Our Staff


Garry W. Brown

Executive Director & CEO

Garry founded Coastkeeper in 1999 and serves as the organization's Executive Director and Board President.  Under Garry's leadership, Coastkeeper has become a powerful voice for water quality, marine habitats, and water supply issues in the region and throughout California. Coastkeeper has achieved numerous milestone successes through collaboration with stakeholders and scientific and legal research as a basis for advocacy.

 Garry comes from a long background of building public-private partnerships.  He served for five years as an assistant city manager for the City of Redlands, ten years as an advocate and executive director for trade associations in the real estate and building industries, and served two terms as president of a chamber of commerce.  In addition, Coastkeeper has built relationships and partnerships with major corporations and public agencies such as Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, The Irvine Company, Walmart, and The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California for the purpose of demonstrating on the ground projects that enhance water quality and reduce urban runoff.  

 A native of Orange County, Garry is committed to expanding Coastkeeper's presence as a proactive, results-oriented organization that uses coalition building and partnerships to find effective solutions to the environmental problems that impact our communities and watersheds.  Garry holds positions of leadership on numerous Boards of Directors and governmental advisory committees, including the California Coastkeeper Alliance, the Nature Reserve of Orange County, OCTA's Environmental Cleanup Allocation Committee, the Community Engagement Panel for the Decommissioning of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Station, the Harbor Safety and Oil Spill Response Committee for the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach, American Green Power, the California Artificial Reef Enhancement Foundation, and Ocean Defenders Alliance.  Garry holds a B.A. in Government from the University of Redlands.


Ellen A. Orange Brown

Associate Director

Ellen co-founded Orange County Coastkeeper with her husband Garry in 1999. As the Associate Director, she provides operational leadership and is responsible for organizational development, fund development strategy and implementation, and financial and administrative oversight.

Ellen hails from Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where she developed a wealth of expertise in hospital administration, public relations, and business and financial management. She has called Orange County home since 1980, and is an active member of the community, contributing her time and talent as Treasurer to the Broadmoor Association in Huntington Harbour where she resides.


Ray Hiemstra

Associate Director of Programs

Ray Hiemstra has spent the last fifteen years at Orange County Coastkeeper working to preserve, protect, and restore coastal and inland water quality and habitat.  His work includes water quality advocacy, policy development, grant writing, Marine Protected Areas, species and habitat restoration and water and sediment monitoring.  Ray is a member of numerous committees and workgroups including the Port of LA/Long Beach Harbor Safety Committee and Newport Bay Management Committee.

Ray is an avid outdrrosman and enjoys traveling. He is a lifelong resident of Orange County and spends his spare time working with with the Sierra Club, community groups or relaxing with his family and friends.  


Colin Kelly

Senior Staff Attorney

Colin earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Oregon in 2003 and a Juris Doctorate from Whittier Law School in 2009. Colin’s responsibilities at Coastkeeper range from supervising our Legal Internship Program, advocating our position at regional meetings, and developing strategies for our legal actions. Prior to accepting a position with Coastkeeper, Colin was the two-time President of the Environmental Law Society and one of six recipients of the 2009 Dean’s Citation Award at Whittier Law School. When he is not at Coastkeeper, Colin enjoys spending time with his friends and family, enjoying the beach, visiting friends in Oregon with his wife, and attending Oregon football games.


Jacqueline Neumann

Staff Attorney

Jacqueline is the newest addition to Orange County Coastkeeper’s legal department, where she assists in enforcement proceedings and advocating Coastkeeper’s position at regional meetings. In 2015, Jacqueline earned her Juris Doctorate from Whittier Law School, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. Jacqueline completed Whittier Law School’s Concentration in Environmental Law and Certificate in Legal Writing. She was an Executive Editor for the Whittier Law Review, which also published her article on circus animal welfare in 2014.

Before going to law school, Jacqueline earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Arizona in Tucson in 2010. She and her husband are happy to call Orange County their home. When they are not traveling to see family and friends, they are running, visiting the beach and reading. 

 Sara.jpgSara Briley

Marine Restoration Director

Sara is a southern California native with a passion for inspiring ocean conservation through community restoration.  She earned her B.S. in Marine Biology from the University of California Los Angeles where she had the opportunity to complete underwater research at Santa Catalina Island and Mo’orea French Polynesia. After returning home to San Diego to survey pink abalone populations and intern with the San Diego Oceans Foundation, Sara moved to Orange County to pursue her Master’s degree in Biology from the California State University, Fullerton. For her thesis, Sara has been studying the larger ecosystem benefits that oyster restoration may have on eelgrass and has spent many days in poor visibility water counting eelgrass. At Coastkeeper, Sara coordinates the restoration of oyster, eelgrass, abalone and other nearshore habitats with the help of dedicated community volunteers. Sara loves SCUBA diving, hiking, gardening, cooking and good local beer.


Dyana Peña

Education Director

Dyana manages the education programs at Coastkeeper: the WHALES Program and Kids Ocean Day. She works with students in class and out in the field, teaching them about watershed health, and how their actions have an impact on water quality. Her goal is to inspire the next generation of Coastkeepers. Dyana is from Lynwood, CA where she helped establish a recycling program at her high school and participated in monthly beach cleanups. She graduated from UC Irvine with a dual B.A. in Urban Studies and Drama with an emphasis in Environmental Sustainability. Dyana loves dancing, volunteering at animal shelters, visiting her family (hi mom!) and karaoke. 



Vanessa Andronaco

Education Coordinator

As Coastkeeper's Education Coordinator, Vanessa serves as a school liaison, arranging field trips and class presentations for the WHALES Program. In addition to this, Vanessa helps coordinate the annual Kids Ocean Day event. She obtained her Bachelor's Degree from UC Irvine in Psychology and Social Behavior. Vanessa's career with Coastkeeper began as an intern with our Garden and Education Programs. She remained a volunteer at the completion of her internship and joined the staff in July of 2015. Vanessa enjoys hiking and scuba diving. She is an active member of the Sierra Club. Vanessa loves all sea creatures but if she had to choose a favorite  it would be the octopus!



Austin Brown

Director Coastkeeper Garden

Austin grew up with his dad in Huntington Harbour. He immediately took to the water and learned everything there is to know about boats. Austin first began working with Coastkeeper as an educational diver in partnership with the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum. While Austin dived, there was a live audio and visual transmission at the museum above for children to experience what it is like to explore the natural treasures beneath the ocean’s surface. Austin spent 5 years working on a ferry in Hawaii and is now working on land in order to complete the Coastkeeper Garden. Austin is still our main Coastkeeper captain taking out the Coastkeeper boat for reseach and restoration projects. But most of the time, you can find him on a tractor at the garden.

Julia_Williams.pngJulia Williams

Cleanup OC Director

Julia began her work for Coastkeeper as a public relations intern for the beach cleanup program. With a passion for environmental stewardship and community outreach, she came on staff as our Cleanup Coordinator. She is in charge of planning and directing community based cleanup events throughout Orange County. She also manages our social media accounts and is involved in fundraising and marketing campaigns. Julia loves engaging and educating the community about environmental issues and hopes her events will inspire volunteers to implement environmentally friendly behavior in their own lives. 

Julia moved to California four years ago to attend Chapman University where she is majoring in Environmental Science and Policy with a minor in Public Relations. In her free time you will find her outside enjoying nature, hiking, rock climbing, camping or skiing.

Cara_Blaxton.pngCara Blaxton

Education Coordinator

As Coastkeeper's Education Coordinator, Cara serves as a school liaison, arranging field trips and in-class presentations for WHALES, Kids Care, and Kids Ocean Day. She began at Coastkeeper in 2015 as an intern and was inspired to pursue a career in the environmental field. Cara is happy to be encouraging the next generation of environmental stewards through Coastkeeper's education programs. Cara graduated from the University of California, Irvine in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health Science. She enjoys knitting, cooking, hiking, traveling, and singing.

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Upcoming Events

October Beach Cleanup

October 08, 2016 at 09:00 AM

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Coastkeeper Garden Share

October 08, 2016 at 09:30 AM

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