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.

Amanda Wheeler

Education and Volunteer Coordinator

Amanda Wheeler joined the COA staff in an official capacity in February 2016; although, her volunteer relationship with the organization began over 20 years ago. Over those years of volunteering, her passion for a clean ocean has kept her in a contact with ocean pollution issues and their solutions. She has been a Beach Sweeps Captain in Bradley Beach for almost all of those years and has spent time working on regular programs like C.O.A.S.T. tables and the Student Summit. As a longtime environmental commissioner in Bradley Beach, she has organized projects and events in cooperation with many environmental groups and has organized volunteers for those projects. In June 2015, Amanda retired from a 32 year teaching career. Her diverse experiences during those years ranged from teaching French and Spanish in a small rural high school on the Front Range in Colorado to teaching basic skills to incarcerated youth in a correctional facility. In June 2015, she retired after teaching French and Spanish for over 20 years at Reynolds Middle School in Hamilton Township, NJ.

Joining the team at Clean Ocean Action as the Education and Volunteer Coordinator is a "dream come true" for Amanda. In this role, she can cultivate the passion and enthusiasm of volunteerism, and she can continue to inspire young people to become environmental stewards. 

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

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.



Gordon N. Litwin, Esq.

Of Counsel

Andrew Provence, Esq.

Of Counsel




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