Business Advisory Council Members
Marketing and Communications
Stephanie Vatalaro, Senior Vice President of Marketing & Communications, Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation
Stephanie Vatalaro is the senior vice president of marketing and communications at the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF), where she leads the consumer and stakeholder outreach strategy for RBFF and its Take Me Fishing™ and Vamos A Pescar™ brand campaigns.
A marketing and communications professional with more than 20 years of experience in corporate, agency, nonprofit and TV newsroom settings, Vatalaro has devoted the last 14 years of her career to getting more people out on the water fishing and boating and conserving our nation’s aquatic natural resources.
Vatalaro currently serves on the American Sportfishing Association’s (ASA) Marketing Committee and SeaTow Foundation’s Sober Skipper Advisory Council. She is a past member of ASA’s 60 in 60 Committee and volunteers with Casting for Recovery.
Vatalaro received her bachelor’s degree from Florida State University and completed a certificate in management at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. She grew up in the Florida Keys and is the daughter of a flats fishing guide. She now spends summers fishing and boating with her family on the Potomac River in Virginia.
Greg Klassen, Tourism Development Strategist Partner, Twenty31 Consulting Inc.
A marketing and tourism industry strategist with over 25 years of leadership with blue chip organizations including Destination Canada. For almost a decade, Greg was the chief strategy and marketing officer at Destination Canada and became the organization’s CEO in 2013. During his tenure, Greg and his team developed Canada’s tourism brand bringing it from 12th position worldwide to number one over five years, and recognition of Canada as the most recommended destination in the world to visit. Greg also led the organization through successive disruptive challenges from 9-11 to SARS to the 2009 global financial crisis, as well as many opportunities including leveraging the tourism potential from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic games.
Greg is currently a partner with tourism strategy consultancy, Twenty31 where he advises destinations around the world on how to achieve a competitive advantage through leveraging and mitigating disruptive forces—whether they are technologies, traveller behaviour, or global pandemics.
His clients include destinations across Canada as well as the destinations in Jordan, South Africa, Abu Dhabi, Guam, Palau, Dubai, and Brazil.
Greg holds an MBA from the ASU Thunderbird School of International Management in Arizona and a degree in economics from the University of Victoria. He is a frequent contributor to tourism media and thought leadership. Greg is a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society.
Betsy López-Wagner, Principal and Chief Strategist at López-Wagner Strategies and Strategic Communications Partner for ALRAS Digital
Betsy López-Wagner has worked alongside attorneys, lobbyists, and coalition partners to safeguard the health of communities, protect clean air and water, fight arctic drilling, and protect the ocean’s resources. She's co-devised strategies alongside grassroots activists to ensure their power is seen, heard, and felt from regional to national and international levels by developing a culture of storytelling that elevates authentic personal narratives to emotionally connect with audiences and inspire action.
Betsy is committed to supporting the growth of an inclusive conservation movement to strengthen state, national, and international -level priorities to protect our environment, democracy, and above all, people—especially those on the frontlines of an increasingly warming planet, rising ocean, and climate and social injustices.
She is principal and chief strategist at López-Wagner Strategies, an equitable communications agency comprised of a multilingual team of visionaries, strategists and climate justice advocates. Together, they work with mission-driven individuals, organizations, and companies to develop—and execute—equitable and inclusive strategies to enhance their communications abilities to strengthen collective impact for social good. She is also the strategic communications partner for ALRAS Digital, a digital strategies group.
Betsy’s expertise is in environmental, bilingual, and equitable communications, media relations, and campaigns, as well as inclusive grantmaking with a racial justice lens. She is a mentor, coach, trainer, storyteller and DEI practitioner.
Betsy is on the Board of Directors for The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. She is an advisory group member for Heartwired to Love the Ocean, a project of Wonder: Strategies for Good and Goodwin Simon Strategic Research. She is also actively involved in grassroots level organizing, community projects, and supporting organizations working for social good. Her work is motivated by the community she was born and grew up in, a neighborhood outside of Chicago surrounded by industrial facilities.
During her tenure at David and Lucile Packard Foundation, she led ocean communications on the most pressing issues in global ocean conservation. She advised and introduced opportunities to move over $2.5 million dollars to new grantees representing organizations led by people of color and women of color, and focused on ocean-climate journalism, and was one of three co-founders of the Foundation’s first affinity and employee resource groups. She served as communications director for LCV’s Chispa and was the first bilingual press secretary (Spanish) at Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law firm. Prior to her work in the nonprofit sector, Betsy worked for media outlets in Illinois and California, and was an award-winning journalist and freelance writer. Nearly two decades ago, her work in public affairs began at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. She is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago and has a leadership certificate in diversity and inclusion from Cornell University.
She and her husband, a stay-at-home parent, gardener, and environmental education advocate, are the parents of a six-year-old lepidopterist and climate activist. Together they farm and their family hosts Amigos for Monarchs, an annual pollinator project providing seed kits to loved ones and perfect strangers across the nation every spring.
Richard Loomis, Executive Strategic Advisor
Richard Loomis has helped elevate some of the world's most iconic brands by marrying the power of technology, creativity, and insights to the importance of culture, inclusion, collaboration, and people.
Currently, Richard is serving in executive advisory roles for various digital startup companies; businesses which typically focus on connecting brands with like-minded customers to promote positive social impact.
Following a successful career in media and entertainment, Richard Loomis recently served as chief marketing officer (CMO) of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), leading a team of over 250 members across the globe. As CMO, Loomis led TNC’s global brand, marketing and external communications teams, as well as its deep investments in the organization’s digital transformation; including management of teams dedicated to digital strategy, social media, marketing technology, and analytics. His role also included oversight of TNC’s creative content and publishing, brand partnerships, global strategic planning and responsibility for its revenue-generating membership program that delivered over $77 million in annual revenue.
Prior to his NGO career shift, Loomis served as CMO for Disney Channels, Worldwide, 2011 thru 2016. He initially joined Disney in 2007 as SVP, marketing & creative. Loomis drove the evolution of brand, digital product and content-focused marketing initiatives and played a pivotal role in its brand strategies and creative identities of the Disney Channel, Disney XD, and Disney Junior global portfolio. He guided the customer acquisition strategies that drove the launch and expansion of the WATCH Disney Channels digital apps, resulting in over 25 million downloads and 2 billion views. Under his leadership and the strategically aligned marketing and creative teams, Disney’s global portfolio of 116 branded media platforms rose to the most-watched family media brands in the world.
Disney recruited Loomis following his 13-year tenure at Viacom/MTV Networks, including various senior executive marketing roles with Comedy Central and Nickelodeon. Richard’s content roster is well-rounded and demographically diverse with high-profile entertainment franchises including High School Musical, Star Wars Rebels, Marvel’s TV properties, Rugrats, Chappelle’s Show, South Park, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and The Colbert Report. He worked with global brands M&M Mars, Bacardi, and Tiffany & Company during his agency years in account supervisor roles at Backer Spielvogel Bates Worldwide and McCaffrey & McCall Advertising in New York. He began his career as a media planner at Chicago’s Grant/Jacoby Advertising.
Richard grew up on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, is a native of Ontario, New York, and earned a bachelor’s in international relations from The College of Wooster in Ohio. He was a member of PromaxBDA Board of Directors and served as Corporate Walk Chair for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light The Night/Los Angeles event 2014-2016. Richard is an avid traveler who includes “road-tripping” across the U.S. three times in six months as part of his global explorations!
Greg Jacoski, Executive Director, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation
Greg Jacoski is the executive director of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF). Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Greg grew up fishing and diving along the coast from New England to North Carolina. After earning dual bachelor's degrees in Environmental Science and Journalism from Temple University, Greg moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to pursue a master's degree in Marine Biology at Nova Southeastern University (NSU). While attending NSU, Greg worked as an administrator for the National Coral Reef Institute and the Guy Harvey Research Institute. Greg joined the GHOF when it was established in 2008.
As the Executive Director, Greg has overseen tremendous growth of the GHOF. The GHOF partners with businesses, state agencies, universities, and conservation organizations around the world to conduct cutting-edge scientific research to advance the knowledge of our ocean resources. The GHOF also creates engaging marine science educational content and documentary films to bring the undersea world into classrooms, living rooms, and mobile devices for teachers, students, and the general public. Additionally, the GHOF maintains a series of educational scholarships to assist the students that are working to become the next generation of marine scientists.
As a representative of the GHOF, Greg currently serves on the Center for Sportfishing Policy Government Affairs Committee, the Florida SeaGrant Advisory Council and NOAA's Office of Marine Sanctuaries Business Advisory Council.
Elissa Foster, Senior Manager of Product Responsibility, Patagonia, Inc.
Elissa Foster is senior manager of product responsibility at Patagonia. She is responsible for researching and measuring the environmental impacts of Patagonia's products and developing and implementing programs aimed at reducing those impacts. Elissa has been working on environmental projects for Patagonia for 16 years. Prior to working in her current position at Patagonia, Elissa worked as an environmental specialist for the City of Ventura. Elissa has a bachelor's degree in Zoology from UC Santa Barbara, master's degree in Environmental Science and Management from the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UCSB, and a doctorate of Environmental Science and Engineering from UCLA.
Taldi Harrison, Government and Community Affairs Manager, REI
Taldi Harrison is REI's community & government affairs manager. In this capacity she oversees REI's federal government affairs work and policy-related philanthropy. Her work focuses on fostering collaborative partnerships with a number of national non-profits and decision makers at the federal level to ensure access to and infrastructure for inspiring outdoor recreation opportunities. Taldi serves on the Board of Directors of the Washington Green Schools Alliance, Eastrail Partners, The Conservation Alliance, and the Mountains to Sound Greenway Technical Advisory Committee. Raised in the Flathead Valley in Montana, Taldi is an avid outdoors woman who enjoys hiking, mountain biking, climbing, camping, mountaineering, and skiing.
Jessica (Wahl) Turner, Executive Director, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable
Jessica Turner is the executive director of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), America's leading coalition of outdoor recreation trade associations and organizations, comprised of 31 national association members serving over 100,000 businesses. Ms. Wahl has over a decade of experience in outdoor recreation spanning the public, private and non-profit sectors. Prior to ORR, Ms. Wahl directed Outdoor Industry Association's (OIA) outdoor recreation and conservation portfolio in Washington D.C. where she led a successful effort that gained landmark government recognition of outdoor recreation's contribution to the national Gross Domestic Product.
Ms. Wahl was also the co-founder and past-chair of the Coalition for Outdoor Access working to reform outfitter and guide permitting systems within federal land agencies, an effort designed to help more Americans gain access to the outdoors. Before OIA, she worked at the Department of the Interior in the Office of the Interior Secretary and managed First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! Outside and Let's Move! in Indian Country initiatives. She has a master's degree in American Government from Georgetown University and is an avid outdoorswoman who loves kayaking, climbing, hiking, and running.
Marie Fukudome, Director, Environmental Affairs, Hyatt
Marie Fukudome leads Hyatt's global environmental sustainability platform and strategy development. Her work focuses on Hyatt's 2020 goals as well as developing the next set of company goals. 2020 goals include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, and waste at hotels, as well as advancing responsible supply chain initiatives. Examples of focus areas include increasing energy and water efficiency, food waste prevention, reducing single-use disposables, and supporting Hyatt's Food. Thoughtfully Sourced. Carefully Served. philosophy. Fukudome oversees Hyatt's tracking of sustainability metrics for measuring progress against these goals and manages Hyatt's Environmental, Social Governance (ESG) reporting, including publishing Corporate Responsibility reports and CDP submissions.
Joost Ouendag, Vice President of Product Marketing, Viking River Cruises
Joost Ouendag has spent the last 20 years in the cruise industry, almost all of it in various roles with Viking. He helped shape the river cruise itineraries and shore excursions before taking a role in the marketing team. Moving to Basel, Switzerland in 2016, he oversaw the rapid expansion of the ocean cruise product, and more recently, he has laid the groundwork for the expedition cruise itineraries in the Great Lakes. Before his time with Viking, Mr. Ouendag worked in North American inbound tourism, designing programs for overseas travelers in the U.S. and Canada. He is a consummate traveler with a master's Degree in Linguistics from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, and he is fluent in four languages. He has written two books on river cruising in Europe.
Taishya Adams, Policy Director, Outdoor Afro
Taishya Adams is a passionate and dedicated servant leader laser focused on justice and liberation through community building, personal transformation, and systems change. With over 25 years of experience across the country and the world, Taishya serves at the intersections of education, health, workforce, science, and environment. Collaborating with multidisciplinary stakeholders to strengthen access, representation, meaningful participation and quality, Taishya is committed to fighting the good fight for each other and our planet. Taishya is the policy director and Colorado co-lead for Outdoor Afro. Outdoor Afro is a nationwide network with 90 volunteer leaders in 30 states guiding thousands of outdoor events each year based on a simple mission to celebrate and inspire African American connections to nature. As policy director, Taishya engages with Outdoor Afro's networks, policy makers, and mission-aligned organizations on education, health, and environmental policies affecting Black people and the planet. She also leads the implementation of Outdoor Afro's policy priorities at the federal, state, and local levels.
In 2019, Taishya was appointed by Governor Jared Polis to serve on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission – the first African American woman in the Commission's history – where she provides oversight on Colorado state parks and wildlife management. Previously, Taishya worked at American Institutes for Research as a Senior Education Equity leveraging policy, research, and practice to strengthen public education. Taishya also worked with the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the D.C. Public Charter Schools Board, Global Classrooms Washington, D.C., and the Children Defense Fund Freedom Schools. Taishya is the founding Board President of New Legacy Charter School – a public charter high school and early learning center for teen parents and their children in Aurora, Colorado. In addition to Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission, Taishya also sits on the Colorado Nature Areas Council, and the Conference on World Affairs at University of Colorado Boulder. Taishya holds a master's degree in International Education from George Washington University and a bachelor's degree from Vassar College in Political Science and Film.
Maite Arce, President and CEO, Hispanic Access Foundation
As a passionate founder, Ms. Arce established a national nonprofit organization that provides access to a path for the development and rise of Latino leaders and elevates their voices in areas where they are underrepresented. She has raised $28 million over 10 years for innovative initiatives including the annual Latino Conservation Week that activates communities around stewardship, outdoor recreation, and advocacy among Latinos nationwide. Ms. Arce's work informs and equips advocates and decision makers with research and reporting specific to communities of color including "The Nature Gap: Confronting Racial and Economic Disparities in the Destruction and Protection of Nature in America" and "Place, Story, and Culture: A Top Ten List of Places Important to the Latino Community and in Need of Preservation." Her work has resulted in financial empowerment and education of nearly 50,000 leaders in 18 states with philanthropic corporate partners including H&R Block and Southern California Edison.
Ms. Arce values trust, responsibility, ethics, and service to the community. She believes marginalized communities know what is best for themselves and are the most qualified to develop effective solutions for the challenges they face – however, they need power, resources, and trusted guidance and encouragement.
Her board service includes the Moab, Utah-based Public Lands Solutions and Annapolis, Maryland-based Chesapeake Conservancy.
She is a native of Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. Maite lives with her husband Ted and parents, Elena and Jose near the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers in Virginia. She and her husband enjoy exploring trails in the Rocky Mountain west and kayaking the watersheds of the Chesapeake Bay. Ms. Arce holds an honorary doctorate from Logos College.
Recreational and Commercial Fishing
Natural and Cultural Resource Management
Sherry L. Rupert, Chief Executive Officer, American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA)
American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) CEO, Sherry L. Rupert (Paiute/Washoe), has nearly two decades of executive-level experience managing and promoting Native American tourism. Since joining AIANTA as CEO in 2019, she has spearheaded several initiatives, including the organization's groundbreaking new Tribal Agritourism program and overseeing AIANTA's first-ever virtual American Indian Tourism Conference, which drew a record number of registrants in 2020. As CEO of the only national association dedicated to indigenous tourism, she is the leading voice when it comes to advocating for travel and tourism as a significant economic driver in tribal nations. Among her responsibilities, she curates a robust educational program for tribes and indigenous-owned hospitality enterprises around the country. Prior to assuming the role of CEO, she was President of AIANTA's Board of Directors since 2010. During that time, she was instrumental in working with Congress to pass the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience (NATIVE) Act.
Rupert was formerly the executive director of the State of Nevada Indian Commission, where she reported directly to the governor of Nevada to serve as a liaison to the state's 27 tribes, bands, and colonies. During her tenure, she developed the Nevada Indian Territory initiative and won awards and accolades for her work in preserving the site of the Stewart Indian School as a museum and cultural center.