Clean Ocean Action

Clean Ocean Action Staff

Cindy Zipf

Executive Director

Carmela Caracappa Photography

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

Advocacy Campaign Manager

Kari originally joined the COA staff in 2000 as a college summer intern. In 2001, she joined the staff full time, focusing on outreach and education. Over a span of 8 years, Kari served in assistant and director positions in policy, outreach, and communciations. Having met her future husband while staffing a COA information & action table, Kari left her position in 2009 to raise a family.  Later she joined COA’s Board of Trustees from 2015-2019. Kari resigned from the Board in 2019 to rejoin the staff to work on education programs. Kari returned to her advocacy and outreach position a shore time later, and now serves in her current capacity as Advocacy Campaign Manager. In this position, Kari engages elected officials, organizations, and residents of all ages and backgrounds in actions and initiatives to stop ocean pollution and harmful industrialization in the ocean. 

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 was 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. 

Catie Tobin

Microplastic Researcher

Catie Tobin is the Microplastics Researcher for Clean Ocean Action. Starting at COA as a Fellow in 2013, she quickly moved to the position of Marine Science Program Manager linking citizens, businesses, academia, and science eventually advancing to the role of Microplastics Researcher. In this role, she specifically works on advancing the organization’s microplastic agenda while also working on long-term data storage and accessibility of the Beach Sweeps dataset. 

Since 2016, she has congruently been pursuing her doctorate in Environmental Science at the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMB). At UMB, her research focuses on the environmental and social implications of microfiber ingestion by the eastern oyster. Starting in 2021, Catie is also a John A. Knauss Sea Grant Marine Policy Fellow for NOAA.  

As a NJ native and Jersey shore enthusiast (the actual place), Catie loves protecting the shores she grew up on.

Swarna Muthukrishnan, PhD

Water Quality Research Director

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.

Catie Mitchell

Community Science Programs Coordinator

Catie joined Clean Ocean Action in 2021 as the Community Science Associate. While Catie grew up in Virginia, she spent many summers at the Jersey Shore, thanks to a sprawling network of family members up and down the NJ coast.

After earning a B.A. in Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology from Vanderbilt University, Catie dove head first into the IMBRSea Erasmus Mundus graduate program at Ghent University in Belgium, where she earned an M.S. in the Management of Marine Biological Resources. The pursuit of her passion for protecting marine ecosystems has led Catie around the globe, with research experiences in Australia, Portugal, and the U.K. Most recently, she worked as an Environmental Educator at the Annapolis Maritime Museum and Park, leading stream monitoring programs and connecting students to their local waterways.

Ultimately, Catie's journey led her to COA, and back to the coast where she first discovered her love for the ocean. Catie's commitment to ocean protection, along with her varied experiences in scientific research and community outreach, will serve her well in the new role of Community Science Associate.

Kristen Grazioso

Education & Volunteer Coordinator

Kristen Grazioso joined COA's crew in March of 2020 as Education Coordinator to educate students of all ages about ocean pollution issues.

Kristen graduated from University of California – Santa Barbara with a degree in environmental studies and a minor in education. Kristen has experience in a school setting, and with nonprofit organizations and youth centers and camps. Prior to her employment, COA was already familiar with Kristen’s ability to communicate environmental issues and solutions. Kristen was training to become a COA Education Ambassador, and served as a workstation and field trip leader in recent Student Summits.

Kristen leads and develops our education programs and initiatives. She successfully launched the new SEAL program for high school students in 2020, thanks to funding from Impact 100 Jersey Shore. Kristen is also blazing the virtual education trail for COA by transforming our Student Summits into a fun, informative, and engaging virtual experiences for middle school students.  Kristen brings her bi-coastal experiences to COA’s team.

Toni Groet

South Jersey Program Coordinator

Toni Groet grew up on the beaches of Alabama and has known since she was a little kid that loving and advocating for the protection of our beautifully diverse marine ecosystem was her calling. Toni received her B.S in Biology from Auburn University and M.S. in Marine Conservation and Resource Management from University of Southern Alabama. She has worked on a variety of projects ranging from research projects focused on beach tourism, water quality studies, sea turtle conservation and protection, and coastal bird monitoring.

Toni’s family and career led her to New Jersey, where she started as an Beach Sweeps Captain for Clean Ocean Action while teaching high school in Atlantic City. Not long after, Toni joined the COA crew as the South Jersey Coordinator, with a goal of expanding COA’s presence and strengthening the connections to the communities in southern regions of the state.

Suzanne Power

Administrative Assistant

Suzanne Power joined Clean Ocean Action as Administrative Assistant in 2021. Suzanne was raised on the beaches in Sea Bright and in the woods of Little Silver, NJ. She has a deep concern for and love of the ocean. Her children attended marine science camp on Sandy Hook and her ancestors were oystermen in Keyport (there’s a picture in Sandy Hook Lighthouse of one of them!)

Suzanne is a versatile and experienced administrative professional specializing in customer care, office management and problem-solving skills. She worked retail for many years, as well as in employee benefits and Human Resources. At the Surdna Foundation in NYC, Suzanne excelled as Office Manager and was a dynamic Assistant Director at the American-Italian Cancer Foundation, also in NYC. As an additional bonus, she is conversational in Spanish and Italian.

At COA, Suzanne assists the management team in all aspects, provides operational support for programs and events, and supports donor development. Suzanne’s enthusiasm and expertise will help improve and protect the ocean!

Andrew Provence, Esq.

Of Counsel


49 Avenel Blvd.
Long Branch, NJ 07740

Field Office:

Gateway National Recreation Area
Sandy Hook, New Jersey

Voice: (732) 872-0111
FAX: (732) 872-8041

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