Our Team

The Centre is operated by the New Marine Centre Society and its volunteer Board of Directors. As a not-for-profit organization (registered Canadian charity), the Centre relies on community support through admission fees, membership, partnership and donations. The Centre is operated by an Executive Director and a team of highly dedicated staff and over 150 volunteers. View the Centre’s leadership below and view the Organizational Chart 2016.


Executive Director


Mark Loria became the third Executive Director of The New Marine Centre Society and the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea in July 2015.

Mark brings a unique combination of business management, fundraising and not-for-profit leadership experience in arts, athletics, culture, and education and was promoted from the position of Development Director at the Centre. 

Mark brings almost 20 years of management experience in both corporate and not-for-profit sectors and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Calgary and an Arts and Entertainment Management Certificate from Capilano University. His previous roles include Vice President, Development with the Glenbow Museum (Calgary) and Director of Development roles with the Victoria Conservatory of Music and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Other senior roles include Corporate Partnership Manager with the Arts Club Theatre Company (Vancouver) and General Manager with the Institute of Modern Art (Brisbane, Australia).

Mark is well known in Victoria, BC and western Canada in arts, culture and tourism through personal and professional participation on associations, boards and advisory committees. A proud father of four, Mark and his family have been experiencing the Centre since opening in 2009.

“I am honoured to be working with a motivated board and a dedicated group of staff, volunteers, and community supporters. The Centre is a very unique place and catalyst for learning about the Salish Sea Bioregion and gaining awareness on how we all need to protect and conserve our local environment, wildlife, and culture – I look forward to sharing our message with the people of BC and beyond!”

Find out more about Mark and the organization in the Fall 2015 Seaside Magazine article – here.

Deputy Director & Chief Aquarist

Paula Romagosa

Paula was born and raised in Quito, Ecuador. Despite growing up in the Andes she always had a fascination for marine animals and animal care, and all her Christmas holidays were spent beachcombing and tidepooling along the coast. She moved to Canada in 1999 to study at the University of Victoria, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Biology. Paula completed her school work terms at the Victoria Bug Zoo as a tour guide and animal caretaker, and did an internship at the Zoologico de Guayllabamba, where she trained in animal enrichment, husbandry, and as a veterinary assistant.

In 2004, Paula started working as a teaching assistant to Dr. Bill Austin at the Sidney Marine Ecology Centre. At age 23, she was promoted to Marine Educator and was responsible for all of the Centre’s animals, life support systems, marine education, staff training and more. She aided several research projects on Sponges of the North East Pacific while working with Dr. Austin. When the Marine Ecology Centre in Sidney closed its doors in 2009 (and merged into the new Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea), Paula was quickly recruited as an Aquarist with the Centre. Given her strong work ethic and dedication to animal care and education, she was promoted to Head Aquarist in 2009, then later becoming Curator, and in 2015 to Deputy Director & Chief Aquarist. She is passionate about animal care and sharing her knowledge with volunteers and visitors.

Deputy Director, Operations

Leah Thorpe

Leah joined the Centre in October 2015, but was very familiar with the organization as a guest educationpresenter and volunteer. Leah had a long association with CETUS Research and Conservation Society as Director of Communications and Education and as a Co-Director of the organization running day-to-day operations, fundraising, and staff management. She has spent may years with different organizations dedicated to cetacean study and conservation of the Salish Sea.

Leah is also a volunteer with the Marine Education and Research Society or MERS, and has volunteered in the past with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Goldstream Hatchery, and Vancouver Aquarium.

She holds a Bachelor’s in Biology and Geography from the University of Victoria and a Master of Arts in Environmental Education and Communications from Royal Roads University. She also has certifications in Small Vessel Operator Proficiency, Marine Emergency Duties, and Marine First Aid.

Leah brings a passion for all things cetacean and the Salish Sea and is a well-respected leader, educator and colleague in the wildlife and environmental fields. Leah oversees the education, visitor experience, sales/admission, and volunteer areas of the Centre.

Board of Directors 

Martina Beck (Vice Chair)

Martina is a biologist working in aquatic invasive species management. Martina grew up in Vancouver and developed a strong passion for the ocean while spending her childhood summers exploring tide pools at her family cabin on the shore of the Sunshine Coast. Martina moved to Victoria in 2003 to pursue her post-secondary education and obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with an honors thesis in Oceanography from the University of Victoria. 

Martina worked in the electronic monitoring department at Archipelago Marine Research Company in Victoria until 2009 when she returned to the University of Victoria as a research analyst for the Global Aquaculture Performance Index (GAPI) project. Martina started her master’s research in the fall of 2011  studying the feeding and habitat preferences of non-native smallmouth bass in lakes throughout British Columbia. In her spare time, Martina has a strong passion for spending time outdoors including hiking, camping and in recent years has become an active SCUBA diver in the local Victoria waters. After growing up on the west coast her entire life Martina has developed a strong passion for the local marine life through both her academic career and her love for the outdoors.

Anita Blakley

Anita Blakley is a Registered Professional Biologist and holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Victoria. Blakley is a Fisheries Biologist with LGL Limited, joining the company in 1995. Her professional interests include surgically/gastrically tagging salmon, fish husbandry/health, data management, and First Nations fisheries co-management.

Anita has participated in a wide variety of projects . She was instrumental in compiling a series of volumes of data and information on the fish and fisheries of BC to assist the federal government in its negotiations related to the aboriginal land claims in British Columbia. Anita assisted in the development of a database and keyword index to facilitate the identification of legislation that might apply to any particular land or resource issue.

More recently, Anita has provided technical assistance to the Tsawwassen First Nation for their Fisheries Treaty Related Measures Project. She is also currently compiling a salmon data inventory for BC and the Yukon Territory which will augment existing monitoring and analytical efforts in order to identify potential conservation concerns for salmon and their ecosystems before they become irreversible.

Dr. Casey Brant

Casey grew up in southern Ontario and spent her childhood exploring the ponds and marshes around her house, while dreaming of becoming a scientist working at sea. While at the University of Waterloo, she found an equal passion for earth sciences and graduated with a BSc in geology. The ocean, however, was never forgotten, and her desire to be on a ship lead to a brief stint in the naval reserve followed by a move to the West Coast. After an eventual return to school as a graduate student, Casey earned her doctorate from the University of Victoria’s School of Earth and Ocean Science—a perfect fit for an ocean-loving geologist.

Somewhere along the way she raised two children and worked for more than a decade in the ecotourism industry, primarily as a skipper and naturalist on whale watching boats, and also as a kayak guide. Today she brings her enthusiasm for understanding the natural world into the classroom and has taught at Royal Roads University and Vancouver Island University as well as being an Open Learning Faculty Member at Thompson Rivers University.

When she’s not teaching or on the water, Casey can be found, exploring the trails of southern Vancouver Island with her dogs, or scouring the shoreline for wildlife and rocks.

Sarah Cook 

Sarah Cook is Program Manager with Coastal and Ocean Resources with the designations M.Sc., R.P.Bio, and Senior Biologist. Sarah is an benthic ecologist whose focus has been on the use of video and imaging systems to study marine communities. She has over 13 years experience in the classification of underwater video ranging from intertidal to deep continental shelf habitats as well as experience classifying aerial shorezone imagery from Alaska, BC and Oregon. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Victoria where she conducted her Honors research on invertebrate communities in native and introduced eel grass beds, and a Masters of Science, also from UVic which focuses on the ecology of the glass sponge reefs on the continental shelf of British Columbia. Sarah has been a Registered Professional Biologist in good standing with the College of Applied Biology since 2006.


Colleen Craig (Chair)

After receiving her Bachelor of Commerce degree for the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg in 1991, Colleen entered into the CA program with the firm Arthur Andersen and received her Chartered Accountant designation in 1994. 

In 1995 Colleen relocated to Victoria, BC, working with PricewaterhouseCoopers and later at a local firm that then amalgamated with Grant Thornton in 1998.  During that time Colleen spent part of her time in small business accounting, consulting and insolvency work, obtaining her Trustee in Bankruptcy license in 2000.  In 2002 Colleen left Grant Thornton to start her own firm C.E. Craig & Associates Inc., dealing exclusively in the insolvency area with a focus on personal and small corporate situations including restructuring, bankruptcies and proposals to creditors.

Colleen has been active in many volunteer situations throughout Victoria and nationally, including the BC Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals, Canadian National Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Victoria, and the Royal Macpherson Theatre Society. Colleen is active with family, the outdoors, and fitness activities, and when in the office is usually accompanied by her trusty companion and friend, Lexi, a mixed Labrador Retreiver/Great Pyrenees cross.

dr. sarika cullis-suzuki

Sarika is interested in the ocean and fish, and the conservation of biodiversity. She is currently a visiting scientist at Ocean Networks Canada at the University of Victoria, BC. She has been a board member of the David Suzuki Foundation since 2011. Her research in marine biology has taken her to many parts of the ocean, from the high seas to remote tropical islands to the coastal intertidal zones of her home, British Columbia.  

Sarika's PhD investigated the effects of boat noise on a singing fish in the Pacific Northwest, while her MSc focused on overfishing in the high seas, the results of which she presented to the United Nations. Sarika is committed to speaking out about ocean issues and conservation, and works in environmentally-themed media: she has written for magazines, books and newspapers, worked in radio, and has hosted documentary films for Parks Canada, The National Film Board, CBC, and Ocean Networks Canada. In 2012 Sarika was named one of Canada’s Top 30 under 30 by Explore Magazine, and an influential Canadian Millennial by The Huffington Post Canada; in 2015, she was featured as Ms. Chatelaine. 


I was born into a family with long connections to the sea. I grew up on the South East coast of England and have always felt most at ease when living near the sea. A degree in Food Technology led to employment in the food industry, followed by a career in post-secondary education. 

I was also a consultant in Fish Handing, Processing and Distribution and was elected as a Fellow of the UK Institute of Food Science and Technology in 1978. Following that, I served as one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Post-Secondary Education in Scotland for a number of years before my appointment as a senior civil servant in the UK Department of Employment. My responsibilities there focused on improving work force development and labour mobility across the UK.

My wife, Susan Simosko, and I were invited to come to BC in 1995 to work with the BC Ministry for Labour and Skills, the BC Labour Force Development Board and the post-secondary education system. At the end of my two-year attachment, we decided to stay in Canada and moved to the Saanich Peninsula in 1997. Since then I have worked primarily as a consultant, but also spent four years as Director of University Effectiveness at Royal Roads University. Over the past 17 years, I have served on the boards of the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and the Society of Saanich Peninsula Museums. I have also been an active member of the Sidney Sister Cities Association, the North Saanich Heritage Commission and the Sidney Community Development Commission. I strongly believe that the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea is an important component of our local cultural infrastructure that has the potential to enrich the lives of residents and visitors of all ages.

TEMOSEṈ Charles W. Elliott, OBC (Ex-Officio Coast Salish Advisor)

Mr. Elliott, or TEMOSEṈ, is a Coast Salish (T’sartlip) Artist and Master Carver. In 2005 he received the Order of British Columbia for his tireless work in reclaiming the heritage and culture of the Coast Salish Peoples.

TEMOSEṈ is among the very best of British Columbia’s contemporary artists. A master carver of the Coast Salish Art tradition, his works are considered by many to be masterpieces, and can be found in private collections around the world.

Inspired by his love of the Salish Art tradition, he has worked steadily for four decades to revive the Coast Salish Art discipline, which was in danger of being lost. Through extensive research, TEMOSEṈ was able to locate images and information on the symbolic imagery and language of the Coast Salish people, which he brought back to life in his artwork.

TEMOSEṈ’s generosity of spirit and outstanding artistic skills have enabled him to retain the integrity and richness of Salish traditions. His desire to encourage artists and youth in the knowledge of these traditions has been an inspiration to others. He has lectured on Salish art to all levels of education, and has acted as a mentor to countless emerging artists while still producing a high volume of artwork. He is a leader in his community, volunteering countless hours toward cultural education and the promotion of Salish Art.

TEMOSEṈ has produced many notable carvings, from special commissions for totems and sculptures, to ambassadorial works, such as the Queen’s Baton for the 1994 Commonwealth Games, and the creation of a Talking Stick for Nelson Mandela. He also created the Salish-designed animals that run throughout the Centre and on marketing materials including the new logo announced in the summer of 2016.

Barbara Fallot (Ex-Officio, Town of Sidney Liaison)

Barbara Fallot is a Councillor with the Town of Sidney. Having lived in Sidney for 22 years and in North Saanich for 6 years, Barbara is a dedicated member of the community. She has been involved as a volunteer in the community in numerous ways including as a Peninsula Celebrations Society board member and Canada Day and Christmas Parade Organizer.

She has also worked with Central Saanich Lions Club to coordinate the Central Saanich Days and has been a board member of Peninsula Community Services (Beacon Community Services).

Her education includes Conflict Analysis and Management at the Institute of Conflict Analysis and Management in Victoria and Principles of Supervision through BCIT.  In 1979, Barbara gained her certification as a Registered Massage Therapist. From 1979 to 1988 she operated a private practice on Salt Spring Island and between 1987 and 2013 she moved her practice to Sidney.


Janine grew up in Victoria, BC and currently works here in Sidney as a Chartered Professional Accountant. She graduated from Camosun College in 2009 with her BBA and immediately enrolled in the CA School of Business, subsequently receiving her designation as a Chartered Accountant (CA, now CPA, CA) in 2011.  

After working at a small accounting firm for close to 10 years, she became partner in 2015 at what is now Hughesman Morris, CPA’s.  In her role as an accountant, she works closely with many diverse clients, including several local, non-profit organizations, servicing both their accounting and taxation needs, and brings this valuable knowledge and experience with her to the society.

Janine formerly sat as treasurer on the board for the Music for Youth Works Society and currently sits as the treasurer for the Intrepid Theatre Society, best known for the Victoria Fringe Festival. Being an island girl at heart, she enjoys a spending her free time in the outdoors hiking, camping and boating, accompanied by her husband, Tyler, and her dog, Cooper. Janine joined the Board of Directors in August 2016.

Lesley Nicholls (Volunteer Representative)

Lesley Nicholls is retired and a long-serving Oceaneer Volunteer with the Centre. Professionally, Nicholls held the position of administrative assistant at the Department of Archaeology, University of Calgary, where she was employed for over 30 years. She has also worked internationally with a geophysical service company in Tripoli, Libya.

Ms. Nicholls is well known in Sidney where she retired in 2004. In that time she has volunteered as a Sidney Ambassador, Secretary to the Town of Sidney Volunteerism Committee, and also with the following organizations: Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club, College of Dieticians of BC, Cultural Development Committee with the Town of Sidney’s Community Development Commission, and currently serving as President of Sidney Sister Cities Association.

alison ross

Alison is a UVic alumna and completed her Master’s degree in History in Art in 1994 with a specialty in Northwest Coast art. She taught History in Art as well as Antique and Collectibles courses at the University of Victoria, Malaspina (now VIU) and Camosun College. Alison started her auction career with Kilshaw’s in 1997. In January of 2006, Alison purchased Kilshaw’s from Don Kilshaw, a seventh generation auctioneer. Since buying the company, Alison has set auction records for the highest priced objects to sell at auction in Victoria and has performed appraisals for the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Royal British Columbia Museum as well as other public and private institutions. In 2016, she undertook moving Kilshaw’s from its home of 67 years to an upscale, downtown location. Alison starred on History Television’s “Pawnathon Canada” and is currently on the executive of the Victoria Arts Council.

Nancy Shears

Nancy Shears is the Marketing Manager, Food and Retail with BC Ferries. Ms. Shears is a marketing specialist with over 15 years of specialized marketing experience.

Ms. Shears has held marketing roles with Thrifty Foods and Best Buy in Canada and with international brands based in the UK such as Del Monte, The Cooperative Group, Argos, Philips, and Mercedes Benz.

Ms. Shears education includes a Post Graduate Diploma, Strategic Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, a B. Comm, International Business from the University of Victoria, and a Bachelor of Arts, Sociology Degree from Queens University.

Chris Straub

Chris Straub is a lawyer with Henley & Walden LLP. Mr. Straub was born and raised in North Saanich. After obtaining his Bachelor of Science (Hon.) in Biology and Juris Doctor from the University of Victoria, he moved to Calgary to work at a large national law firm. After five years away, he is thrilled to be back home on the coast and working an associate lawyer with Henley & Walden LLP in Sidney.

Chris was called to the Alberta Bar in 2011 and the British Columbia Bar in 2015. He maintains broad practice with particular expertise in facilitating all aspects of private business transactions, as well as the establishment and ongoing management of corporations. He has also begun establishing a real estate and estate planning/administration practice. Chris prides himself on his strategic foresight and attention to detail, and strives at all times to anticipate issues which may impact his clients.

Chris lives in Ardmore with his wife Paige and two young sons. When not in the office, he can usually be found out on the water or exploring the Peninsula with his boys.

Dr. Andrea Walsh

Andrea N. Walsh is an Associate Professor and visual anthropologist at the University of Victoria where herresearch focus is 20th century and contemporary Indigenous art. Her research with contemporary Indigenous artists focuses on art as a method of communicating Indigenous experiences of history and identity. In 200, she began a long-term collaboration with the Osoyoos Indian Band an the Osoyoos Inkameep Day School.

Her current work with children’s art from the residential school era continues through collaborations with survivors, their families, and communities, around a collection of paintings created at the Port AlberniIndian Residential School. Walsh’s collaborative research has been the subject of major art exhibitions, public talks, scholarly publications, and public education initiatives.

At UVic, Dr. Walsh runs a Coast Salish artist-in-residence program. Every year she invites a different resident artist into her anthropology of art classes so her students learn not only through dialogue but through actual art practice.

Dr. Walsh grew up in the traditional territories of the Coast and Straits Salish Peoples, and along with her partner and two daughters, she continues to call these places home.

Founding Directors 

Cliff McNeil-Smith
Clive Tanner
Dr. John Harper
Dr. Rick Hudson
Owen Redfern (in memory)
Rhonda Reidy


Past Leadership

Alison Barratt
Angus Matthews
Nancy Barbour
Peter B. Lloyd FCA 


Alastair Tough
Bill Cooke
Barbara Taylor
Chris Cowland
Dale Ryan
Dr. Verena Tunnicliffe
David Bartley
Jane Powell
John Knappett
Lorelle Posten
Michael Walden
Pat Fafard
Patty Golumbia
Richard Flader
Sue Hodgson
Stephen Gormican
Terry Curran

The Centre opened to the public on June 20, 2009. Click here to see the how the aquarium was built and learn more on our History page.