Staff Bios


Todd Miller

Executive Director

Todd founded the N.C. Coastal Federation in 1982 which now has 22 staff, three offices, a multi-million dollar budget, and more than 10,000 members. He is a coastal North Carolina native from Carteret County. In 2013, he was selected as a distinguished alumni of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from which he holds an undergraduate and masters degree. Todd received The Old North State Award from the governor in 2007 and the National Wetlands Community Leader Award from the Environmental Law Institute in 2012. Todd is a founding board member of Restore America Estuaries and has served on its board with other national leaders in coastal habitat restoration since 1995. He currently serves on the Board of Visitors for the UNC Institute for the Environment as well as the chair of the Policy Committee for the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuary Partnership. As executive director, Todd formulates the federation’s goals and policy positions, serves as the federation’s spokesperson and provides staff and operations oversight. [ Email ]


Laura Alexander

Administrative Assistant

Laura, a native of Delaware, joined the federation in 2014. She is a lifelong participant in the promotion of coastal ecology, education, and restoration. Laura is likely the voice on the other end of the phone when you call our offices and provides valuable assistance to everyone. Volunteering for the past several years on federation’s projects she has helped with rain garden construction and living shoreline plantings. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Plant Science Pathology from the University of Delaware and has worked with a number of organizations including the Point Sur Lightstation and State Historic Park in Big Sur, California and the Fort Sill Children’s Museum in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. [ Email ]

Ladd Bayliss

Coastal Advocate

A native of Dare County, Ladd joined the federation in 2012. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and environmental studies from the College of Charleston and was a graduate of the School for Field Studies Wildlife Management Program in Kenya. Ladd has a background in field research through work with Oregon State University’s Columbia River Avian Predation Project and through various local research projects focusing on fisheries science and management. [ Email ]  


Rachel Bisesi

Coastal Education Coordinator

Rachel, from Pine Level, NC, joined the federation in 2013 after volunteering for several years. She holds a Master of Science degree in coastal marine and wetland studies from Coastal Carolina University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in environmental studies from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Before coming to the federation, Rachel worked as an educator in multiple coastal education centers, as a marine research technician, and as a State Park naturalist. Her background lies in linking coastal environments with education and outreach. [ Email ]

Todd Miller

Sam Bland

Coastal Specialist

Sam joined the federation in 2009 after completing a 30-year career as a park ranger and park superintendent at the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation. Most of that time was spent at Hammocks Beach State Park near Swansboro where Sam specialized in resource management and environmental education. His work with state parks earned Sam the federation’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 and the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the state’s highest civilian honor. With the federation, Sam is responsible for helping develop programs at the education center on Jones Island. Sam graduated from East Carolina University with a bachelor of science degree in parks and conservation and is a certified environmental educator. [ Email ]

Rachael Carlyle

Director of Operations

Rachael joined the federation in March 2004 as the new volunteer coordinator. She holds a Master of Arts degree in marine affairs and policy from the University of Miami and a Bachelor of Arts degree in environmental studies from Gettysburg College. She holds two certificates in federal grant management and currently manages the federations state and federal grant contracts, oversees facilities and administrative operations, and runs the volunteer program. [ Email ]


Karen H. Dunn

Clean Communities Coordinator

A native of Massachusetts, Karen joined the federation in 2014 after volunteering with the southeast office. She has been a coastal North Carolina summer resident since 1989. After more than 35 years in Charlotte where she worked as a certified land use planner, Karen now calls Wrightsville Beach home. Karen brings with her more than 20 years of land use management and design, public engagement and environmental education experience.
Karen is responsible for assisting a diverse coalition of organizations in expanding activities and engaging our volunteer base to increase exposure of the Titan Cement issue.  She holds a Master of Arts degree in sustainable land planning and design from The Conway School in Conway, MA, and a Bachelor of Science degree in geography and environmental studies from Salem State University in Salem, MA.

Erin Fleckenstein

Coastal Scientist; Manager, Northeast Regional Office 

Erin joined the federation in February 2008 and manages our regional office in Manteo. She holds a Master’s of Science in marine biology from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and a Bachelor’s of Science in marine and freshwater biology from University of New Hampshire. She leads a variety of initiatives to restore wetlands, create oyster sanctuaries and living shoreline and build rain gardens. [ Email ]


Mike Giles

Coastal Advocate

Mike joined the staff in May 2006. Mike is a North Carolina native, and before joining the federation, he served as the open-space land manager for Durham County for five years. Mike has extensive stewardship, enforcement and advocacy experience, gathered from positions with the National Park Service and the Army Corps of Engineers and as chief park ranger for Mecklenburg County. He studied wildlife management at N.C. State University, which included additional research and course work in coastal ecology. Mike monitors the Southeast Region from the Wrightsville Beach regional office. [ Email ]

Sara Hallas

Coastal Education Coordinator

Before joining the federation in 2008, Sara worked as a special activities instructor at the N.C. Aquarium on Roanoke Island. She holds a bachelor’s of science degree in biology along with a minor in dance from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. Sara leads outreach programs in the northeast region and has organized a network of local environmental educators. When she’s not working to protect the coast, Sara stays active in the community teaching dance and physical fitness. [ Email ]


Sarah King

Development Officer

A native of Wilmington, Sarah first joined the federation in 2004 as a restoration scientist before relocating to Raleigh to work for the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund. Sarah re-joined the staff in 2012 as a development officer in the Triangle. Sarah has bachelor’s degrees from Vanderbilt University in environmental science and psychology and a master’s degree in marine science from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She volunteers with several local nonprofits focusing on water quality, low-impact development and alternative energy. [ Email ]


Lauren Kolodij

Deputy Director

Lauren heads up the federation's low-impact development stakeholder outreach efforts. In addition she coordinates many of the federation's conferences and coastal issue meetings. Lauren serves as liaison to the federation board of directors and staffs the Coastal Caucus, a coalition of grassroots and formal environmental organizations. Working with the executive director, Lauren's primary responsibility is to ensure implementation of federation program goals and objectives. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental conservation from N.C. State University. She has worked for the federation since 1992.
 [ Email ]

Tess Malijenovsky

Assistant editor, staff writer, Coastal Review Online

Tess has an editorial fellowship with the federation's online news and feature service, Coastal Review Online. She helps manage the news service and writes articles for it. Before joining the staff in 2014, she regularly contributed to the news service as a freelance writer. Tess holds a bachelor of fine arts degree in creative nonfiction writing from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where she was the editor of the literary arts magazine, Atlantis. Tess was also the president and co-founder of the university's photography club and continues to be an avid photographer. She works out of our main office in Ocean. [ Email ]


Jo Ann Marsh

Business Manager

Jo Ann started with the federation in 1993. She brings over 30 years of business and accounting experience to the job. Her duties include handling the day-to-day business for the federation, financial reporting, personnel and the management of the membership database. She has an associate degree in accounting and computer technology. [ Email ]


Christine Miller

Assistant Director

Christine joined the staff in 2006. She's responsible for government fundraising and staff and program planning for the federation's three offices. She also manages special policy initiatives and programs from the main office and helps plan our communications strategies. She has worked on coastal policy and protection issues for over 10 years. Christine holds a bachelor of arts in English from the University of Southern California and a master’s degree in marine policy and coastal management from the University of Delaware. [ Email ]


Rose Rundell

Business Administrator

Rose joined the staff in 2003 as a part-time Administrative Assistant which she held for 11 years. Originally from Ohio, she moved to Charleston, S.C. in 1978. In keeping with her love for the coast, she moved to Carteret County in 1996. Environmental issues have always been one of her interests and concerns which brought her to the Coastal federation. In her new role as Business Administrator, she'll be assisting the Business Manager with membership database updating and reporting. [ Email ]


Catherine Snead

Development Officer

Catherine joined the federation in August 2014. She is a native of Wilmington, but has lived the last 28 years in New Bern. Growing up on the coast, Catherine has come to enjoy boating, paddling, and fishing. She is pleased to have the opportunity to help preserve the coast. Catherine has spent her career in sales and event planning, travelling the N.C. coast, getting to know the towns and making contacts in the various communities. She is based out of our headquarters in Ocean, but will travel the region helping to promote the federation and increase our visibility through major fundraisers. Catherine holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Queens College in Charlotte.
[ Email ]  


Tracy Skrabal

Coastal Scientist; Manager, Southeast Regional Office

Tracy joined the federation in 1996 and leads our regional office in Wilmington. She holds a masters in marine science and a Bachelor of Science in geology from the College of William and Mary. Having held positions with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and as a private consultant, she has accumulated more than 17 years experience in coastal policy and planning and in implementing conservation projects. [ Email ]


Sally Steele

Development and Marketing Director

Sally joined the federation staff in mid-1996. Before coming to Ocean, she was with the N.C. Zoological Society for 23 years where she served in progressive positions including retail director, membership director and associate director. Her duties at the federation include membership, grant writing, fundraising programs, member communications and events and marketing.  She is an active volunteer in the community, an instructor for the Duke University Nonprofit Management Certification Program and has more than 35 years of nonprofit management experience.  Sally enjoys kayaking with her buddies.  [ Email ]

Frank Tursi

Assistant Director; Editor, Coastal Review Online

Frank heads our advocacy communications, which includes managing our Web site and Facebook page, and is the editor of our online news and feature service, Coastal Review Online. He works out of our main office in Ocean. Frank joined the federation in January 2002 after an almost 30-year career as a newspaper journalist – the last 23 at the Winston-Salem Journal where he was the environmental and special-projects reporter. He has won numerous state and national writing awards for his environmental reporting and is the author of three books. [ Email ]


Dr. Lexia Weaver

Coastal Scientist; Manager, Central Regional Office

Originally from Hialeah, Fl, Lexia joined the federation in April 2007 after living in coastal North Carolina since 2002. Her background is in estuarine water quality and plant ecology and she has conducted over 12 years of research in estuarine environments in Florida, Delaware and North Carolina. Lexia holds a Master of Science and a Ph.D. in Marine Studies from the University of Delaware and a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a specialization in Marine Biology from Barry University in Miami Shores, Fl. Lexia manages coastal restoration projects within the central region of North Carolina and supervises the central regional office.  [ Email ]

Ted Wilgis

Coastal Education Coordinator

Ted works in the Wilmington Regional Office focusing on oyster restoration projects and implementation of the Oyster Plan. Previously, he served as the Cape Fear Coastkeeper® for five years and as the federation's education director for five years. Before coming to the federation, Ted worked with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for nine years managing and developing education programs and a watershed planning initiative. Ted holds a bachelor of arts degree in zoology from Connecticut College and a Coast Guard captain's license and is currently enrolled in the marine biology graduate program at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. [ Email ]

Ana Zivanovic-Nenadovic

Program and Policy Analyst

Ana, a native of Serbia, joined the federation in 2011. She helps the executive director evaluate and devise policies, programs and guidance to achieve the federation’s goals and benchmarks. She also works on short and long-term strategic research and analysis projects. Ana develops, manages and supervises graduate level internship program. Ana has a master’s of business administration degree in sustainable business from the University of Maine. She received her undergraduate degree from Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain. Ana also attended the University of Belgrade majoring in Hispanic philology before completing her undergraduate work in Spain. [ Email ]


Mark Smith

North River Wetlands Preserve Manager

Mark joined the federation in October 2014 to manage the North River Farms wetland restoration site and prepare the property for future public use. Mark is a native of Atlantic, N.C., born and raised around commercial fishing and net making. He is a graduate of Calhoon Engineering School in Maryland with a degree in marine engineering and a U.S. Coast Guard engineering license. Mark sailed in the U.S. Merchant Marine for 8 years, and he recently retired after 22 years working as the chief engineer of the Duke University Marine Lab’s R/V Cape Hatteras. He also has previous farming and game-land management experience. He is an avid fisherman and hunter and still resides in Atlantic. [ Email ]