NESS Team Staff Photo

Our Team

New England Science & Sailing is driven by a dynamic, nationally-recognized, and award-winning team. All members of our team embody our core values of inclusiveness, experiential learning, personal growth, and stewardship. As a community-based non-profit, we take pride in our outreach efforts for our innovative programs in marine science, sailing, and adventure water sports.

Year-Round Staff

Spike Lobdell, New England Science & Sailing

Spike Lobdell


Spike founded NESS in 2002 and now serves as its President and CEO. He established NESS with a vision of enabling everyone to get out on the water, learning and having fun, regardless of financial needs. The core values of inclusiveness, experiential learning, self-discovery, and stewardship remain his passion in leading NESS today. NESS teaches thousands of students annually, many of whom are on scholarship. Spike works as a full-time volunteer for the Foundation. He recently received the National Recreation Foundation’s Robert W. Crawford Achievement Prize in 2016, an award that recognizes the individual that has done the most to advance the lives of inner-city youth through recreation. He was also recognized by US Sailing as the Outstanding Organizational Leader of a sailing organization in 2016. Formerly CEO of XL Capital’s non-insurance operations, Spike worked at JP Morgan for 27 years in various senior management capacities. Spike is a past Commodore of the Stonington Harbor Yacht Club where he was one of the Founding Members. Former Trustee of Westminster School (Simsbury CT), where was Vice Chairman of the Board for 9 years. Spike sails a Hinckley Sou’wester 42, Legacy, and races J-24s locally.

Kelley Dupree

New London Program Director

Kelley graduated from Eckerd College with a BS in Marine Science. While in College, she studied the effects of ecotourism on local dolphin populations in Kaikoura, New Zealand and traveled from Boston to the USVI aboard the tall ship, Spirit of Massachusetts. She has extensive experience teaching students from 5-18 years old in both marine and terrestrial environments. Past experiences include teaching marine science and island ecology at the Catalina Island Marine Institute in California, Sound to Sea in North Carolina, the Acadia Institute of Oceanography in Maine as well as at MarineLab in Key Largo, Florida. Kelley has also spent time working at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and at the New England Aquarium in Boston. Most recently, Kelley worked as a Lego Engineering Instructor, teaching basic engineering concepts to students using a wide variety of Lego materials. Kelley is a USCG OUPV Captain, NAUI SCUBA Rescue Diver, American Red Cross Lifeguard, and ACA Coastal Kayak Level II Instructor.

Mary Ann Horrigan

Stonington Program Director

Mary graduated from Providence College with a BS in Humanities. She taught marine science and sailing at the Block Island Maritime Institute, was a naturalist aboard whale watching vessels in Hawaii, taught surfing in Hawaii, taught marine science at Catalina Island Marine Institute, researched for The Nature Conservancy, was a Captain and Education Specialist for Save The Bay, Narragansett Bay, RI and serves on the Board of the Alewife Cove Conservancy, New London, CT. Mary is a certified American Red Cross Lifeguard, NAUI Divemaster, ACA Coastal Kayak Level II Instructor, NSSIA SUP/Surf Instructor, US Sailing Level 1 Trainer, US Sailing REACH Trainer, USCG Master 50GT Captain and has served on the US Sailing Small Boat National Faculty.

Kellyanne Randall

Finance Director

Kelly graduated from Villanova University in 2001 with a BS in Accounting, and from New York University with an M.B.A. in 2010. Prior to joining NESS, she spent 4 years in public accounting and 12 years in the finance and tax department of 21st Century Fox in New York. Kelly grew up spending summers by the water in York Beach, Maine, and she has spent most of her adult life enjoying summers in Weekapaug, RI. While living in New York, she competed in marathons and triathlons and was a coach for both the Team in Training marathon program for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society, as well as the Determination marathon program for the American Cancer society. In 2013 she and her husband Doug moved back to Rhode Island full time and now live in Charlestown with their two young daughters, Grace and Claire.

Marggie Slichter

Director of Advancement

Marggie is a graduate of Wellesley College, with a BA in American Studies. Marggie began at NESS in 2017 as Director of Advancement, with 15 years of fundraising and alumni relations experience at an independent school. Now living in Stonington, Marggie grew upswimming, sailing, and canoeing on Lake Mendota in Madison, WI. Marggie sails with her partner Ben on his J160 Atlantic and they enjoy cruising from Fishers Island Sound to Maine, Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, and the Magdalen Islands. When not on the water, you will find Marggie in her garden.

Ben Yanni

Director of Operations

Ben graduated from Trinity College where he spent a SEA semester sailing in the Caribbean aboard the 134’ Brigantine Corwith Cramer learning the fundamentals of marine science and offshore sailing. This ocean adventure inspired a love for marine education and the start of a maritime career. After college, Ben worked for a variety of inspected vessels, attained his 100 TON USCG Master License and completed a yearlong marine systems program at the Landing School in Kennebunkport, ME. Quite familiar with the marine based non-profit world, Ben enjoys the combination of maintenance, marine education, and community outreach that can be found at a facility like New England Science & Sailing. Ben is an ABYC “master technician”, US Sailing Level 1 Instructor, US Powerboating Instructor, and Wilderness First Responder. In the summer, he can be found teaching powerboating or fixing boats.

Mark Zagol

Sailing Program Director

Mark grew up and learned to sail on the waters of Plymouth Harbor in Massachusetts. A graduate of Old Dominion University with a degree in Business Management, Mark was a two-time Collegiate All-American sailor. Mark joined the NESS team after a 12-year career as a collegiate sailing coach which included coaching at the United States Coast Guard Academy, the United States Merchant Marine Academy, and ODU. Mark remains very active in the sailing community, sailing all types of boats. He was the US Team Racing Champion in 2005 as well as the 2013 505 North American Champion. In 2013 Mark was part of a team at NESS that accepted US Sailing’s Outstanding Community Sailing Center Award. In 2015, Mark received US Sailing’s Outstanding Program Director Award. Mark is a US Sailing Level 3 Coach, Level 1 Instructor Trainer, ARC Waterfront lifeguard and holds a USCG Master’s Captain License. Mark lives with his wife Heather and three daughters Mason, Ainslie, and Callan in Pawcatuck CT.

Patrick Austin

Assistant Director of Operations

Patrick attended the University of New Hampshire’s Thomson School of Applied Science and has been working in the marine construction industry for twenty years. Patrick has worked up and down the east coast on several large marine construction projects. He is an advanced PADI scuba diver, holds his unlimited Heavy Equipment License in Rhode Island and Connecticut, USCG 100gt Captains license, and is an American Red Cross Certified Lifeguard. Now living in North Stonington with his wife and their three children, Patrick enjoys hiking in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, hunting in Central Pennsylvania, and fishing in Block Island Sound, Florida, and the Carolinas. You can usually find Patrick and his family working on their small family farm.

Chris Baker

New London Sailing Coordinator

Chris attended the University of Connecticut where he studied Political Science and raced for the UConn Sailing Team. He is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Public Administration at UConn. Chris grew up in New London and learned to sail at New London Community Boating, where he has taught sailing since 2012. Chris is excited to give back to the program that instilled a love of sailing and the ocean in him at a young age. He is a certified American Red Cross Lifeguard, US Sailing Level 1 Instructor, and is pursuing his USCG OUPV Captain’s License. In his free time, Chris enjoys sailing, snorkeling, skiing, and coaching the New London High School Fencing Team.

Erin Christiansen

NESS SEA AmeriCorps Manager

Erin graduated from the University of Kansas with her BS in Environmental Studies and minors in French and German language. Erin served as a NESS SEA AmeriCorps member for two years, combining both her passion for the ocean and working with students and was the perfect opportunity for her to get her hands wet in the field of environmental education. Erin has lived her life inland until moving to the Connecticut coast, but she has always had a very strong love for orca whales, which grew into a vast love and interest for the ocean. Erin is a certified PADI SCUBA diver and she is very excited to try as many ocean adventure sports as she can and learn as much as possible about the New England coast. She is even more excited to work with the students in the New London public school system and at Ocean Beach to explore the local coastline together.

Angela Connolly

Camp Director & Safety Coordinator

Angela attended Western Connecticut State University where she studied Sports Management and played lacrosse. Angela has spent the last 10 years working for the Mystic YMCA, where she shared her love for water and safety through teaching. Angela grew up on the water in boats and spent most of her summers on Sandy Point exploring the ocean. She is a certified American Red Cross Lifeguard Instructor, NAUI Advanced Scuba Diver, Small Craft Safety Canoeing and Kayaking, CT CIAV coaching, and holds a Safe Boaters certificate. In her free time, she enjoys watching the Green Bay Packers, paddle boarding, kayaking, coaching lacrosse, skiing, and hiking with her husband Graham and dog Tucker and Jake

Nick Ewenson

Assistant Sailing Director

Nick grew up in Newport, RI and graduated from St. Mary’s College of Maryland with a BA in English. While at St. Mary’s, Nick competed on the college’s sailing team and won the ICSA Team Racing National Championship in 2004. Prior to joining NESS, Ewenson was an employee at LaserPerformance. He was also a sailing coach for the College of Charleston and University of Rhode Island, where he helped lead the teams to five national championships. Still an active racer today, Nick can be found frostbiting lasers, team racing keelboats, and racing in the C&C 30 class. Away from racing, Nick loves kiteboarding when the wind is up and snorkeling and swimming when it’s not. Nick is a US Sailing Level 3 Coach and ARC Waterfront Lifeguard and holds a US Coast Guard OUPV Captain’s License.

Tyler Fortune

Tyler Fortune

Education Specialist

Tyler graduated from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL where he received his degree in Marine Science. While in college Tyler gained his first taste of professional maritime experience working aboard a search and rescue boat in the Gulf of Mexico. After college, Tyler made his way to the Virgin Islands where we lived on a sailboat several years. He worked as the Lead Naturalist with Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment before becoming the first-ever Director of Education at Coral World Ocean Park. While in Virgin Islands he gained his Master Captain’s License. When Tyler left the Caribbean, he then started traditional sailing as the Shipboard Director for Living Classrooms in Washington D.C. His Hobbies include all sea sports, as well as rock climbing, hiking, photography, and graphic design.

Pam Gibbs

Business Development Officer

Pam grew up in Noank where she learned to sail and spend time enjoying the local waters. She graduated from UCONN with a BS degree in Environmental Horticulture and after many years of retail management, design, and sales in the Horticulture industry, she began working at NESS in 2011. As Business Development Officer, Pam brings her varied experience to the NESS administrative office cultivating and managing relationships with NESS’s customers in the school and organization segments, including corporate groups. Pam currently lives in Mystic with her husband Jim and son Adam, who has enjoyed many years at NESS as a student. Pam enjoys gardening, sailing, skiing, biking, and hiking.

Caroline Knowles

Marketing Coordinator

Caroline graduated from Bates College in 2012 with a BA in Women and Gender Studies. She is originally from Massachusetts and grew up sailing in Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound. Caroline began at NESS as a volunteer, and she joined the NESS team as Marketing Coordinator in May 2015. While she spends most of her time at NESS behind a desk, Caroline is also a US Sailing Level 3 Coach and ARC certified lifeguard. When she is not exploring Long Island Sound by boat, Caroline can be found training and racing in triathlons anywhere from Mystic, CT to Beijing, China.

Jodie Kubachka

Human Resources Manager

Jodie graduated from Lynchburg College with a BS in Psychology. In 2006, after briefly managing the local Humane Society, Jodie began working at FirstHealth of the Carolinas first as an administrator in the Oncology Department and then in the Laboratory; developing a system-wide Laboratory Quality Initiative while managing a variety of special projects. When an opportunity came about to manage the hospital system’s three dental clinics, Jodie accepted the challenge, improving the clinics’ workflow and bottom line. In 2013 Jodie, her 2 dogs and cat moved back to Connecticut and in December 2013 Jodie began her career at NESS, bringing a strong background in administrative and project management. During her free time Jodie enjoys riding her horse, boating and hiking with her dogs.

Sean Linden

New London Educator

Sean graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2015 with a degree in Earth sciences. During college, Sean spent his summers doing fieldwork in the western U.S., as well as researching high-pressure melt flows in silicate rocks. When he wasn’t studying rocks, Sean worked at Catholic Youth Camp-Minnesota for four summers where he was the Assistant Program Director and taught waterfront activities, like canoeing, kayaking, and swimming. After graduation, he decided to pursue a career in education beginning with his first AmeriCorps term at Urban Roots in Reno, NV. Sean served as a NESS SEA AmeriCorps member before joining NESS as an educator. Sean looks forward to expanding his passion for teaching with NESS where he hopes to use his knowledge in geology and gardening to supplement the organization’s ocean science curriculum.

Lauren Lyons

Lauren W. Lyons

Development Officer

Lauren graduated from Quinnipiac University with a BA in Public Relations. Lauren began at NESS as a volunteer and officially began in her role as Development Officer in July of 2013. She manages NESS’s fundraising events, including the Annual Benefit Gala, works on the Annual Fund Campaign, and spearheads Grant Funding. Originally from Bedford, NH, Lauren spent her summers on the ocean in Weekapaug, RI, where she learned to sail. Lauren lives in Stonington and enjoys sailing, skiing, golf, fishing, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, and tennis.

Evan McOmber

Education Specialist

Evan grew up in Wethersfield Connecticut and graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Maritime Studies from Avery Point. During college, Evan held an internship with the Stonington police department, worked at a bait and tackle shop in Hartford, and was a seasonal employee for CT DEEP in the marine fisheries division in Old Lyme. In 2007 Evan moved to Virginia and worked for the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, becoming chief of field operations for two trawl surveys and a shark longline survey. These programs surveyed the waters from Hatteras North Carolina to Martha’s Vineyard Massachusetts and throughout the Chesapeake Bay. Evan’s work also took him to the Aleutian Islands in Alaska and Newfoundland. Evan moved back to CT in 2015 and worked as a seasonal educator for NESS until being hired full time in October of 2016. Evan is a USCG OUPV Captain and an ARC Lifeguard. When not at NESS teaching Marine Science and Adventure Sports, Evan enjoys spending time with his wife and two children in Newington, CT.

Lauren O’Donnell


Lauren O’Donnell graduated from Stockton University with a Biology degree and a passion for the ocean and teaching yoga. After graduation, Lauren worked for Catalina Island Marine Institute where she led paddle board and kayak adventures in addition to wide variety of marine science programs. Lauren is a 200hr certified Yoga teacher, certified in CPR/AED, First Aid, Oxygen, and an ARC Waterfront Lifeguard. She also is an advanced NAUI Scuba Diver and a USCG OUPV boat captain.

Meg Patrick

Human Resources Administrative Coordinator

Meg Patrick graduated from The University of Vermont in 2010 with a BS in Community Entrepreneurship. She grew up in Vermont, spending her summers with her family on the shores of Lake Champlain. Meg and her puppy Sparrow moved to Westerly, RI in May of 2017. She joins the NESS family with an extensive background in HR administration and business management. If Meg isn’t running, you can find her soaking up the sun at the beach or practicing yoga.

Carrie Praeger


Carrie grew up boating and fishing on the waters of Lake Michigan. She graduated with a BS in Accounting from Michigan State University in 2000. After graduation, she began her career implementing financial software packages for Arthur Andersen before spending 9 years as the Accounting Manager of a distribution company. She spent a year as a Senior Accountant at the Venetian/Palazzo in Las Vegas, Nevada before moving to the East Coast to become the Director of Finance for Ocean House Management in Watch Hill, Rhode Island. In 2016 she began her own bookkeeping business before joining the NESS team in 2017. Carrie is an avid animal lover and certified dog trainer and enjoys volunteering for animal welfare organizations as much as possible. She lives in Groton, Connecticut with her Lab mix Roxie and cat Kacee.

Megan Strand

Education Specialist

Megan has been living in Connecticut since 1987 where she moved with her family from Lakenheath, England. While living in the Groton/Mystic area she became very interested in Long Island Sound and found a love of power boating and water sports. Megan received her BS in Coastal Studies (marine science) from the University of Connecticut; she then went on to get her masters in Environmental Education from Southern Connecticut State University. During college Megan got a chance to work in some interesting places including Hawaii working with Hawksbill Sea Turtles, and on the Algarve Coast in Portugal working with seals and sea lions. She also has her 100 Ton Captains License, an ACA Coastal Kayak Level II Instructor, and is a Connecticut certified school teacher in Biology for 7-12th grade. Megan loves to cheer on the Red Sox, kayak, geocache, and train her dog. Megan currently lives with her husband, son Silas, two cats, a dog, many fish and thousands of honey bees in Mystic.

Jordan Slocum


Jordan grew up in Stonington and discovered a love for the ocean and water sports at a young age. In 2010 she moved to Chicago to attend Columbia College, where she realized the importance of experiential learning and community outreach. She also learned that a life away from the ocean is no life at all. After returning to Connecticut, Jordan started at NESS in 2014 as a part-time camp assistant and soon worked up to her role as Registrar. In her spare time, she can be found reading, shopping, playing trivia, or writing and filming comedy videos.

Caleb Rose


Caleb Rose grew up in Stonington Connecticut doing most of the activities that exist at ness as a kid. Later he graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Environmental Science with a focus on Marine Science. In previous jobs, he has been an accountant assistant for Stanford University Athletic Department, worked for the Band Aerosmith, and served as first mate on the charter fishing vessel Matura. Of those jobs, he liked the fishing most of all. Caleb is a USCG 50-ton Master Captain, a US Sailing level 1 instructor, USCG OUPV and Master Captain course instructor up to 100 ton, a US Powerboat Safe power boat Handling instructor for the states of CT, RI, and NY, a member of the Stonington Harbor Management Commission and an ARC Lifeguard. When not at NESS teaching Marine Science and Adventure Sports, Caleb likes spending time with his wife and son on the water.

Board of Directors

Advisory Council

Mark Adams
Lisa Tepper Bates
Richard Farmer – Secretary
Bill Follett – Chairman
Allegra Griffiths
Steve Hazard – Treasurer
Michael Hennessy

Past Presidents:
Peter Tacy 2004 to 2006
Robert Fountain 2006 to 2008

Jane Leipold
Spike Lobdell – President & CEO
Michael Savage
Barbara Scott
Meg Spenlinhauer
Kirby Williams

Frances Ashley
Gerry Boisvert
Katie Bradford
George Brengle
Rob Burt
Tim Desmond
Deb Dodds
Declan Doogan
John Duerden
Drew Hollenbeck
Julia Knowlton
Don Landers
Erica Lindberg
Clay Maitland

Wade McDevitt
Dan McLeod
Dan Meiser
Bill Middleton
Bob Osieski
Laurie Paige
John Parry
Sebastian Scripps
Mike Smiles
Dave Smith
Joe Staley
Betsy Stevenson
Barbara Timken