Meet the Team

Linda Cabot

Founder and President

Linda is a visual artist who credits a lifetime of sailing for her love affair with the ocean. She founded Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs to inspire and support the next generation of ocean caretakers. She believes in the power of the arts to raise awareness about ocean conservation and enjoys seeing all the tremendous works of creativity and ingenuity that are submitted to the program. She serves on the Board of Women Working for Oceans (W2O) and is a trustee of the New England Aquarium.

Linda is also devoted to educational reform and values quality education for all children. She serves on the boards of the Neighborhood House Charter School and Horizons, a summer enrichment program for underserved youth. She is co-chair of the education cornerstone committee and a trustee at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Susan Tang

Program Manager

Growing up in Boston, Susan’s passion for environmentalism is grounded in the idea that urban and natural landscapes are deeply interconnected. Susan spent their high school years organizing and finding community in Boston’s environmental advocacy scene. In college, Susan double majored in Environmental Science and Urban Studies, graduating magna cum laude from Brown University. Between their studies, Susan was also a research assistant in Brown’s Climate Development Lab, exploring the potential for and obstruction of climate solutions in the policy realm. Susan also developed a passion for youth work, mentoring high school students with the Emerald Necklace Conservancy’s Green Team, an environmental education program in Boston.

Before joining Bow Seat, Susan served as a Curatorial and Communications Fellow at the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, a public park in Downtown Boston. As a member of the Public Art team, their work involved bringing thought-provoking art pieces to the public space, highlighting the connection between art and the surrounding environment. In their free time, Susan can usually be found roller skating, crocheting, or playing the French horn in their local community band.

Jeremy Pivor

Partnership & Youth Engagement Director

As a teen, Jeremy grew up volunteering with both Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots youth program and the New England Aquarium, building a passion for youth leadership and ocean conservation. Since University, Jeremy has worked for over a decade in environmental conservation, international climate change diplomacy, and public health. His efforts have brought him around the world from the United States, Madagascar, the Sargasso Sea, the Coral Triangle region in Southeast Asia, to Indonesia Borneo. He cherishes working with and bridging partnerships with organizations from the local to international scale. Before joining Bow Seat, Jeremy served as Senior Program Coordinator at the Planetary Health Alliance, where he strived to build a global Planetary Health community by organizing the world’s first Planetary Health Declaration, and developing regional hubs.

Jeremy received an MS from the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health’s Joint Medical Program, where he focused on the social determinants of health, and a BA in Environmental Biology from Washington University in St. Louis, where he graduated summa cum laude as an Ethan A.H. Shepley Scholar, the University’s highest honor. He loves to sail, play board games, and spoil his nieces and nephews.

Ajay Sawant

Social Media Manager

Ajay is a student, artist, writer, ocean activist, and aspiring marine conservationist dedicated to protecting the world’s ocean. He has worked as a literary publicist for a little over two years and is fond of creating awareness through the power of social media.

Brought up by the Worli Sea Face in his early life, Ajay grew a deep connection with the ocean and an urge to protect it. For this purpose, he is involved with several organisations in marine conservation, including World Ocean Day, The Ocean Project, The Ocean Foundation (TOF), National Geographic Society (NGS), and The Nature Conservancy. He has been a part of the Youth Ocean Action Toolkit team for NGS and TOF, focusing on Marine Protected Areas, and a panelist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s March 2023 webinar with the OCTO group. Besides this, he is a Make An Impact fellow and a runner-up for the 2020 Christopher Hewitt Poetry Prize.

At Bow Seat, he hopes to engage youth with ocean awareness programs and drive them to make sustainable choices for our ocean.

Montana Dickerson

Programs Intern

From a young age, Montana was passionate about visual arts and literature. In high school, she served on the board of an arts and literary magazine and co-taught “Art History Reimaged,” a class highlighting the contributions of POC artists in American art history. When she wasn’t creating, Montana spent her time outside, running cross-country, hiking along the Appalachian trail, and kayaking in the Chattahoochee River. Her enthusiasm for the environment blossomed further in high school, where she led efforts to remove invasive species from local parks and hiking trails.

Montana is thrilled to fuse these two passions at Bow Seat where she contributes to data analysis and publication projects. Currently an undergraduate at Yale, Montana is a prospective double major in Ethics, Politics, & Economics and Urban Studies. Her studies focus on how public policy and design can reinforce or challenge systems of oppression, and she hopes Bow Seat will enrich her studies by teaching her new methods of creative communication and youth engagement strategies.

Before Bow Seat, Montana interned in the House of Representatives under Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi and worked with the Center for Employment Opportunities, helping justice-impacted individuals reintegrate into the workforce.

Future Blue Youth Council

Bow Seat’s Future Blue Youth Council is a global group of program alumni working together to advance Bow Seat’s mission and to empower fellow peers to advocate for their future and for our environment. Click here to view past Councils.

2024 COUNCIL MEMBERS
Sabine Cuesta
16 | Ontario, Canada

Sabine is an avid hiker and budding wildlife photographer who is passionate about preserving biodiversity. Since she was young, Sabine has had an interest in humanity’s connection with nature – she planted a pollinator garden in her yard and convinced her family to eat more plant-based meals. When she is not writing articles about environmental issues in her school newspaper, she can be found playing the guitar or reading the latest fantasy novel. Sabine’s journey with Bow Seat began with her submission of her Gold-winning “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough Parody,” and she is thrilled to continue her journey with the Future Blue Youth Council.

María Pax Dakota Ormeño Vasquez
18 | Lima, Peru

Maria is a high school senior deeply committed to sustainability advocacy. She is particularly interested in the intersection of science and technology, seeking to build solutions for global issues. This dedication is evident through her leadership in EcoShield, an initiative promoting sustainability in daily life by using AquaBead, a product made with PETase, a cutting-edge enzyme that has recently been discovered and holds great promise in removing plastic pollution. Additionally, she is the founder of the youth organization Incluye Pe, dedicated to empowering indigenous entrepreneurs by teaching them entrepreneurial skills and about digital literacy, and amplifying their rich culture in urban settings. Their shared value for environmental stewardship leads them to collaborate with similar youth organizations, collectively raising awareness about the pressing need to preserve our planet. Having been part of the World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council, Maria aspires to continue her impactful journey through the Future Blue Youth Council. Her goal is to inspire and motivate even more young individuals to address current challenges in their communities, fostering a continuous chain of positive change.

Maabena Edem Nti
16 | Greater Accra, Ghana

Maabena is a young poet and writer and budding environmentalist. She enjoys writing poetry in commune with nature. Aside from writing, she is the vice president of her school’s environmental club and an active member within the local youth climate council of Ghana. She is also a debater. She is eager to serve her term on the Future Blue Youth Council.

Enya Fang
16 | British Columbia, Canada

Enya is a 16-year-old writer and activist. She co-founded Evergreen Collective, an international youth nonprofit with six chapters and over 100 volunteers from around the globe. She has since fundraised $6,800+ for disaster relief, published 50+ climate articles, and interviewed UNICEF ambassadors and MPs for webinars. Enya also leads her school’s Model UN, Science, Literary Arts, and Speech/Debate programs, and is one of five student leaders on the Environmental Stewardship Committee. Aside from direct advocacy, Enya is passionate about communicating environmental reform through creative journalism and has achieved national accolades from CBC and A&E. Enya enjoys writing poetry for literary magazines, being in the mountains, and indulging her obsession with tea.

Keren-happuch Garba
19 | Kaduna, Nigeria

Keren-happuch is a creative writer and a third-year Medical Radiography college student. She loves to talk and write about the environment and climate change. Among her achievements, she is a Bow Seat Fellowship Program grantee, a Bow Seat Distinguished Honorable Mention awardee, and a Write the World’s Climate Writing winner. She has published several poems in Write the World Review, the Cathartic Literary Magazine, and Ice Lolly Review, among other esteemed magazines. On the Future Blue Youth Council, she looks forward to contributing to environmental conservation and encouraging youth around the world to do the same!

Tafadzwa Ashely Gore
17 | Western Australia

Ashely is a 17-year-old author and environmentalist. From being recognized as one of the 50 Science Innovators in the UK by the AFS Global Scholars 2023 program to her collaboration with UNICEF to improve menstrual health in rural Zimbabwe, Ashely’s work is making a real difference. Her Eco-Sanitary Menstrual Hygiene Products project showcases her innovative thinking and compassion for addressing menstrual poverty in an eco-friendly way. She an accomplished author of the book Unsaid and co-author of two other books, and she also has used global platforms to advocate for sustainability and environmental issues.

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Jing Graber
18 | Texas, USA

Jing, an aspiring marine biologist, is an enthusiastic underwater photographer, artist, and author/illustrator. Her art, showcased at jinggraber.com, aims to capture the splendor of the natural world, urging others to appreciate our planet’s ecosystems. She dreams of one day conducting research on elasmobranchs or cetaceans, making discoveries which can be used to protect these species. With her debut children’s picture book, “Can You Sea Me?: A Children’s Guide to Camouflage in the Ocean,” Jing aims to bring a taste of the sea to her land-locked community in Austin, as well as those beyond.

Sophie Kim
16 | California, USA

Living by the ocean for much of her life, Sophie Kim has seen firsthand the devastating impacts of oil spills and plastic pollution on wildlife and ecosystems. From a young age, she became interested in taking action for the environment in any way possible, which is what led her to found The Clean & Green Initiative (TCAGI), an online, youth-led environmental activism coalition of 600+ members. Inspired by Bow Seat’s 2023 Climate Heroes in Action prompt, she is currently working on expanding TCAGI to a YouTube channel, where she plans to feature interviews with climate heroes such as Saoirse Exton, Mitzi Jonelle Tan, and Iris Zhan. She is beyond grateful and excited to continue her environmental work as part of the Future Blue Youth Council!

Ahrin Lee
16 | Singapore

Ahrin strives to explore innovative strategies to advocate and promote sustainable actions in her community. She co-founded the Marine Wildlife Conservation Club with WWF, organising many events to engage students in environmental protection. As the team leader of Zero Waste, a student-led initiative, she and her team runs food drives and are implementing a home composting scheme on her school campus to reduce food waste entering Singapore’s landfills. Ahrin, a biology writer for Phase Learning, Artist Collective member, and a Gold Award recipient of Bow Seat’s Ocean Awareness Contest, is also passionate about utilising art to raise awareness. Through the Future Blue Youth Council, she aims to inspire others for a brighter future!

Charmaine Mupara
18 | Mathebeleland North, Zimbabwe

Charmaine is an 18-year-old environmental advocate who volunteers for Environmental Buddies Zimbabwe. She was a 2022 Bow Seat Fellowship Program grantee, where she successfully helped lead a project to dig harvesting pits and plant trees to address the interrelated issues of water insecurity and food scarcity in her community. She advocates for reforestation, clean water and climate justice for all, and food security for rural villages, as they are most affected by climate change.

Ali Nasir
16 | Punjab, Pakistan

Ali is the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Handwritten & Co., a print literary arts journal publishing the finest in contemporary literature – it is among the only such magazine operating in Pakistan today. He has interviewed many writers, including winners of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award. A keen reader of poetry and fiction, his work has been published or is forthcoming in numerous magazines, including Pleiades, Litro, Harvard Review, and more. His interest in climate advocacy is tied both to his background in debating – where he learned to wield language to get his point across effectively – and to his belief that the written word can be a vehicle for great change.

Sofia Tasoluk
18 | Pennsylvania, USA

Sofia is an enthusiastic environmental advocate who is eager to contribute her skills to further Bow Seat’s missions in 2024! Sofia spent a summer abroad at The Island School in the Bahamas, where she studied sustainability and marine ecology and furthered her understanding of ocean issues. As co-president of her school’s environmental club, she is passionate about starting initiatives to get more people involved and excited about sustainability. Outside school, she enjoys traveling, swimming in the ocean, and watching her favorite franchise, Star Wars. A fun fact about her is that she is SCUBA-certified and a citizen of three countries!

Tana Tahira Valmond
19 | Roseau, Dominica

19-year-old Tana is honored to represent Dominica, the “Nature Isle of the Caribbean,” the land of 365 rivers, and the home of the Indigenous People, the Kalinago. She is currently triple-majoring in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics at Dominica State College and aspires to be a medical doctor. She is a Student Ambassador, president of the Student Government, and president of the Environmental Club, which has led many projects, including beach clean-ups, tree-plantings, and community outreach programs. Tana is an artist with a passion for utilizing her creative skills to spread awareness about protecting our environment.

Ocean Awareness Contest Judges

ART
Carolina Aragón

Carolina is an Assistant Professor in the Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. As a public artist, Carolina engages in transdisciplinary collaborations—where art, science, technology, and community, coalesce—to create innovative art installations designed to increase public engagement with local issues of climate change. Carolina recently has been named as one of 2020 Codaworx Creative Revolutionaries; her artwork has been displayed at the World Bank’s Art of Resilience exhibit, as well as showcased in multiple venues, including the National Park Service’s “100 Years of Arts in the Parks.”

Erin Chuba

Based in Boston, MA, Erin has a strong background in Marine Science and Data Analytics. She holds a B.A. in Marine Science from Boston University and currently works as a Data Analyst at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Previously serving as a Policy & Advocacy Intern at Women Working for Oceans, Erin played an integral role in growing the organization’s social media presence. She curated impactful call-to-action social media posts, drawing from her thorough research of marine science literature. Erin’s dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion was evident as she led initiatives aimed at fostering an inclusive environment.

Ely German

Ely is an Art Director at Havas Chicago. In 2018, she was honored with a gold award from Bow Seat and has been lucky to be an alumni judge ever since. Throughout the years, she has collaborated with the awesome Bow Seat team to create content that makes waves.

If you are a student working on your entry, remember to trust the power of your unique voice!

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Amy Harff

Amy is an environmental artist, writer, and researcher from Providence, Rhode Island. Her 2023 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship explored the intersection of art and the environment around the world. During that time, she met with over 240 scientists, artists, community leaders, activists, and academics to understand how art can be a tool for change.

When she is not speaking with artists, she is making art. Some recent projects include: facilitating community murals, creating a commissioned tapestry for COP 28’s Hope House in Dubai, making costumes from trash, and drawing large illustrations about projected climate impacts in her community. She is also creating an illustrated book featuring 25 female-identifying SDG changemakers, including Christiana Figueres, Dr. Kim Cobb, Xiye Bastida, and Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner, to name a few.

@amyspencerart
www.amyspencerharff.com

Ari Hauben

Ari is a contemporary artist based in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood. His work consists of multimedia works, which cover a broad spectrum of topics, styles, and materials. His art resides in collections spanning the globe and has been shown throughout Boston and beyond, including being featured at the Museum of Fine Arts.

In addition to creating compelling art, Ari also operates under the alias Mr. Hauben, or Mr. H to his students. Ari has taught for over a decade in a 100% special education Boston Public High School, designed for students who struggle with emotional and behavioral challenges. Ari was named 2018 Boston Public School Educator of the Year.

@arihaubenart
www.arihauben.com

Dara Herman-Zierlein

Dara is a political illustrator, art educator, and art activist who continuously uses her artwork to advocate awareness in the world.

Nigella Hillgarth

Following a career as a biologist—first as an academic and then an administrator—Nigella has combined her passion for the environment and science with photography. She is particularly interested in expressing the environmental issues that face us today through images that capture the beauty of our planet but remind us of the problems we face, especially climate change and the ocean. Nigella is presently a visiting scientist at the Center for Ecosystem Sentinels at the University of Washington, and a founding member of the consulting group Ocean Collectiv.

Monica Jahan Bose

Monica Jahan Bose is a Bangladeshi-American artist and climate activist whose work spans painting, printmaking, film, performance, and installation. Her socially engaged work highlights the intersection of climate, racial, gender, and economic injustice through co-created workshops, art actions, and temporary installations and performances. She has exhibited her work extensively in the US and internationally (23 solo shows, five large-scale public art projects, and more than 25 performances) including solo exhibitions at the Bangladesh National Museum and MACRO Museum of Contemporary Art Rome.

Sofia Jain

Sofia sits among many worlds: art, science, writing, conservation, nature education. She has a BSc in Environmental Science (Carleton University) and MSc in Marine Biology (James Cook University) and has spent 5 years conducting marine and aquatic research. She is also a self-taught artist who works and brings conservation science to life through infographics (wiseart.net). Recently she moved to a small island off the west coast of Canada to reconnect with her original inspiration for it all: nature. Here she has been learning about nature connection practices as taught by the 8 Shields Institute. She assists in running programs that connect people to nature through animal tracking, bird language, ancestral skills, ethnobotany, etc. She hopes to bring awareness and connection to nature through her current paintings and writing.

Nadine Lloyd

Nadine is a mixed-media artist and Art Teacher in Maui, Hawaii. Previously, she taught Environmental Art at The Island School and intermittently lived aboard a sailboat in The Bahamas. This experience heightened her passion for ocean conservation and art advocacy. She holds a BFA in Fine Arts and a MA in Art Integration.

Silvia Lopez Chavez

A Dominican-American visual whose community-centered murals form connections across disciplines and cultural boundaries. Silvia uses joy as an act of resistance and celebration through her vibrant murals world-wide. She is proud recipient of several recognitions for her work including a Common Good Award from MassArt, a Leadership in Public Art Award by New England Foundation for the Arts and The Boston Foundation’s Brother Thomas Fellowship Award.

Free Marseille

Free’s current work pulls inspiration from his childhood experience of moving to America as a refugee and experiencing this country as an outsider. He loves that he belongs to multiple cultures because it helps him weave together distant narratives and create a final product that feels both foreign and familiar. His goal is for people to experience his work as dissonant dreamscapes that connect subconscious and conscious realities.

Mackenzie Martin

I’m a recent graduate of College of the Atlantic, where I focused on pottery and marine sciences. I find power of voice through my art practice, drawing inspiration from the ocean and its myriad of creatures. Currently, I sell my own work and teach children and adults pottery at Gorham Arts Alliance. GAA is an art organization whose mission is to inspire, enrich, and strengthen our community by offering cultural and educational experiences through the Arts.

Stephen Mishol

Stephen Mishol is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Design at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts degree in Painting from the Massachusetts College of Art. As an undergraduate, he was also a recipient of a Yale-Norfolk Fellowship. In 1986 he was awarded a Fulbright Research Grant and lived and worked in Warsaw, Poland. In 2006, Mishol received an Artist Resource Trust Grant.

Holly Morin

Holly is a Marine Research Associate IV at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography (URI-GSO). Her work involves the development, coordination, and promotion of interactive ocean science websites, public outreach and science communication programs, and ocean science community events and workshops. She works on projects and with partners in ocean observing, ocean exploration, underwater acoustics, and more. In 2019 she even got the chance to host ship-based, live interactions from the Arctic AND the Antarctic!

Lisa Reindorf

Lisa is an architect, artist, and environmental activist. She grew up in Mexico among a community of socially and politically active artists. A graduate of Columbia University and University of Pennsylvania, she has practiced as an architect and taught at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).

In her career as an artist, Lisa focuses on climate change. Much of her art addresses the conflict of the natural world with constructed systems, and on sea rise due to global warming. Colorful paintings of coastal ecosystems depict sinking cities and rising seas. Lisa has authored many articles on art and the environment. She frequently lectures at universities and environmental conferences on how artists interpret climate change. Recently she was invited by the Courtauld Institute of Art in London to speak at their conference on Art and Climate Change.

Griffin Smith

Griffin is a digital artist and AI researcher at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). His work explores how technology is changing artmaking, as well as what separates humans, animals, and machines. His classes at RISD include Machine Learning, Digital Culture, and Text Transformed: Writing with AI. He earned an MFA in Digital Art and a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing from Brown University.

Jason Talbot

A painter, muralist, sculptor, and graphic designer, Jason “SWAT” Talbot creates artwork to explore and observe the world around him. He attended the Art Institute of Boston and has a career spanning decades in the art world. In his personal practice, he has produced dozens of murals for businesses in Boston and beyond, working with multiple collaborators to deepen the world view of their communities.

As AFH’s Co-Founder and Managing Director of Program, Jason creates opportunities to engage and mentor teen artists and their artistic mentors advancing AFH’s programmatic goals while building long-term creative connections. Jason champions AFH’s Youth Arts Enterprise model, serving as a thought leader and spokesperson to expand AFH’s reach. He participated in the 2009 Cohort of the Emerging Leaders Program, University of Massachusetts Boston; received the 2013 Mentor of the Year Award from Youth Design; was named a member of 2014’s Top 40 Under 40 by the Boston Business Journal; and attended the Arts & Cultural Organization Management Program, at Harvard Business School in 2021. Jason is an active member of WGBH’s Community Advisory Board.

Through his artistic practice and leadership at AFH , Jason “SWAT” Talbot works to help others observe the world in a deeper way.

Sophy Tuttle

Sophy Tuttle is an English-born American muralist, and installation artist. Her work celebrates nature and creates new narratives that explore regenerative culture-building among humans and all other forms of life.

Sophy received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration from Rhode Island School of Design in 2008. She also holds a certificate in Graphic Design from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (2015) and a Master’s in Interdisciplinary Art from the University of Hartford Art School (2019).

Gwenan Walker

Gwenan is a rising junior at USC double majoring in animation and human biology with a minor in marine science. She was the recipient of the Gold Award in the Senior division of the 2019 Ocean Awareness Contest, and is so excited to be coming back as a judge!

Ocean Awareness Contest Judges

FILM
David Abel

An award-winning reporter and documentary filmmaker, David has covered war in the Balkans, unrest in Latin America, national security issues in Washington D.C., terrorism in New York and Boston, and climate change and poverty throughout New England. David and his colleagues at the The Boston Globe won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News for their coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings. David now covers environmental issues at the Globe, focusing mainly on climate change.

David has directed many award-winning films, including: “Sacred Cod,” about the historic collapse of the iconic cod fishery in New England; “Gladesmen: The Last of the Sawgrass Cowboys,” about the government’s $16 billion effort to restore the Everglades, one of the planet’s most damaged ecosystems;  “Lobster War: The Fight Over the World’s Richest Fishing Grounds,”about a climate-fueled conflict between the U.S. and Canada over waters that both countries have claimed since the end of the Revolutionary War; and “Entangled,” about how climate change has accelerated a collision between one of the world’s most endangered species, North America’s most valuable fishery, and a federal agency mandated to protect both.

Eric Carstens

Eric has seen firsthand how early engagement with the ocean can lead to a lifelong commitment to protecting it. As a toddler, he became enamored with a jellyfish washed up on the beach. Later trips to the National Aquarium and National Museum of Natural History only cemented his love of the natural world. Drawing from his love of museums, he looks for ways to engage with the environment outside of a traditional classroom. Eric served as Bow Seat’s Contest Program Director from 2021-2023 and now brings public programs to the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture in Cambridge, MA.

Sydney Cole

Sydney is a Computer Science and Film, Television, and Media major in her senior year at the University of Michigan. She first learned about Bow Seat when entering the Ocean Awareness Contest years ago. Since then, she has only grown more interested in learning about and educating others on climate change and other pressing issues threatening the environment.
While she unfortunately doesn’t get to see much of the ocean living in Michigan, being surrounded by the Great Lakes has let her see firsthand the beauty and importance of water. She enjoys creating and editing videos and is looking forward to being inspired by all of this year’s incredible entries.

Nicolle Fagan

Nicolle is Group Account Director at GYK Antler, a full-service, creative ad agency with offices in Boston and Manchester, New Hampshire. She brings over 10 years of experience in global marketing, with a particular emphasis on effectively using storytelling to drive action. As former Marketing Director for the New England Aquarium, Nicolle focused on repositioning the Aquarium as a conservation organization, while also driving ticket sales. She also led the organization’s communication strategy through the Aquarium’s reopening process during COVID-19.

Nicolle is also the co-founder of the Palau Pledge, a groundbreaking environmental initiative that won the inaugural Cannes Lion dedicated to the Sustainable Development Goals, along with a D&AD black pencil, multiple Clio, and other leading advertising industry awards. The initiative has since been adopted by a number of destinations across the globe, including New Zealand.

Malika Gizzat

Malika is an incoming university student majoring in Business, Informatics, and Marketing. She is a professional video editor for various international companies and also enjoys making videos for fun. She’s currently working as a content creator for a global educational company impacting 6000+ on TikTok. Malika believes that films and videos are the most effective activism tools and feels honored to be judging students’ works for the Ocean Awareness Contest.

Megan McInerney

Megan is a writer and educator currently living in Missoula, Montana, where she is pursuing an M.S. in Environmental Writing & Education. She holds an M.A. from the Bread Loaf School of English. She has five years of experience teaching at the high school level, including two years at The Island School in the Bahamas where she taught “Literature of the Sea” and worked with student groups to survey beach plastic and raise awareness of plastic pollution. Her work has appeared in Camas: The Nature of the West, Flyway Journal of Writing & Environment, and Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies.

Puckerbrush Animation

Hanji Chang is a Taiwanese-Korean painter, illustrator, graphic designer, and animator. She also teaches animation at Maine College of Art. Andy O’Brien is a Rockland, Maine-based writer, voice actor, and co-founder of O’Chang Comics and Puckerbrush animation. He is also the communications director for the Maine AFL-CIO. Hanji and Andy co-founded Puckerbrush Animation, which produces the popular “Temp Tales” cartoon series as well as educational and commercial animations.

Georgia Stockwell

Georgia Stockwell is a film director, visual anthropologist and marine conservation communicator exploring relationships between marine ecosystems and coastal cultures. In addition to filmmaking, Georgia works with NOAA Fisheries SERO on community engagement strategy for the critically endangered North Atlantic Right Whale.

Ocean Awareness Contest Judges

INTERACTIVE & MULTIMEDIA
Sam Fleming

Sam lives in Chilmark, MA, on Martha’s Vineyard and in Cambridge, MA. He worked for more than three decades in public radio at WBUR in Boston overseeing the news and content. He’s married to Emily Bramhall, who lives on the Vineyard full-time. He has a 33-year-old son, Wilder, who is also a journalist. Sam grew up in central Pennsylvania outside of Harrisburg.

Aileen Han

Aileen is a junior at MIT who is majoring in computer science. She started programming in fifth grade, where she was immediately drawn to the endless possibilities of using coding to help people. In her freshman year, she took a web development course where in a team of three, she built a website to take people on virtual vacations during the COVID era.

Designing and programming are some of her main passions, and she is eager to share her knowledge while also helping the environment. Aileen served as Bow Seat’s Digital Design and Web Development Intern in 2022.

Yuzuna Kudo

Yuzuna is a student pursuing a B.S. in Environmental Science with an emphasis in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, alongside a minor in Geospatial Information Systems & Technology.

With her background in GIS research and passion for storytelling, she aims to produce creative data visualizations that tell compelling stories about our most vulnerable ecosystems and communities, sparking important conversations.

Yuzuna has been a past award winner in Bow Seat’s Ocean Awareness Contest in the Interactive & Multimedia
category where she submitted her ArcGIS StoryMaps, as well as a former member of the Future Blue Youth Council where she mentored awardees of the Fellowship Grant Program from all over the world. With this opportunity, Yuzuna looks forward to giving back to the Bow Seat community and engaging with the incredible stories of student environmentalists from all walks of life.

In her free time, you can find her enjoying the company of her three cats, scuba diving, or birding!

Alvin Lu

Alvin is an undergraduate at Yale University, interested in studying applications of computer science from his bioinformatics research to develop games that raise awareness of climate change. In his free time, he enjoys going on runs on local nature trails.

Trevor Roberts

Trevor lives and works in Central Pennsylvania, where he is an avid advocate for the outdoors, a favorite destination for his wife, Jeanette, and three kids. Favorite activities include hiking, kayaking, and camping. His passion for the outdoors started in his youth when he got his Scuba Diving certification, which was a catalyst to explore. Trevor is the co-founder and managing partner of Cross & Crown, a digital agency committed to helping their clients educate, advocate, and thrive in a digital world.

Ocean Awareness Contest Judges

PERFORMING ARTS
Kai Shinnosuke Kubota-Enright

Kai Kubota-Enright is a composer/performer based in Los Angeles.

Their musical output encompasses a variety of works for both concert and film, as well as contributions to various interdisciplinary projects. Their music often incorporates improvisational, electronic, and site-specific elements, and may be found as part of larger multimedia collaborations involving dance, installation art, and projection art. Their concert music primarily focuses on the relationship between sound and spatial environments, both natural and human-made, as well as how these various elements interact with personal memories and subjectivities; drawing from a variety of western and Japanese influences.

Originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, they graduated with a bachelors in composition from the Schulich School of Music at McGill University, studying composition with Melissa Hui and piano with Sara Laimon. Currently they are pursuing a masters in composition at the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, studying with Camae Ayewa. They recently completed a commission for the London Sinfonietta exploring experiments techniques inspired by the work of Pauline Oliveros—asking performers to audiate pitches from ambient noise, as well as attempt to communicate these pitches to each other through telepathy.

In 2018 they received an award from Bow Seat for their piece “Aquas,” which utilizes a motif derived from climate data of the seas and terrain, and have also returned annually as a judge for musical works which respond to the climate crisis. As well, in 2019 they received a SOCAN Foundation Young Composer Award for Isaac, an electroacoustic piece which explored the fragmentation of memory and psyche. From 2021-2022 at McGill University they completed a brass quintet “Dream Transmission of Phoenix” as the Composer-in-Residence, and also received a commission and premiere by the London Sinfonietta as part of the 2022 ROSL Composition Award.

Saoirse Lewis

Saoirse is a singer-songwriter from San Francisco. After graduating from Wesleyan University with a degree in Anthropology and Writing, she moved to Ireland for six months working as a server and a travel specialist, and spending time with extended family. She is now based in San Francisco and works as a studio manager at Whipsaw, a highly acclaimed industrial and digital design firm.

In 2019, she received the Gold Award for her original song “Our Changing World.” This is her 5th year serving as a guest judge, where she is consistently inspired by the creative artists and activists advocating for the planet and ocean. She continues to write music, and you can follow more of her work @saoirse.1.1 on instagram.

Ademola Oyewole-Davis

Brooklyn born and raised, Ademola is a singer, poet, writer, educator, and activist. He has been singing and performing his written work since he was 8 years old. His love for music and creativity has taken him coast to coast, performing in Southern California and New York, and working on a second album with his father, Abiodun Oyewole of The Last Poets, as well as his debut album, Lib(er)ation. Having taught for over 7 years with organizations like Urban Word NYC and various independent/charter schools, Ademola utilizes his skills to create a conscious, critical, and creative experience for students, keeping in mind his mission to give voice to truth and power to justice. Currently, Ademola is working on his debut album while being a DEI and education consultant.

Destiny Polk

Warrior and healer. Tender and unbreakable. Destiny “Divine” Polk, whose name means “That which has been firmly established, God has answered, Dance,” is an Afro-Indigenous choreographer and producer, multi-disciplinary artist, community organizer/space holder, art educator and founder of art-activist platform Radical Black Girl. Known for doing interactive art shows likes RESISTDANCE and Black Woman is God, Destiny’s work is concerned with speaking truth to a country that attempts to rewrite its own history while having actively tried to suppress African and Native American history and culture. Destiny took her Being the Change workshop to SXSW 2019 and premiered her short film “When the Sea Rises” at the ILLUMINUS Festival 2019. She was the keynote speaker for the Youth Arts for Social Change Summit in 2020 and the recipient of the National Center of Afro-American Artist’s Ralph F. Browne, Jr. Award for Civic Engagement.

Caitlin Roberts

Caitlin Roberts is a performer, dancer, and choreographer originally from Anchorage, Alaska! She recently graduated with a BA in dance from Loyola Marymount University. She kicked off her professional dance career by performing in the Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show and dancing in parades with Disneyland Entertainment! Growing up so near to the ocean gave her a great appreciation for the sea and the importance of protecting it. This led her to participate in the Ocean Awareness Contest during her high school years, and then later become a judge!

Kellen Vu

Kellen is an artist and musician from Phoenix, Arizona. He graduated in 2023 from Stanford University with a B.S. in Human Biology and a Minor in Computer Science. After graduating, he spent a year working at a health tech startup in Palo Alto as a software engineer. He is now a medical student at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, where he hopes to integrate art, medicine, and technology to design innovative solutions for human health.

In 2018, he received a Silver Award from Bow Seat for his original song “Shore to Shore,” which tackled the effects of climate change on the oceans. This is Kellen’s fourth year serving as an alumni judge—he is looking forward to seeing the inspiring work generated by students across the globe!

Ocean Awareness Contest Judges

POETRY & SPOKEN WORD
Dzidzor Azaglo

Dzidzor (pronounced Jee-Joh) is a Ga-Ewe folklore, performing artist, writer, and curator. Dzidzor’s style of call and response, sound collage combines poetry, storytelling and sound as a way to usher the audience in an experience of being present in their bodies. Her performance art demystifies the role of an artist being watched and invites the audience to “perform” and be a part of the performance. Dzidzor’s work is full of curiosity and questions surrounding the ideas of God, community and church, home, blackness, and identity. While acknowledging those ignorantly consumed by the impact of a system that hasn’t benefited black and brown folx. She is often exploring how oppressed bodies can release internalized oppression in the mind and body through rest, an active practice of stillness and lifelong journey to living. Dzidzor is currently working on a project called, “Wilderness,” a performance piece that is exploring what it means be black, living and woman.

Akhila Bandlora

Akhila is an octopus lover, poet, and friend from Phoenix, Arizona. The recipient of Bow Seat’s Gold Award for Poetry, her poetry has been featured by Greenpeace USA, The Ocean Project, Joppa Flats Education Center, among others. She is studying psychology, anthropology, neuroscience, and ecology at Princeton. Akhila feels most at peace around big bodies of water, reading, or laying in the sun. She’s so excited to be a judge again this year!

Shauna Barbosa

Shauna is the author of the poetry collection Cape Verdean Blues (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Boston Review, AGNI, Iowa Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Poetry Society of America, PBS Newshour, and others. She was nominated for PEN America’s 2019 Open Book Award and was a 2018 Disquiet International Luso-American fellow. Shauna received her MFA from Bennington College in Vermont and is currently working on a compilation of stories.

Maithreyi Bharathi

Maithreyi is an incoming undergraduate student from the Bay Area whose work has been recognized by Bow Seat, The Poetry Society, and the Scholastic Writing Awards, among others. In her free time, she likes reading, going on walks, and trying new food. She is looking forward to being a judge this year!

Mary Buchinger Bodwell

Mary Buchinger is the author of five full-length books of poetry: The Book of Shores (Lily Poetry Review Books, 2024; Permafrost Book Prize in Poetry finalist; Hillary Gravendyk Prize, semifinalist), Navigating the Reach (Salmon Poetry, 2023, longlisted for the Massachusetts Book Award), Virology (Lily Poetry Review Books, 2022), einfühlung/in feeling (Main Street Rag, 2018), and Aerialist (Gold Wake, 2015; May Swenson Poetry Award finalist, The Journal /Wheeler Prize semifinalist and Perugia Press Prize semifinalist), and two chapbooks: /klaʊdz/(Lily Poetry Review Books, 2021) and Roomful of Sparrows (Finishing Line Press, 2008; New Women’s Voices Series semi-finalist). She has received poetry awards from the New England Poetry Club and the Virginia Poetry Society, a Norton Island Residency, and over a dozen Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations. Her poetry appears in AGNI, Gargoyle, Laurel Review, Lincoln Review, Nimrod, On the Seawall, Plume, Salt Hill, Seneca Review, South Dakota Review, Sugar House Review, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, and elsewhere. She was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador and earned a doctorate in linguistics from Boston University. She teaches at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and served on the board of the New England Poetry Club for many years. www.MaryBuchinger.com

Erin Chuba

Based in Boston, MA, Erin has a strong background in Marine Science and Data Analytics. She holds a B.A. in Marine Science from Boston University and currently works as a Data Analyst at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Previously serving as a Policy & Advocacy Intern at Women Working for Oceans, Erin played an integral role in growing the organization’s social media presence. She curated impactful call-to-action social media posts, drawing from her thorough research of marine science literature. Erin’s dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion was evident as she led initiatives aimed at fostering an inclusive environment.

Michelle Garcia Fresco

Michelle Garcia Fresco is a Dominican poet, performer, and Programming Director based in Boston. She currently graduated from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, with a dual degree in Creative Writing and Sociology.

Believing in the power of poetry as a medium for social justice. Garcia`s writing is often inspired by the women in her family, social and racial injustices in America, coping with loss and mental health, as well as her Dominican roots.

Her work has appeared in Wbur/The Artery, Tinderbox Poetry, the Rising Phoenix ,She is also the winner of Stirling Spoons “2020: Identity in America” contest.” Chosen by Richard Blanco, former US Inaugural Poet and author.

Kelly Hui

Kelly X. Hui is a fiction writer and abolitionist community organizer. A Luminarts fellow, she received the 2023 Adroit Prize for Prose, selected by Ocean Vuong, and recently turned down the 2024 PEN/Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers in solidarity with Palestine and the Palestinian liberation struggle. You can find her on Twitter @halfmoonpoem.

Jennifer Jean

Jennifer Jean is the author of Where Do You Live? أين تعيش؟, VOZ, The Fool, Object Lesson, and Object Lesson: a Guide to Writing Poetry; as well, she’s edited Other Paths for Shahrazad: a Bilingual Anthology of Contemporary Poetry by Arab Women. Jennifer’s received honors from the Kenyon Writers Workshop, DISQUIET, the Mass Cultural Council, Her Story Is, and the Academy of American Poets. Also, she’s published poems and co-translations in POETRY, Rattle, the L.A. Review, The Common, and On the Seawall. Jennifer teaches in the Solstice MFA program and manages 24PearlStreet–the Fine Arts Work Center’s online writing program.

Tayllor Johnson

Tayllor Johnson is a poet, writer, educator, performer, activist, and founder of Sisterhood (verb), Inc. A published poet, she has been writing and performing her poetry and written works for over 15 years. She has been featured in museum exhibits in New York and California and published in several anthologies. She liberates, investigates, and celebrates herself through her written and spoken word and invites others to do the same. Having taught for over ten years, her undergraduate (Mount Holyoke College) and graduate (New York University) research centered around establishing art as a community norm in disenfranchised schools through arts-integrated curriculum development and community outreach. Tayllor’s journey fighting for justice and healing as a Black woman in America led her to create Sisterhood (verb), Inc., a creative consulting business dedicated to uplifting Black women and youth through art and community and consulting with other organizations in arts education, social justice, and community building with creativity at the center. Currently, Tayllor is in Santa Barbara, CA, finishing up her first poetry book, Waves Retreat, Revive, Return: A Reflection in Threes, and working to accomplish her mission to find new ways poetry can empower the disenfranchised and soothe the wounded and disturb the status quo, setting us all on a path to freedom.

Christopher Kondrich

Christopher is the author of Valuing (University of Georgia Press, 2019), selected by Jericho Brown as a winner of the National Poetry Series, by Library Journal as a Best Poetry Book of 2019, and as a finalist for The Believer Book Award in Poetry, as well as the book-length poem Contrapuntal (Free Verse Editions, 2013). He has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the I-Park Foundation, the University of Denver, and Columbia University. Recent poetry appears or is forthcoming in New England Review, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, The New York Review of Books, West Branch, Washington Square, and The Yale Review. An associate editor for 32 Poems, he teaches for Eastern Oregon University’s low-residency MFA program.

Sharon Lax

Sharon acknowledges that her home is on the unceded territory of the Kanyen’kehà:ka and the territory of other Nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, a place called Deux-Montagnes, or Two Mountains, in Québec.

A teacher and editor, Sharon has been writing for several years. Her work includes ocean landscapes, lakes, rivers and streams and explores the worlds and perspectives of our non-human animal neighbors. Her short story collection Shattered Fossils was published by Guernica Editions in 2020, and she’s working on a poetry collection and novel. Sharon’s love is nature, and she spends her summers in boreal forests and near lakes, oceans and streams. Through her teaching, writing and activism, she’s interested in closing that ever-widening breach between our natural habitat and the urban, where many of us find ourselves.

Cynthia Lu

Cynthia is an undergraduate at Harvard College whose writing has been recognized by Bow Seat (2019 Gold), Bennington College, the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and YoungArts. She enjoys painting watercolors in her free time, and has a soft spot for cold, rocky New England beaches.

Duy Quang Mai

Quang Duy Mai is from Hanoi, Vietnam. His poems have been published in American Poetry Review, AAWW, diaCRITICS, among others. He is the author of the chapbook Journals to (Story Factory, 2019). More of his work can be found at quangmai.framer.website.

Ademola Oyewole-Davis

Brooklyn born and raised, Ademola is a singer, poet, writer, educator, and activist. He has been singing and performing his written work since he was 8 years old. His love for music and creativity has taken him coast to coast, performing in Southern California and New York, and working on a second album with his father, Abiodun Oyewole of The Last Poets, as well as his debut album, Lib(er)ation. Having taught for over 7 years with organizations like Urban Word NYC and various independent/charter schools, Ademola utilizes his skills to create a conscious, critical, and creative experience for students, keeping in mind his mission to give voice to truth and power to justice. Currently, Ademola is working on his debut album while being a DEI and education consultant.

Laura Parker Roerden

Laura has a passion for the ocean and what it can teach us. She is a poet/writer, public speaker and supporter of youth to boldly know and save the wilds. She is the founder and executive director of Ocean Matters, a nonprofit that supports youth in being stewards for the marine environment through service. Laura has over 25 years of experience nurturing and supporting social responsibility in young people including educational outreach projects she developed for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Ben & Jerry’s, the NBA, Frontline, and others. Laura’s love for literature as a tool for empowering young people stretches back to early in her career when she was briefly a high school English teacher. She serves on the boards of Women Working for Oceans (W20) and Earth, Ltd., and has a masters degree in education from Harvard University and a bachelors of arts in English Literature from Boston College.

Craig Perez

Craig Santos Perez is a Pacific Islander from Guam. He is the author of seven books of poetry and the co-editor of nine anthologies.

Wesley Rothman

Wesley is the author of SUBWOOFER (New Issues, 2017). A California native, he has lived in Boston, Aix-en-Provence, Port Townsend, DC, and Chicago, never far from a major body of water. He has taught writing, rhetoric, and literature for many universities, and in other venues for young people and adult learners, including the National Gallery of Art, Grub Street Writer’s Workshop, and Upward Bound programs. His writing has been featured in Bennington Review, Boston Review, Gulf Coast, Harvard Review, The Hopkins Review, The Missouri Review, The Slowdown, Southern Humanities Review, the Golden Shovel Anthology and Elsewhere. Recipient of fellowships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, he teaches at Howard University.

Elisa Rowe

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Elisa is a writer, educator, and poet. Their work has appeared in WBUR, Massachusetts Review, Boston Art Review, and elsewhere. You can find more of their work at www.elisarowe.com.

Griffin Smith

Griffin is a digital artist and AI researcher at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). His work explores how technology is changing artmaking, as well as what separates humans, animals, and machines. His classes at RISD include Machine Learning, Digital Culture, and Text Transformed: Writing with AI. He earned an MFA in Digital Art and a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing from Brown University.

Nuan Ning Teioh

Previously awarded the Gold Award in Poetry in Bow Seat’s Ocean Awareness Contest as well as a past member of the Future Blue Youth Council, Nuan Ning is an avid lover of the literary arts and harbors a passion for ocean conservation. She is excited to begin her undergraduate studies in English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford in the fall of 2024. Having been involved in various Bow Seat endeavors for almost five years, she is eager to explore the intersectionality of activism through art.

Ocean Awareness Contest Judges

CREATIVE WRITING
Karen Alexander

Karen comes to ocean awareness through history and science. She investigates the oceans’ living past using historical documents and objects, then collaborates with scientists in order to tell a more complete, more human story about the changing ocean. She has practiced historical ecology at the University of New Hampshire and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and currently researches, writes and edits in western Massachusetts. Her articles include “Tambora and the Mackerel Year” (Science Advances, 2017), she has contributed to many documentaries, including Cod Comeback? (PBS 2013), and her edited volumes include Shifting Baselines, the Past and Future of Ocean Fisheries (Island Press 2011).

Dhruv Bhatt

Dhruv is a passionate advocate for child rights and climate justice from Uttarakhand, India. He uses emotive writing to bring the unique climate stories of children from climate-exposed and marginalized communities to light. Dhruv firmly believes that true environmental justice can only be achieved with children’s meaningful and sustained involvement in climate discussions. To this end, he works with young people worldwide, collaborating on toolkits, resource lists, peer mentorship, research, and online workshops to educate children about their rights and empower them to participate in child-friendly environmental advocacy.

At home in Uttarakhand, Dhruv works alongside his parents on a culture-conscious, green startup dedicated to rejuvenating traditional waterways and supporting rural communities. He loves writing on social justice themes and cannot wait to read this year’s amazing entries!

Abbey Cahill

Abbey Cahill is a Boston based artist, writer, and environmentalist. She is the founding editor of the Quinobequin Review, a seasonal collection of art and writing inspired by the Charles River Watershed. Inside each issue, local artists and writers contemplate the relationship between where we live and who we are, revealing unexpected connections between culture, ecology, and identity.

Prior to founding the Review, she worked in environmental consulting at 3Degrees Group, helping companies achieve their renewable energy and decarbonization goals. In 2022, Abbey was selected for the Kenyon Review’s Summer Residential Writers Workshops in the category of non-fiction. She has a degree in English and creative writing from Dartmouth College.

Eric Carstens

Eric has seen firsthand how early engagement with the ocean can lead to a lifelong commitment to protecting it. As a toddler, he became enamored with a jellyfish washed up on the beach. Later trips to the National Aquarium and National Museum of Natural History only cemented his love of the natural world. Drawing from his love of museums, he looks for ways to engage with the environment outside of a traditional classroom. Eric served as Bow Seat’s Contest Program Director from 2021-2023 and now brings public programs to the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture in Cambridge, MA.

Liz Cunningham

Liz is the author of of the award-winning Ocean Country: One Woman’s Voyage from Peril to Hope in her Quest to Save the Seas, with a foreword by Carl Safina, and Talking Politics: Choosing the President in the Television Age. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Alternet.org, Earth Island Journal, GreenBiz, the Marin Poetry Center Anthology, The Outward Bound International Journal, Seven Seas Magazine, Times of the Islands, and The San Francisco Chronicle. She has collaborated with institutions such as the Academy for Educational Development, the Constitutional Rights Foundation, the Tides Foundation, and the Smithsonian Institution. An accomplished public speaker, she speaks to audiences in a wide range of settings, from inner-city high schools to universities and large public venues such as the Commonwealth Club, The New York Times Building, and the New England Aquarium. She is the co-founder of KurtHahn.org, the online archive for the founder of Outward Bound, Kurt Hahn. Learn about her work at www.lizcunningham.net.

Kayla Degala-Paraíso

Kayla (she/they) is a Filipina-American creative writing consultant and teacher at GrubStreet. She is also a social justice activist, focusing on the intersection of labor, immigration, gender-based violence, and human rights. Blending the real and the mystical, her creative work often meditates on place, loss, and memory. Kayla’s writing has been published in [PANK] Magazine, Okay Donkey, ANMLY, and elsewhere; and has been nominated for the Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. When she is not writing, teaching writing, or doing research for the UCLA Labor Center, you can find Kayla hiking in the mountains of Southern California. As a returning Ocean Awareness Contest judge, Kayla is excited to witness youth art-activism for a fourth summer in a row.

Melinda Edie

Melinda grew up exploring the coasts of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Maine. She went on to research deep sea sharks while she was a student at The Island School, and majored in Biology and Environmental Studies as an undergraduate at Colby College. After graduating, she worked on a schooner in Newport, Rhode Island where she developed sailing skills and shared stories of Narragansett Bay with guests. Most recently, she worked for the Marine Conservation Action Fund at the New England Aquarium, which supports grassroots marine conservation projects around the world. Her favorite ocean activities are scuba diving, boating, and paddle boarding.

Rick Edie

Rick is a sixth and seventh grade English teacher at the Dedham Country Day School in Dedham, MA. Though more of a hiker and fresh-water person, he has frequent contact with the ocean when he visits family on Cape Cod and Jamestown, RI, where he enjoys kayaking, paddleboarding, and boating. Two of his daughters attended The Island School, and their experience has helped him appreciate the importance of protecting our oceans and the marine life in them.

Sarah Finnie

Sarah is the Founding Director of The 51 Percent Project, a climate communication initiative at Boston University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy. She holds faculty appointments at Boston University’s College of Communication and at the Graduate Program in Urban Biogeoscience & Environmental Health.

Sarah is the founding partner of WeSpire, whose behavior-change platform is used at S&P 100 corporations to engage employees on sustainability and other purpose-driven initiatives. Her ongoing research investigates barriers and accelerators to corporate climate action, including stakeholder engagement, in collaboration with Princeton University’s Behavioral Science for Policy Lab.

Sarah serves on the Advisory Council of Boston Harbor Now and its Climate Roundtable. She is on the boards of ecoAmerica and the Planetary Health Alliance. She began her career at The New Yorker and continued at The Atlantic and at iVillage, where she was the launch content director. Publications include The Atlantic, HuffPost, and mindbodygreen. Sarah holds a B.A. in English from Princeton University, and an M.A. from the Middlebury College Bread Loaf School.

Cara Fritz

Cara is a senior at Middlebury College, pursing a double major in Environmental Policy and Creative Writing. The ocean has always inspired her creative work, and she received the Gold Award for Prose from Bow Seat’s Contest in 2017. Her Honors thesis at Middlebury also focused on the ocean and the relationship between water and language. Cara loves swimming, gardening, arts & crafts, and writing. She looks forward to supporting Bow Seat’s mission on the Contest judging panel.

Anna Guzman

Anna is a student at the University of Chicago studying Political Science and Public Policy. She is passionate about the intersection of political advocacy, environmental issues, and creative writing. Anna won the Ocean Awareness Contest’s Silver Award in Senior Prose in 2018, and an Honorable Mention in Junior Poetry in 2016. She is very excited to return to Bow Seat this year as a judge!

Nakia Hill

Nakia Hill is a writer, poet, journalist, and educator. A proud native of Roxbury, with over 15 years of experience in journalism, writing, and education, Nakia is passionate about creating and amplifying stories that reflect the diversity, resilience, and creativity of women and girls of color globally.

Nakia is a prolific writer and educator, who has authored three books, co-written a podcast, and published articles in various media outlets including the Boston Globe, Fodor’s Travel, CRWN Magazine. She was a Teaching Fellow at GrubStreet in 2023, where she taught and mentored writers and fostered a culture of learning and collaboration. Nakia is a former Boston Artist-in-Resident and a recipient of multiple awards and honors for her work. She is committed to using her skills and expertise to inspire, inform, and empower others through the power of storytelling.

Learn more about Nakia by visiting nakiahill.com.

Eson Kim

Eson’ work has appeared in Sycamore Review, Stories from the Stage, and more. She is the recipient of The Studios at MASSMoCA Writing Residency, a NJ Council on the Arts Fellowship, and the David B. Saunders Prize for Creative Nonfiction. She serves as the Director of Community Engagement at GrubStreet.

Jennie Koh

Jennie is a freshman at Northeastern University, currently majoring in Journalism and English. She has always been passionate about environmental issues, and she received the Gold Award in the Creative Writing Category for the 2023 Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Contest. Jennie loves to watch movies, listen to music, and read books. She is eager to contribute to Bow Seat’s mission through participating in the Contest judging panel.

Sharon Lax

Sharon acknowledges that her home is on the unceded territory of the Kanyen’kehà:ka and the territory of other Nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, a place called Deux-Montagnes, or Two Mountains, in Québec.

A teacher and editor, Sharon has been writing for several years. Her work includes ocean landscapes, lakes, rivers and streams and explores the worlds and perspectives of our non-human animal neighbors. Her short story collection Shattered Fossils was published by Guernica Editions in 2020, and she’s working on a poetry collection and novel. Sharon’s love is nature, and she spends her summers in boreal forests and near lakes, oceans and streams. Through her teaching, writing and activism, she’s interested in closing that ever-widening breach between our natural habitat and the urban, where many of us find ourselves.

Cynthia Lu

Cynthia is an undergraduate at Harvard College whose writing has been recognized by Bow Seat (2019 Gold), Bennington College, the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and YoungArts. She enjoys painting watercolors in her free time, and has a soft spot for cold, rocky New England beaches.

Megan McInerney

Megan is a writer and educator currently living in Missoula, Montana, where she is pursuing an M.S. in Environmental Writing & Education. She holds an M.A. from the Bread Loaf School of English. She has five years of experience teaching at the high school level, including two years at The Island School in the Bahamas where she taught “Literature of the Sea” and worked with student groups to survey beach plastic and raise awareness of plastic pollution. Her work has appeared in Camas: The Nature of the West, Flyway Journal of Writing & Environment, and Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies.

Ashira Morris

Ashira is a freelance writer based between Sofia, Bulgaria, and Tallahassee, Florida. Her reporting on environmental issues and the arts has been published by PBS NewsHour, Boston Art Review, and Artforum, and she is an adjunct instructor for the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She helped organize Bow Seat and Conservation Law Foundation’s Healthy Whale, Healthy Ocean Challenge in 2019.

Sylvia Nica

Since she was young and exploring the tiny creek by her home, Sylvia has always been interested in the natural world and its preservation. An English and Italian double major at Wellesley College, she hopes to combine English with climate science to create stories that spur climate action and encourage ocean conservation. She was a Girls Who Invest Scholar and is a prose reader for Bodega Magazine, and has interned with the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. Sylvia has received a Gold Award and a Notable Award from the Ocean Awareness Contest.

slandie prinston

slandie is a Haitian-born writer who tests the boundaries of literary landscapes. She uses language to probe, dissect, re-imagine, engender distinct worlds and empowering realities. Her work has appeared in L’Union Suite, GRLSQUASH, Boston Art Review, and The Caribbean Writer. Currently, she is working on her first biomythograpy memoir and hopes to teach creative writing as a healing device.

Elisa Rowe

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Elisa is a writer, educator, and poet. Their work has appeared in WBUR, Massachusetts Review, Boston Art Review, and elsewhere. You can find more of their work at www.elisarowe.com.

Jonathan Rowe

Jonathan is a writer and freelance copyeditor raised between Boston, Massachusetts, and Johannesburg, South Africa. His work has been published in Calaloo Journal, Boston Art Review, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, and elsewhere, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Maya Stroshane

Maya is a writer of speculative fiction, holding a B.A. Honors in Creative Writing from Brown University. As a fundraiser for 826 Boston, which provides free writing and publishing programming to Boston students, she is passionate about the impact writing has on young people who are exploring their identities and finding their voices. In her teens, she was a volunteer educator at the New England Aquarium, an experience which opened her eyes to the plight of our oceans and the realities of climate change. Maya’s current in-progress works explore themes of the sublime power of nature, the consequences of buried trauma, and humans’ responsibility to the natural world and to one another.

Daria Syskine

Daria recently graduated from Swarthmore College with a degree in Biology and English Literature. Their hobbies include hiking, swing dancing, and LARPing; they can often be found in the mountains collecting data for field biology research.

Program Advisors

Program Advisors are artists, educators, environmentalists, and other role models who contribute to Bow Seat’s educational programming, outreach, and judging.

Tayllor Johnson, Voice of the Sea Award

Tayllor Johnson is a poet, writer, educator, performer, activist, and founder of Sisterhood (verb), Inc. A published poet, she has been writing and performing her poetry and written works for over 15 years. She has been featured in museum exhibits in New York and California and published in several anthologies. She liberates, investigates, and celebrates herself through her written and spoken word and invites others to do the same. Having taught for over ten years, her undergraduate (Mount Holyoke College) and graduate (New York University) research centered around establishing art as a community norm in disenfranchised schools through arts-integrated curriculum development and community outreach. Tayllor’s journey fighting for justice and healing as a Black woman in America led her to create Sisterhood (verb), Inc., a creative consulting business dedicated to uplifting Black women and youth through art and community and consulting with other organizations in arts education, social justice, and community building with creativity at the center. Currently, Tayllor is in Santa Barbara, CA, finishing up her first poetry book, Waves Retreat, Revive, Return: A Reflection in Threes, and working to accomplish her mission to find new ways poetry can empower the disenfranchised and soothe the wounded and disturb the status quo, setting us all on a path to freedom.

Jason Talbot, We All Rise Prize

A painter, muralist, sculptor, and graphic designer, Jason “SWAT” Talbot creates artwork to explore and observe the world around him. He attended the Art Institute of Boston and has a career spanning decades in the art world. In his personal practice, he has produced dozens of murals for businesses in Boston and beyond, working with multiple collaborators to deepen the world view of their communities.

As AFH’s Co-Founder and Managing Director of Program, Jason creates opportunities to engage and mentor teen artists and their artistic mentors advancing AFH’s programmatic goals while building long-term creative connections. Jason champions AFH’s Youth Arts Enterprise model, serving as a thought leader and spokesperson to expand AFH’s reach. He participated in the 2009 Cohort of the Emerging Leaders Program, University of Massachusetts Boston; received the 2013 Mentor of the Year Award from Youth Design; was named a member of 2014’s Top 40 Under 40 by the Boston Business Journal; and attended the Arts & Cultural Organization Management Program, at Harvard Business School in 2021. Jason is an active member of WGBH’s Community Advisory Board.

Through his artistic practice and leadership at AFH , Jason “SWAT” Talbot works to help others observe the world in a deeper way.

Nakia Hill, We All Rise Prize

Nakia Hill is a writer, poet, journalist, and educator. A proud native of Roxbury, with over 15 years of experience in journalism, writing, and education, Nakia is passionate about creating and amplifying stories that reflect the diversity, resilience, and creativity of women and girls of color globally.

Nakia is a prolific writer and educator, who has authored three books, co-written a podcast, and published articles in various media outlets including the Boston Globe, Fodor’s Travel, CRWN Magazine. She was a Teaching Fellow at GrubStreet in 2023, where she taught and mentored writers and fostered a culture of learning and collaboration. Nakia is a former Boston Artist-in-Resident and a recipient of multiple awards and honors for her work. She is committed to using her skills and expertise to inspire, inform, and empower others through the power of storytelling.

Learn more about Nakia by visiting nakiahill.com.

Free Marseille, We All Rise Prize

Free’s current work pulls inspiration from his childhood experience of moving to America as a refugee and experiencing this country as an outsider. He loves that he belongs to multiple cultures because it helps him weave together distant narratives and create a final product that feels both foreign and familiar. His goal is for people to experience his work as dissonant dreamscapes that connect subconscious and conscious realities.

Yanka Petri, We All Rise Prize

Yanka is a multimedia artist and educator from Curitiba, Brazil, via Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her work is inspired by her journey as an immigrant and explores gender, sexuality, intimacy, relationships, and comfortability. Shortly after graduating high school, Yanka joined Cambridge Community Television (CCTV) as a teaching artist. She also taught and mentored youth at Artists for Humanity. Yanka now serves as CCTV’s Youth Media Coordinator.

Destiny Janai Polk, We All Rise Prize

Warrior and healer. Tender and unbreakable. Destiny “Divine” Polk, whose name means “That which has been firmly established, God has answered, Dance,” is an Afro-Indigenous choreographer and producer, multi-disciplinary artist, community organizer/space holder, art educator and founder of art-activist platform Radical Black Girl. Known for doing interactive art shows likes RESISTDANCE and Black Woman is God, Destiny’s work is concerned with speaking truth to a country that attempts to rewrite its own history while having actively tried to suppress African and Native American history and culture. Destiny took her Being the Change workshop to SXSW 2019 and premiered her short film “When the Sea Rises” at the ILLUMINUS Festival 2019. She was the keynote speaker for the Youth Arts for Social Change Summit in 2020 and the recipient of the National Center of Afro-American Artist’s Ralph F. Browne, Jr. Award for Civic Engagement.

Wyze Roundtree, We All Rise Prize

Mom. Student. Advocate. Poet. Wyze found her life’s passion as a social justice activist and youth advocate, which she is redirecting toward her education. As a proud Black and Native mom of two, she devotes herself toward her degree in the human services field. Through spoken word, she aims to provoke free thinking, radical self love, and healing. Wyze’s love for spoken word developed during a time when hip hop spoke through the silence. When silence is loud, not only words are spoken, but they are heard.

Marquis Victor, We All Rise Prize

Marquis leads Elevated Thought’s vision, goals, and mission, and manages its contracts, commissions, and partnerships. In addition to being a poet and artist, Marquis has a master’s degree in Education from Lesley University and compiled over seven years of public-school experience before focusing on ET full-time; building and facilitating the art and social justice curriculum that serves as the foundation for all of ET’s creative youth development work. Marquis is currently pursuing his Doctor of Education at Northeastern University.