Protected Areas

Scott Shatto joined the OPC team as the 2019 Marine Protected Area California State Sea Grant Fellow. Scott works on issues concerning MPA monitoring, education and outreach, restoration, policy and permitting, as well as grant management. Scott earned a Masters in Advanced Studies in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography where he focused his studies on how a changing climate affects the amount of oxygen found in the ocean and the subsequent impacts of this change. Before coming to the OPC, Scott worked for the National Park Service, the National Aquarium in Baltimore, and the Waitt Foundation. When not working, Scott enjoys hiking, running, scuba diving, and doing all things musical.

Contact: (916) 653-0542 or Scott.Shatto@resources.ca.gov



Chris Besenty, Information Systems Manager

Chris Besenty joined the Ocean Protection Council and State Coastal Conservancy staff in November 2007. A graduate of Sonoma State University’s Department of Environmental Studies and Planning (1996), Chris began his career with the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission as a volunteer coastal planning intern in 1995, working on the North Bay Wetlands Protection Program, and in 1998 was appointed the Commission’s Chief Information Officer. His interdisciplinary focus lies in exploring ways to economically integrate information technology practices with coastal resource management, including the use of spatial data to inform coastal planning goals and objectives, and the use of the Internet as a publishing medium. His experience with information technology began in 1990 with a Compuserve account, a friend’s TI PPC, and a beta copy of DR DOS. His personal interests include biking, hiking and camping on the beaches, deserts and forests of the western U.S. and strumming the guitar for fun and profit.

Contact: Chris.Besenty@resources.ca.gov