Our Team

The Noyo Center for Marine Science is made up of an incredibly dedicated team of staff, board members and advisors. But the true heart of the organization is the ever-ready team of volunteers and docents. If you have interest in joining our team in some way, email [email protected] or fill out our volunteer application. We look forward to working with you!


Sheila Semans, Executive Director

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sheilasSheila has led the development of the Noyo Center from its inception in 2015. She has worked in coastal and marine conservation for more than twenty-five years, most recently with the California State Coastal Conservancy where she served as senior staff to the California Ocean Protection Council. Sheila’s experience developing highly collaborative programs like the California Seafloor and Shoreline Mapping Program or the Coastal Ocean Currents Monitoring Program has enabled her to work with all of California’s marine labs, with local, state and federal agencies, and with academic and industry leaders conducting leading-edge marine research.  When not at work, Sheila can usually be found on or near the ocean.

Trey Petrey, Business Manager   

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Prior to joining the staff at Noyo Center in 2020, Trey worked with the Anderson Valley Land Trust as General Manager, assisting in the development of conservation easements, overseeing special events, managing the office, and coordinating their educational programs. Before moving to Mendocino County in 2014, he lived in the Bay Area and worked for over 18 years at the San Francisco Symphony. In addition to overseeing operations of the Discovery Center and retail, Trey is working with the Noyo Center team to enhance the variety of marine exhibits at the Discovery Center and continue expanding our diverse variety of educational programming.  

Sarah Grimes, Marine Mammal Stranding Coordinator & Educator

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As Stranding Coordinator, Sarah responds to all deceased marine mammals, working under a collaborative agreement with California Academy of Sciences as part of the West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network. This data provides critical information on the status and threat of marine mammals along our coast, human interactions, and the health of our oceans. When not combing the beaches in search of clues relating to our coastal ecosystems, Sarah is in the classroom or out in the field giving a tour as one of our educators.


Richard Millis, Collections Manager

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Richard has been Noyo’s go-to bone man for over 3 years now.  As collections manager, Richard has taken a lead role in the collection and processing of all our marine mammal specimen, most notably our 26-ft killer whale.  Working behind the scenes on things like his “maggot motel”, this work is not often glamorous, but our growing specimen collection is more spectacular by the day.  Involving student interns whenever possible, Richard continues to work on our 73-ft blue whale skeleton.  As the father of two kids, Richard is excited to see his kids grow up with all the Noyo Center has to offer.

Crans Squire, Marine Technology Coordinator

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A lifelong tinkerer and creator, as a kid growing up in Mendocino County, Crans spent many hours inventing contraptions in his father’s workshop. After receiving a B.S. Electronic Engineering from Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo he worked as a professional engineer in the Oceanographic, Medical and Environmental Industry.  As a designer/engineer, Crans’s experience and skill solving technical challenges while mixing the mediums of art and technology to manifest unique creations has always been a passion and joy.


Sue Coulter, Education Coordinator

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Sue has spent the last 30 years teaching kids of all ages in many diverse contexts. A common theme in Sue’s teaching is to share her own insatiable curiosity about learning with the kids she comes in contact with.  It is from her love of the ocean and her adoration of the wild beauty and nature here on the coast that Sue brings her gifts to the Noyo Center. Having started out in 2013 as one of Noyo Center’s naturalist/education team members, Sue now serves the center’s needs more fully as Education Program Coordinator. It is with great delight that Sue continues to explore and expand upon the education programs & camps for Noyo Center.

Maggie Barrett, Administrative Assistant

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Maggie joined the team in 2019. She comes from a farm and garden background but finds the ecology of a nonprofit and office just as interesting as a soil ecosystem or diverse landscape. As we face more and more complex challenges with climate change, she believes that a key part of responding well is knowing how to organize. So, as we continue to expand our educational offerings and research programs, she will work behind the scenes (and the screens!) to help us maintain all things administrative. Sign up for our newsletter to hear from her directly, or follow the Noyo Center on Facebook or Instagram–its a fun way to stay in the loop with us! 


Laura Vague, Discovery Center Docent & Retail Clerk

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Image previewLaura Vague moved from Nashville TN to Fort Bragg in 2017, and one of the first things she did when she got to the Coast was to help articulate our Orca skeleton. She spent 18 years as a zoo professional and is thrilled to again be working for an organization focused on science and conservation. She is loving learning more about marine habitats and animals every day at the Discovery Center and getting to hang out with our amazing Orca!  In addition to working with us and being a rescue volunteer for the Marine Mammal Center, she also owns a pet sitting business focusing on exotic pets and birds as well as dogs and cats, so she can continue with the animal care that is in her blood.   


Board of Directors

David Alden, Secretary

Alden 2-2010David specialized in environmental law as a partner with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe in San Francisco and as then a principal in his own law firm, and is a former Chair of the California State Bar’s Environmental Law Section. In retirement, he volunteers his time as a Marine Science Docent at local parks and is a Rescue Volunteer for The  Marine Mammal Center, helping rescue stranded marine mammals along the Mendocino coast.  He also performs regularly with the Americana music group All About Sally.

Robby Bruce

A longtime resident in Elk, Robby spends a good portion of his year as a commercial fisherman based in Sitka Alaska. As a active member of the United Fishermen of Alaska, Robby has participated in many negotiations regarding regulation of our fisheries and creating sustainable harvest measures.


Cynthia Doll, Architectural Committee Chair

Cynthia first came to coast in 2001 and homesteaded a 10-acre forested parcel in Elk where she raised her two sons. She is trained as an architect, promotes sustainable architecture, and was a principal partner/co-founder of a successful architectural design/build firm in Ecuador. She travels extensively and has lived abroad for more than a decade. Recently, Cynthia has worked in the Bay Area as a consultant on various projects, with a fair amount of volunteer non-profit work sprinkled in, including volunteering for the International Marine Mammal Project/Earth Island Institute in Berkeley. She continues as Co-Chair of the Building Committee of the Treasure Island Museum. Having recently returned to her home in Elk, Cynthia is now dedicated to making the Noyo Center, and the mill site, a showcase for sustainability and stewardship. She holds a B.A. in Architecture from the University of California at Berkeley, a Master of Architecture in Environment Behavior Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a LEED AP credential.

Ginny Feth-Michel, Treasurer

ginnyGinny has lived on the Mendocino Coast since 2010. Prior to calling Mendocino home, she frequently vacationed in Mendocino, camping, hiking and biking in and around Fort Bragg. Ginny is a Certified Public Accountant. During her career, she has worked at large public accounting firms, as a sole practitioner and held the position of Vice President of Finance and Human Resources with a national natural foods distributor. Prior to retiring, Ginny worked with the City of Fort Bragg, most recently as the Assistant City Manager.  Ginny currently serves on the County of Mendocino Civil Service Commission and as a Board member for the West Company, a not-for-profit economic development organization.

Doug Hammerstrom

Now retired from practicing law, Doug has served the past nine years on the Fort Bragg City Council – four of those years as Mayor. Doug has been an active participant in City of Fort Bragg discussions about the vision, mission and design of the Noyo Center for Marine Science from the beginning.  In the process of raising two children, Doug has found the child within; a child that is very excited about the possibilities for the Noyo Center.


Peter O’Donohue

peter2Peter settled in Fort Bragg in 2013 after thirty years as a U.S. diplomat.  During his career with the State Department he served in China, India, Cameroon, Bosnia, Burundi, Tunisia, Kuwait and Canada as well as in Washington, D.C.  Peter grew up in a coastal New England town and has had a lifelong passion for the ocean and the environment — interests he was able to pursue in some of his overseas assignments.  Since settling in Fort Bragg, Peter has worked as a California Parks volunteer and has spent many hours kayaking Mendocino County’s rivers and exploring its many parks and reserves.

Dave Turner, President and Executive Committee Chair

board daveturnerMayor Dave Turner was first elected to the Fort Bragg City Council in 2002. Born in Fort Bragg, Dave attended Stanford University where he majored in “Social Thought and Institutions,” a political science honors program. While attending Stanford, he opened a specialty sleep shop to help pay his way through college. Today Dave is president of FloBeds, makers of the Original Personally Crafted Mattress, which ships customized latex mattresses nationwide.


Linda Ruffing

Linda Ruffing has been involved with the Noyo Center since its inception- first in her capacity as the City of Fort Bragg’s Community Development Director, and then as City Manager. Linda is a professional land use planner with decades of experience on the Northern California coast. She currently has a private planning practice, and joined the Noyo Center Board of Directors in December 2019. 


Wendi Felson, Volunteer Coordinator and Community Engagement Liaison 

Wendi Felson moved to Fort Bragg in 2016 and knew before she moved that she wanted to be part of the Noyo Center.  In December she started volunteering as a docent at the Crow’s Nest once a week.  She also volunteers with the Help the Kelp campaign, the Science Talk presentations and the upcoming Beach Monitoring program.  She is a retired Clinical Laboratory Scientist after 27 years at San Francisco General Hospital.  


Paul Sweigert, Fundraising Committee Chair


Join our volunteer team! 


Science Advisors

Mike de Roos and Michi Main, Master Marine Mammal Skeleton Articulators, Cetacea, Salt Spring Island, Canada

Maureen Flannery, Ornithology and Mammalogy Collection Manager, CA Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, CA

Jeff Jacobsen, Marine Mammologist / Acoustician, BioWaves, Arcata, CA

Ron LeValley, Biologist, Photographer, Mendocino, CA

Lee Post, Master Marine Mammal Skeleton Articulator, Homer, Alaska

William Sydeman, President and Senior Scientist, Farallon Institute, Petaluma CA


Cetacea Contracting, Blue Whale Project

Cetacea is a small, family-run company specializing in skeleton restoration and articulation and will be leading the preparation of the Noyo Center’s 73-foot blue whale skeleton.  They lead the field in the world of modern artistic skeleton articulations, building displays that breathe life, portraying subjects as they would exist in the natural world.

CA Academy of Sciences, Marine Mammal Stranding Network

Located in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California Academy of Sciences is California’s oldest operating museum and research institution for the natural sciences, housing one of the largest natural history collections in the world.  CAS is authorized under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to respond to all deceased marine mammals along the San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma, and southern Mendocino county coasts.  As their designee organization in Mendocino, the Noyo Center is helping fill an important gap in our understanding of marine mammal health and range shifts due to a changing climate.

Flockworks, Art and Science Initiatives

Flockworks is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization successfully supporting community creativity and local arts initiatives since 2006.  We mobilize resources, talents and time, as a ‘platform’ for leadership by community artists to support collaborative art and creative initiatives. We add visibility, vibrancy and access to local arts through exhibits, events, public art, hands-on experiences and collective efforts. We see art and creativity as everyone’s birthright and actively reach out to those with little access to creative opportunities. We believe creative threads tie us together as a community, and positively shape our culture.


Mendocino Eco Artists

Creatively Supporting the Environment


Surfrider Foundation, Mendocino Chapter



California Department of Fish and Wildlife 



Most of the photographs on this website were generously donated by two professional photographers, Ron LeValley and Marc Shargel.  Their photos can be purchased directly from their respective websites, and will eventually be for sale at the Noyo Center gift shop.  Additionally, many of Ron’s photos can be purchased at Mendocino Coast Photographers Guild and Gallery at 357 Franklin Street in Fort Bragg. We strongly encourage you to browse their impressive photo libraries.  Many thanks to both of them for all the work they do.