People

Advisors

Advisors

Mark Abbott

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Octavio Aburto

UCSD/Scripps

Richard Brusca

Researcher, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona

Lee Christie

Oregon Community Foundation

Sarah Christie

California Coastal Commission

Graham Craft

Mercy Corps

Don Croll

UC Santa Cruz

Richard Cudney

Chuck Drake

Alan Lightman

Science Author

Mara Orescanin

Naval Postgraduate School

David Ortiz-Suslow

Naval Postgraduate School

Bruce Robison

MBARI

Jesus Ruiz-Plancarte

Naval Postgraduate School

Ray Troll

Visual Artist

Omar Vidal

Samantha Wishnak

Ocean Exploration Trust

Board & Advisors

John M. Gregg

Founder and Director

John Gregg has been involved in the geotechnical and environmental sampling business for 40 years. He was the founder and President of Gregg Drilling & Testing, Inc., and is currently involved in the design and implementation of deep-sea sampling systems at great depths in oceans around the world. When John was ten years old, he picked up a copy of The Log from the Sea of Cortez and was forever changed by it.  In 2015, he purchased the Western Flyer and founded the Western Flyer Foundation to continue the legacy started by Steinbeck and Ricketts back in 1940.

Tom Keffer

Board President

Tom Keffer has worked as an oceanographer, a CEO of a public software company, an investor, and with non-profits.

After receiving his PhD from Oregon State University in 1980, he worked at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, first as a Postdoctoral Fellow, and then later as a member of their faculty, focusing on the oceanography of the oceans during the last ice age, and on how atmospheric gases get absorbed into the ocean. From 1985 to 1989 he was on the faculty of the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, again, focusing on climate studies. He is the author of thirteen refereed publications in journals such as Science, Nature, and the Journal of Marine Research, as well as the author of many technical reports and talks.

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In 1989 he co-founded Rogue Wave Software, Inc, in Corvallis, Oregon, becoming its Chairman, President, and CEO. The company did an IPO on the NASDAQ exchange (sticker RWAV) in 1996, followed in 1997 by a secondary offering. He retired as CEO in 1998.

During the 2010s, he focused on angel and venture investing in Oregon-based companies. He was president of 1000 Friends of Oregon, a land-use advocacy organization. He also worked as an advisor to Mercy Corps on their economic development programs, an experience which took him to Indonesia, Gaza, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Mongolia, and other places. In his spare time he enjoys racing his J/42 sailboat.

Susan Shillinglaw, Ph.D

Board Secretary

Born in Iowa, raised in Colorado, Susan Shillinglaw graduated with a B.A. in English and Art from Cornell College and earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Since 1984, she has been a Professor of English at San Jose State University (currently FERPing), where she was Director of the University’s Center for Steinbeck Studies for 18 years. In 2012-13 she was named the SJSU President’s Scholar. She was also Director of the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas from 2015-2018.

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Dr. Shillinglaw has published widely on John Steinbeck, most recently Carol and John Steinbeck: Portrait of a Marriage (U of Nevada P, 2013) and On Reading The Grapes of Wrath (Penguin, 2014); and A Journey into Steinbeck’s California (3rd edition, 2019) She also wrote introductions to several of Steinbeck books for Penguin New American Library editions. Currently, she is writing a book Steinbeck’s landscapes.

She has served on the boards of Hopkins Marine Station, the Cannery Row Foundation, SJSU’s Center for Steinbeck Studies, the National Steinbeck Center, the Monterey Museum of Art and the Western Flyer Foundation.

Bob Lesko

Treasurer

Bob Lesko was born and raised in Washington DC. His work includes managing endowments for national organizations, as well as advising small high growth organizations as they expand. Bob attended Yale University and was ranked top 10 in the US in the mile run, running under 4 minutes in 1993. After earning an MBA from Wharton, Bob spent 25 years at Morgan Stanley as a Managing Director where he oversaw over $21B in capital for private families, endowments, and corporations, retiring in 2021. Bob was a very early private investor in Uber, Pinterest, Airbnb, and Twitter, where he advised the founding teams on early growth and raising capital. Bob currently is on the board of several non-profits, and has founded 3 501c-3 entities as well since 2007. He lives on Lake Union in Seattle,WA watching boats of all sizes come in and out of port.

William Gilly, Ph.D

Board Member and Chief Scientist

William Gilly is a Professor of Biology at Stanford University based at Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, CA. He received a B.S.E. in electrical engineering from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in physiology and biophysics from Washington University after carrying out his thesis research at Yale University Medical School. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania in the Departments of Biology and Physiology and began working with squid during this time at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA.

His research has ranged from biophysical and molecular analyses of excitability mechanisms in nerve and muscle cells of a variety of invertebrates, but primarily squid, to oceanographic changes in the Gulf of California and Monterey Bay. His group was the first (and only) to deploy pop-up satellite tags and video-monitoring devices (National Geographic Crittercam) on large Humboldt squid to record their second-to-second vertical movements and color-changing behaviors. His current research focuses on the physiological mechanisms controlling skin-color change in squid and the influence of climatic anomalies and changing oceanographic conditions on the life history of Humboldt squid in the Gulf of California.

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His work has often been featured in popular media, including the Ultimate Explorer episode “Devils of the Deep” on National William Gilly is a Professor of Biology at Stanford University based at Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, CA. He received a B.S.E. in electrical engineering from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in physiology and biophysics from Washington University after carrying out his thesis research at Yale University Medical School. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania in the Departments of Biology and Physiology and began working with squid during this time at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA.

His research has ranged from biophysical and molecular analyses of excitability mechanisms in nerve and muscle cells of a variety of invertebrates, but primarily squid, to oceanographic changes in the Gulf of California and Monterey Bay. His group was the first (and only) to deploy pop-up satellite tags and video-monitoring devices (National Geographic Crittercam) on large Humboldt squid to record their second-to-second vertical movements and color-changing behaviors. His current research focuses on the physiological mechanisms controlling skin-color change in squid and the influence of climatic anomalies and changing oceanographic conditions on the life history of Humboldt squid in the Gulf of California.

His work has often been featured in popular media, including the Ultimate Explorer episode “Devils of the Deep” on National Geographic TV, “Cannibal Squid” on Dangerous Encounters with Brady Barr, in popular magazines (Discover, Outside, BioScience) and on National Geographic News online posts. His lab group carries out the the popular K-12 outreach program, Squids4Kids, and contributes to Science Friday’s “Cephalopod Week.” In 2004 he was Director and Chief Scientist for the Sea of Cortez Exploration and Education Project that retraced the 1940 expedition to the Sea of Cortez by John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts on the Western Flyer. He is currently developing a marine field station for research and education in the Gulf of California with the technical college Instituto Tecnológico Superior de Mulege, Santa Rosalia, BCS, and The Ocean Foundation, Washington, DC. He also co-directs, with Susan Shillinglaw, a summer institute on John Steinbeck funded by the National Endowment for Humanities for high-school teachers that bridges science and literature.

Linda Powell-McMillan

Board Member

Linda Powell-McMillan is first and foremost a teacher. She taught elementary grades at a small rural school in Shandon CA and taught Biology and Chemistry in Paso Robles High School for 12 years. She left the classroom to become a California Regional Director for AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), a college preparatory system in the US, designing and facilitating professional learning for teachers in the US, Australia, and for Department of Defense teachers in Europe and the Pacific. She worked as a National Director for Professional Learning for AVID. Most recently she has been working internationally (in-country and online) as an Education Consultant for AVID Australia, coaching Australian elementary and secondary teachers in the teaching and learning strategies of AVID

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She received a Bachelor of Science in Renewable Natural Resources from the University of California, Davis, then returned to UC Davis to earn a Master of Science in Ecology. She holds Elementary and Secondary Teaching Credentials and an Administrative Services Credential from California Polytechnic State University. She was the co-Director of the California Science Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Her interest in natural history and conservation led to a career as a wildlife film maker and photographer for the National Audubon Society. She, along with her husband, Greg, produced 90-minute wildlife films on the Outback of Australia, the flora, fauna and people of Papua New Guinea, the Gray Whales of Baja California. She was field tour leader of natural history journeys in Baja California for Red Hills Films and Natural History Tours. During a year’s sabbatical in Chile, her photographs and essays became part of Chile’s first national webpage. 

She lives in the Central Coast of California in an off-the-grid strawbale home, on a ranch raising grass-fed beef and olives for oil.

Enrique Hambleton

Board Member

Enrique Hambleton is a Mexican conservationist, photographer and writer based in La Paz, Baja California Sur.  He is an active founding board member of Pronatura Noroeste, a chapter of Mexico’s oldest and largest Conservation Non-profit organization dedicated to environmental conservation and resource use advocacy.  The chapter he helped create works in the five states that surround the Sea of Cortés as well as its waters and islands.  Enrique is also an active founding board member of Niparajá, a La Paz based Conservation Non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of land and sea-based ecosystems, sustainable fisheries and water conservation in Baja California Sur. Both of these organizations have been working successfully in the region since the early 90´s

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Enrique is also known for his long-standing commitment to document, study and protect one of the world´s greatest concentrations of prehistoric art located in the central mountain ranges of the Peninsula of Baja California.  He was instrumental in achieving the UNESCO World Heritage designation for the Sierra de San Francisco in 1993 and also participated in the successful effort to secure the same designation for the islands in the Sea of Cortés in 2005.He continues to work to conserve the natural and cultural capital of Mexico’s California and its sea.

Jack Barth

Board Member

Jack Barth is a Professor of oceanography in Oregon State University’s (OSU) College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. He received a Ph.D in Oceanography from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program in Oceanography. He is a Fellow of The Oceanography Society and of the American Meteorological Society. He is also the Executive Director of OSU’s Marine Studies Initiative, a new program to unite marine-related research, teaching, and outreach and engagement across OSU and the state of Oregon. The mission of the Marine Studies Initiative is to create a healthy future for our ocean and the planet through transdisciplinary research and teaching that emphasizes collaboration, experiential learning, engagement with society and problem solving. 

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His research seeks to understand how coastal ocean circulation and water properties shape and influence marine ecosystems. He has led a number of research, technology development and ocean observing system projects off Oregon and around the world. He has published widely on coastal oceanography and marine ecosystems. His present research includes a focus on the characteristics and formation of low-oxygen zones off the Pacific Northwest. His research team uses autonomous underwater gliders, robots beneath the sea surface, logging hundreds of thousands of kilometers of measurements. From 2004 to 2007, he was a member of the National Science Foundation’s Observatory Steering Committee that launched the Ocean Observatories Initiative, the largest ever civilian investment by the U.S. in in-water ocean measurements. From 2013-2016, he served on the U.S. West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel, and from 2017-2022, he co-chaired Oregon’s Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Coordinating Council. He is a member of the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES) Governing Council and the National Academy of Science's Committee on Environmental Science and Assessment for Ocean Energy Management.

Team

Sherry Flumerfelt

Executive Director

Sherry has spent twenty-four years in the nonprofit sector working with coastal communities on ocean health issues. She joined the Western Flyer Foundation as our first executive director in July 2022. Prior to this, she spent eight years as the founding executive director of the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust, where she worked to support local, sustainable fisheries. Sherry also spent eight years as a consultant for organizations such as the Environmental Defense Fund, the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative, the California Fisheries Fund, and EcoTrust. Between 1999 and 2007, she was a program manager at the Coral Reef Alliance, where she led education and conservation programs in Fiji, Micronesia, Indonesia, Hawaii, Papua New Guinea, and Bonaire.

Sherry was born and raised in London, Ontario, Canada, and holds an MA in Anthropology and International Development from the University of Guelph and a BA in Anthropology from McMaster University. She lives in Pacific Grove with her two teenage sons.

Rebecca Mostow, Ph.D.

Education Director

Rebecca Mostow is a coastal ecologist and educator with over a decade of experience teaching, developing, and running innovative and experiential science education programs. Rebecca holds a B.A. in Biology from Oberlin College and a Ph.D. in Integrative Biology from Oregon State University. Rebecca’s dissertation research used ecological, genetic, and participatory science methods to investigate a novel hybrid beachgrass in the Pacific Northwest. Throughout her career, Rebecca has integrated scientific research with a love of community outreach and teaching. She has conducted ecological research and education all along the Pacific Coast, from Southeast Alaska to Panama, in wide-ranging topics from seabird population dynamics to the biochemistry of kelp reproduction. She has taught students of all ages, from preschool through retirement, and worked in diverse organizations including Port Townsend Marine Science Center, Bureau of Land Management, and Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.

Katie Thomas, Ph.D.

Science Manager

Katie is a marine biologist and visual ecologist with 13 years of experience in shipboard ocean research and science education. Hands-on learning in marine field courses and aboard research vessels hooked Katie on science early in her career, and she is thrilled to work with the Western Flyer Foundation to broaden student access to these types of experiences. Katie earned a B.S. in Marine Biology from the University of Oregon and a Ph.D. in Biology from Duke University. During her research career, she has worked in natural history museums, universities, field stations, and nonprofits, and has been on fourteen multi-day research cruises and numerous day trips to sample marine environments. Katie is passionate about science outreach and has engaged with people of all ages via public talks, science fairs, non-specialist courses, K-12 classroom visits, press interviews, and online blogs and outreach. She has over a decade of teaching experience engaging with diverse students in classroom, laboratory, and marine field courses, as well as formal training in developing educational materials and courses.

Captain Paul Tate

Captain Paul is a US Coast Guard Certified Master with decades of experience working on research vessels, fishing boats, and private yachts.

Paul started his maritime career with the US Coast Guard in the 1960s, where he became interested in marine science and commercial fishing. He pursued a BS in Fisheries Management from the University of Washington, then spent the next ten years as a fisheries biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game. In the late 1970s, Paul decided to try his hand at commercial fishing and became the Captain of a Bering Sea crab boat, where he spent the next five years.

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As much as Captain Paul loved being a commercial fisherman, he and his wife decided it was time for an adventure. In 1984, they and their young son went cruising by sail throughout Mexico, Central America, and the eastern part of the United States. After a stretch running vessel deliveries, he joined Carlson Companies of Minneapolis, a private international company engaged in hospitality, travel, and corporate incentive. There he enjoyed a mix of people, ports, and Atlantic waters for eighteen years, working as the Captain of motor yachts between 90 and 145 feet. Nevertheless, he felt drawn back to Pacific Northwest waters and marine science, and in 2005, heeded the call.

Paul and a partner refitted the retired 108 ft Bering Sea crabber Norseman as a research vessel. He captained the Norseman for ten years, sailing on 54 research and exploration voyages from Southeast Alaska to Arctic Ocean waters. He also did a short stint with Un-Cruise Adventures as Chief Mate, worked on Oregon State University’s R/V Elakha conducting coastal and estuarine research, and has spent the past six years as Captain of the US Geological Survey’s R/V Alaskan Gyre.

In addition to a BS in Fisheries Management from UW, Captain Paul has received training at the US Navy Fleet Sonar School in Florida and was certified as a Boat Oregon Instructor to lead boating safety courses. We are thrilled to welcome such a seasoned Captain to our team as we launch this next exciting phase of the Western Flyer’s journey!

Chris Chase

Restoration Director

Chris Chase brings over thirty years of experience to the Western Flyer Foundation
as a shipwright, project manager, operational director, and, for nearly twenty years,
an owner of the Port Townsend Shipwrights. When the Western Flyer first arrived
in Port Townsend, Chris was the lead shipwright and foreman of the Western
Flyer restoration. What began as just another restoration for him soon turned into a
deep passion and course-changing event.

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Caught up by the history of the Western Flyer, the writings of those who sailed on
her, and the lives she had touched, Chris quickly recognized this project was
unique. It had the potential to strike a spark deep into the lives of the next
generation of scientists and young artists.

Following his intuition, Chris embarked on the next chapter of his life. In 2017 he
transitioned from shipwright overseeing the daily restoration to the broader role of
Project Director working directly for the Western Flyer Foundation. Chris has also
taken on public relations and filmmaker in his new role, exploring his creativity by
bringing the Western Flyer story to life.

As a shipwright and project lead, Chris has overseen the restoration of countless
classic sailing vessels, fishing vessels, and adventure yachts from California to
Alaska. Over his thirty years in the marine industry, Chris has worked alongside
numerous environmental nonprofits and maritime foundations, including the
Northwest Maritime Foundation, Deep Green Wilderness, S/V Martha Foundation,
and the Sound Experience Foundation. He has also served as a board member for
the NW School of Wooden Boat Building in Port Townsend, WA.

Andy Beahrs

Grants Manager

Andy Beahrs is the author of the food history and memoir Twain’s Feast: Searching for America’s Lost Foods in the Footsteps of Samuel Clemens, and co-host with Nick Offerman of the Audible Original based on the book. His work also includes the historical novels The Windcatcher and The Sin-Eaters, as well as essays and articles for The New York Times, The Atlantic, Virginia Quarterly Review, and many other publications. A volunteer diver with the Reef Check Kelp Forest Program and with Monterey’s Giant Giant Kelp Restoration Project, he lives in Berkeley, California with his family.

Julie Flanders

Accountant

Julie oversees the Western Flyer Foundation’s bookkeeping, payroll, and accounting services. She has experience as a CFO and a CPA, and runs her own bookkeeping and consulting business. Julie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Santa Clara University.

Tracy Corbin

Data Operations

Tracy assists with Western Flyer Foundation’s data systems and processes. As a consultant, she specializes in providing operational support to nonprofits and small businesses. She previously held roles in operations and membership management with the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council and San Francisco Baykeeper.