Meet the Staff
Bob Stokes - President
Bob Stokes is a 1990 graduate of Yale University and a 1994 graduate of the University of Texas School of Law. After practicing law for ten years, Bob joined the Galveston Bay Foundation as President in June, 2004. Bob had served on the board of the Foundation for five years prior to taking over as President and had served as the board's chair for the previous two years. Bob has also served on the Houston Wilderness Board of Directors since 2004 and on the Governing Board of Earth Share of Texas beginning in 2007.
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Courtney Smith - Vice President of Operations
Courtney Smith has been with the Galveston Bay Foundation since March 2002. She has served in a number of roles with the Foundation, including Environmental Specialist, Habitat Restoration Coordinator, Grants Administrator, and currently, Vice President of Operations. Courtney has overseen projects such as Omega Bay Marsh Restoration, Dickinson Bay Island Restoration, Galveston Bay Marine Debris Removal, and Community-based Habitat Monitoring and the publication of the Drive & Discover Guide. She currently writes proposals for grants used to fund some of GBF’s restoration work, outreach events, and operating expenses; oversees the management of these grants; and handles some of the administrative tasks associated with non-profit management. Courtney graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Houston-Clear Lake, where she researched issues related to the state of Galveston Bay and participated in a low water expedition on the Amazon River.
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Matthew Abernathy - Conservation Programs Outreach Specialist
Matthew Abernathy joined GBF in March 2012. He earned his B.S. in Ocean & Coastal Resources from Texas A&M University – Galveston in 2003, and is working on his M.S. in Marine Resource Management at the same institution. Prior to joining GBF, Matt’s worked for the Harris County Precinct 4 Parks Department developing and implementing outdoor education programs. He is glad to be back working near the coast, and is excited to share his passion for the outdoors and conserving the Galveston Bay ecosystem with others!
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Rachel Barski - Education Coordinator
Rachel Barski joined GBF as the Education Coordinator in September 2012. Rachel received a B.S. in Communication with a minor in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Sciences from Texas A&M University. She has been an educator for the past four years and has spent much of her recent time fostering an integrated approach between indoor and outdoor education. She enjoys watching students/children use their time to explore the vast outdoors.
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Trey Bartsch - Marketing Coordinator
Trey Bartsch graduated from Louisiana State University in May 2009 with a B.A. in Advertising and a minor in Business Administration. Following graduation, Trey co-founded and operated an advertising agency where he worked as a Creative Director in developing and implementing advertising efforts. Trey moved to Houston in January 2011 and began pursuing a M.S. in Environmental Management from the University of Houston – Clear Lake, with an anticipated graduation of December 2013. As Marketing Coordinator, Trey hopes to spread the message of the foundation by utilizing his marketing background with his interest of protecting and restoring our coastal environment. His goal is to raise awareness of our Galveston Bay system and cultivate lifelong supporters in preserving it for future generations.
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Charlene Bohanon - Water Quality Program Manager
Charlene Bohanon joined the Galveston Bay Foundation team in August 2011. As Water Quality Outreach Specialist, she serves as the project manager for the Boater Waste Education Campaign and the Upper Gulf Coast TMDL Implementation Plan. Charlene graduated with a B.S. in Ecology from the University of Georgia and a M.S. in Water Resource Management from Ben Gurion University in Israel. Her professional background includes education and outreach positions held at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium and the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium. She also currently works on sustainability projects as an Associate with Conservation Enterprises Unlimited. Charlene is excited to combine her knowledge and skills in an effort to continue and expand GBFís water quality and conservation work.
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Jessica Curran - Bike Around the Bay Registration and Sponsorship Coordinator
Jessica first became involved with the Galveston Bay Foundation during Clean Up Around the Bay in 2008, then in June 2012 began working for GBF as the Membership Coordinator. Jessica moved to St. Louis in May 2013 and now works on a part-time basis as the Bike Around the Bay Registration and Sponsorship Coordinator. Jessica graduated magna cum laude and with honors from The Ohio State University and has enjoyed a seven-year career in nonprofit development.
Emily Demmeck - Bike Around the Bay Coordinator
Emily Demmeck started working at the Galveston Bay Foundation in June of 2009 as the Marketing and Membership Director and held that position for three years. After taking a short maternity leave, she rejoined GBF on a part-time basis. She is a 2003 graduate of the University of Texas and a native to the area, having been born on Galveston Island and raised in Nassau Bay.
Racheal Emig - Administrative & Database Assistant
Racheal Emig joined GBF in February 2013. She graduated from University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Psychology. Racheal began her career as a technical recruiter for software engineers but quickly moved into the non-profit field. She was a development officer at St. Pius X High School in Houston, then moved on to doing administrative support and became the Capital Campaign Coordinator at St. Joseph Hospital Foundation in downtown Houston. Afterwards, she moved into the hardest but most rewarding role of her life – that of a stay-at-home mother of her two children. As well, Racheal and her husband Paul have partnered in their local, family financial advising business through Primerica Financial Services since 2004. Racheal is excited to move into her career field again and is thrilled to be doing work with Galveston Bay Foundation.
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Emily Ford - Volunteer Programs Coordinator
Emily Ford graduated from Texas A&M University at Galveston in May of 2009 with a B.S. in marine biology. Her deep-seeded passion for marine and coastal conservation led her on a path of education, outreach and recruitment to support causes such as wetlands preservation, watershed awareness, and marine mammal protection. Emily’s goal is to share her knowledge and resources with others to increase awareness and action towards preserving and protecting the vital Galveston Bay system. Emily joined the GBF team in April of 2013.
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Rani Henderson - Manager of Education Programs
Rani Henderson graduated from Texas A&M University at Galveston with a Marine Biology Degree. She has had the opportunity to present at state and national conferences pertaining to the environmental programs that she has designed and/or managed. She has 10 years of outdoor/environmental education experience focused on the Galveston Bay system. Rani is also an American Canoe Association certified Level 3: Kayak Instructor and will soon have her ACA Kayak Instructor Trainer certification. She enjoys interpreting the marine environment to students, teachers, life-long learners, and families. It is her goal to instill a passion for the marine ecosystems that will inspire others to become ambassadors or obtain a career in the field.
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Erik Hitt - Oyster Shell Recycling Program Assistant
Erik Hitt has been working part-time for the Galveston Bay Foundation since August of 2012. As a full-time college student majoring in environmental science, Erik’s work for the foundation has been a labor of wet, stinky love. Erik’s primary responsibility is the collection of oyster shell from participating facilities, but he is often called upon for assistance in various other foundation activities. Seldom seen without a smile on his face, one should feel free to ask him all about the oyster shell recycling process.
Scott Jones - Director of Advocacy
Scott has been with GBF since September 2008. Previously, Scott worked for eight years at the Galveston Bay Estuary Program and on water quality issues for four years at TCEQ-Austin and the Galveston County Health District. As Environmental Policy and Outreach Specialist, Scott provides education and outreach on the importance of freshwater inflows to Galveston Bay, ensuring that diverse stakeholder groups and citizens at large have a voice in State water planning. Scott also facilitates GBF's Wetland Permit Review Committee, a group of volunteers that examine Corps of Engineers permit applications to ensure that impacts to our wetlands are avoided, minimized and/or mitigated. Scott received a B.S. in Aquatic Biology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1993.
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Katie McCann - Water Quality Program Assistant
Katie McCann joined the advocacy team at the Galveston Bay Foundation as the Water Quality Program Assistant in January 2013. She earned her B.S. from the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater with a major in Biology with emphases in Ecology and Field Biology and a minor in Environmental Studies. She has worked and volunteered in both Galveston and her home state of Minnesota for non-profit and governmental agencies where her work focused on conservation, restoration, and environmental education.
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Sharon Roark - Director of Development
Sharon Roark joined the Galveston Bay Foundation in July, 2011 as Director of Development. Sharon has worked most recently in the Houston philanthropy office of The Nature Conservancy of Texas and previously for Jones & Granger, Attorneys at Law. Sharon graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Psychology from Duke University and received a Master of Science in Environmental Management in May, 2012 from the University of Houston - Clear Lake. Sharon hopes to combine her knowledge of philanthropy and environmental issues along with her passion for conservation to inspire people to support the Galveston Bay Foundationís important mission.
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Matt Singer - Conservation Lands Manager
Matt Singer signed on with Galveston Bay Foundation in March 2010. Prior to joining GBF, Matt earned his B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from Texas A&M University in 2005 and spent 4 1/2 years as a wildlife biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Matt is serving as the land manager for the Foundationís conservation properties. He is working to restore, enhance, and maintain natural habitats around Galveston Bay.
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Philip Smith - Director of Conservation
Philip Smith joined GBF in May 2006. Prior to joining GBF, Philip worked as a contract employee to NOAA Fisheries (Galveston, TX and Panama City, FL) for 6 years focusing on commercial fishing data collection, data management, quality control, and at-sea safety. Philip is a 1997 graduate of the University of Alabama and received a B.S. in biology and marine science.
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Justine Townsend - Chief Financial Officer
Justine Townsend joined GBF in June 2011. She holds a bachelorís degree in Business Administration Ė Accountancy from the University of Houstonís Bauer College of Business. Prior to joining GBF she led the Non-Profit and Small Government audit team for a regional public accounting firm in Houston and the bay area.
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Michelle Vryn - Membership and Development Coordinator
Michelle joined the GBF team in May 2013 as the Membership and Development Coordinator. She studied environmental anthropology at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) where she earned a M.A. degree focusing on the long-term conservation strategies among private Texas landowners. As GBF's Membership and Development Coordinator, Michelle manages public and member outreach and helps raise funds to support GBF’s program areas. She is also the staff liaison to GBF’s young professionals group, The Cast. Before joining the Foundation, Michelle worked for external relations at UTSA and participated in her alma mater’s first capital campaign. Outside of the office Michelle enjoys hiking, live music, and spontaneous adventures.
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Lee Anne Wilde - Living Shorelines Program Manager
Lee Anne holds an M.S. in Marine Resource Management from Texas A&M, Galveston. She joined the Foundation in 2005 as a Marsh Mania intern while pursuing that degree and joined the staff on a part-time basis in 2006. Her current focus is on assisting private landowners with habitat creation and restoration as well as erosion control through the Living Shorelines program. She also still helps with Marsh Mania each spring.
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