Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
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Meet the Staff

Staff members may be contacted by writing:
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
10 Ocean Science Circle
Savannah GA 31411
calling (912) 598-2345 or faxing (912) 598-2367.

Staff direct phone numbers and e-mail addresses are included below:

LTJG Marybeth Head, NOAA Corps, and
Vessel Operations Officer; 912.598.2432

Marybeth Head

LTJG Marybeth Head is the Vessel Operations Coordinator at Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. She previously was stationed aboard the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson, a hydrographic survey ship in Norfolk, VA. Marybeth is a PADI Divemaster and has her 50-ton USCG license. Prior to serving in NOAA Corps, she worked as an assistant dive safety officer and as a charter boat deckhand. Marybeth grew up in Applegate, Oregon and graduated from Oregon State University. There, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Fisheries and Wildlife with a specialization in Marine Ecology. She has been a big fan of sea critters for as long as she can remember!

Debbie Meeks,
Financial & IT Coordinator / Webmaster; 912.598.2434

Debbie Meeks

Debbie Meeks serves as Financial and IT Coordinator and Webmaster for Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. She joined the staff in June 2005. As Financial Coordinator, she is responsible for providing operations support for all financial operations of the organization, along with procurement, and monitoring of sub-awards. As IT Coordinator, Debbie is responsible for the maintenance and security of the work stations, server and network infrastructure in the Gray's Reef offices. As the Gray's Reef Webmaster, she is responsible for the design, development and maintenance of the organization's website. Debbie's prior information technology experience locally includes 15 years with Union Camp Corporation as a Systems Analyst and Project Manager and two years with H.O. Systems as a software developer for wireless communications. She holds a BBA in Finance and Banking / Accounting from Valdosta State University, a Microcomputer Specialist Degree, and has completed work towards a MS in Computer Science. She also has experience as an entrepreneur, having co-owned and managed The Monogram Place, a custom embroidery and monogram business and retail shop. Debbie, a Georgia native, moved to Savannah in 1984, and became a certified diver the following year.

Jody Patterson,
Events & Volunteer Coordinator; 912.598.2431

Jody Patterson

Jody Patterson is the Events and Volunteer Coordinator for Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary and has supported the site since 2009 through administrative operations, public outreach, volunteer engagement and education initiatives. She pursues an interest in wilderness conservation and habitat protection through science interpretation, promoting sustainable practices, encouraging environmental stewardship and exploration of our ocean planet. She is a certified PADI Rescue Diver, NAI Interpretive Guide, and a marine technology instructor. Her prior professional experiences include almost two decades of accounting and fund administration for private industry resulting in a strong business background and work ethic. A native of Greenville, South Carolina, she enjoys living in the low-country these days on a salt marsh barrier island in Georgia where she practices permaculture gardening with her husband, two children, dogs, cats, chickens and honeybees.

Captain Todd Recicar,
Marine Operations Coordinator; 912.598.2383

Todd Recicar

Todd Recicar is the Vessel Captain for Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. He started full time with Gray's Reef in June of 2007. After receiving a BS in Biology at Florida State University, he completed two Marine Education Internships; one at Newfound Harbor Marine Institute in Big Pine Key, Florida and the second at the University of Georgia's Marine Education Center and Aquarium in Savannah. After the completion of these internships, he worked as a research technician at the University of Georgia's Shellfish Research Laboratory in 1999. Prior to becoming a Gray's Reef employee he worked for 5 1/2 years as second mate on the 92 foot Research Vessel Savannah which is operated by the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography. Todd is a NOAA Working Diver and carries a 100GT USCG license.

Michelle Riley,
Communications and Public Outreach Coordinator; 912.598.2417

Michelle Riley

Michelle Riley joined Gray's Reef in 2015 and serves as the communications and public outreach coordinator. She worked in the international humanitarian sector for almost 20 years, serving as external affairs director for the Lifeline Energy Foundation and as a communications officer for former U.S. President Jimmy Carter at The Carter Center. A native of Galveston County, Texas, Michelle graduated from Pepperdine University in California and has lived in Savannah, GA for 12 years. She moved to Savannah to be near the ocean and thoroughly enjoyed volunteering for the Tybee Island Marine Science Center and The Dolphin Project.

Kim Roberson,
Research Coordinator; 912.598.2382

Kim Roberson

Kimberly Roberson is the Research Coordinator for Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. She began working with NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science's (NCCOS) Biogeography Branch in 2005 and joined the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries in 2016. Kim received her Bachelors of Science degree from Berry College in Rome, GA and her Master of Science degree from Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia where she conducted research on leatherback sea turtles, using genetics to explore connectivity between nesting populations and pelagic individuals. Prior to NOAA, Kim worked with the National Park Service in St. Croix, USVI, conducting research and implementing conservation measures on endangered and threatened species. She uses diving as a tool for research and has been a NOAA certified diver since 2005, a NOAA Divemaster since 2006 and served as the National Ocean Service Diving Officer for three years and Chair of the NOAA Diving Control and Safety Board for two years. Her early NOAA work had her diving, conducting fish counts and assessing the potential Research Area boundaries of Gray's Reef. Kim is originally from Tennessee and developed a love for the ocean during family vacations to the coast. She enjoys spending time outside, running, swimming, playing and exploring with her husband and two young sons.

Becky Shortland,
Resource Protection Coordinator; 912.598.2381

Becky Shortland

Becky Shortland serves as the Resource Protection Coordinator for Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary overseeing the Sanctuary Advisory Council, marine resource protection actions and other management plan related activities. Becky joined the sanctuary in 1998. Prior to Gray's Reef Becky was Vice President for Coastal Programs with The Georgia Conservancy. She grew up in Swarthmore, PA, but has lived in Savannah, Georgia for the past 32 years learning about and enjoying the coastal and marine environment.

Lisa Wooninck,
Acting Superintendent; 912.598.2428

Lisa Wooninck

Lisa Wooninck began as acting superintendent of Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary in September 2018. Lisa has a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of California Santa Barbara. Her interest in policy and marine resource management stems from her time as a 2000 Knauss Sea Grant Fellow in Congressman Farr's Office DC office. She began her NOAA career as a research fishery biologist, at NOAA Fisheries headquarters and Santa Cruz lab. Her passion for using science to inform policy however was awakened and she jumped on the opportunity to join the sanctuary team in 2008. She initially worked at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary as a policy analyst, and then joined the West Coast Regional team in 2010 as the policy coordinator for the five sanctuaries on the west coast.
Lisa has experience in policy and planning, and coordinating with conservation and user groups, and state and federal partners to develop integrated ecosystem-based management systems and ecologically and economically sustainable practices. She has represented sanctuary interests to fishery managers and educated them on the common goals shared by sanctuaries and fisheries management. She has also lead an ONMS team to highlight to tourism operators and the public the world class recreational activities, such as whale watching and sport fishing, offered by thriving ecosystems of national marine sanctuaries.
Lisa is guided by 'malama', a Hawaiian concept that expresses care, respect and stewardship for the environment and humans, and our obligation to care for both. Lisa also believes strongly in team work and looks forward to working with the GRNMS team, their partners and friends.

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