Clean Ocean Action

Clean Ocean Action Staff


Cindy Zipf

Executive Director



Cindy Zipf uses her passion for science and advocacy to create campaigns and programs to drive public policy and reduce pollution.  Since its beginning in 1984, she has been at the helm of COA, the lean, green, ocean pollution fighting machine that is the only full-time ocean advocacy organization dedicated exclusively to the NY and NJ region. She reviews and evaluates regional, state, and federal policies for impacts to marine water quality and, through science, research and education, works toward solutions for issues of concern.

Cindy is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island with a B.A. in Geography and Marine Affairs with a special emphasis in marine science. In 1984 the waters off the NY/NJ coasts were known as the “Ocean Dumping Capitol of the World”, and in response, the COAlition was formed and consisted of 20 organizations. As a founder and a staff of one, Cindy has expanded the coalition to over 120 organizations and a professional staff of eight full-time employees.

Mary-Beth Thompson

Chief Operating Officer

Mary-Beth Thompson provides leadership in COA’s general office management, human resources, financial recording and reporting, and federal and state legal and insurance compliance. She began as a volunteer with COA in the 1980’s and in 1992 was offered the position of Business Manager. Prior to COA, Mary-Beth worked as a financial administrator in North Jersey and for several Monmouth County businesses. She graduated from Monmouth University in 1980 with a BA in Art and a minor in Business. Her husband and three sons are avid all-year-round surfers and active volunteers for COA.

Kari Martin

Education Coordinator

Kari originally joined the COA staff in 2000 as a college intern. In 2001 she joined the staff full time focusing on outreach and education.  Her exceptional talents enabled her to grow the position ultimately becoming Policy Outreach and Communications Director. Having met her future husband while staffing a COA table, Kari left her position in 2009 to raise a family.  Later she joined COA’s Board of Trustees from 2015-2019.  In rejoining the staff she has resigned that post.

At COA, Kari will develop and manage several COA education programs, and will also assist with administration.

Kari received her Master of Science degree from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, with a concentration in Environmental Policy & Democratic Processes.  Her Master’s thesis developed from her experience as a summer intern for COA.  She received her undergraduate degree from Alfred University, with a double major in Environmental Studies and Political Science. 

Kari spends her summers enjoying Midway Beach and the surrounding coastal areas in Ocean County, NJ.  She is a diligent advocate for the environment, especially the ocean, and is committed to educating people of all ages about their role and responsibility in improving and protecting our environment.

Catie Tobin

Microplastic Researcher

A graduate of Quinnipiac University, Catie holds a BS in Biology with minors in Chemistry, Spanish, and Microbiology. She studied the environmental impacts of pollutants, BBP and acetone on a local fish species and as an intern at the Dolphin Communication Project she researched the social behavior and acoustic interchange in a dolphin species.

Starting at COA as a Fellow in 2013 and quickly moving to the position of Marine Science Program Manager, Catie was the link between citizens, businesses, academia and science. While currently pursuing her doctoral degree in Environmental Science at the University of Massachusetts Catie will continue her work for COA through microplastic research. 

Swarna Muthukrishnan, PhD

Staff Scientist

Swarna Muthukrishnan received her Ph.D. in Environmental Science at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India, a Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Florida and attended the Certificate Program in Biological Wastewater Treatment at the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education in Delft, The Netherlands, She has many years of experience in research and development, analytical techniques, laboratory and field investigations, sampling and monitoring methods, quality practices (QA/QC), scientific data analyses, scientific communication, monitoring and management of innovative treatment technologies and best management practices (BMPs) in water, wastewater, stormwater, sediments, soils, and reclaimed water.

Swarna's extensive experience and previous employment as an Environmental Scientist at the EPA in the Urban Watershed Management Branch, Water Supply, and Water Resources Division in Edison, NJ makes a tremendous addition to the already phenomenal COA crew. 

Spencer Munson

Program and Resource Coordinator

Spencer Munson, who was COA’s Nonprofit Management Intern for the summer of 2016, re-joined the staff in January 2018 as Program and Resource Coordinator, a new position. Spencer is a recent graduate of James Madison University (JMU) College of Business with a B.B.A. in Management and a minor in Nonprofit Studies.

Past experiences include Community Outreach Coordinator for the Harrison Education Foundation, Honor Board Member for the Sigma Nu Fraternity, Big Brother for Big Brother Big Sisters of Harrisonburg-Rockingham County, and a Senior Writer for The Breeze (JMU School Paper).

Spencer “has always had a strong connection to the outdoors and developed an incredible fascination for the ocean. By accepting this position at COA, I feel that I will be continuing my journey to protect the natural resources that I hold dear and will work to inspire others to do the same.”

Alison McCarthy

Coastal Watershed Protection Coordinator


Alison McCarthy joined the staff in late October 2017 and brings experience in water testing, watershed stewardship programs, citizen science, and community organizing to the COA crew. 

She previously worked as a Hydrologic Technician for US Geological Survey and an Environmental Services Technician with the NJDEP. Alison was also an Americorps NJ Watershed Ambassador with the NJDEP. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges with a B.S. in Biology and B.A. in Environmental Studies where she completed Honors Research Studies and was a Biology Teaching Fellow. 

Alison’s passion for science and desire to share it through community engagement and education will help improve and promote COA’s programs to protect the ocean.

Allison Meyerhoff

Marketing & Communications Coordinator 

Allison Meyerhoff has joined the staff as Communications and Marketing Coordinator in July 2017. Allison brings 11 years of marketing and visual communications experience coupled with a passion for ocean protection to the COA crew.

Prior to COA, Allison was a Digital Content Specialist and Graphic Designer for HBC Home & Hardware Company and The Louis Berger Group. She is a graduate of Richard Stockton College with a BA in Visual Art and Visual Communication. Allison also has continued her education in numerous courses with New York University and School of Visual Arts. Allison is an avid hiker, kayaker, paddle boarder and beach yoga enthusiast; she considers spending time in nature as an integral part of her physical and mental wellbeing.

Allison’s vision, ideas and talents will help improve and promote COA’s programs and visibility to protect the ocean.


Zack Karvelas

D.W. Bennett Fellow for Coastal Advocacy


The D.W. Bennett Fellow for Coastal Advocacy honors Dery Bennett who was the instigator of Clean Ocean Action, and was a remarkable coastal advocate who spearheaded the American Littoral Society for decades. His leadership was renowned and his impact on ocean and coastal protection is still making waves.

Zack previously worked as the Field Intern for Oceana and helped organize against federal plans for offshore oil and gas drilling. Zack is a graduate of Monmouth University where he majored in Communications with a concentration in Journalism and Public Relations.  While living on the coast, he became inspired to advocate for clean and healthy waterways. Aside from fighting for the environment, Zack likes to capture his natural surroundings and wildlife through his photography.


Peter Blair

Policy Attorney

Peter received his JD from the University of Oregon School of Law with concentrations in Environmental & Natural Resource Law, Green Business Law, and Public Interest Law. He was President of the Student Bar Association, Director of the Green Business Initiative Student Association and on the Dean’s List every semester. Prior to law school, Peter graduated from the State University of New York at New Paltz.

His past experiences include working as the Energy Law and Policy Fellow at the Environment and Natural Resource Center in Eugene, OR; clerking for the Environmental Defense Center in Santa Barbara, CA; and interning at the Western Environmental Law Center in Eugene, OR.  Peter drafted and submitted comments to various federal agencies specifically focusing on ocean energy management, worked heavily on federal litigation against the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s attempt to introduce fracking techniques into offshore drilling projects, and worked with numerous state legislators on a variety of issues ranging from climate change to offshore energy.

Kendall Keelen

Policy Fellow

Kendall Kellan is a recent graduate of George Washington University, Elliott School of International Affairs in Washington, D.C. where she attained a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs and Spanish, and a minor in Sustainability. Kendall’s past experiences include internships in Legislative Affairs with the Office of NJ Governor  Phil Murphy, Research with Emily’s List in Washington, D.C., Program Services with Make-A-Wish MidAtlantic, and with the Office of Congressman Frank Pallone in Washington, D.C. Kendall is planning to attend the Vermont Law School in September.While at COA, Kendall will be working closely with our Policy Attorney and Executive Director on energy, offshore oil and gas development, water quality, marine debris, and coastal resiliency.  She will be involved with research, developing policy guidelines, advocacy, communication, and evaluation of legal issues and legislative proposals.In Kendall’s words, “I believe that my passion for environmental advocacy aligns well with Clean Ocean Action. Advocacy gives a voice to those without. I believe that advocacy work improves the wellbeing of people, animals and the environment through engagement with communities, governments, and groups.”


Gordon N. Litwin, Esq.

Of Counsel

Andrew Provence, Esq.

Of Counsel





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Field Office:

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