Home > Speaker Bios 2023

Speaker Bios 2023

Curt Melcher, Director, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW)

Curt Melcher began his career with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife as a temporary employee in 1985. During his time at the Department, he has represented the State of Oregon in numerous regional management forums, including the Pacific Fishery Management Council, Klamath Fishery Management Council, and Pacific Salmon Commission Southern Panel.

Curt served as the Deputy Director for Fish and Wildlife programs from 2007 through 2014 and was appointed the Interim Director in September 2014. He was hired as permanent Director in February 2015 and is the Past President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

Barry Thom, Executive Director, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC)

Barry joined PSMFC in April 2022. He was previously the West Coast Regional Administrator for NOAA Fisheries. Barry began his career as a research biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and moved to NOAA Fisheries in 2001.

Jennifer Quan, Regional Administrator, NOAA Fisheries

Jennifer (“Jen”) Quan began service as the Regional Administrator for NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region in April 2023. In over 27 years of working on West Coast natural resources issues, she benefits from diverse perspectives gained during her time with state and federal governments, the U.S. Senate, and from working with Pacific Northwest tribes. Her career includes experience across a broad spectrum of West Coast fisheries issues ranging from dolphin conservation in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, to research on Blue and Humpback Whales in California, the study of tribal harvest on Gray Whales, Pacific fisheries management, salmon recovery, and Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulations.

Prior to working for the U.S. Senate, she worked for NOAA’s Fisheries West Coast Region where she supervised the south Puget Sound Branch of the Oregon/Washington Coastal Office. Before coming to NOAA, she spent 10 years at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) in various roles. Jen is a fellow of the National Conservation Leadership Institute, and holds a Master’s degree in Marine Affairs from University of Washington and a Bachelor of Science from Evergreen State College.

Rachel Baker, Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Rachel works for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and focuses on state-federal fisheries coordination. She represents the State of Alaska's interests in federal fisheries policy and management issues, including participation on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council on behalf of Commissioner Vincent-Lang. Rachel has 20 years of experience working to develop and implement fisheries policy and management programs for commercial, recreational, and subsistence fisheries in a variety of positions with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, National Marine Fisheries Service, and New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries.

Jim Fredericks, Director, Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Jim is currently the director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.  He was raised in northern Idaho where he grew up engaged in a range of outdoor pursuits.  He attended the University of Idaho for his undergraduate education, earning a B.A. in psychology in 1988.  After working in a psychiatric hospital for a year, he changed course and returned to the University of Idaho and earned an M.S. in Fishery Resources in 1994. Since that time, he’s worked for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, serving the agency as a Fishery Biologist, Regional Fishery Manager, Chief of the Fisheries Bureau, Deputy Director.  He has served in leadership roles with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and the American Fisheries Society.

Nate Pamplin, Director of External Affairs, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Nate Pamplin serves as the Director of External Affairs and manages the Communications and Public Engagement team and positions associated with Southern Resident killer whale recovery, social science, and natural resource economics. He represents the Director on a number of intergovernmental forums and is the lead on marine mammal conservation and tribal hunting policy issues.  He has been with the agency since 2006, and previously served for six years as the Program Director of the Wildlife Program as well as worked in policy positions in the Department’s Licensing Division and the Director’s Office. Nate has a bachelor’s degree in Zoology and a master’s degree in Wildlife Science, both from Oregon State University. Prior to joining WDFW, Nate worked as a wildlife biologist for the San Carlos Apache Tribe in Arizona and as a marine mammal biologist for the Makah Tribe.

Craig Shuman, Marine Region Manager, California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Craig Shuman is the Marine Region Manager for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife where he directs the Department’s marine science and policy activities in ocean waters off California’s coast. He earned a doctorate in Environmental Science and Engineering from UCLA and a master’s degree in Biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Prior to joining the Department, Dr. Shuman served as the Marine Advisor to the California Fish and Game Commission, worked in the nonprofit sector, and worked as a consultant where he focused on coastal wetland restoration, water quality, citizen monitoring programs, corporate sustainability, and communications. 

Sebastian O’Kelly, Consultant, Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh

Sebastian O’Kelly has over thirty-five years of experience in Washington, DC, serving in both the executive and legislative branches, as well as working in government relations.  His background covers a broad range of issues, with a particular expertise in natural resources, appropriations, maritime, fisheries, transportation, energy and space issues.

O’Kelly is partner and co-owner of Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh LLC, providing advocacy services and counsel to the firm’s maritime, fisheries, and local government clients, with previous service of over twenty years to the firm as a consultant. Previously, he served for two years as ombudsman to the Secretary of Commerce, providing independent views on high profile natural resource and marine fisheries issues.

O’Kelly’s legislative experience spanned nearly a decade as professional staff on the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs serving Senator John Glenn. During the latter part of his tenure, he served as the Senator’s primary advisor on space and technology issues. Early in his Washington career, he was an economic researcher and writer for a trade association and a branch of the Agency for International Development.

O’Kelly graduated from Duke University with a bachelor’s degree in economics.

Laurie Weitkamp, Research Fisheries Biologist, Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Dr. Laurie Weitkamp has been a Research Fisheries Biologist at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center since 1992.  In this role, she has been involved in Endangered Species Act listings of Pacific salmon since 1994.  Her research focuses on the ecology of salmon in estuarine and marine environments, including participating in recent high seas winter surveys for salmon.  On the management side, Laurie serves on the Coho Technical Committee of the Pacific Salmon Commission. She holds three degrees from the University of Washington. 

Matt Baker, North Pacific Research Board

Dr. Matthew Baker is the Science Director at the North Pacific Research Board, where he manages staff, coordinates relations with external partners, and provides oversight for all science programs at NPRB. Previously, he worked at the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center in the resource assessment and resource ecology and fishery management divisions and also the University of Washington Alaska Salmon Program.

Dr. Baker’s research experience and interests include numerous topics related to fish and marine systems, including habitat assessments, surveys and gear selectivity, quantitative methods, groundfish distribution and movement in response to climate, and North Pacific pelagic fishes.

Kym Jacobson, NOAA Fisheries

Dr. Kym Jacobson is a Research Zoologist with NOAAs Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Newport.  In the 25+ years in this position she has been a principal investigator on two long term projects that contribute to our understanding of factors that affect early ocean survival of juvenile salmon and the success of other marine species: the Juvenile Salmon and Ocean Ecology project, and the Newport Hydrographic Line, high frequency (every two weeks) monitoring of hydrography and plankton.  Kym also serves on the Coastal Pelagic Species Management Team for the Pacific Fisheries Management Council. Her graduate degrees were obtained at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

Caren Braby, Senior Program Manager, PSMFC

Dr. Caren Braby is a Senior Program Manager at PSMFC, overseeing a broad portfolio of fisheries accountability tools (electronic video monitoring, electronic tickets, electronic logbooks, vessel location monitoring and visualization), fisheries databases and management (PacFIN, AKFIN), spatial representation of fisheries, bycatch reduction research, and Tri-State Dungeness crab coordination.  Formerly the Marine Resources Program Manager for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for 14 years, Caren has direct experience managing West Coast fisheries within state and federal jurisdictions, serving on the Pacific Fisheries Management Council, and providing leadership on climate-ocean change, sustainability of fisheries, improving data flowing into stock assessment and elevating collaboration through personal relationships with industry, managers, subject matter experts and the public.  She received her Doctorate from Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station and has conducted scientific research from estuaries out to deep sea hydrothermal vents of the Pacific Ocean. Caren’s career began by exploring West Coast tidepools, from the time she could first walk.

Heather Hall, Intergovernmental Ocean Policy Manager, WDFW

Heather Hall is the Intergovernmental Ocean Policy Manager and has worked at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) for 30 years. Heather enjoys working with a diverse group of constituents, other state managers, and tribal co-managers to resolve complex, and often contentious issues related to Pacific Ocean marine resources at both the state and federal level..

Lilah Isé, Senior Policy and Communications Advisor, West Coast Region, NMFS

Bob Ryznar, AKFIN & PacFIN Program Manager, PSMFC

Bob Ryznar works for the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSFMC) as a program manager under the Alaska Fisheries Information Network (AKFIN) and Pacific Fisheries Information Network (PacFIN) programs. Bob has been with PSMFC since 2002 and the program manager since 2006, managing a team of data scientists and database developers. The AKFIN and PacFIN programs maintain separate data warehouse systems built to meet the needs of the Alaska and West Coast council staff, fisheries managers, economists, industry representatives, and scientists. His background includes over eight years with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game as an applications programmer and database administrator working with the coded wire tag lab, southeast region commercial fisheries, and the Bristol Bay/Cook Inlet/Prince William Sound salmon in-season data collection systems. He has also participated in the NOAA Fisheries Information Systems (FIS) quality management and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) professional specialty groups since 2007.

Brett Holycross, GIS, PSMFC

Brett Holycross is a Senior GIS Analyst with the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission under the Alaska Fisheries Information Network (AKFIN) and the Pacific Fishery Information Network (PacFIN) programs.  Brett has been with the Commission since 2002, and currently serves as the lead GIS role in multiagency collaborations to integrate and summarize data for marine fishery management challenges including offshore wind energy planning, climate change and marine fisheries interactions.  Past projects include working with many of the Commission’s programs and partners to compile, analyze and publish a wide variety of fishery data throughout the West Coast and Alaska.

Leigh Torres, Associate Professor, Dept of Fisheries & Wildlife and Oregon Sea Grant Extension, OSU

Leigh is a marine ecologist interested in understanding how marine animals, including marine mammals, seabirds and sharks, use their environment in the context of behavior, space and time. Leigh’s research explores how marine predators find prey within highly patchy, variable marine ecosystems. Much of this work is directed toward improving conservation management of protected or threatened species. Leigh’s work spans multiple spatial and temporal scales and occurs in many ecosystems including estuaries of Florida, near and offshore waters of the US and Latin America, pelagic regions of the Southern Ocean, and sub-Antarctic islands and coastal waters of New Zealand. She has a Ph.D. in Marine Ecology and Environment and a Masters of Coastal Environmental Management from Duke University.

Stephen Phillips, Senior Program Manager, PSMFC

Stephen Phillips is a senior program manager at the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (located in Portland Oregon) where he has worked for over 30 years. For the last 25 years, his main responsibility has been management of PSMFC’s Aquatic Nuisance Species Program.  Mr. Phillips received his Bachelor's in Biology from Baldwin Wallace College (Berea, Ohio) and a Master's of Fisheries Science from Oregon State University.

Adam Johnson, USFWS

Bob Pagliuco, Marine Habitat Resource Specialist, NOAA Restoration Center, Office of Habitat Conservation

Bob has a BS in forestry and geology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  In 2001, he started his career in fisheries in Northern CA with the AmeriCorps Watershed Stewards Program, operating a full channel fish trapping weir and collecting spawning and migration data on salmon and steelhead. For the next decade he continued monitoring salmon populations for the state of CA, Humboldt State University and NGOS in Northern CA when he turned his focus to restoring habitat.  Bob began working for the NOAA Restoration Center in 2009 and has developed statewide programmatic permits to increase the efficiency of restoration projects, co-founded the NOAA-CCC Veterans Corps Program, represents NMFS on the CA Fish Passage Forum steering Committee, sits on 12 restoration funding committees and was one of the lead authors of the Klamath Reservoir Reach Restoration Plan that is guiding restoration from Iron Gate Dam to Link River Dam.  Bob is a husband, a father of 2 beautiful children and is an avid gardener and fisherman.

Aileen Smith, Project Manager, PSMFC

Aileen has worked at PSMFC for 8 years, first as a data analyst and now as a project manager for several electronic monitoring/reporting projects including Dungeness crab vessel monitoring. Aileen has a background in marine and avian ecology, with special emphasis on data analysis and management. Prior to joining PSMFC, she worked with the City of Portland, NOAA’s Antarctic Ecosystem Research Division, and Point Blue Conservation Science. She has a BA from Swarthmore College and an MS from Portland State University.

Heather Hall, Intergovernmental Ocean Policy Manager, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Heather Hall has worked at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) for close to 30 years and has worked in the Intergovernmental Ocean Policy Division since 2006, currently as the Division Manager.  Heather particularly enjoys working with a diverse group of constituents, other state managers, and tribal co-managers to resolve complex, and often contentious issues related to Pacific Ocean marine resources at both the state and federal level.

Joanna Grebel, CDFW

Kelly Corbett, ODFW

Michael Schmidt, Center Director, USGS Western Fisheries Research Center.

Michael is the director of the US Geological Survey’s Western Fisheries Research Center where he leads an interdisciplinary group of scientists focused on providing the research, innovation, and management tools needed to recover, maintain, and sustainably utilize fish and their aquatic ecosystems in the Western United States. Prior to 2021, Michael was the Deputy Director of Long Live the Kings, a science-oriented salmon recovery nonprofit based out of Seattle, Washington.

Brian Bissell, Fisheries Disasters Department Manager, PSMFC

Brian Started at PSMFC in February of 2020, working on federal fishery disasters and CARES Act relief. Prior to that he worked for the USACE at Bonneville dam for about 8 years as a project biologist with a considerable amount of time on lower Columbia lamprey passage. He also worked for the USFWS in northern California for several years snorkeling and kayaking on adult surveys and rotary screw traps and egg mats for juvenile salmonids and Green Sturgeon.

Brian is a Midwesterner who graduated from the original SDSU, South Dakota State University, Go Jacks!

He spends most weekends and free time renovating his house and enjoys fishing, hunting, and crabbing/clam digging on the Oregon and Washington coasts with his wife and nearly 1-year old daughter.

Rick E. Marks, Principal, Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh.

Rick joined ROMEA in 1997 to handle the Firm’s nationwide natural resource portfolio. Rick has a B.S. in Biology from Lynchburg College, and a M.S. in Marine Environmental Science with emphasis in Coastal Fish Ecology from Stony Brook University. He has authored several peer-reviewed scientific journal articles, worked as a supervisory marine fishery biologist for the State of North Carolina, and as a recreational fishery reporting specialist and benthic field technician for the National Marine Fishery Service. In 1997 Rick was appointed to the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) by the Secretary of Commerce, and currently serves on four Marine Mammal Protection Act-mandated Take Reduction Teams (TRTs). He has testified before Congress on several occasions regarding national marine resource issues. Rick earned a Udall Certificate in Environmental Collaboration from the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution in 2012.