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Who We Are


The Colorado Ocean Coalition (COCO) is a project of The Ocean Foundation, a 501(c) 3 organization. Vicki Nichols Goldstein founded COCO to engage and connect people living inland in local and national ocean conservation efforts.  The key to our success is directly related to the energy and initiative of all those who believe in COCO.


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Vicki Nichols Goldstein

Founder & Director
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Vicki Nichols Goldstein is the founder and Executive Director of the Colorado Ocean Coalition. She has been an ocean junkie for most of her life, growing up in the mud flats of Southern New Jersey and hauling whale bones around Maine. Vicki has worked in the non-profit and ocean conservation field for over twenty-five years from Washington, D.C. to Santa Cruz, Calif., addressing a multitude of issues including vessel traffic, sustainable seafood, oil spill contingency planning, Marine Protected Areas and fisheries interactions. After landing in Boulder, she figured it was time to start saving oceans from a mile high. A favorite phrase of Vicki’s is, “Do you really need to see the ocean to save it?”
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Jennifer Schwager

Director of Operations
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Jennifer Schwager (Jen) is an experienced and creative professional who has had rare experiences such as starting an environmental organization in 7th grade, writing two youth handbooks on the subject of sustainable development, and by way of her entrepreneurial spirit, helping to foster the growth of two new companies. Jen worked at juwi solar Inc. (JSI) for five and a half years. She was the fourth person hired to assist in starting the firm's North American headquarters. At JSI, she acted as a one-person marketing and media team. Jen managed all web and print media and facilitated the creation of all video and photographic content for JSI’s projects. Jen has a keen ability to multi-task and stay organized, as well as her aptitude to work with all types of people. Jen is a lover of film, art, and the outdoors.
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Mehgan Heaney-Grier

Ocean Ambassador Program Coordinator
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Mehgan Heaney-Grier is a freedive champion, Hollywood stunt diver, TV personality, ocean advocate, shark conservationist and biologist. Mehgan first achieved worldwide recognition in 1996 when she established the first ever United States freedive record for both men and women by diving, unassisted to a depth of 155 ft on a single breath of air. Less than a year later, she bettered her own record with a successful dive to 165 ft. In 2000, Mehgan was part of the inaugural roster inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame. In addition to her freediving, Mehgan took an early interest in marine predators and the relationship between predators and humans entering their environment. She has spent the last 17 years encountering many species of sharks, American alligators and other marine life, observing and documenting their behavior. Her underwater endeavors have been featured worldwide in a variety of publications including Life, People, and Outside magazines, and in many television segments and documentaries including her own series on Animal Planet. Mehgan recently graduated Summa cum laude in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She was awarded the school’s highest honors in recognition for her field research in the Bahamas, diving with Caribbean reef sharks and studying the effects of tourism-related feeding on shark behavior. As an anthropologist and biologist, Mehgan is excited to continue exploring the delicate relationship between humans and the marine world – believing that with a better understanding of these dynamics we can make the changes needed for a thriveable future.
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Grace McLaughry

Intern
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Grace is an undergraduate student at the University of Colorado - Boulder majoring in Environmental Studies with a focus on Natural Resources and the Environment. She works as an intern for COCO as the assistant to Vicki Nichols Goldstein. Her passion for ocean issues led her to study abroad on Semester at Sea where she studied Oceanography and Water for the World aboard the MV Explorer. Grace grew up in New York City where she procured enthusiasm for science and the environment. She is passionate about ocean policy, agriculture policy, sustainability, clean energy, and sustainable living. Grace is an avid scuba diver, sailer, and ocean enthusiast.
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Katie Mallon

Intern
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Katie Mallon is a senior at the University of Colorado at Boulder and a Colorado Ocean Coalition intern. She is majoring in sociology and communication, with an emphasis in environmental sociology. She grew up in Northern California and went to the beach regularly, which made her extremely passionate about ocean conservation. Her love for the ocean lead her to study abroad at Semester at Sea, where she traveled around the world for 3 months on a ship studying marine biology and oceanography. In previous jobs, she worked as a summer camp counselor and a swim coach for young children. Last summer she interned for Project YES in Lafayette Colorado, where she worked to involve children in the community and assisted the organization with PR and marketing. She also works at Athleta on Pearl Street when she is not hiking, skiing, and enjoying all that Boulder has to offer.
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Rebecca Schwager

Intern
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Rebecca Schwager is an undergraduate student at The University of Kentucky and a COCO intern. She is majoring in Environmental Science and Natural Resources with a focus on conservation biology and policy. As a middle school student she was conducting college level science projects that lead her to win multiple state science fairs. Now as a Senior in college she is Vice President of the university’s Environmental Science Club working to make UK a more sustainable campus. During the past year and currently she is assisting on a graduate research project, assessing the prevalence of select parasite species in Kentucky elk. She was then selected to present the research to state legislators at a state wide undergrad research conference. After school she plans to pursue a career in field research focusing on marine ecosystem conservation and restoration. Her passions include ocean protection, travel, and hiking.
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Bobbie Van Dyke

Volunteer Coordinator
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Bobbie is the COCO Volunteer Coordinator. She is a Colorado native and attended University of Colorado where she majored in marketing. She has spent several years working for a large non-profit organization working as a Volunteer Coordinator and Executive Assistant. She is currently employed at the City of Lakewood. She lives in Arvada with her faithful dog and three stubborn cats. She enjoys SCUBA diving, sky diving, Scottish athletic games, car racing, and traveling. She is passionate about animals and the health of the oceans.
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Laura Allen

Wave Maker
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Laura Allen developed our educators resource guide and works at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) in Boulder where she makes climate science research accessible to society through education. She is passionate for causes that make our world a better place and has a special affinity for the ocean and marine animals. She enjoys global adventures in conservation and is excited to be a part of the inland ocean movement with the Colorado Ocean Coalition.
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Jay Lorenger

Design & Photo
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Jay graduated from Colorado State in 2011. He has lived on the Gold Coast of Australia for a year chasing his passion for the ocean, as well as living in Taveuni, Fiji the past two years working as a Dive Master and diving the incredible Rainbow Reef. As a design/photographer/video enthusiast he spends his time developing websites, taking photos, and editing video. When not dreaming of being underwater, Jay resides in the frontrange where he loves to be outside fishing, hiking, camping, and enjoying all Colorado has to offer.
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Annie Smith

CU COCO Chapter
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Andrea is an undergraduate student at the University of Colorado - Boulder majoring in Environmental Studies. She previously worked as an intern for COCO and is currently a leader of the CU COCO Chapter. She grew up in Chicago, Illinois raising chickens in her backyard and has always had an interest in how people are connected to their environment. She is passionate about sustainable agriculture, clean energy, water conservation, and the protection of endangered species. She is excited to be part of the Colorado Ocean Coalition to help connect how inland activities affect the oceans’ health.
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Susan Bruce

Wave Maker
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Growing up on the coasts of Australia and Brazil, it was hard to keep me out of the water. I then learned to windsurf, sail and scuba dive to explore more ocean worlds. After 15 great years with blue-chip corporations I turned my professional life to conserving the natural world, including working with Conservation International and The WILD Foundation. Now in lovely Colorado, I’m thrilled to be part of one of the first inland ocean movements to unite Coloradans to make lifestyle and political choices that lead to healthy oceans. No matter where we live, we are all dependent on and impact the ocean. Susan hosted the Colorado European Union Center of Excellence (CEUCE) luncheon featuring Jean-Michel Cousteau, Louie Psihoyos, Dr. Greg Stone, and Shawn Heinrichs held during Making Waves 2012; designed Colorado Ocean Coalition’s (COCO) end-of-the-year survey; and developed COCO’s Five Year Strategic Plan with Vicki.
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John Gordon

Audio Visual Expert
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An underwater photographer and instructor for Denver Divers. He started the Colorado Underwater Photographic Society in 2001. The purpose of the Society is to provide a forum for underwater photographers and videographers to sharetheir Work, Knowledge, and Techniques with each other and with the Colorado diving community in general. He developed the website EyeFathom.com in 2003 to share his photography and love of the ocean environment. Joined the Colorado Ocean Coalition in 2011. He is the Audio Visual Expert for Making WAVES. He is leading up the Photography Contest for Making WAVES 2012. He holds a monthly CUPS meeting to connect with other ocean photographers. John was named a Go Green for Blue Hero for eating no meat or seafood in honor of protecting our oceans.
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Dean Wiltshire

Wave Maker
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Dean was born on the South Coast of England where countless voyages have been launched and some even returned! As a youngster, he and his family immigrated by Steamship from Southampton to New York – 5 days in the North Atlantic. Growing up in Silicon Valley taught Dean to love Monterey Bay and technology. As an Ocean Sailor and certified Scuba Diver, he is passionate about where the sky meets the sea and beneath. With a Master Degree in Computer Information Systems; Dean volunteers to manage COCO’s website and is thrilled to be helping save our oceans from a mile high!
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Jeffery Dubinsky

Photographer
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Jeffrey is a peer recognized activist and prize winning photographer who truly practices what he preaches. He currently resides in Louisiana and spent many of his first years there volunteering with various non-profit groups gaining intimate knowledge of the many environmental challenges Louisiana, its people and its coast are subjected to.“Nearly every turn of the head I see disappearing habitat, wetlands being filled in, oceans and beaches polluted, illegal dumping and legal decimation of life sustaining habitat through bad policies and lack of foresight. All for perceived financial gain. The point is, I get ‘it’ and that insight gives me the edge to create effective issue related media that I believe makes a difference.“ – Jeffrey. Whether he is armed with a camera or a computer Jeffrey makes it his daily goal to document and educate the public on environmental issues. Jeff was named a Go Green for Blue Hero because of his commitment to eating no meat or seafood to protect our oceans.
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Viki Psihoyos

Wave Maker
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Viki first fell in love with the ocean in New York at Jones Beach. Her varied careers include professional ballet dancer, journalist, social media strategist and film producer. She also handles communications for Oceanic Preservation Society. She loves supporting “the other Vicki”, COCO, and the inland ocean movement. Her latest project, Ocean Action Tracker (OceanActionTracker.com) draws the ocean community together to share important issues, actions, campaigns and news. Viki was an inspiration for the Go Green for Blue Heroes project, because of her commitment to living a truly Ocean Friendly life by eating a plant-based diet.
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Beverly Corwin

Head Chair - Golden COCO Chapter
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As a retired teacher and lover of our wondrous earth, Beverly is awed by our earth, sky and especially the sea.She doesn't think it is a coincidence that humans are about 70% salt water and so is our earth. We are all connected. Beverly grew up on Eastern Long Island, NY, where the salt water and sea life were an important part of her formative years. Sea turtles have been around since the dinosaurs, yet we humans have severely endangered their existence. She feels that all people whether living inland or by the sea have a responsibility and huge impact on the health of our oceans and the awesome creatures in it. We need to be good stewards. Beverly is thrilled to be part of Colorado Ocean Coalition and bring awareness and activities to the Rocky Mountains that can benefit our rivers, our oceans and ourselves. She serves as the Head Chair of the Golden chapter of the Colorado Ocean Coalition.
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Jamie Jimenez

Making WAVES Event Coordinator
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An independent event planner whose mission is to create high-quality, inspiring events that strengthen communities and build awareness for organizations and causes that are making a difference in this world. Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Jamie has 10+ years of marketing and communications experience and has led numerous community-focused events. As the Making WAVES event planner, Jamie will coordinate a team of dedicated volunteers to create a fun and educational weekend that initiates community dialogue on key issues affecting ocean health and sustainability.
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Jessica Shilling

Wave Maker
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Jessica Shilling is a passionate artist with a degree in Graphic Design and a background in art, marketing, and scuba diving instruction. The mix eventually lead her to become the author/illustrator of “Fins and Tales” a children´s picture book series aimed to educate children about the beauty and importance of our oceans. Jessica, is also an author for Scuba Diver Life where she publishes articles about diving, aquatic life and ocean advocacy while continuing to travel and dive as often as possible. www.jessicashilling.com
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Rob Bryan

Wave Maker
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Rob Ryan is a volunteer for the Colorado Ocean Coalition. "Since my Mom taught me to sail when I was 6 years old, my life and livelihood has revolved around the sea". A diver since 1975, I’ve worked as a commercial diver, a captain, and a boat builder. The ocean is my life, literally and figuratively. Now, if we are to survive as a species, we must preserve and restore the ocean ecosystem that sustains us. That’s why I founded Windhorse Lightship (windhorselightships.com) and that’s why I volunteer with the Colorado Ocean Coalition- Saving the Ocean from a Mile High. Rob is a Go Green for Blue Hero for his commitment to eating no meat or seafood, in honor of our oceans.


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