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.

Alyssa Irizarry

Executive Director

Alyssa’s love for the natural world was shaped by exploring the forested streams in New York’s Hudson Valley and the waves of the Jersey Shore. She attended Tufts University and studied art history, environmental studies, and studio art. While living abroad in Baja California Sur, Mexico, she studied coastal and marine ecosystems and discovered a way to combine her two passions—environmental advocacy and art—by conducting research on the use of sea turtle murals as an education tool by conservation groups.

Alyssa has been an educator at The Science Barge, The Florida Aquarium, and The Island School, where she taught Land & Environmental Art and led community outreach activities. Prior to Bow Seat, Alyssa managed marketing and communications at The School for Field Studies.

Alyssa is passionate about helping students of all ages discover, explore, and express their relationship with the natural world. Her work can be found in California’s Monterey Bay Aquarium, on the streets and walls of Salem, Massachusetts, or online at @lttlelttle.

Anne Leslie

Operations Manager

The desire to make a difference and to be inspired has guided Anne’s career path in the social sector. As Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs’ Operations Manager, Anne oversees essential internal functions and supports the organization’s programmatic and outreach activities, including public relations, grantwriting, and strategic development. Prior to Bow Seat, Anne served as Special Projects Assistant to the President at YouthBuild USA. In this unique role, Anne had the opportunity to work across multiple organizational departments such as communications, grant management, advocacy, human resources, and development. Anne has also served as Account Supervisor and Research Manager at Cone Communications, where she helped create corporate Cause Branding programs through nonprofit partnerships and consumer and employee engagement initiatives; and established Cone’s leadership position in the field.

Ren Bettencourt

Project Coordinator

A lifelong lover of nature and the arts, Ren studied English at the University of New Hampshire, filmmaking at the University of Southern California, education at Simmons College, and obtained a M.S. in Animals and Public Policy from Tufts University. After spending the early part of her career in filmmaking and teaching, her belief in the importance of the arts as a vehicle to inspire positive social change led her to transition her skills towards social justice and environmental advocacy.

Before becoming a member of the Bow Seat team, Ren worked as a Research Associate studying public attitudes towards seals. She spent a summer collecting data on the island of Nantucket and co-authored a paper for Marine Policy about this research. Working at Bow Seat allows her to blend her artistic and teaching skills with the ocean advocacy she cares so deeply about.

Contest Judges

Karen Alexander

Karen Alexander, M.A., came to ocean science through history. Since 2001 she has participated in the new field of historical ecology, and is now at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Karen investigates the oceans’ living past using historical documents, old maps, and objects. Then she collaborates with scientists to analyze this evidence in order to tell a more complete, more human story about the changing ocean. Her articles have appeared in scientific and historical journals and in books, and she has contributed to numerous documentaries, including the PBS film Cod Comeback? Her edited volumes include Shifting Baselines, the Past and Future of Ocean Science. Karen paints in her spare time.

Ellen Bechtel

Ellen graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in Environmental Studies and Geoscience, along with a healthy obsession with all things watery. For three months she sailed across the Pacific Ocean as a researcher and crew member on the SSV Robert C Seamans studying how climate changes makes the surface of the ocean form layers, and how it affects tropical storm formation.

Mary Buchinger

Mary is the author of two collections of poetry, Aerialist and Roomful of Sparrows. Her poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including AGNI, Border Crossing, DIAGRAM, Gargoyle, Naugatuck River Review, Nimrod International, [PANK], Ruminate, Salamander, Slice Magazine, The Cortland Review, The Massachusetts Review. She was a featured reader at the Library of Congress and has received numerous poetry awards, including the Daniel Varoujan (judged by Marge Piercy) and Firman Houghton, and multiple Pushcart and Best of the Net nominations. She has served as the Cambridge Poetry Ambassador and currently is Co-President of the New England Poetry Club (founded by Robert Frost, Amy Lowell, and Conrad Aiken). Buchinger grew up on a small farm in Michigan; was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador, South America; holds a doctorate in Applied Linguistics from Boston University; and is Professor of English and Communication Studies at MCPHS University in Boston, Massachusetts.

Tim Carey

Tim taught English for 50 years at a variety of schools, including Roxbury Latin, Nobles, Middlebury College, and the Thatcher School in Ojai, California. Recently retired, he spends his time volunteering at Nativity Preparatory School in Boston and at Boston Children’s Hospital. He spends much of his free time photographing local sports events, including the BU women’s soccer team.

Betsy Edie

Betsy has been involved in education for 30 years. She has taught English at several independent schools, and most recently has focused on urban students by tutoring at Epiphany School, Bridge Boston, and Beacon Academy. Along with her husband, Rick, and their three daughters, Betsy spends her summers in Jamestown, RI, enjoying all the beauty of Narragansett Bay.

Rick Edie

Rick Edie 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.

Sara Ellis

Sara Ellis, Ph.D., has studied marine biology since 1981, researching a wide variety of animals including whales, seals, lobsters, and octopi. She enjoys sharing her passion about the ocean with people of all ages and has taught teenagers intertidal sampling techniques through the Summer Science in New England Program. Sara has written and edited articles on marine science and policy, including marine mammals, fisheries, oceanography, and biodiversity. Her publications have appeared in magazines, newspapers, and scientific journals. She currently works for the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation and serves as a Board member of the Gulf of Maine Marine Education Association.

Miela Foster
Bow Seat Alumna, 2016 Ocean Awareness Contest (Poetry)

Miela is a college student originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is passionate about world-oriented sustainable development, and is most driven by climate change and the environment. As an alumna of Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs, she hopes to bridge the world of social enterprise with creative writing. At Harvard University she plans to study Social Studies and pursue a secondary in Earth and Planetary Sciences.

Ely German
Bow Seat Alumna, 2017 Ocean Awareness Contest (Film) & 2016 Contest (Art)

Ely German is the 2017 Ocean Awareness Contest Gold Award winner in Film. She was born in 2000 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and moved to Houston, Texas, in 2014. Ely will be a freshman at The University of Texas in Austin as a Studio Art major in the Fall of 2018. As a young artist, Ely’s style and techniques change, except for one aspect, Ely’s art always carries meaning. She never makes art that is simply an object to hang or adorn a room. She values the importance to carry a statement with every piece of art she makes. Ely is beyond excited to be judging this year’s Contest; it inspires her to see so many students become passionate about speaking out for our oceans.

Nigella Hillgarth

Following a career as a biologist – first as an academic and then an administrator – Nigella Hillgarth 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.

Jennifer Jean

Jennifer is a poet, educator, and activist. Her most recent poetry collection is The Fool; her poetry chapbooks include: Fishwife, In the War, and The Archivist. She has released a collaborative CD called Fishwife Tales, which is comprised of rock ballads, art songs, and accompanied recitations. Her poetry and essays have appeared in over 60 journals and anthologies, including: Rattle Magazine, Waxwing, Tidal Basin Review, Mud City Journal, Solstice, Green Mountains Review, and more. Jennifer is Poetry Editor for The Mom Egg Review, Managing Editor of Talking Writing Magazine, and Co-director of Morning Garden Artist Retreats. She teaches poetry workshops at Free2Write and writing at Boston-area universities.

Ellen Giradeau Kempler

Ellen Girardeau Kempler, M.A., is an award-winning nonfiction writer and poet whose work has been extensively published both in print and online. A solo writing trip to Ireland inspired her to launch her website, Gold Boat Journeys (Creative Cultural Travel). She is certified as an Amherst Writers and Artists workshop leader and is a member of the American Association of Writers and Writers Programs. She has 25 years of experience directing marketing communications programs for museums, aquariums, and environmental organizations. She lives near a Marine Protected Zone in Laguna Beach, California.

Sharon Lax

Sharon is a writer and teacher, living just north of Montréal, and currently teaches English to elementary-school age children and to adults. She is active in environmental justice, in human rights, and in sensitizing people to issues regarding other sentient non-human animals and the inter-connection of all Earth’s inhabitants. Sharon’s fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry have been published in various journals. Her true love – nature – is a constant companion and finds its way into her stories and poetry.

Brenda Leong

Brenda, an Artists For Humanity (AFH) alumna, continued intensive study in the arts in college, earning a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in Interior Design from Syracuse University. Following her passion for the arts, Brenda returned to AFH as the Exhibition Manager to coordinate exhibitions by curating teen-created artworks for individuals and businesses in the Greater Boston Area. In her endeavor, she combines her love for design and her passion for social enterprise as a vehicle for youth development.

Jen Clinton Lisi

Jennifer is a watercolor artist and environmental economist living in Connecticut. She grew up near Boston and eventually moved to Cape Cod, where her interest in conservation and art converged. Her research and work focuses on coastal communities, working with stakeholders to balance environmental and economic issues. Jen’s artwork features coastal New England, love notes to home depicting indigo-rich seascapes and offbeat tidepool illustrations. She graduated from Fairfield University with a B.A. in Politics in 2009, and from University of Connecticut with her M.S. in Resource Economics in 2013.

Nadine Lloyd

Nadine became an advocate for ocean conservation while living aboard a sailboat and seeing firsthand the effects of plastic pollution on the environment. During her three years in The Bahamas, Nadine also taught Environmental Art and outdoor leadership at The Island School. Previously she lived in Wyoming and instructed wilderness courses for National Outdoor Leadership School. Nadine holds a BFA in Fine Arts and a MA in Arts Integration from Montana State University. She currently lives in western Massachusetts with her family and teaches Fine Arts at Berkshire School.

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.

Holly Morin

Holly is a Marine Biologist and Education Specialist at the the University of Rhode Island’s Inner Space Center (ISC) located at the Graduate School of Oceanography in Narragansett, RI. Her work at the ISC involves the development, coordination, and promotion of interactive ocean science websites, as well as public outreach and education initiatives, including oceanography and underwater exploration camp programs for middle through high school students, tours, and other educational programs. Prior to her position at URI, Holly worked on large whale conservation and management issues with NOAA Fisheries. She is currently an active member of the Mystic Aquarium Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Holly graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a Bachelor of Science (marine biology focus) and a minor in Art. She then went on to receive her Master’s Degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Texas A&M University (marine mammal focus). Holly’s graduate work focused on the diving behavior and movement patterns of young Steller sea lions in Prince William Sound, Alaska.

Laura Parker Roerden

Laura Parker Roerden 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.

Wesley Rothman

Wesley grew up in Los Angeles and earned a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of San Diego, as well as a Master of Fine Arts from Emerson College in Boston. He is now a doctoral candidate at The Catholic University of America. He has lived no more than 30 minutes from the ocean throughout his life—an essential relationship. Rothman is the author of the forthcoming poetry collection, SUBWOOFER, and his poems and criticism have appeared in publications including Gulf Coast, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, New England Review, Callaloo, Boston Review, Publishers Weekly, and Harvard Review, among others. He has served in editorial and advising roles for Ploughshares, Salamander, the Mass Poetry Festival, Copper Canyon Press, Narrative, and Tupelo Quarterly. After having taught writing to students from ages 12 to 75 for the past five years in Boston, he now teaches in Washington, DC, and is dedicated to improved education of creative writing and social justice.

Sarah Dickenson Snyder

Sarah has written poetry since she knew there was a form with conscious line breaks. She has two poetry collections, The Human Contract and Notes from a Nomad, both published in 2017.

Kim Starbuck

Kim Starbuck is a Research Associate at the Urban Harbors Institute (UHI) at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Kim has over ten years of experience in the marine science research, policy, and education fields. While at UHI, Kim has been involved in a number of marine debris projects, including: 1) coordinating the Coastsweep program (an annual effort to remove debris from the Massachusetts’ environment); 2) participating in the development and implementation of the Gulf of Maine Marine Debris Action Plan; 3) developing a school program that engages youth to prevent marine debris; and 4) initiating an outreach campaign to increase marine debris awareness. Kim is also an accomplished photographer and artist, specializing in landscapes and wildlife. Kim holds a master’s degree in Environmental Science from the University of Massachusetts Boston, and a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Environmental Science from Tufts University.

Peter C. Stone

As an author, artist, and educator, Peter’s work explores the evolutionary wisdom and interconnectedness of endangered creatures, cultures, and ecosystems. Since 1983 he has presented more than 60 solo shows and over 100 group exhibitions at galleries and museums in the United States, Canada, and England. His Art & Science (STEM/STEAM) Journaling workshops bring his contagious enthusiasm for observing and understanding the natural world to students of all ages. His recent book, Waltzes with Giants: The Twilight Journey of the North Atlantic Right Whale (Skyhorse, 2012), is a moving portrait of one of earth’s largest endangered mammals, winner of the USA Best Book Awards for Children’s Hardcover Non-Fiction, and a selection of the Children’s Book-of-the-Month Club.

Jason Talbot

Jason is a co-founder and alumnus of Artists For Humanity (AFH), a South Boston nonprofit that combines art and entrepreneurship to address society’s most challenging social, economic, and racial issues. He currently serves as AFH’s Special Projects Director and is a member of its Board of Directors. Born and raised in Roxbury, Jason has dedicated the last 25 years of his life ensuring that inner-city teens are not ignored by encouraging their self-expression through art, and by serving as an example of how to create a bright future. In 2009, Jason participated in the cohort of the prestigious Emerging Leaders Program at the University of Massachusetts Boston. In 2012, Jason was chosen as one of Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builders, and the following year he received the Mentor of the Year Award from Youth Design. Jason is also a member of WGBH’s Board of Overseers.