Two people kayak off the coast in Santa Cruz.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Save Our Shores hires marine science expert as executive director

Erica Donnelly-Greenan will start her new job as executive director of Save Our Shores on Monday. She takes over for Katherine O’Dea, who announced in April she was stepping down after six-plus years in the position.

Save Our Shores announced Thursday the hiring of its next executive director, a marine ecologist who recently led a citizen science program at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories.

Erica Donnelly-Greenan — previously the program director for BeachCOMBERS, which worked to protect marine mammals and seabirds across the California coast — will start her new job on Monday.

Erica Donnelly-Greenan with her husband and dog.
Erica Donnelly-Greenan with her husband and dog.
(Save Our Shores)

Board of Directors Chair Michael Jones said Donnelly-Greenan’s extensive scientific background set her apart from other candidates.

“Save Our Shores is a very proud institution,” he said. “It’s been at the forefront of protecting the Monterey Bay environment for over 40 years and we think Erica is an absolutely fantastic leader to lead us into the next 40 years.”

The search for a new leader came after Katherine O’Dea, who had been in the position for six years, announced her retirement in April. She said she has been working with Donnelly-Greenan for the last couple months to ensure a smooth transition.

“Erica is smart, insightful, energetic, passionate and eager to work with Save Our Shores’ inspired team,” O’Dea said in a news release. “As retirement is bittersweet when one is passionate about the work they do, it’s uplifting to know that my successor has the qualifications, resourcefulness, and vision not only to sustain this beloved organization’s achievements but to take them to a next level of impact and influence.”

Donnelly-Greenan said she is looking to strengthen the organization’s connection to the marine research community in both Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.

“I am excited to bring my experience to Save Our Shores and to support the team in their effective and growing endeavors in empowering coastal and inland communities with the knowledge and actionable framework to effectively save our shores for future generations,” she said in the release.

Based in Santa Cruz, Save Our Shores was founded in 1978 to prevent offshore drilling in the Monterey Bay and later helped establish the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. In recent years, the organization has shifted its focus to combatting plastic pollution and the climate crisis.