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.


Vicki Nichols Goldstein

Founder & Executive Director
Vicki is the founder and Executive Director of the Inland 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.

Lance Kittel

Associate Director
A Colorado native, Lance is an environmental professional and sustainability advocate with multiple degrees from Western Colorado University. Lance has worked with communities around the world on resilience issues and sustainable development opportunities, and used diverse networks to complete his MEM in Global Sustainability. Lance is a passionate water-lover with roots in the Rocky Mountains and finds solitude on the beaches of Costa Rica. He brings energy and gratitude to the Inland Ocean Coalition and works alongside our staff, Advisory Board, chapter leads, ambassadors, and volunteers.

Melissa Jung

Volunteer Program Manager
Melissa recently moved to Colorado from Hawaii where she received a M.S. in Marine Science from the Hawaii Pacific University in 2017. While in Hawaii she was the research facilities manager at the Center for Marine Debris Research where her interests focused on polymer identification and the quantification and characterization of marine debris. She also studied plastics ingested by endangered Hawksbill sea turtles and surface plastics from the North Pacific Gyre in order to identify plastic hotspots and inform policy. She also worked with Hawaiian monk seals and sea turtles at Hawaii Marine Animal Response while completing her degree. With her years of experience working with the ocean, marine wildlife, and local communities, Mel is excited to share with people inland how their actions can help protect our ocean.

Sophia Zengierski

Development & Communications Manager
Sophia recalls spending summers jumping waves along the Jersey shore. Now, she is excited to share her love of language and literature in service of the ocean. With degrees from the University of St Andrews in Scotland and the University of Pennsylvania, Sophia worked in academic and scholarly publishing before joining the Inland Ocean Coalition. Additionally, she worked on marketing projects at the Sustainable Ocean Alliance and I Heart Clean Water. In her spare time, she enjoys creative writing (both poetry and prose), traveling and Irish dance.

Caoilfhionn Schwab

Chapter Capacity Coordinator
Caoilfhionn was born and raised in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where the little rocky pocket beach by her house provided ample entertainment growing up. A graduate student from the University of Denver, Caoilfhionn combined her passions for sociology, sustainable development, animal rights, and wildlife conservation to further explore the ways by which humans, non-human animals, and the environment are inextricably interconnected. Caoilfhionn is excited to work for an organization that allows her to dabble in all of these interest areas, while applying her knowledge and skills into growing our chapter network across the United States.

Christine Evans

Campaign Manager
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.

Michelle Kaufman

Operations Manager
Michelle has been working to protect our ocean for the last 11 years, from the shores of Santa Cruz to the icy coast of Maine. After receiving a business degree from the University of San Diego and an MBA from the University of Colorado at Denver, she spent time at Google and in the financial industry before turning towards environmental nonprofits and is excited to spend her time working towards a healthier planet.

Emerson Damiano

Inland Ocean Coalition Intern
Emerson Damiano grew up in Colorado and has always been passionate about the environment. Even though she has never lived near the ocean, she believes the ocean should be protected by all inland states, not just the coastlines. Emerson recently finished her junior year at Kent Denver School in Englewood, Colorado and loves to promote environmental awareness and education as the President of the ocean protection club, Reefs. Emerson testified to help pass House Bill 1162 (ban on single-use plastic) and House Bill 1163 (ban on polystyrene) at the Colorado State Capitol. She plans to pursue her passion for the environment in college by studying environmental policy.

Ingrid Martinson

Inland Ocean Coalition Intern
Ingrid is a Colorado native and recently graduated from DSST: Byers High School. Spending most summers on the coast of Croatia, she fell in love with the ocean. She is a strong advocate for the conservation and protection of the environment, from testifying before the Colorado Legislature to volunteering with local organizations. She is pursuing a Marine Science degree at California State University Monterey Bay and is excited to be working with the Inland Ocean Coalition to continue advocating for and creating awareness around issues facing our oceans.

Dawn Rodriguez

Inland Ocean Coalition Intern / TrashBlitz Coordinator
Growing up, Dawn's family had a 100 gallon salt-water fish tank in the place of a TV. She was born in Panama City, Panama, the daughter of a Navy Seal and lived near the coast until she was 6 years old. Right before 2nd grade, Dawn and her family moved to Austin, TX which she considers home, though now resides in Denver, Colorado. Dawn has lived and traveled to nearly 30 countries and education, advocacy, culture and diversity are part of her core. When she first learned about the 'plastic islands' in our oceans, she was horrified and felt obligated to contribute. Dawn's community involvement includes hosting local creek cleanups and educating the youth on plastic pollution, as 'Mermaid Dawn'. She is excited to continue making moves against plastic pollution in the ocean with her partnership with both Inland Ocean Coalition and 5 Gyres.

Hailey Kutcher

Inland Ocean Coalition Intern
Hailey is from York, Pennsylvania and currently a senior at Colorado State University majoring in animal sciences. Hailey has always had a strong passion for animals and feels that one of her biggest missions in life is to save animals. Growing up on the east coast,. the ocean was a big part of her father’s family. They often went fishing and crabbing and she learned to respect the earth and the ocean for the food it provided to her and her family. In addition to her family’s background with the ocean, she has always been drawn to aquatic life. After watching many shows like Planet Earth, she came to realize she wanted to help save the ocean. She is excited to be working with the Inland Ocean Coalition as an intern and hopes to continue working in the wildlife and marine life conservation world so that she can do more than just save one animal; she can access the tools needed to help save the world.

Mallory McKenna

CSU Fort Collins Chapter Recruitment and Development Intern
Mallory is from Boulder, Colorado and is currently a senior at Colorado State University majoring in Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. She grew up exploring the Flatirons and developed a deep appreciation for the intricacy of Rocky Mountain ecosystems. It wasn't until Mallory set foot upon the beaches of California that she recognized her passion for the ocean and knew there was no turning back. Her desire to learn everything she could about marine environments landed her on the shores of New Zealand's North Island for study abroad in 2018, where she surrounded herself with the culture of the local community and the knowledge of her professors which evolved her understanding of island ecology. Mallory hopes to apply her studies in sustainability to the conservation of crucial water resources and the advancement of building land to sea stewardship and ocean protection through her partnership with the Inland Ocean Coalition.

Advisory Board

Kelly Webb

Advisory Board Chair
With a recent move, Kelly has closed her seven-year-old business and is working on ocean conservation issues full time from the Pacific Northwest. Kelly was the Principal and Co-Founder of e2e Sustainability Consulting, LLC, an integrated/sustainable building design and consulting company also providing sustainable design education. Prior to e2e, she was the Director of Campus Sustainability and the Institute for Sustainable Studies for a Colorado college of art and design, where she developed and implemented sustainability policies, procedures and curricula. Kelly is a LEED AP O&M, has a Masters in Environmental Policy and Management from DU 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.

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 Competitive & Market Intelligence Manager at Vendavo where he brings a breath of experience managing new research and corporate projects with a wide swath of stakeholders. 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.

Debbie Welles

Plastic Specialist
Debbie is a tireless advocate against plastic pollution 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 marine environments has led her from the cornfields of Ohio to oceans around the world. These pursuits fueled her interest in the human connection to watershed dynamics, from Caribbean reefs to the Rocky Mountains and beyond. She earned a B.A. from Hiram College and an M.En. in Applied Coral Reef Ecology from Miami University of Ohio before being awarded the 2012 John A. Knauss Sea Grant Marine Policy Fellowship with NOAA’s Office of Education. In addition to being involved with the Inland Ocean Coalition since it’s early days, Erin now works to improve threatened and endangered salmon habitat protections in the Pacific Northwest as a Floodplain Management Specialist with FEMA Region 10.

Matt Moseley

Matt Moseley is Partner and Chief Strategy Officer at dovetail solutions. He has spent his career at the intersection of public policy, business and government and has managed many public affairs projects and campaigns for organizations and companies. He is also an author and world record adventure swimmer. Moseley has completed four world record adventure swims crossing Lake Pontchartrain; from Culebra to Fajardo, Puerto Rico; was the first person to swim through Canyonlands National Park on the Colorado River; and did the first ever swim from the Virgin Islands to Puerto Rico. He has a master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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.

Nicolas Biber

Plastic Pollution Specialist
Dr. Nicolas Biber has extensively studied the fragmentation of plastics in the environment. His research has focused on plastics’ deterioration processes, distribution on coastlines, and ingestion of microplastics by organisms. He believes that a powerful way to advance a cause is to get the public involved in it, and that plastic pollution science is for everyone to participate in the best way they can and wish to. Nicolas earned his PhD in Marine Studies from the University of Plymouth, UK.

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.

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 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.

Ted Ross

Waterkeeper Alliance Affiliate
Ted 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.

Whitney Wise

Chapter Development
As an advocate for a green economy and careerist in nonprofits around the world, Whitney thrives in working with community members, the business sector, and policy makers to drive more sustainable jobs, products and supply chains. She currently works with a local resource center as a program manager in workforce development that assists low-income residents, immigrants, and refugees in career development. Whether it is exploring the tide pools near Santa Cruz, diving the reefs of Indonesia, or biking along the Cherry Creek Trail in Denver, Whitney loves the interconnectedness of our communities and the ocean around us. She moved from California to Denver to attend the University of Denver, where she received an International MBA and a BA in International Studies and Psychology.