To create an inland movement that builds land-to-sea stewardship.

The Inland Ocean Coalition’s unifying charge is to develop a two-way relationship with the ocean and the inland. Those who live among mountains, rivers, and inland cities have a direct impact on the cycles of life in the ocean. As the nation's first Inland Ocean Movement, our goal is to be a wellspring for literacy and community engagement across North America.


For individuals and communities to take an active role in improving the impacts and relationships between the inland, the coasts, and the ocean. 

Inland states should have a voice in ocean protection, since what we do inland has a direct impact on the sea—think about what we eat, the energy we use, and how we take care of our streams and creeks, which all lead downstream to the ocean. Advocates work with the Inland Ocean Coalition on issues of local and national importance through their own inland ocean chapters. In Illinois, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Michigan, Buffalo, NY and Manitoba, Canada, affiliates are engaging inland communities and strengthening the Coalition to encourage activism around ocean and watershed conservation.


The Inland Ocean Coalition began as the Colorado Ocean Coalition (COCO) in 2011. Founded by Vicki Nichols Goldstein after a family move to landlocked Boulder, CO in 2009, the Coalition’s aim was to inspire and empower Colorado citizens to promote the health of our ocean through education and community involvement.

Having spent most of her life working to protect our ocean, Vicki started looking for organizations in Colorado that had an inland ocean focus. To her surprise, there were none. She consulted with colleagues and found inspiration in their support for a new initiative, an Inland Ocean Movement. In 2011, she formalized the idea and the Colorado Ocean Coalition became a project under the fiscal sponsorship of The Ocean Foundation.

One of the organization's first steps was to lead a delegation of Coloradans to Washington, D.C. for the biennial Blue Vision Summit in 2011, where COCO was applauded for bringing ocean issues to the heartland. The Colorado Ocean Coalition has since held three major regional conferences on ocean protection, called Making WAVES, sponsors a monthly Blue Drinks, launched the Ocean Ambassadors Certification and Ocean Rangers programs, and co-developed initiatives like Blue The Dive and Suck the Straws Out. The movement has garnered support and recognition from luminaries in the ocean conservation movement—people like Dr. Sylvia Earle, Marine Researcher In-Residence at the National Geographic Society; Jean-Michel Cousteau, Founder of the Ocean Futures Society; and Dan Basta, former Director of the U. S. National Marine Sanctuary System.

Since the formation of the Colorado Ocean Coalition in 2011, communities across the country have been inspired to replicate the programs that began in Boulder, Colorado. Apart from Colorado, current chapters include the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, Great Lakes in Michigan, Illinois, Utah, Buffalo, NY, Prairie in Manitoba, Canada, and University chapters at the University of Colorado Boulder and Colorado State University in Fort Collins. 

We continue to inspire inland people and communities to become committed and united stewards of our ocean through advocacy, events, programs, outreach, and education. 

Core Goals

The Inland Ocean Coalition has scaled up its efforts and created robust goals for productive engagement with communities around water and the ocean throughout North America. The Inland Ocean Coalition leverages the Colorado Ocean Coalition’s sustained initiatives over the past five years to build an inland movement through programs, educational experiences, and community partnerships that:

  • Ignite community engagement around ocean and water issues
  • Facilitate learning networks through our collaborative partnerships
  • Support and enhance key legislative efforts at local, state, and national levels
  • Create cultural shifts that encourage environmentally friendly attitudes and actions
  • Empower youth through education and outreach
  • Strengthen local capacity to implement sound watershed approaches

In scaling the growth of Chapters and establishing best practices, the Inland Ocean Coalition adheres to three core goals:

  • Unite inland communities to educate and enhance knowledge of land-to-sea stewardship issues and solutions
  • Facilitate community building through education, action, and involvement via local chapters
  • Reach new audiences with the importance of our land-to-sea connection and the easy ways that people can get involved in protecting our ocean and waterways

The growth of the Inland Ocean Coalition supports our mission of building of an inland ocean movement that builds land-to-sea stewardship. Our programs provide opportunities for inland communities to tap into their interest and love for water and the ocean.

Equity, Inclusion, and Justice

The Inland Ocean Coalition believes that the health of our communities and ocean are intrinsically connected and that the health of both lies on all voices being included in the discussion and solutions. Historically and currently, the environmental movement has been dominated by racism, sexism, white elitism and many other forms of oppression, ultimately excluding many important voices and communities. With this knowledge, the Inland Ocean Coalition is committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion so that all communities and voices are given a seat at the table and have equal opportunities to live in a healthy community and enjoy a healthy environment. Our work seeks to build a stronger, more inclusive inland ocean movement that provides a space where decisions are made by a group that is as diverse as the communities they will affect. Meaningful participation from all communities is what is needed to solve the most pressing issues of our day and ensure a more equitable and resilient future.


Vicki Nichols Goldstein

Founder & Executive Director
Vicki is the Founder of the Inland Ocean Coalition, and for 10 years served as Executive Director. As of 2022, she transitioned into Director of Special Projects. A lifelong ocean advocate, Vicki earned a Master’s degree in marine policy from Yale University. Working for NOAA, she co-wrote the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Designation documents and served as NOAA liaison to the California Sanctuary sites. For 10 years, Vicki was the Executive Director of Save Our Shores and served on a number of state, national, and international councils and working groups. She has experience addressing a multitude of issues including vessel traffic, fisheries management and sustainable seafood, marine protected areas, and plastic pollution. Vicki knows that community-based ocean conservation can occur anyplace in the county. “You don’t have to see the ocean to protect it” is Vicki’s mantra and she believes that if people are supported in their potential to be leaders, that they can make a positive contribution to ocean protection in our inland communities.

Mia Glover

Program and Administrative Manager
Mia brings a unique blend of passion, expertise, and experience to the Inland Ocean Coalition. With a background in Anthropology and Biology, Mia has dedicated her career to advancing the causes of marine conservation and environmental stewardship. Before joining the Inland Ocean Coalition, Mia pursued a Master's degree in Anthropology at the University of Denver where she studied community engagement and policy change for dugong conservation in Palau. At the Inland Ocean Coalition, Mia is dedicated to spearheading community-centered initiatives that inspire interest and drive action towards protecting our ocean, emphasizing the unique perspective and role of inland communities. She looks forward to making a significant impact on local and global conservation efforts through her work with the IOC.

Christine Evans

Director of Communications
Christine grew up in the mountains of Colorado and developed a love for the outdoors at an early age. She pursued Environmental Studies and Political Science for her undergraduate degree and received a Master of Science in Sustainability Management from Columbia University. While there she fell in love with marine ecology and conservation and decided that she wanted to spend her life trying to protect our ocean. Christine has worked for several other environmental nonprofits and is excited to bring her knowledge and skills to the Inland Ocean Coalition as it continues to build an inland movement to protect our ocean planet.

Haley Stein

Communications and Fundraising Coordinator
Born and raised in central Kentucky, the Inland Ocean Coalition's mission resonates deeply with Haley. She has previously worked in watershed restoration and marine conservation with Downeast Salmon Federation, a local nonprofit in rural eastern Maine, where Haley now calls home. She has also lived in New York City, Greece, southern Spain, and Boulder, Colorado. Before turning to the nonprofit sector, Haley researched evolutionary and metabolic genetics as a Fulbright scholar. Communicating scientific concepts continues to be a passion for her, and she is excited to continue translating science in her work with IOC.

Advisory Board

Alana Boyles

Alana got her start in sustainability as a child, but truly fell in love with habitat restoration and species conservation during invasive species removals as part of her undergraduate degree at the University of Tampa. Alana also holds a Masters of Science in Marine Biology and Ecology from James Cook University in Townsville, Australia. After the realization that as much as she loved being in the ocean she could do more to save it from on land, Alana moved back to the states to focus on ocean education, creating educational materials to help teach landlocked communities about the very real impacts they have on the ocean, even from thousands of miles away. When she’s not volunteering at a cleanup, Alana can be found reading, playing drums and percussion with ensembles along the Front Range, or creating something delicious in the kitchen.

Christine Jochim

Christine Jochim is a Shareholder in the national law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP. Her law practice concentrates on energy, environmental, and natural resources compliance counseling and federal policy, litigation, and government enforcement. A significant portion of her practice focuses on water quality and watershed issues. In addition to her law degree, Christine holds a Master of Public Health in Environmental and Occupational Health. Christine grew up in land-locked Colorado, but has been exploring our oceans as a certified SCUBA diver since the age of 12.

Christopher Shrope

Chris is the Director of Solutions Marketing & Market Intelligence at 6Connex. In the past, Chris has been the Managing Director for the Social Impact Prize, Business Developer for the Technology Transfer Office, and as a Business Consultant for a medical device startup. Chris studied Economics and Environmental Studies from St. Lawrence University and holds an MBA with an emphasis in Product Marketing and Entrepreneurial Finance from the Leeds School of Business. Chris has always loved the water, from learning how to sail on the Chesapeake Bay to canoeing and kayaking in the Adirondacks to rafting through the Rocky Mountains and loves the mission of the Inland Ocean Coalition.

Maddie Boatwright

Leeds Board Fellow
Maddie's passion to protect the 'Big Blue' comes from her love of surfing and scuba diving. This businesswoman works to spread awareness about plastic and microplastic pollution, provides digital consulting for the organization, and is consistently involved in the annual Masquerade Mermaid Ball Fundraiser. She has a B.S. in Environmental Design from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a minor in Cultural Geography, and a Technology, Arts, & Media certificate. In addition, she also holds a Masters in Digital Product Design from the CMCI program, as well as an MBA from the Leeds Business School. Her business expertise combined with her ten-year design career in the tech industry enables the positive impact and capabilities necessary to solve environmental issues.

Michael Dirks

Water Quality Specialist
Michael Dirks has a BS in marine science from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida and a Master of Global Environmental Health from Emory University in Atlanta, GA. Mike works with the Water Research Foundation, an international nonprofit research collaborative for water professionals. In 2016, Mike also founded The Third Arrow, a small business for environmental footprint reduction planning. Mike tracks and listens to a range of public health and clean water environmental priorities from national leaders in the water sector and assists the Inland Ocean Coalition in the land-to-sea mission by contributing perspective on various conversations happening at regional and national scales across North America.

Paddy Ryan

Travel Author, Photographer and Educator
Dr. Paddy Ryan spent many years in New Zealand, Fiji, and the UK. After completing his doctorate in ecology at the University of Caterbury, New Zealand, he learned to dive and take underwater photos, twin passions he still pursues with enthusiasm Dr. Ryan worked as a Freshwater Biologist and Environmental Planner for New Zealand’s West Coast Regional Council. In 1997, Paddy moved to Denver to start a new life in the US. He has worked at Metro State, Johnson and Wales University, Colorado School of Mines, and Metropolitan State University. He teaches Biology and Invertebrate Biology, Marine Biology, Environmental Science, and Ecotourism. Paddy has published 49 books and scientific papers, 38 Consultancy reports, and over 300 articles, and continues to write books and create documentary films.

Patrick Chandler

Plastic Pollution Specialist & Educator
Patrick has ten years’ experience working in and developing environmental education, stewardship, and science programs. His current focus is researching the impact of bringing together art and science to empower communities to take action on environmental issues. Before beginning graduate work at CU, he worked as the Education Director for the Washed Ashore Project, which raises awareness about marine debris by creating sculptures from items found on the beach and using those sculptures to spark changes in consumer habits. Prior to joining the Washed Ashore team, Patrick spent five years in Alaska where he taught biology for Kenai Peninsula College, served as the International Coastal Cleanup Coordinator for Alaska, and worked as the Special Programs Coordinator for the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies teaching intertidal ecology and marine biology.

Susan Bruce

Sustainable Tourism
Susan grew up near the ocean in Australia and Brazil. After years of seeing the world with corporate (IBM, Time Warner, Turner Broadcasting) and nonprofit (Conservation International) roles, she now owns her own travel agency, Susan Bruce Travel, and is passionate about sharing her love of travel, adventure, and conservation with others. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Foreign Languages (French, Portuguese, Spanish & German) and Master’s in International Communications with additional certifications in Western European and Latin American Studies. She has published numerous articles on ocean issues and is an avid scuba diver.

Troy Trimmer

A passionate outdoor adventurer and seasoned Outdoor Industry veteran based in the Pacific Northwest, Troy seeks time outdoors for adventure and solitude, family time and doing what he can to inspire others to create their own experiences and ultimately appreciate and protect all wild places. Currently, the Global Sales Manager for Aquaglide (a leader in inflatable kayaks, SUP's and waterparks), he works towards supporting awareness, access and preservation to the many waterways in North America and around the world. A product of "The West", Troy enjoyed many formative years in Utah, Nevada and California before eventually rooting down in Western Washington State. Rediscovering a passion (let's be real and call it an obsession) for time on the water the past decade, the focus is on some kayaking but mostly on all forms of SUP including; fitness, racing, downwinding, multi-day touring while prone paddle-boarding, surfing and an eye on foiling keeps the stoke high.