Coastal States Organization Staff


 

Derek Brockbank

Executive Director

Derek Brockbank is Executive Director of the Coastal States Organization (CSO), which represents the nation’s Coastal States, Territories, and Commonwealths on ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes issues. With two decades of experience in Washington DC on coastal adaptation policy and organizational development, Derek is connecting state coastal management programs with federal agencies and resources in order to address the greatest coastal challenges facing society. Derek previously served as Executive Director for the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) where he led the strategic planning and outreach, government affairs, and development goals of the nation’s leading organization advocating for beach and coastal restoration. Prior to starting with ASBPA, Derek worked as campaign director for a coalition effort to restore the Mississippi River Delta and Coastal Louisiana, and was part of a gulf-wide campaign to pass the RESTORE Act, securing billions of dollars for Gulf Coast restoration. This followed up on his work with National Wildlife Federation on climate adaption. Derek grew up in New York City and got his coastal education from an early age playing on the beaches of Long Island, and kayaking and fishing in Peconic Bay.

Rebecca Dennis

Director of Federal Affairs

Rebecca Dennis is CSO’s Director of Federal Affairs. In her role, she leads the development and implementation of CSOs legislative strategy. Rebecca comes to CSO with over a decade of experience of working on legislative affairs and strategic communications. She most recently served as the Associate Director of U.S. Policy and Advocacy for PAI, where she worked to advance global health and gender equity. Originally from Michigan, she holds a B.A. in International Affairs from Michigan State University, where she studied both human rights and environmental policy, and a M.A. from George Washington University. Rebecca enjoys spending her free time hiking with her dog, River, rock climbing and traveling. 

Norma Longhi

Director of Operations

Norma Longhi is CSO’s Director of Operations. Norma is an experienced professional adept at managing all aspects of administrative, financial, operational, and grants management functions to advance CSO’s and CSSF’s vision and mission. Prior to joining CSO, Norma worked as a Policy and Development Fellow for Voices for Progress where she provided invaluable support to senior staff in diverse capacities. Norma holds a B.A. in Legal Studies and a Master of Public Administration from University of Central Florida. Norma is originally from Brazil, passionate about environmental issues, and an animal lover.

 

Vidya Balasubramanyam (she/her/hers)

Research, Science, and Program Director

Vidya Balasubramanyam is CSO’s Research, Science, and Program Director. Serving in this role since 2022, she has been coordinating across coastal zone management programs around topics like coastal habitat restoration, coastal environmental justice, and resilience to coastal hazards.

Prior to this, Vidya worked at the Illinois Coastal Management Program from 2019 – 2022 coordinating place based projects around shoreline management along Lake Michigan. She also brings experience working on tidal shorelines through her time at the New Hampshire Coastal Program between 2017-2019 where she worked on living shoreline projects.

She holds an MS in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science from the University of Missouri and a BSc. In Environmental Science from St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore.  Vidya grounds her work in decolonial frameworks and place-based contexts drawing from her roots in the Global South.

John Ryan-Henry

Senior Policy Analyst

John Ryan-Henry is Senior Policy Analyst for CSO. He supports CSO’s mission through legal and policy analysis of coastal issues including hazard resilience, climate adaptation, flood risk management, beneficial use of dredged materials, maritime commerce, and offshore development. He joined CSO in 2018 after working jointly with CSO and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Institute for Water Resources as a 2017 Knauss Coastal Policy Fellow. A Rhode Island native, John has a J.D. from the Roger Williams University School of Law and a Master of Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island. As a law student, he worked on coastal zone management issues with the NOAA General Counsel’s office and the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, and on regional ocean planning with SeaPlan in Boston. He is admitted to the bar in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Annika Tomson

Digital Coast Fellow

Annika Tomson is CSO’s 2022-2024 NOAA Digital Coast Fellow in a joint appointment between the Association of State Floodplain Managers and Coastal States Organization. Her work at CSO focuses on managed retreat, in particular, planning and management of acquired land. Prior to CSO, Annika attended the University of Michigan where they studied environmental policy and planning; her research focused on Great Lakes community coastal resilience and the relationships between local governments and state and federal agencies. Originally from upstate New York, Annika holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Cornell University and a M.S. in Environment and Sustainability from the University of Michigan.

Marisa Borreggine

Knauss Fellow

Marisa Borreggine is a 2024 Knauss Fellow as the Coastal Hazards and Mitigation Specialist with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and CSO. In their role, they will be working on surveying state coastal programs with CSO and incorporating updated sea-level rise data into FEMA programs. Marisa will also act as the lead coordinator for the CSO Coastal Hazards Planning and Adaptation Work Group. Prior to CSO, Marisa was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. She also earned her PhD in this department with a Secondary Field in Archaeology. Marisa’s doctoral research examined how past sea-level change impacted human migration events across the world. They hold a B.S. in Oceanography with minors in Environmental Science and Resource Management & History from the University of Washington, Seattle. Marisa grew up in Eastern Central Illinois and Los Angeles, California.

Natalie Cross

NOAA Coastal Management Fellow

  • ncross@coastalstates.org

Natalie Cross is CSO’s 2023-2025 NOAA Coastal Management Fellow. Her work at CSO focuses on providing technical assistance and capacity support for the implementation of justice and equity within state coastal zone management programs. Prior to joining CSO, Natalie served as a policy research fellow with Urban Ocean Lab, a think tank focused on providing an equitable and just future for coastal cities. She holds an M.S. (‘23) and B.S. with Honors (‘22) from Stanford University’s Earth Systems program where she specialized in marine ecological research, environmental justice & scientific communication. Hailing from a Caribbean family, she is particularly passionate about supporting historically marginalized coastal communities, as they much too often bear the brunt of climate and environmental injustices.  

Marissa Palmer

Knauss Fellow

Marissa Palmer is CSO’s 2024 NOAA Knauss Fellow in a joint appointment between the Coastal States Organization and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Institute for Water Resources Coastal Team. Marissa focuses on nature-based solutions in the coastal space and acts as a liaison between the USACE Coastal Team and CSO. Before CSO, Marissa earned her master’s degree in Marine Biology from Texas A&M University at Galveston. Her master’s thesis focused on marsh-mangrove dynamics following extreme weather events in coastal Texas.  She earned a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Virginia in 2019. Between undergraduate graduation and graduate school, Marissa worked in environmental consulting and the nonprofit space in both Virginia and New York. She is originally from Orlando, Florida. 

Coastal States Stewardship Foundation Staff


 

Lisa Schiavinato

Managing Director

Lisa Schiavinato is the Managing Director for the Coastal States Stewardship Foundation (CSSF). As Managing Director, Lisa oversees the administration, management, legal, contracting, and budgeting for CSSF and the Regional Ocean Partnerships that are fiscally sponsored by CSSF. Lisa brings a broad range of experience to this role. She has expertise in ocean and coastal law and policy, program management, grant management, and nonprofit leadership. Prior to joining CSSF, Lisa worked with Sea Grant programs in Louisiana, North Carolina, and California and with nonprofit organizations across Southern California. Lisa holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of South Florida and a law degree from the University of Florida Levin College of Law. Lisa is based in California, but she was raised in the Sunshine State of Florida where her fascination for all things ocean and coastal began.

Emma Johnson

Grants Administrator

Emma Johnson is the Grants Administrator for the Coastal States Stewardship Foundation and assists the ROPs and RWSC with record keeping, preparing financial reports, budget tracking, processing invoices for payment, and ensuring reporting requirements are met. Emma earned both a B.S. in wildlife conservation and a master’s in organizational leadership from Juniata College in PA. She is passionate about the environment and a certified bird nerd, with her early career being in wild bird rehabilitation. She has experience in budget management, communications strategy execution, operational support, and grant assistance. Emma is based in New Jersey, and in her free time, she enjoys hiking with her dog, Hope, binge-watching reality TV with her cockatiel, Clomp, and spending time with friends and family.