Staff Biographies


staff-Dr. Leesa SoutoDr. Leesa Souto             This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dr. Leesa Souto is the Executive Director for the MRC and adjunct faculty at FIT. She grew up in S. Florida and after completing her bachelor’s degree in Biology at Florida State, she moved to Brevard County to help protect and preserve the beauty of this area. She received a Doctorate from UCF with expertise in urban ecology that links human geography, structures and behaviors to water quality impacts. Her research focuses on groundwater impacts to the lagoon, muck management strategies, fertilizer, and alternative landscapes. Her professional career spans over twenty years of working to improve Florida’s water quality at Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Brevard County Natural Resources Management Office, and more recently with UCF’s Stormwater Management Academy. She loves the water and exploring new ecosystems in Florida and around the world.

staff-Sondée LimaSondée Lima                         This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sondée Lima is the Deputy Director for the MRC. She was born in Wisconsin and grew up in Ft. Lauderdale spending most of her childhood at the beach and playing outdoors. She comes to the MRC with a very diverse background of education and experience. She holds a B.S. in Business with a major in Finance from the University of Florida and an M.S. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Florida International University. Her work experience ranges from teaching robot programming, business writing and business communications to working as a stock broker, running her own tack and feed business and fundraising for other local non-profits here in Brevard County. Being passionate about animals and the environment, she fell in love with the IRL upon first glance and is now thrilled to be a part of its protection and restoration.

staff-Caity SavoiaCaity Savoia                        This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Caity Savoia is the Lead Scientist and Restoration Specialist for the MRC. She is also a biological technician for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She was born and raised in Tampa where her love for the ocean was inspired by her family boating activities. She acquired a B.S. from the University of Florida and a master of professional science degree from the University of Miami. During her time in Miami, she assisted on numerous projects for NOAA including mangrove surveys, scientific diving and tuna/billfish research. She is excited to apply her specialty in Geographic Information System (GIS) to create maps displaying the data collected by our citizen science projects.

staff-Kate ZehnderKate Zehnder                        This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Kate Zehnder is the Volunteer and Membership Coordinator for the MRC. She hails from the great white north of Rochester, NY. She made the move to Melbourne to earn her marine biology degree from Florida Institute of Technology. Post-graduation, she moved out to California to work for the Navy's Marine Mammal Program, where she spent the next 4 and a half years. Now back on the east coast, Kate is excited to be involved in local conservation efforts surrounding the Indian River Lagoon. She is an avid rock climber and hiker/backpacker.

staff-Shannon EggerShannon Egger                        This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Shannon Egger is the Education Coordinator for the MRC. She grew up in suburban Illinois and rural Wisconsin, both of which cultivated her love for the outdoors. Shannon moved to Florida in 2013 in order to attend the University of South Florida in Tampa. There she received her bachelor's degree in Science Education, along with a minor in Spanish Language. After graduating, she moved to Brevard County and became a teacher. Shannon made the transition to the Marine Resources Council, working to protect the Indian River Lagoon in order to satisfy her desire to protect and preserve the beauty of the world's ecosystems.

staff-Julie AlbertJulie Albert                        This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Julie Albert is the Coordinator for the North Atlantic Right Whale Conservation Program. Her passion for marine mammals began in northwest Ohio where she enjoyed Sea World as a child. However, seeing whales in the wild for the first time on a family vacation to Hawaii in 1988 solidified this passion. She went on to earn her B.S. in Marine Biology from Texas A&M University at Galveston in 1995. She also volunteered for the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, worked in cephalopod aquaculture and was raised king penguins before moving to Florida in 1999. Shortly thereafter, Julie became MRC’s Right Whale Program Coordinator and loves educating the public about how we can be better stewards of our ocean environment and its inhabitants. She is a proud wife and mother of three wonderful children and is passionate not only about marine mammal conservation, but also animal welfare, recycling, and litter reduction. She always leaves the beach better than she found it!



staff-Jared McNallyJared McNally                        This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jared McNally is the Citizen Science Coordinator for the MRC and the President and founder of Swell Science, LLC. Jared is a Brevard County native who is passionate about the conservation of Central Florida’s unique coastal environment. After completing his B.S. in Environmental Science with a minor in Oceanography, Jared received his M.S. in Environmental Science with expertise in pollutant transport processes from FIT in 2015. Since then he has been active in Indian River Lagoon conservation efforts, focusing on water quality monitoring, muck management strategies, fertilizer impacts, green business practices, citizen engagement, and geospatial data analysis and mapping. Jared also conducts marine and meteorological data analysis to produce surf forecasts for the world’s leading surf forecasting website. As a life-long surfer and active member of Surfrider Foundation, he strives to involve himself in protecting our oceans, waves, and beaches. Jared enjoys traveling to remote coastlines around the world to experience new cultures, ecosystems, and waves.

staff-Kim ZarilloKim Zarillo                         This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Kim Zarillo is the Grant Writer for the MRC. She is an accomplished business professional with 23 years’ experience in Florida and the eastern coast of the U.S. Her firm, Scientific Environmental Applications (S.E.A.), is certified as a Florida Department of Transportation DBE and a Minority Business Enterprise with the state of Florida. Ms. Zarillo has conducted grant research, as well as preparation and post award documentation of grant applications for academic- and business-related programs. S.E.A. has completed several million dollars of environmental and geotechnical projects involving desktop research studies, data collection in the field, and data analysis for government agencies, nonprofits, and private firms.

staff-Cathy AllenCathy Allen                         This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Cathy Allen is the Development Director for the MRC. She is a nonprofit governance consultant with a firm called The Board Doctor, LLC. In this capacity, she actively helps as many organizations as she can through board development, strategic planning, and improving governance practices. A lifelong nature enthusiast, Cathy is a former executive director of the Ohio League of Conservation Voters and has traveled across the county providing workshops and consultation services for numerous environmental and conservation nonprofits. Cathy currently serves on the board of Friends of the Carr Refuge. She holds a certificate in nonprofit management from the Center for Nonprofit Resources and graduated from LEAD Brevard in 2017. Cathy lives in Indian Harbour Beach.

Stephen Sharkey            This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Stephen Sharkey is the Events Coordinator of the MRC.

MRC Board of Directors Biographies

Lady Shirley Beirne
Terry Casto
Stephen E. Chalmers
Mary Chapman
Bill Cox
Robert Day
Nancy Higgs
Dr. Ken Lindeman
Jim Moir
Mary Murphy
Joanie Regan
Maureen Rupe
Kenneth F. Tworoger


Lady Shirley Beirne: A Brevard County resident and longtime supporter of our marine waters and wildlife. Together with her husband, Dr. Daniel Beirne M.D., she worked with the local police department and municipality to establish and fund a marine division used to enforce the netting and fishing regulations and manatee no-wake zones where the Banana and Indian Rivers meet. As President of BGH Farm, she works with the local community, federal government, and natural gas companies to protect and preserve 900 acres in northeastern Pennsylvania, emphasizing soil conservation, water purity, sustainable forestation, and preservation of wildlife. She is a member of Sutherland Fishery Council, which is responsible for protection and preservation of wild Scottish Salmon, the rivers they travel, and their spawning grounds. She is also a member of the EGYC Advisory Council. She is a “maternal recruiter” of the US Coast Guard, as she encouraged one of her daughters and her grandson to join this branch to further her family’s long-standing military tradition and their dedication to preserving and protecting our waters, fisheries, and wildlife.

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Terry Casto: Mr. Casto has been a resident of Brevard County since 1969. He retired from Harris Corporation in 2008, having served as a director in Engineering, Program Management, and Business Development. He is currently the principal of Strategic Growth Consulting LLC, providing guidance and training to companies doing business with the US Government. He holds a BSEE from the University of Akron and post-graduate courses from University of Florida, Duke, and Kellogg. He has been a volunteer with the Marine Resources Council since 2013. Activities include oyster reef restoration, shoreline restoration (pepper tree removal and mangrove transplanting), and muck and water quality sample collection. He is an NEP-certified Lagoon Lifesaver presenter and was featured as an IRL volunteer in Brevard Business News (April 2016). He is also a member of Brevard County’s Save Our Lagoon Plan Citizen Oversight Committee.

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Stephen E. Chalmers: Steve is a 30-year watershed resident, MRC board member (since early 1990s), and past water quality monitor, chair, secretary, treasurer, and CY12 Vice-chair. With a BA in English, he is retired from the telecommunications and aerospace industries. He currently serves (2015) as MRC’s Secretary and Nominations Committee chair. “My interest is that our community makes informed decisions today for cost and spiritual benefits in the future.”

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Mary Chapman: Mary Chapman is a retired attorney currently working pro bono on a number of Lagoon issues, primarily water quality and related problems. She is on the Harbor Advisory Committee (St. Lucie County) and on the board of the Ocean Research and Conservation Association; she has been on the MRC Board since 2004 as well as on the board of the Conservation Alliance. She has participated in a number of marine studies such as dolphin census, sea turtle protection worldwide, and whale behavior.

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Bill Cox: Bill Cox is a Brevard County resident and an active member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Bill has a Masters in Geography (Remote Sensing) from the University of Texas at Austin. He is passionate about how the Auxiliary and local environmental groups can partner to improve the ecosystems around us. With a background in both the public and private sector, Bill brings many insights to the table at MRC. Bill joined the MRC board in 2017 and has already brought together a great partnership between the Coast Guard Auxiliary and MRC.

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Robert Day: Bob Day has been a resident of the Indian River Lagoon basin since 1971. A graduate of Florida Technological University (now University of Central Florida), Bob worked for the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation, Brevard County Office of Natural Resources Management, and St. Johns River Water Management District as Project Scientist for the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program until his recent retirement. He participated in the FIRST Conference and series of American Assemblies sponsored by MRC; the Governor’s Indian River Lagoon Field Committee; the development of the SWIM Plan for the IRL as well as the IRL Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan developed by IRLNEP; and managed the Citizens Water Quality Monitoring Program and Shoreline Restoration Program contracts for IRLNEP.

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Nancy Higgs: Nancy Higgs is a native of Florida and has lived in Brevard County for almost 37 years. Most of that has been in her home on the lagoon about 4 miles north of Sebastian Inlet. She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Florida State University and has done doctoral studies in Science Education and Management at FIT. Nancy is currently the President of Education Solutions (ESI). Previously, she was a university administrator and instructor, as well as Chief Operations Officer for her training company.

Nancy served for twelve years on the Brevard County Board of County Commissioners, where she was a consistent advocate for protection of the quality of life, environment, Endangered Lands Program, and the Lagoon. She has served on the NEP Board of Directors, MRC's Board, and Water Supply Study Group. She was recognized by 1000 Friends of Florida with the Community Steward Award for Florida for “her dedicated leadership on natural resources protection and smart growth in Brevard County.”

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Dr. Ken Lindeman: Dr. Lindeman is a professor at F.I.T. who has applied emerging science to advance coastal policy decisions for over 35 years in the southeast U.S., Mexico, Cuba, and Brazil. He has published approximately 70 peer-review research articles in 20 differing science and policy journals, and co-authored books on fisheries, coastal management, and sustainability by the Smithsonian Institution Press, Duke University Press, and K.I.T. Scientific Publishers. Highly focused on applied policy, he started his first coastal non-profit in 1989 with offices in Jupiter and Miami, Florida, and served >30 advisory boards/panels on land use, habitat conservation, fisheries, and climate change. He launched F.I.T.’s Academic Sustainability Program in 2010 with over 100 major and minor graduates as of spring 2017. He has lived in seven East Florida cities and three counties on the IRL.

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Jim Moir: Jim is a husband and father, Florida native, and resident of Stuart, FL, for 24 years. Jim is civically engaged and passionate about protecting the Indian River Lagoon and its coastal margins. He is currently Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Marine Resources Council. He has been an Appointee to the Martin County Local Planning Agency since 2002. He is on the Board of Directors for Indian RiverKeeper. He is a member of the Leadership Team of the Rivers Coalition. He is a member and supporter of many local civic and environmental groups. Jim facilitates ocean science projects specializing in bioacoustics, marine animal surveys, and the deployment of autonomous vehicles and data collection devises. He is currently involved with several citizen science projects, and often volunteers with coastal restoration efforts and exotic invasive species control programs.

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Mary Murphy: Mary moved to Brevard County in 1987. She has a B.A. from Concordia University in Montreal, a B.S. and Fifth year in Accounting from Rollins College, and received her FL CPA license in 1997. She worked at Northrup Grumman for 3 years and 16 years at Harris Corp. in the field of Accounting and Finance. Mary enjoys hiking, camping, kayaking and canoeing. She recognizes that it's time for her to do what she can to be a good steward of the environment. Mary offers her skills and services to the MRC to help protect the Indian River Lagoon.

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Joanie Regan: Living along the lagoon for over three decades, Joanie has served as the stormwater manager for the City of Cocoa Beach for more than two of those decades — overseeing watershed improvement projects, executing the City’s federal stormwater permit, and helping coordinate watershed education efforts with local governments along the Indian River Lagoon. Joanie has been actively involved in the IRL-BMAP development and has served on various lagoon advisory boards. Natural communities and low-impact design — as a way of reducing watershed pollution — is a priority in Cocoa Beach’s stormwater methods. A graduate of Florida Institute of Technology, Joanie is a past president of the Florida Stormwater Association (FSA) and an active member of the Cocoa Beach Surfrider Foundation. She is also a member of the Florida Native Plant Society and board member/former chair of the FSA Educational Foundation.

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Maureen Rupe: Maureen served on MRC's board since 2005 and is extremely interested in preserving the Indian River Lagoon. She has an extensive background in public service including president of Partnership for a Sustainable Future (2002–present), a coalition of 15 progressive and environmental groups in Brevard County, many directly involved with the Indian River Lagoon. Ms. Rupe is the Natural Resource Consultant for the League of Women Voters of the Space Coast and a member of the Board of Directors for Parrish Medical Center. Ms. Rupe was on the Brevard County Charter Review Commission in 1998 and 2002, on the Brevard County Redistricting Commission in 2000 and 2010, and on the Port St. John Library Board of Directors since 1988. She is on the Executive Committee of the Turtle Coast Sierra Club and is a member of many environmental groups. Ms. Rupe was selected for the 2015 Brevard County Charter Review Commission.

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Kenneth F. Tworoger: As the Tworoger Professional Association Principal Shareholder and Managing Attorney, Ken served clients that included the Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes during the 1980s and ’90s. He participated in the creation and negotiation of the Water Compact between the Seminole Tribe and the State of Florida and was involved with various environmental issues. Related activities included service on the Board and Executive Committee of Goodwill Industries of Broward County (1980–81) and presentations to seminars and workshops. Presently Ken is only available for pro-bono and public interest matters. Ken has been a recipient of the Brevard County Bar Association’s Professionalism Award, Brevard County Legal Aid’s Attorney of the Year Award, the Florida Bar Association President’s Pro Bono Award for the 18th Judicial Circuit, a Florida Today’s Volunteer of the Year finalist, and MRC’s Albert Tuttle Volunteer Service to the Indian River Lagoon Award. Ken is a long-time MRC board member and currently serves as MRC’s Treasurer, Attorney, and Chairman of its Nominating Committee.

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2014 Action Assembly Thank You

Thank you for your sponsorship of the 2014 Indian River Lagoon Action Assembly! Please take a moment to send us your logo for the Agenda package and event print materials. A high-resolution (300ppi) image will ensure your logo reproduces clearly in print.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to send an email with your logo.

Your sponsorship also includes complimentary tickets to the Inaugural Event, Thursday, May 15, at MRC's Ted Moorhead Lagoonhouse in Palm Bay. Please include with your email a list of names for these tickets. Dolphin ($5,000) sponsors receive 4 tickets; all other sponsors receive 2 tickets.

Please contact Beth McMillen at MRC with questions:

V: 321-725-7775           E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Thank you for your dedication to the health of the Indian River Lagoon, and the continued success of Marine Resources Council.

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