Coastal States Organization Leadership
Leo Asuncion (HI)
Leo R. Asuncion, Jr., AICP, is the Acting Director of the State of Hawaii Office of Planning, and Manager of the Hawaii Coastal Zone Management Program, where he is responsible for the overall administration of the Office of Planning, management, development, and implementation of overall state policy, and coordination and planning support to state and county agencies. Leo is also responsible for the management and implementation of federal and state Coastal Zone Management Acts.
Leo has 25 years of extensive experience in planning, policy analysis, and management throughout Hawaii and the Pacific region through previous positions with the Hawaii State Land Use Commission, the Hawaii State Judiciary, SSFM International, Inc., and the Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc.
Leo has earned a Bachelor of Arts-Political Science and a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning degrees from the University of Hawaii, and a Masters in Business Administration from Hawaii Pacific University. He has been a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) since 1994, has held various leadership positions with community and professional organizations, and currently serves as a member on a number of advisory and decision-making boards and councils in Hawaii and the Pacific region.
Brian Lynn (WA)
Brian Lynn manages the Coastal/Shorelands Section at the Washington State Department of Ecology. He leads a group of staff who provide policy assistance, regulatory and planning oversight, scientific support, and financial assistance to communities. He also serves as the State’s Coastal Program Manager and represents state interests at the state, regional and national level. He has served on the CSO Executive Committee since 2013, is the past president of the Coastal States Stewardship Foundation, and has worked in the state’s coastal management program for over 30 years. He has spent his entire life in, on or near Puget Sound and currently lives in Olympia with his wife Valerie.
Mike Friis (WI)
Leader Resource Policy Team at the WI Department of Administration (1998 – Present). The Resource Planning Team consists of the administration of three program areas—the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, the Wisconsin Comprehensive Planning Grant Program, and the Wisconsin Land Information Program.
Served with the US Peace Corps in Bolivia with wife Diane in 1994 – 1997 working on Soil Conservation and Community Agriculture. Graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison (1989). Current Membership: Chair of Coastal States Organization (CSO), University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Advisory Committee, Lakes Superior National Estuary Research Reserve Advisory Board, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Team, NOAA Digital Coast Partnership Team, Wisconsin Department of Transportation Harbor Advisory Council
Kathleen Leyden (ME)
Steve Couture (NH)
Steve Couture has worked for New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services for 17 years, with a focus on watershed management policy and implementation, including watershed hazards. Steve currently manages the Coastal Program and previously served for eight years as the NHDES Rivers Coordinator. Steve represented NHDES on N.H.’s legislatively enacted Flood Study Commission and currently serves as the NHDES alternate on the N.H. Coastal Risk and Hazards Commission. He holds BS degrees in Environmental Conservation and International Affairs from University of New Hampshire (UNH) and a Masters in Public Administration from UNH.
Ronda Wuycheck (MI)
Great Lakes Representative
Ronda Wuycheck has 25 years of state service and is the Chief of the Coastal Zone Management Program housed in the Office of the Great Lakes, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. She oversees the administration of the federal and state resources dedicated to assist in the development of vibrant and resilient coastal communities through the protection and restoration of the world’s longest freshwater coastline and biologically diverse ecosystems. Ronda currently serves as the Great Lakes representative on the Coastal States Organization’s Executive Committee. She earned a Bachelor’s of Science from the Michigan State University and a Master’s of Administration from the Western Michigan University.
Fran Castro (CNMI)
Bruce Carlisle (MA)
Don Benczkowski (PA)
Mid - Atlantic Representative
Don has over thirty three years in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania system, in various capacities, but has been with the Department of Environmental Protection’s Coastal Program since 1997. Since 2012, he has served as the Coastal Resources Program Manager working in Harrisburg. Prior to “going Coastal,” he worked as an investigator with DEP’s Environmental Crimes Section, assisting the Office of Attorney General in conducting civil and criminal investigations regarding the improper management of hazardous and solid wastes, and illegal and unpermitted discharges to Commonwealth waters. Since 1988, he currently serves as a Deputy Waterways Conservation Officer for the PA Fish and Boat Commission. Don graduated from Gannon University in Erie, PA in 1982, with a B.S. degree in Biology, and still lives in Erie. He is a nerd postage stamp collector and a Buffalo Bills fan.
Jill Andrews (GA)
Jill Andrews joined the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Coastal Resources Division in 2001 as a Coastal Resources Specialist and became Manager of the Coastal and Ocean Management Program in 2005. Jill oversees the Coastal Management Program’s work in the areas of coastal resiliency, quality growth, land conservation/public access, living shorelines and wetland restoration; administers the Coastal Incentive Grant program which funds research and community projects; and supervises beach and shellfish water quality monitoring programs. Jill hails from western New York. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Buffalo, she moved far south in 1998 to pursue her Masters in Marine Affairs and Policy at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science. Following graduate school, Jill interned with the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education (now Consortium for Ocean Leadership) in Washington, DC and worked as a technical assistance specialist with the Florida Coastal Management Program. Jill is now located on St. Simons Island, Georgia where she enjoys raising her young family by the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.
Kevin Claridge (FL)
Gulf of Mexico Representative
Kevin Claridge is the Director of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Coastal Office. In this position, he oversees the Coastal Management Program, 41 Aquatic Preserves, 3 National Estuarine Research Reserves, Coral Reef Conservation Program, Offshore Section, co-manages the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary with NOAA, and assists with organization and contracting of Deepwater Horizon restoration projects. During his tenure with the State of Florida, he has managed state lands and conservation easements across the State, administered Air, Waste, Water Facility, and Environmental Resource Regulatory Programs in Southeast Florida, led large scale mine reclamation efforts in Central Florida, and supervised watershed restoration projects in South Florida. Kevin holds a Graduate Certificate in Public Administration from the University of South Florida, a Master’s Degree from the University of Memphis, and a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of North Carolina at Asheville.