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 water. 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 citizens 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.


Vicki Nichols Goldstein

Founder & Executive Director
Vicki Nichols Goldstein is the founder and Executive Director of the Colorado Ocean Coalition. She has been an ocean junkie for most of her life, growing up in the mud flats of Southern New Jersey and hauling whale bones around New England. Vicki has worked in the non-profit and ocean conservation field for over twenty-five years from Washington, D.C. to Santa Cruz, Calif., addressing a multitude of issues including vessel traffic, sustainable seafood, oil spill contingency planning, Marine Protected Areas and fisheries interactions. She also worked for NOAA on a variety of Marine Protected Area initiatives. She has a Masters in Environmental Studies and Marine Policy from Yale University.

Christine Evans

Operations Manager and Outreach Coordinator
Having grown up in the mountains of Colorado, Christine developed a love for the great outdoors at an early age. She pursued Environmental Studies and Political Science for her undergraduate degree and recently received a Master of Science in Sustainability Management from Columbia University. While there, she realized she was most drawn to environmental science, particularly marine ecology and conservation, and decided that she wanted to spend her life trying to protect our ocean. Christine has worked for several environmental nonprofits in the past 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.


Brooke Lynn Elzweig

Brooke Lynn was born and raised in Ft. Lauderdale, FL where the ocean served as a vital part of her life. At the age of 12, she attained her open water scuba certification and couldn't help but get 5 more certifications in the span of one year. She was president of the marine biology club of her high school for 4 years, and knew that when she moved to CO to receive a B.S. in environmental engineering, that marine biology/ocean conservation couldn't stop being a part of who she was. She is now the President of the CU Boulder Chapter of the Inland Ocean Coalition. She believes the oceans are our lifeline and we must strive to protect them at all costs because without water, there is no life.

Zehra Cheatham

Zehra is an intern for the Inland Ocean Coalition and Events Coordinator for the college chapter. She’s a Junior at the University of Colorado at Boulder studying Environmental Studies & Geography. She has a passion for the environment, especially the ocean, and at a young age knew she had to help save it. Growing up in Las Vegas then moving to Colorado she always felt a connection to the ocean even from land-locked states. The Inland Ocean Coalition has given her a pathway to protect the ocean even from afar. Zehra’s favorite place to swim and snorkel is the Seychelles on the East Coast of Africa where her mom grew up. There she can connect with the magical ocean and discover its pure beauty by not just looking at pictures. She is a very active member of the community and on campus. One day hopes to help create policies that will protect marine life.

Advisory Board

Kelly Webb

Advisory Board Chair
Kelly is the Principal and Co-Founder of e2e Sustainability Consulting, LLC, where she brings extensive experience in business and integrated/sustainable building design and sustainable design education. As Director of Campus Sustainability and the Institute for Sustainable Studies for a Colorado college of art and design, she developed and implemented sustainability policies, procedures and curricula. Kelly holds a bachelor of business degree, a bachelor of interior design degree with an emphasis in sustainable design and a master of environmental policy and management degree. She is a LEED AP O&M and holds a Green Advantage Environmental Certificate, a Certificate in Green Building from Colorado State University and a Certificate in Sustainability Leadership and Implementation from the University of Denver in partnership with Natural Capitalism Solutions. Kelly is a member of USGBC Colorado Chapter and has served on several local environmental organization boards and steering committees.

Amy Britton

Sustainable Tourism
Amy Britton is a mother and environmental steward. She grew up on lakes in Minnesota where her love of water first developed. Despite living in the mountains of Colorado, she continues to spend a lot of time on the ocean. She has sailed with her husband and two children everywhere from Newfoundland to Venezula and races sailboats. Amy loves snorkeling and diving and envisions a world where the reefs are re-populated with colorful fish for all future generations to appreciate and protect.

Christopher Shrope

CU-Boulder Board Fellow
Chris Shrope is currently a MBA Candidate at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado specializing in Entrepreneurship, Marketing and Finance. He is an Eagle Scout and graduated from St. Lawrence University in 2013 with a Double Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Environmental Studies. After graduation Chris spent three years in the tourism industry as a volunteer coordinator for Governor Cuomo’s inaugural Adirondack Challenge event, the Lead Market Research surveyor for Winter Park Resort and the Business Manager for Rentals at Arkansas Valley Adventure. Chris enjoys long walks on the beach, skiing, rock climbing, rafting, yoga, and international travel.

Debbie Welles

Plastic Specialist
Debbie, COCO's plastic pollution specialist, is a tireless advocate with a passion for natural science and a background in coalition building, public policy and business administration. Her focus is on microplastic pollution in rivers, lakes and oceans. She is currently building a coalition to explore the impacts of tiny pieces of plastic entering the food chain. She holds Masters degrees from the Daniels College of Business at DU and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. In her free time she skis, runs rivers, hikes, dives and snorkels with her husband, friends, and two grown kids.

Erin Cooper

Watershed Initiatives
Erin's passion for corals and the ocean led her to study how we interact with water resources on a global scale and how watershed dynamics play a vital role in ocean health. She holds a Masters of Environmental Science in Applied Coral Reef Ecology from Miami University of Ohio, was a 2012 John A. Knauss Sea Grant Marine Policy Fellow with NOAA’s Office of Education, and now works to improve floodplain management in the Colorado Front Range.

Jaimin Patel

CU-Boulder Leeds Board Fellow
Jaimin Patel is a MBA candidate at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado. He finished his bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from North Carolina State University in 2012. Jaimin worked in chemical manufacturing the past 5 years. Most recently he was a lead process engineer at The Dow Chemical Company doing process design work. He is focusing his MBA in operations/project management and finance. In his free time, Jaimin enjoys watching movies, trying his hand at new recipes, and watching/playing basketball.

Jane Enterline

Inland Ocean Coalition Chapters
Jane was raised on the Great Lakes, has lived on both east and west coasts, and now resides in the snowy mountains of Colorado. As an avid skier, scuba diver and sailor, Jane used to take clean water and bountiful seafood for granted. She is now committed to educating and working to preserve these resources for future generations. Jane advises the growth of the Inland Ocean Movement via local chapters in order to unite the inland states, educate, and enhance knowledge.

Jenifer Atkinson

Jenifer Atkinson leads the education coalition committee for youth grades K-12. She is passionate about empowering youth and facilitating inclusion by introducing progressive education programs. Jenifer facilitates corporate and public sector partnerships that build awareness about the many ways in which 80% of pollution in the ocean is derived from an inland source. Jenifer has launched multi-national and entrepreneurial platforms — including Microsoft's MSN Internet in 22 countries and nine different languages. Jenifer grew up on the Pacific Ocean, is a certified SCUBA diver and a committed advocate for improving our waters, lands and minds.

Josh Goldstein

Legal Counsel
Josh Goldstein is a CPA and attorney, currently living in Boulder. Josh has spent the majority of his professional life practicing corporate law at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in New York. He most recently served as Executive Vice President, Chief General Counsel and Secretary of Intrawest. Josh grew up on Long Island, New York, and has been passionate about the marine environment for his entire life. Josh is an avid angler, boater and certified SCUBA diver. He brings expert advice on administrative, legal and organizational matters.

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 non-profit 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.

Mikki McComb-Kobza

Dr. Mikki McComb-Kobza is an Executive Director and shark biologist who works with Ocean First Institute to help them promote ocean conservation through research and education. Her outreach efforts have been covered by the BBC, National Geographic, Discovery Channel's Shark Week, and CBC National Radio Canada. Mikki regularly leads international expeditionary travel and scientific expeditions. She has also travelled over 1 million virtual miles to educate and inspire over 90,000 students in 26 countries to take positive steps to protect the ocean and its inhabitants through her virtual field trips. Mikki believes strongly in the power of science and hope and inspires people to use their own unique strengths to help make the world a better place. Mikki holds a Ph.D. in Integrative Biology from Florida Atlantic University and is the author of numerous scientific publications.

Paddy Ryan

Travel Author, Photographer and Educator
Paddy Ryan (Dr. Patrick 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 (he is now a Dive Master with around 1500 dives logged). Dr. Ryan worked as a Freshwater Biologist and then Environmental Planner for New Zealand’s West Coast Regional Council. In 1997, Paddy moved to Denver to start a new life in the States. 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 popular articles and continues to write books and create documentary films.

Patrick Chandler

Plastic Pollution Specialist & Educator
Patrick Chandler 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 raise awareness of environmental issues, with a focus on learning retention and engagement. Before beginning graduate work at CU, he worked as the Education Director for the Washed Ashore Project, and retains his role with them as a consultant. Washed Ashore 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.

Richard Marks

Richard J. Marks has led national initiatives and strategic planning that promote advancement of renewable energy and clean water solutions in conservation and environmental finance. He produces positive communications and media content, while convening some of the world's leading researchers and technology innovators with the goal of exchanging ideas and provoking thought into action. Richard is passionate about fairness, the environment, equality, nature and the arts. Richard loves the challenge of implementing and mobilizing progressive ideas and programs.

Rob Bryan

Sustainable Tourism
Rob is the co-founder of Blue Heart of the Planet, PBC, an organization that supports nonprofits in their efforts to educate the public about ocean environments and sustainability. He is also one of the principals at Ocean Story 150, an ocean awareness organization that uses social media, films, video, websites, direct action and other forms of outreach to inform the public about our oceans and our planet. The intention of Ocean Story 150 is to change humankind's behaviors and live sustainably. Rob wears many caps: ship’s captain, commercial diver, ship builder, ROV operator, dive instructor, sail boat rigger, sailor, environmental tour guide and one of the ocean’s best friends.

Shawn Rodine

Outdoor Recreation
Shawn Rodine has had salt water running through his veins since he was a newborn on the beaches of Hawaii. The importance of water conservation and education has always been a priority on both a personal and professional level. Paddler, surfer, diver, river guide, fly fisher, he is on the water almost daily. His biggest impact is with sharing a love of water and awareness through Rocky Mountain Paddleboard.

Susan Bruce

Sustainable Tourism
Susan grew up near the ocean in Australia and Brazil. After years of seeing the world in both corporate and non-profit roles, she now owns her own travel agency, Susan Bruce Travel, and is passionate to share her love of travel, adventure and conservation with others. She has a bachelors degree in foreign languages and masters in international communications with minors in Western European and Latin American Studies. She has published numerous articles on ocean issues.

Ted Ross

Waterkeeper Alliance Affiliate
Ted Ross oversees a Waterkeeper Alliance coalition that encourages approaches to watershed respect and conservation for drinkable, swimmable, fishable waters. He is a business executive and consultant with a 30+ year career at IBM, Price Waterhouse and Arthur Andersen in information technology strategy and services. He has long felt the primordial draw of the waters and has a deep enthusiasm for Hawaii, SCUBA and the fishes of the world. He has an emerging passion for the economic, ecological and engineering issues associated with the removal of dams. Ted has been a Boulder resident since moving from Atlanta, GA in 1996, graduated from the University of Michigan, is married and has raised three daughters.

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