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.
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. In 2019 he received US Sailing’s “Marty” – The Martin A. Luray Award – the organization’s highest honor for contributions to public access and community sailing. Spike also has 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, in 2016, by US Sailing as the Outstanding Organizational Leader of a sailing organization. Formerly the 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. He is also a Former Trustee of Westminster School (Simsbury, CT), where he was Vice Chairman of the Board for nine years. Spike sails a Hinckley Sou’wester 42, Legacy, and races J-24s locally.
Eric Isselhardt, PhD
Executive Director of Education
Eric Isselhardt, PhD, is a senior executive with over 25 years of leadership experience in both non-profit and for-profit education venues as C.E.O., Executive Director, and C.A.O. of education-based organizations. His work focused on inner-city learners, inquiry-based pedagogical development and delivery, virtual and blended learning, organization culture, and systemic reform—all designed to increase student achievement. His leadership philosophy is based on distributed leadership theory, teamwork, consensus building, and accountability, balanced by the ability to translate a shared core mission into tactical action. He has an education practitioner’s business perspective that he applies in all of his leadership positions. The use of creative approaches to problem solving, effective strategic planning processes, collaborative management, and a drive for excellence leading to innovative and entrepreneurial market-leading mission-derived programs all characterize his transformational work.
In addition to those professional descriptors, Eric has a PhD and MS in Educational Administration and Policy Studies, and a BA in Chinese Language and Philosophy. Eric grew up sailing small boats, and he lived on his Beneteau 43 for ten years, extensively sailing the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding region with his daughter usually at the helm and their Kerry Blue Terrier getting underfoot at the most inopportune moments.
Director of Philanthropy
Susan grew up in Western Massachusetts, attending Springfield then Longmeadow public schools. At UMass Amherst she received a B.S. in Textile Science & Costume Design, and later an M.S. in Non-Profit Management: Strategic Fundraising & Philanthropy at Bay Path University. During her career Susan has worked as a Branch Manager and Marketing Director for Bank of Boston, Director of Administration for Tundra Publishing, and the Executive Director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF). Fundraising for the CBLDF was something that came naturally to Susan, so when it was time to take that to a higher level, that experience ultimately lead her into increasing levels of leadership in fundraising and philanthropy positions at Smith and Mount Holyoke Colleges, UMass Amherst, VNA Health Care in Hartford, Manchester Community College. The ocean has always been a destination for Susan, at her family’s vacation home in Harwich Port, MA, then Quonochontaug (Quonnie) RI. It wasn’t until she met her husband Thomas Millette, PhD when they both worked at Mount Holyoke College, that she was introduced to sailing: first on his Tartan’33 and now on their 42 foot sailboat (no official brand–custom made, designed in Newport, RI, and built in Sao Paulo, Brazil 1986), and painstakingly refurbished over the past decade at a slip at Harboredge in Stonington. Happy to be a fair-weather cruiser and deckhand, Susan oversees all the interior provisioning and cleaning of the boat (often with an old toothbrush), and making sure their 12-pound yorkie, Pinot, wears his life preserver and doesn’t get tossed out of the boat during a rough tack! Susan also enjoys growing lots of sunflowers, golfing, and listening to the many tall sailing tales at the BYOB tiki bar at Harboredge during the summer!
Lauren W. Lyons
Director of Administrative Services
Lauren graduated from Quinnipiac University with a BA in Public Relations. 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.
Managing Director, Finance
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.
Director, Corporate Engagement
Paul graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a BS in Business Administration. He’s held executive roles in public and non-profit companies in the forest products, pharmaceutical distribution, healthcare, technology and ski industries. He has been a management consultant with a leading Human Capital Strategy firm. Paul is also an entrepreneur. He created and operated a small yacht charter company serving the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco, CA. He is an avid sailor and power boater. Paul holds a USCG 100GT Master Captain’s license with sail and commercial towing endorsements. He lives in South Kingstown, RI with his wife Heather.
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, daughter Astrid, a dog, many fish, and thousands of honey bees in Mystic.
Managing Director of Sailing and Operations
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.
Assistant Director, Sailing
Chris attended the University of Connecticut where he received a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, a master’s degree in Public Administration, and raced for the UConn Sailing Team. 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 holds a USCG OUPV Captain’s License. In his free time, Chris enjoys sailing, snorkeling, skiing, and coaching the New London High School Fencing Team.
Associate Program Director
Lauren Barber 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.
Associate Director of Human Resources
Meg Bouchard grew up in Vermont, spending summers with her family on the shores of Lake Champlain. Meg graduated from The University of Vermont in 2010 with a BS in Community Entrepreneurship. She holds her SHRM-CP certificate and brings a background in Human Resources, administration and business management. If Meg isn’t running, you can find her soaking up the sun at the beach or practicing yoga. She lives in Westerly, RI with her husband and puppy at heart, Sparrow.
Adult & Adaptive Sailing Instructor
Kali graduated from UCONN with a B.A. in Speech, Language, & Hearing Sciences and a minor in American Sign Language & Deaf Culture. She received her M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. and has practiced in school, hospital, and private practice settings. Growing up on the CT shoreline, Kali spent her summers teaching junior sailing in Essex and later worked as a para-professional throughout her undergraduate career. Kali spent three years with Sail To Prevail in Newport, RI where she grew her roots in adaptive sailing. She is excited to join the NESS team and combine her passion for adaptive sports and accessibility with her longtime love for sailing. Kali holds US Sailing Level 1 and Adaptive Sailing certifications.
Camp Director and Staff Trainer
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
Mia has a B.S in Marine Sciences from the University of Connecticut Avery Point. As an undergraduate, she obtained her SCUBA Open Water certification and worked in the fish ecology lab. As an undergraduate field & research assistant, Mia participated in bi-weekly beach seines as well as gender determination for Atlantic silversides (Menidia menidia), testing the hypothesis of temperature-dependent sex determination. Mia developed her love for the ocean while spending time in Madison, CT with her family growing up. As she continues to advocate for the ocean environment, you will always see and hear her “sticking up for the little guy!”.
Grant Writer and Curriculum Consultant
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.
Assistant Director, Outreach & Engagement
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.
James grew up fishing any and all waters of western Connecticut and southern New Jersey. After a childhood of cultivating a passion for the ocean, he attended and graduated from the University of Connecticut at Avery Point with a dual degree in Maritime Studies / Marine Fisheries Management and Policy. He went on to serve two years as a NESS SEA AmeriCorps STEM Educator with New London serving K-12; having focused on elementary and middle school ages. James has spent his entire life on or near the water whether it be fishing, sailing, kayaking, boating, or surfing. He is a US Sailing Level 1 Instructor, an ACA Coastal Kayak Level 1 and 2 Instructor, and is on track to become a USCG Master Captain. When James isn’t on the water you can find him, alongside his wife Katelyn, adventuring around with his pitt-mix puppy, Theodore.
Facilities Maintenance Technician
Eric graduated from Unity College in Maine with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Sciences with an mmphasis in Fisheries. He has worked for Rhode Island DEM Marine Fisheries and Connecticut DEP Marine Fisheries as a field technician performing various scientific field surveys from yellow tail flounder population studies at Georges Bank to Sturgeon studies in the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound. Outside of working in the field of fisheries and holding a Rhode Island commercial rod and reel fishing license, Eric has always enjoyed working with his hands such as doing carpentry and working on projects and problem solving. He owned his own remodeling business which he found to be rewarding and satisfying but wanted to work with the public more so sought out work in a more sociable environment where he could still utilize his knowledge of fisheries and carpentry skills. In Eric’s free time he enjoys spending time with his daughter, family, and friends. Eric finds working at NESS to be a happy confluence of his personal and professional interests.
Haley Herring-Sylvestre graduated from University of Connecticut in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and was a NESS SEA AmeriCorps member for two years. She has lived her whole life in Connecticut and would spend summers going to the beach to collect shells and trying to find new life forms. When not talking about algae’s evolutionary history at the beach, Haley can be found reading under trees while trying to avoid ants falling on her.
Operations and Marine Systems Technician
Chris graduated from the University of Connecticut Avery Point in May 2018 with a B.S. in Marine Sciences. He spent three of his years as an undergraduate working as a Marine Technician Intern for the University helping to maintain the NERACOOS buoy system located in western Long Island Sound. While at the university he also developed his technical skills and gained experience operating heavy machinery. Chris has spent a significant portion of his professional career on the water or out at sea, ranging from day to day operations of a commercial oyster farm to week long buoy operations 200 miles offshore. In addition to being the Marine tech intern Chris has also spent the past two years as a scientific scuba diver for the University of Connecticut and the University of Rhode Island. He has worked on projects that include: instrument recovery, buoy systems maintenance and conducting sediment sampling at the Block Island Wind Farm. When Chris isn’t on the water for his professional career, he spends his personal time on the water as well, where he is an avid fisherman and recreational diver.
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.
Nina graduated from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 2015 with a BS in Environmental Science, and a double minor in Biology and Geospatial Technologies. Before joining NESS, she taught marine science at the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, UNCW MarineQuest, Frosty Drew Nature Center, and the North American Marine Environment Protection Association. Nina is also an AmeriCorps alumni; she served two terms with the North Carolina Coastal Federation making immersive education programs more accessible and restoring coastal habitats through living shorelines. Nina is a certified Environmental Educator and SCUBA diver. She grew up enjoying the beach in Westerly, RI where she developed her love for the ocean. When not exploring the coast, you can find her playing volleyball, watching Disney movies, cooking, or hanging out with her two cats, Oreo and Oatmeal!
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.
Ever since Beth was young, the sea called to her. Originally from upstate New York, she pursued her passion and graduated from the University of New England with a bachelor of science degree in marine sciences and later from the University of Rhode Island with a master of arts degree in marine affairs. In between degrees, Beth served as marine education intern with the University of Georgia in Savannah, an AmeriCorps STEM Education Ambassador through NESS, and a field teacher/naturalist at URI’s W. Alton Jones environmental education center. She is a US Sailing Level 1 instructor, American Red Cross waterfront lifeguard, and American Canoe Association Coastal Kayak Level II instructor. When she isn’t spreading her knowledge and love of the coast, you can find her crocheting or playing with her pets Tundra Rose Four Paws (canine), Cassius Clay (feline), and Fievel Mousekewitz (feline).
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, painting, or spending time outside.
Maddie graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in Government and Politics and Economics. She is originally from Austin, TX but spent every summer growing up at a summer camp in Colorado’s Black Forest, first as a camper and later as a lifeguard and program director. Before coming to NESS, she worked as a Development Associate at The Light House in New London, CT. Maddie currently lives in Groton and enjoys running, paddle boarding, kayaking, and going on walks at Bluff Point with her rescue pup, Finn.
Associate Director of Communications and Public Relations
Todd is a 1996 graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy with a BS in Marine Transportation, and from the Academy of Art University where he earned an MFA in Photography in 2011. Before joining NESS, Todd was a Naval Aviator serving in both the US Navy and US Coast Guard as a helicopter aircraft commander in the Boeing CH-46D Seaknight, Sikorsky UH-3H Sea King, Sikorsky MH-60S Knighthawk, and Eurocopter HH-65C Dolphin helicopters. Following his military career, Todd went to sea around the world on several large containerships as a 3rd mate and worked as a Senior Creative Content Writer at B&H Photo in New York City. Todd currently is an adjunct instructor of photography at Dakota College at Bottineau and spends his free time doing photography, freelance writing, stargazing, commuting by bicycle, sailing on his Pacific Seacraft Dana 24 Morning Call, and enjoying time with his wife, Jaime and their young son, Fin.
Assistant Sailing Director
Sarah grew up on the south eastern shores of Long Island, where she learned how to sail. As a graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges with a degree in Geoscience, Spanish, and Public Policy she was also a member of the HWS Varsity Sailing Team, competing in multiple college national championships. She spent the fall of 2018 back at HWS as an assistant coach before joining the NESS team. She has 6 years of experience as a sailing instructor, has worked with outdoor education camps in the past, and as an executive assistant at an art-for-peace nonprofit. Sarah holds US Sailing Level 1 & 2 certifications, and is currently pursuing her USCG OUPV Captain’s License. She loves to hike, read, bike, and eat. When Sarah isn’t on the water, you can find her soaking up the sun or looking for dogs to befriend.
Board of Directors
Steve Hazard – Vice Chair of Board
Peter Tacy 2004 to 2006
Robert Fountain 2006 to 2008
Jane Leipold – Chair of Board
Spike Lobdell – President & CEO