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Who We Are

The founders of Ocean Champions are longtime ocean advocates , and , who are also the lead authors of a groundbreaking new foundation-sponsored report, Turning the Tide: Charting a Course to Improve the Effectiveness of Public Advocacy for the Oceans. Their in-depth effectiveness study reveals that the ocean conservation community has focused on policy rather than politics, and at a cost. Electoral politics is a fundamental aspect of our nation’s political process and the keystone to policy success, yet the ocean conservation community is not a factor in the electoral arena. The report’s primary conclusion is that the ocean conservation community needs to “participate fully in the political process” to be more effective. Full participation means working directly to elect good candidates and defeat bad ones.

David Wilmot, Co-Founder and President

David Wilmot is a passionate ocean enthusiast who brings over twenty years of experience in ocean science, environmental policy, non-profit governance and fundraising, and political advocacy to Ocean Champions. David received his MS and BS from the University of Georgia where he also Co-Founded Students for Environmental Awareness. David traveled to the west coast to study the recently discovered deep-sea hydrothermal vents and received his PhD in marine biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego. David continued his environmental work while at Scripps (worked with 2 fellow graduate students to ban Styrofoam on campus and local beaches) and it became clear his passion was advocacy. A National Sea Grant Marine Policy Fellowship at the National Research Council’s Ocean Studies Board helped David better understand ocean policy and the workings of Washington, DC. Next came the jump to advocacy with service as the Executive Director of the Ocean Wildlife Campaign (OWC) where for eight years he worked to build this coalition of six national and international organizations into the leading voice for the conservation of large ocean fishes. David has authored or co-authored numerous ocean science and conservation articles. David lives with his wife and two boys in the Santa Cruz area where they spend lots of time on and in the ocean. When he is not enjoying the ocean, or remodeling his house, David trains in the martial arts and has earned the rank of black belt in Shorinji-Ryu Karate-Do.

Chris Laughlin, Executive Assistant/Program Manager

Chris is a passionate ocean enthusiast, enjoying the ocean environment near Arcata, California before moving to Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz. Prior to joining Ocean Champions in 2007, Chris' professional background included event coordination, startup business management, and conservation work in Yosemite National Park. Chris also conducted original research on the wildlife of managed timberlands of Northwest California. Chris' educational background includes a Business Management Study exchange program at Lincoln University in Canterbury, New Zealand and a B.A. from Humboldt State University in Recreation Administration with an emphasis in Business Administration. Her activities are central to the daily operations of Ocean Champions. During her spare time, Chris loves to surf, SCUBA dive, stand up paddle, rock climb and adventure travel. Chris lives with her husband and son in the Santa Cruz area.

Board of Directors

Samantha Campbell, Chairman of the Board

Samantha Campbell is the President of The Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment, which was founded by her father in 1999 and is headquartered in Annapolis, MD.  Her grants portfolio centers around marine conservation issues, although she strives to find projects with innovative approaches to a variety of environmental challenges, and she has a passion for effective communication.  Stimulating interest and involvement in ocean conservation and approaching problems with a practical and straightforward style are some of Samantha's commitments to her work as a grantmaker.  Ms. Campbell has a BFA in Advertising Design from Syracuse University.

Rob Moir, Founding Chairman

Dr. Moir, Executive Director of the Ocean River Institute, is an educator, scientist and activist with a proven history of institutional management and marine policy success.  Dr. Moir has been a leader of citizen science and efforts to clean up Salem Sound and Boston Harbor, as president of the advocacy organizations Salem Sound Harbor Monitors, Salem Sound 2000 and later Save the Harbor/Save the Bary (Boston), and through his appointment by the Secretary of Interior to the Boston Harbor Islands Partnership.  He was formerly Curator of Natural History at the Peabody Essex Museum, Curator of Education at the New England Aquarium and Executive Director of the Discovery Museums in Acton, Massachusetts.  Dr. Moir was awarded a Switzer Environmental Fellowship from the Robert & Patricia Switzer Foundation and the James Centorino Award for Distinguished Performance in Marine Education, by the National Marine Educators Association, which he also served as president.  He was Sea Education Association's first assistant scientist to work consecutive voyages of the R.V. Westward in 1979 and 1980, a major gifts officer for his alma mater, Hampshire College and serves today on the Board of Trustees of his alma mater, the Cambridge School of Weston.  Dr. Moir has a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies and a Masters of Science and Teaching from Antioch New England Graduate School in Keene, New Hampshire, and certicate of studies from the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. Dr. Moir played an important and significant role in the founding of Ocean Champions, he has been with the organization since its inception in 2003.

Jack K. Sterne, Co-Founder and General Counsel

Jack Sterne is an environmental lawyer and strategic consultant with a two-decade record of success across a wide range of environmental and energy issues. He has been actively involved in shaping and implementing ocean policy and legislation for the last decade, and has led multiple projects that crafted consensus among environmental organizations, renewable energy companies, and utilities on appropriate national policy for ocean renewable energy development. He has provided strategic planning, coalition management, and policy and litigation counsel to a wide variety of environmental and energy clients, including the Offshore Wind Development Coalition, Environmental Defense Fund, Lazar Foundation, Oak Foundation, Ormat Technologies, Ocean Conservancy, Pacific Energy Ventures, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, Sierra Club, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Wilderness Society. Jack was an official advisor on ocean issues for the transition team of President Obama. He is a frequent speaker at various energy, environment and legal conferences around the country, and has served on numerous non-profit boards. Jack is an adjunct professor at Lewis & Clark Law School, teaching Ocean and Coastal Law. He has a B.A. from the University of Virginia, and a J.D. from Lewis & Clark Law School.

Ken August, Boardmember

Kenneth A. August retired in 2009 from his role as Vice Chairman of Deloitte LLP, one of the largest professional services firms in the world, and the U.S. leader of Deloitte’s U.S. Media and Entertainment practice. In this capacity, Ken lead a multidisciplinary team of over 1000 industry practitioners and oversaw a portfolio of nearly 500 clients in every segment within the media and entertainment industry. Ken’s clients at Deloitte included Warner Bros. Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Activision Blizzard, The Walt Disney Company, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Technicolor, Panavision, and the Directors Guild of America. During his career, Ken has also served AT&T, Cisneros Television Group, Gemstar-TV Guide International, Harvey Entertainment, Mandalay Bay Entertainment, National Public Radio, and The Writers Guild of America-West, among others. Ken serves on the Executive Committee, Executive Compensation Committee, and is Chair of the Finance Committee for the Jewish Federation Foundation. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts at Columbia University. He was a member of the West Coast Advisory Board of the Natural Resources Defense Counsel, Vice Chair of the USA Swimming Foundation, on the Board Development Committee of the Friends of the L.A. Free Clinic, a member of the Alexis De Tocqueville Society Cabinet, and a board member of the Center for Early Education. He is also a board member and the Compensation Committee Chair of the Bobrick Corporation, on the Advisory Board of Broadcast Facilities Inc. and a Director of TodoCast TV. Ken was a National Merit Scholar at Stanford University and received his law degree from the Columbia University Law School, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and an editor of the Human Rights Law Review. He and his wife Patricia have two married daughters, Erica and Joanna.

Jeff Davis, Boardmember

Jeff Davis has had a lifelong interest in the ocean and expresses it in many ways, from sailing in the San Francisco Bay area to scuba diving (with his wife Carol) in the Monterey Bay. Jeff has volunteered for the Monterey Bay Aquarium for 10 years and is a conservationist at heart. He believes that natural resources should not be wasted and that we have a responsibility to act as stewards of the earth, leaving things better than they were found. Jeff and Carol split their time between the central coast of California and Coos Bay, Oregon.

Vipe Desai, Boardmember

The majority of Vipe’s life could be described as a 30 year personal case study in action sports, giving him a unique insight into this dynamic subset of youth culture. A passionate surfer since the age of 14, Vipe operated one of the most influential action sports retail businesses in Southern California, founded and managed the daily operations of a youth brand consultancy and most recently held a senior marketing role at Monster Energy, one of the most globally recognizable brands in the beverage industry where he was responsible for athlete relations, event sponsorships and brand partnerships on a global level. Prior to his role with Monster, Vipe was the Founder and Brand Strategist for the youth marketing consultancy, Propaganda Headquarters. Before launching Propaganda in 2000, Vipe owned the H2O Surf and Snowboard Shop in Orange County, CA, for nearly eight years. He considers H2O his masters degree in action sports and an experience he still draws upon when creating brand building campaigns. Outside of his professional career, Vipe is the founder and director of the project BLUE ( initiative, a partnership between leading brands in the multi-billion surf industry, that produce a complementary line of premium and co-branded products, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Surfrider Foundation and the SIMA Environmental Fund. In addition to project BLUE, Vipe is a former Vice-Chairman of the Surfrider Foundation’s Board of Directors, former board member of the SIMA Humanitarian Fund, and a former board member of the Life Rolls on Foundation and currently serving as Chairman of the Board for the Rob Dyrdek Foundation. In recent years Vipe has been called upon to speak at numerous marketing focused events, including group Y’s Action Sports Conference, Motorsports Marketing Conference, Board Retailers Association Retail Summit and Street and Smith’s Action Sports Conference.

Mike Dunmyer, Boardmember

Mike Dunmyer is a surfer and ocean environmentalist with a deep business background. Before joining Ocean Champions in 2009, Mike was a serial entrepreneur, creating, developing and leading strategy, finance, marketing and operations organizations as a Vice President in the Fortune 50 world. Mike has served on the Ocean Champions Board of Directors since 2006, and was responsible for a successful strategic planning and implementation effort while managing the Board’s Executive Committee. He has an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and a BA in Economics from Washington and Lee University. Mike has a great love for the ocean that comes from growing up in California, Hawaii, and the Delaware shore. He serves on the Board of Directors for the National Aquarium, Chairs the Board’s Conservation Committee, and serves on the National Aquarium Institute’s Executive Board. He is a grassroots activist for the Surfrider Foundation. Mike, his wife and their two daughters live in Lewes, Delaware where the Atlantic Ocean is a big part of their daily lives.

David H. Klipstein, Boardmember

David H. Klipstein, currently Executive VP and Founder of Reaction Design, has over 45 years of chemical pollution control and energy industry experience in planning and directing, technology development and commercialization of new process design tools for those markets. Dr Klipstein received his BS in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University then worked as a process engineer at American Cyanamid for three years before enrolling in MIT to receive Master’s and ScD degrees with a minor in economics. Following graduation, Dr. Klipstein spent 10 years with Union Carbide working in coatings and new products marketing before yielding to his environmental interest by joining pollution control supplier, Research Cottrell. There, he headed research and long range planning for two years before taking charge of their division responsible for supplying pollution control systems for coal power plants. In 1985, Dr. Klipstein left Research Cottrell to participate in founding and growing two start-up companies, Biosym Technologies and Reaction Design. Their purpose has been to focus on developing and marketing computer-based simulation software to decrease the development cost and time to market of advanced pollution control for transportation fuels, engines and power turbines. Concurrent with this Dr. Klipstein has been active as a board member of Earth Justice. There his primary focus has been on helping to establish and grow their International Division who now leads EJ’s activities in Arctic Ocean sustainability and global warming. Complimentary to that, Dr. Klipstein has helped to connect Earth Justice to Scripps Institute of Oceanography (SIO) by facilitating a series of annual lectures by Steve Roady, Earth Justice’s principal ocean-focused lawyer, for SIO’s MS and PhD programs on ocean policy (CMBC).

Randy Repass, Boardmember

Mr. Repass founded West Coast Ropes, which later became West Marine in 1968 as a mail order purveyor of quality three-strand rope. The first retail store was opened in Palo Alto, CA in 1975, and West Marine has since grown to become one of the leading retailers in the boating supplies industry. Mr. Repass also has served as commodore of the Santa Cruz Yacht Club, as a director and President of Sail America, the US sailing industry association, as a director of the National Marine Manufacturers Association and currently serves on the Government Relations Committee of the American Sportfishing Association. As Co-chair of Action Pajaro Valley he was active in collaborative planning for the area. His boating background includes sail and power boat cruising and fishing in New England, the Northwest, Mexico, the South Pacific, Indian Ocean and Mediterranean. For many years he has been and remains active in marine conservation as an activist and philanthropist for the benefit of the marine environment and fishers.

Beth Sullivan, Boardmember

As Executive Director of the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund for seven years, Ms. Sullivan managed its massive and rapid growth from an organization of 5 staff with a budget of $800,000 in 1996 to one of 40 staff with a $12 million budget by 2001. For the ten years preceding her tenure at LCV Education Fund, she was the Chief Executive Officer of the Campaign Design Group, a Washington, D.C. political consulting firm that designed the winning campaigns for two long-shot candidates in 1992: Senator Barbara Boxer of California and Senator Patty Murray of Washington State. In addition to her work at the Campaign Design Group, Ms. Sullivan has staffed numerous campaigns, having helped elect 4 members of Congress, 75 state legislators, four mayors, and six city council members. She is currently an independent campaign consultant. Ms. Sullivan holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Dickinson College and a MURP from George Washington University.

Michael Sutton, Boardmember

Michael Sutton is a social entrepreneur and conservation leader who currently serves as Vice President, Pacific Flyway with the National Audubon Society. He oversees Audubon's conservation programs including a $20 million budget and more than 100 professional staff in California, Washington, and Alaska; and serves as a member of Audubon's National Leadership Team. In 2007 and again in 2009, Governor Schwarzenegger appointed Mike as a member of the California Fish and Game Commission. He was elected President of the Commission in early 2013. Mike also serves as summer faculty at the Vermont Law School, where he teaches ocean & coastal law. He recently co-authoried a book, Ocean & Coastal Law and Policy, one of the most successful ever published by the American Bar Association. He has lectured at graduate seminars on conservation issues at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Stanford, Tufts, George Washington University, and the University of Rhode Island. Previously, Mike served for eight years as Vice President of the Monterey Bay Aquarium where he founded the Center for the Future of the Oceans, the Aquarium's conservation advocacy arm. Before that, Mike helped establish ocean conservation programs at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund, where he founded the Marine Stewardship Council based in London. He currently serves as Chairman of the Wild Salmon Center in Portland, Oregon and a Board member of Ocean Champions and COMPASS. Mike also serves on the Advisory Boards of the Ocean Foundation, the Sea Change Investment Fund, the Vermont Law School's Environmental Law Program and LightHawk. Mike received a bachelor's degree in wildlife biology from Utah State University in 1978 and pursued graduate studies in marine biology at the University of Sydney, Australia. In 1992, he received a law degree in international and natural resources law from George Washington University's National Law Center in Washington, D.C. In 2013, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Utah State Universitiy.

Founding Boardmembers

Carol Davis

David H. Festa

Kim Haddow

Roger Rufe


Patrick Collins

A native of Minnesota, Patrick Collins has worked in the U.S. House and Senate, and served as a political appointee in the Clinton Administration. He now serves as an advocate on behalf of the oceans for both Ocean Champions and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

He enjoys ice-fishing sustainably, and each year hosts the Ultimate PC Support Group Experience and Croquet Tournament in Minnesota, an event that has been attended by U.S. Senators, various important, high-level government officials, and lots of just regular folks.

Where We Can Be Found

Press Contact: Chris Laughlin, (831)462-2550;
On the web:

Advisory Board Members

Wendy Benchley
D. Keith Campbell
Philippe Cousteau
Anne G. Earhart
Terry Garcia
Mark Mellman
Rick Moonen
Edward M. Norton
Julie Packard
John Racanelli

Tom Raftican
David Rockefeller, Jr.

John Schmidt
Ron Sternal


Internship Opportunities

Northern California Internship

The Ocean Conservation Intern Position is designed to introduce college-level and graduate-level individuals to working in the non-profit political sector of ocean conservation. The position is based in Capitola Village, CA.



To apply, please submit a cover letter, resume and a brief description of why you are interested in an Internshop position at Ocean champions to: