SF BAY ACS Chapter Board and Commitee Members

chris fitzsimmons (1)Christine Fitzsimmons: Co-President, Treasurer

Christine is currently the Director of Administration, Operations & Finance for the Children’s Creativity Museum in Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco.   Prior to CCM, Christine was the COO + Director ofOceanic Society for 2.5 years where she was responsible for the headquarters office located in Ross, the local whale watch programs, OS finances and operations, and last but not least, the management of Oceanic’s property and staff on Turneffe Atoll in Belize, C.A.  She often says that after managing all that she can do anything!

Before Oceanic Society Christine worked for the California Academy of Sciences for 4 years in Business Development.  She is the person who created the wildly popular Penguins + Pajamas Sleepover Program,as well as programs like Local Bites, Adopt-an-Animal, Children’s Birthday Party programs, and the various tour programs.

Christine was an early volunteer at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito and as a single mom would take her kids to the Center to sleep while she did her 2:00 a.m. shift with the baby elephant seals.  She’d take them home and they would wake in their own beds wondering why their mother smelled strongly of fish.

Outside of work, Christine lives in Corte Madera with her husband, Michael.  Together they have 4 children, 6 grandchildren and 2 cats.  They have a very, very old house on Christmas Tree Hill in Corte Madera and spend inordinate amounts of time in their garden (as do the deer).  She is thrilled to be working with SF Bay Area ACS Chapter and the wonderful folks and volunteers!

lLynette R. Koftinow: C0-President, ACS National Chapter Board Member, Presentations

Lynette received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from California College of Arts.  After a successful career in the fine arts (Trompe L’Oeil murals, faux finishes, sculptures for casinos, restaurants, stores, homes and sculpture in galleries), she had time to pursue her other love – marine biology. Taking time to study marine biology, she then worked as an education docent and day crew member with The Marine Mammal Center and taught for The Bay Shore Studies program.

Shari Bookstaff founded the SF Bay chapter in 1999 – 2006. She developed “Funtastic Whales,” a whale education program presented in public libraries and classrooms,  awarded research grants to local graduate students, and offered a monthly speaker program.

In January 2011, Lynette reformed and developed the SF Bay American Cetacean Society chapter. She has developed a monthly presentation series with a line up of informative guest speakers ranging from well known marine biologists to ocean specialists. Since 2013 the chapter has an ongoing volunteer Harbor Porpoise Research project in association with the Golden Gate Cetacean Research organization and SFSU. As of 2014 the chapter participates in a yearly citizen scientist volunteer project working with Whales of Guerrero in Barra de Potosi, Mexico.

Our chapter created a 10 week Cetacean/Ocean curriculum class for Citizen Schools to be used in the bay area, individual K-8 classes are taught around the bay area, and our chapter works with students to create student ocean clubs. We have a Naturalist Training Course which has had waiting lists each time taught. Our chapter gives yearly research grants to under and graduate students and Student Travel Grants to ACS National and SMM conferences.  The chapter continues to have ongoing yearly special events; whale watching trips, international cetacean focused trips, and educational public outreach events.

“My purpose and goal for this chapter is to be the Bridge between the lay person and the marine science and research at this time. To inform and inspire will help to create change.”

Lynette is a board member of Romberg Tiburon Advisory Board (SFSU) and Cordell Bank Sanctuary Foundation Board.

For an interview with Lynette go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4W7RP2AW4dY


Anne-Marie Batchelor, Vice President

Anne-Marie is a human resources executive at a national financial services start-up in the Bay Area.  She has been in the field of human resources for the past 15+ years, and has a passion for teaming up with non-profits that support a social justice and socially responsible mission and value statement.

Additionally, she has had a longstanding passion for marine mammals and fish.  This passion led her to complete a graduate degree with a focus on marine mammals, specifically pinnipeds.  She has volunteered with the California Academy of Sciences, and continues to nurture her love of all things marine by volunteering with the San Francisco Bay Chapter of the American Cetacean Society, as well as other local and regional marine-focused organizations.

Director of Education and Outreach
Nicole Larson is known for her unwavering commitment as a voice for the ocean and its’ inhabitants.
She fell in love with the ocean when she learned to scuba dive with her high school biology teacher. Once Nicole was introduced to the magic of the underwater world, her life course was set. She has served as an ambassador for the scientific community for the last 20 years. She holds a Master’s in Coastal Environmental Management from Duke University and a Bachelor’s in Marine Biology from UC Santa Cruz. She has worked as a naturalist with the Oceanic Society since 2004, both at the field station in Belize and in the SF Bay Area. In California, she leads whale watching trips year-round.
Nicole’s goal is to inspire others to become ocean stewards as she was inspired herself. As Lead Educator with the Pacifica Beach Coalition, she develops and implements Earth Day assemblies reaching thousands of students annually. She also gives public lectures to a wide range of audiences about ocean conservation and is developing an environmental youth leadership program in the Pacifica School District. A former marine science curriculum developer with the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley, she continues to lead experiential and hands-on programs for students and visits classrooms throughout the Bay Area educating youth about whales and marine ecology.

robyn carmelRobyn Carmel: Secretary

Robyn was born and raised in Los Angeles, to a family of philanthropists and ocean lovers. She received a degree in Dance Therapy from UCLA, worked as a therapist at Napa State Hospital for several years, and then formally transitioned into the world of non-profits in order to “do her part” for the planet and its inhabitants.

One of 1100 volunteers, Robyn is an Educational Docent and Stranding team member for The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California. She has co-led whale watch trips for the Oceanic Society.

She is a certified Naturalist for the SF Bay ACS Chapter, and was the Data Manager for the SF Bay ACS Volunteer Harbor Porpoise Project in conjunction with Golden Gate Cetacean Research.

Robyn is an obsessed and passionate lover of all things ocean-related, is quite proficient at speaking “Pinniped,” thrives on teaching people of all ages, and believes that education is the key to succeeding in a world that is ever-changing and challenging. Robyn is honored to be a member of the SF Bay ACS community and her biggest wish is that she could clone herself so she could do more to heal the planet!

IMG_3839Priya Pratap: Website, Communication Coordinator/Publicity, 

Priya is a bay area native, which is where her love for marine mammals and the ocean was born. She has dreamed of working with marine mammals ever since she was young child, so this is like her own little dream come true. Priya graduated from UC Berkeley and is also working as a Rescue & Rehabilitation Intern at The Marine Mammal Center, aiding the Department of Fish & Wildlife with marine invertebrate research, and helping her family run their local farm. She hopes to learn more about marine wildlife and their local habitats and apply that to her work and continuing education. Her ongoing goal is to complete her Masters in Biology with a concentration in ecology and conservation.

unnamed.jpgBob Wilson: Legal Policy Board Member

Bob Wilson is active in a number of environmental organizations. He is the former Chair of the Greater Farallones Association (formerly FMSA) board and is currently Treasurer and CFO. He has been an active Beachwatch and SEALS volunteer. He has served as the executive director of GFA. He has been on the Sanctuary Advisory Council for the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. He currently is CEO of Sanctuary Supporters LLC. Bob is on the Board of Directors of the American Cetacean Society (SF chapter). He is on the Board as treasurer of the Snow Leopard Conservancy. He is a director emeritus of The Marine Mammal Center, is currently Policy Liaison for TMMC and is a stranding and animal care volunteer. Bob is also a founder and former Board Chair of Polar Bears International (US) and Vice Chair of PBI (Canada). He has been an advisor to organizations such as the Desert Tortoise Preservation Committee and Earthshare California. He is an attorney and retired from the federal government.

unnamed-1Michael Stocker: Scientific Advisory Board Member

Michael is the founding director of Ocean Conservation Research, a scientific research and policy development organization focused on understanding the impacts of, and finding technical and policy solutions to the growing problem of human-generated ocean noise pollution. He is a technical generalist conversant in physics, acoustics, biology, electronics, and cultural history, with a gift for conveying complex scientific and technical issues in clear, understandable terms. He has written and spoken about marine bio-acoustics since 1992, presenting in national and regional hearings, national and international television, radio and news publications, and in museums, schools and universities. His book titled “Hear Where We Are: Sound, Ecology, and Sense of Place” (Springer 2013) reveals how humans and other animals use sound and sound perception to establish their placement in their environment, and communicate that placement to others.

Michael is also a musician – performing original compositions and Jazz standards on piano, vibes, flute, and bass. He has watched the transformation of San Francisco Bay Area waters and surrounding marshlands since the late 1950’s as the Bay has become both less polluted, and more developed.

Committee Members

Communications Committee:


andrea d.Andrea Dransfield:  Events Publicity for our Bi-Monthly Emails,  past SF Bay ACS Student Research Grant Awardee

Andrea completed a B.Sc. double major in Zoology and Environmental Science. It was during that time that she became fascinated with the marine field. Andrea went to British Columbia, Canada, to complete an undergraduate thesis on harbor porpoise habitat use and after observing all the cetaceans there, was completely hooked! Andrea completed her Master’s in Geography at San Francisco State University with a concentration in Resource Management and Environmental Planning, through the Marine & Coastal Conservation and Spatial Planning Center. Her thesis was titled “Where the Whales are: Using habitat modeling to support changes in shipping regulations within National Marine Sanctuaries in Central California.” Andrea had the opportunity to work with Point Blue Conservation Science as well as the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries on reducing ship strikes on large whales. She joined the Resource Protection team of Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary as a 2013 Sea Grant State Fellow. During her year with the Sanctuary, Andrea worked on policy and management decisions to reduce ship strikes on large whales in the greater California region. Since then, she has been working as a private contractor for an environmental consulting company. In her spare time, Andrea enjoys biking, horseback riding, SUPing, hiking and volunteering for the Ty Warner Sea Center and Gray Whales Count in Santa Barbara.


Dave Thompson:  Events Publicity on our SF Bay ACS Meetup group

Dave, one of our past Vice Presidents, is an avid sailor and often crews for sailboat races in the Bay area.  25 years ago he was a high-wind addicted windsurfer. His has over 20 years computer programming experience in relational database applications, mostly with IBM on contract assignments in different places all over the U.S.  In 2003 he returned to school at the University of Utrecht, Netherlands, to pursue an M.S. in neuroscience and studied MRI’s of autistic children’s brains.  With wind and sailing passions in mind, he purchased a custom marine canvas shop in Sausalito in 2007, and led by his constant dabbling in boats and racing found a new interest in working to help save the marine environment, which is his favorite playground.  Dave hopes to get more involved and help the issues he feels are important.

New Volunteers and Board Members

If you would like to become involved with our active chapter as a board member or to participate in some way (as little as two hours a month), please contact us: acs.sfbay@gmail.com.  We are looking for new volunteers and board members and would love to have you on board!