Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council (Council) consists of sixteen voting members, representing key constituent groups, and five non-voting members, representing key government agencies with responsibilities that require coordination with sanctuary staff.
Charter members of the Council were selected through a competitive application process in the fall of 2005. A committee of three non-sanctuary employees reviewed all applications and recommended the top three candidates for each seat. The sanctuary manager selected one representative and one alternate for each seat. Standard background checks were then conducted on each of the selected individuals.
For any future vacancies, a committee of Council members will conduct the initial review process and recommend candidates to the sanctuary manager.
Effective February 25, 2009, a revision to the Council charter was approved, which converted all alternate seats to full member seats. The result is two voting representatives for each constituent group.
Conservation: Ellis Pickett and Jorge Brenner
Diving - Recreational: Jesse Cancelmo and Jimmie Mack
Diving - Operations: Cher Walker
Education: Karla Klay and Jacqui Stanley
Fishing - Commercial: Mike Jennings and Patrick Riley
Fishing - Recreational: Scott Hickman and Keith Love
Oil & Gas Production: John Hoffman and James Wiseman
Research: Dr. Will Heyman and Dr. Larry McKinney
Environmental Protection Agency: Ben Scaggs
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM): Michelle Nannen
Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE): James Sinclair
NOAA Fisheries Service: Rusty Swafford
NOAA Office of Law Enforcement: Charles Tyer
United States Coast Guard: LCDR Jason Brand
MEMBER BIOGRAPHIES AND CONTACT INFORMATION
Representative: LCDR Jason Brand
Agency: United States Coast Guard
New Orleans, LA
Lieutenant Commander Jason P. Brand assumed his current duties as the Deputy Law Enforcement Chief for Coast Guard District Eight in July 2012. As the Deputy Law Enforcement Chief, he is responsible for Coast Guard law enforcement operations and policy oversight throughout the region, including counter-drug operations, alien-migrant interdiction, international border engagements, and living marine resources/marine protected species enforcement missions. He represents Coast Guard District Eight at the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council, Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, and the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission.
Lieutenant Commander Brand, originally from Arvin, CA, graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, CT in 1999 with a Bachelors of Science degree in Leadership and Management. Lieutenant Commander Brand obtained a Master of Marine Affairs degree from the University of Rhode Island in 2012 and is currently working towards a second masters degree from the U.S. Naval War College's fleet seminar program.
Member: Jorge Brenner
The Nature Conservancy
Corpus Christi, TX
Jorge Brenner is the Associate Director of Marine Science for The Nature Conservancy in Texas. He was raised in Veracruz, Mexico, which is where his passion for the Gulf of Mexico began. Jorge earned his bachelor’s in biochemical engineering and aquatic resources, and a master’s in environmental engineering from the Monterrey Technology Institute University. He earned his Ph.D. in marine sciences from Catalonia Polytechnic University in Barcelona, Spain, where he conducted research in the Mediterranean Sea. Prior to joining the Conservancy Jorge worked for Pronatura, an environmental non-profit and Conservancy partner in Mexico, and for the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, where he worked on international marine research for Cuba, Mexico and the U.S.
Member: Jesse Cancelmo
Seat: Recreational Diving
Jesse Cancelmo is an accomplished underwater photographer, author, and photojournalist. His articles and photographs have appeared in numerous diving and wildlife publications. He has authored three books, Diving Cayman Islands (1998), and Diving Bermuda (1990 and 2005) and Texas Coral Reefs, published by Texas A&M Press in April 2008. Jesse is a contributing editor-photographer for Dive Training Magazine, and also contributes regularly to Texas Parks & Wildlife and other dive and wildlife magazines. He leads groups on Gulf of Mexico and Indo-Pacific dive adventures.
Member: Will Heyman
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX
Will could swim before he could walk and has been interested in marine and coastal environments ever since as an avid fishermen, snorkeler, sailor, diver, underwater photographer, scientist and conservation practitioner. Presently an associate professor of Geography at Texas A&M University in College Station, he focuses his research on the conservation and management of marine and coastal systems, particularly in the humid tropics. Will received a BS in Biology from Tufts University, and an MS and PhD in Marine Science from the University of South Carolina. Though he has been involved in the world of research and academia, he has had diverse and varied work experiences in New England, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, the Marshall Islands, and Belize. In each of these locations, and many others, he spent time living in and working with fishing communities. He maintains ongoing research on reef fish spawning aggregations, mangrove and seagrass productivity, coastal oceanography, coastal resource management and economics, bathymetric mapping, and the impacts of tourism on marine resources. He has been involved in several national and multi-national conservation exercises and has been an ardent supporter of broad stakeholder participation in the development of conservation and management plans and their implementation. Will has experienced the development of win-win coastal management through negotiation, constructive dialogue, and consensus building and looks forward to sharing this experience in his role on the Flower Garden Banks sanctuary advisory council.
Member: Scott Hickman
Seat: Recreational Fishing
Circle H Outfitters
Scott Hickman is the owner/operator of Circle H Outfitters and Charters. He is a full time hunting and fishing guide with 27 years specializing in Cobia, Snapper, Amberjack and King Mackerel trips. Scott is actively involved on Gulf Fisheries Management Council Migratory Pelagic Advisory Panel and Reef fish Advisory Panel with an interest in finding solutions for a better charter business plan in the Gulf his top priority. He attended both Texas Tech University and Sam Houston State University studying Wildlife Management and Criminal Justice. Capt. Hickman also served in the United States Marine Corps and Texas National Guard.
Member: John Hoffman
Seat: Oil and Gas Productions
Black Elk Energy
John Hoffman serves as President and CEO of Black Elk Energy. He is a Registered Professional Engineer with over thirty years of Industry experience. Mr. Hoffman has extensive experience in field development and operations, onshore and offshore. Prior to starting and building Black Elk Energy, Mr. Hoffman held various leadership positions in Amoco, Gulf of Suez Petroleum, BP Americas and Stone Energy. His new field development experience spans internationally in the Egyptian Western Desert and Gulf of Suez. In the United States, his developments include major projects in deepwater Gulf of Mexico as well as on the Shelf margins.
Member: Mike Jennings
Seat: Commercial Fishing
Captain Mike Jennings is a lifetime resident of the Texas Gulf coast area. He has owned and operated Cowboy Charters, a charter fishing business, for over seven years and has nearly 25 total years of experience in the fishing business. Capt. Jennings has served as a member of various fishing and conservation organizations, including CCA.
Member: Karla Klay
Karla has dedicated her life to connecting people to places in the Gulf region through meaningful experiences that integrate the arts and sciences to instill a stewardship ethic and ultimately improve environmental outcomes in communities throughout the region. Karla’s vision for an interdisciplinary approach to environmental education is realized in programs and projects she designs and implements through Artist Boat, a non-profit organization in Galveston that she founded and has led since 2003. Karla is also the recipient of the National Audubon Society 2012 Together Green Fellowship Award, the 2013 Gulf of Mexico Program Gulf Guardian Award in the individual category, and 2013 graduate of the Rice Leadership Institute for Non-Profit Executives. She holds of Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Southern Methodist University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marine Biology from Texas A&M University of Galveston.
Member: Keith Love
Seat: Recreational Fishing
Texas Bluewater Safaris
Keith is the owner of Texas Bluewater Safaris and President and part founder of Texas Bluewater Assassins. He regularly attended FGBNMS Advisory Council meetings throughout the management plan review process.
Member: Jimmie Mack
Seat: Recreational Diving
Black Coral Divers
Jimmie has been a recreational scuba diver since 1995 as well as a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor since 2006. She is a member and Southern Regional Representative of National Association of Black Scuba Divers (NABS) with experience organizing the NABS Youth Educational Summit (NABS YES) and as an advocate instructor for NABS Diving With a Purpose. Ms. Mack is also President of Black Coral Divers and has been an involved volunteer with FGBNMS.
Member: Larry McKinney
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
Harte Research Institute
Corpus Christi, TX
Larry is the new executive director Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, as of July 2008. Previously, he was the Senior Director of Aquatic Resources and the Director of Coastal Fisheries, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. He retired from TPWD after 23 years service. Programmatic responsibilities while at TPWD included a broad range of natural resource and environmental issues: management of coastal fisheries resources, assessing and securing freshwater inflows to estuaries and instream flows for rivers and reservoirs; wetland conservation and restoration; endangered species conservation; and, other issues related to the ecological health of Texas' aquatic ecosystems. Larry has been widely recognized for his expertise in conservation and his efforts to translate science into sound and effective public policy that balances the ecological and economic health of Texas and the Gulf of Mexico.
Representative: Michelle Nannen
Agency: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)
New Orleans, LA
Michelle has an M.S. in Marine Environmental Science and has more than ten years experience in benthic and
fisheries ecological studies and
Member: Ellis Pickett
Ellis has worked in the oil and medical industries, and is an avid surfer. Through his surfing hobby, he grew concerned about the condition of the Texas coast, and by 1999 became involved in starting and managing the Texas chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. He has focused on maintaining safe public access to the Texas coast and also worked on beach cleanups, water quality tests, erosion monitoring and dune protection.
Member: Patrick Riley
Seat: Commercial Fishing
Western Seafood Company
Lake Jackson, TX
Patrick Riley is General Manager of Western Seafood Company in Freeport, Texas and has been active in the shrimp industry for decades. He has been awarded a NOAA/NMFS Sustainable Fisheries Leadership Award in the stewardship and sustainability category. Mr. Riley serves on the Board of Directors for the Gulf & South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation and is the Texas commercial representative on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.
Representative: Ben Scaggs
Agency: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Stennis Space Center, MS
Ben is the Director of the U.S. EPA Gulf of Mexico Program (GMPO), and is responsible for overseeing this collaborative program to protect, maintain, and restore the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico. Prior to the Gulf of Mexico Program, he was the Director of the Office of Administration and Resource Management at EPA’s Research Triangle Park, NC location. Ben came to EPA in 1991 from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. He has a Bachelor’s degree and Masters in Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Representative: James Sinclair
Agency:Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE)
New Orleans, LA
James has a B.S. in Marine Biology from Texas A&M University at Galveston and an M.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of New Orleans. His past work includes the culture of cephalopods, aerobic and anaerobic filtration, analysis of benthic community structure, propagation and restoration of submersed aquatic vegetation, and artificial reef development. His current work focuses on protection of sensitive habitats in the Gulf of Mexico including coral reefs, topographic features, the pinnacle trend, and live bottoms.
Member: Jacqui Stanley
Jacqui is an educator who is also an author, illustrator, speaker and supporter of several marine societies. She specializes in fostering ecological literacy by making the marine environment relevant to all age groups through frequent presentations, workshops, and seminars at schools, libraries and conferences both nationally and internationally. She has a BA from the University of Western Australia, and a MA from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. She completed educator certification at Western Washington University. A passionate diver for over thirty-seven years, Jacqui has dived in almost all the oceans of our world, and is amazed at the pristine quality of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. She currently works with Young Audiences of Houston.
Representative: Rusty Swafford
Agency: NOAA Fisheries
Rusty is currently the Gulf of Mexico Branch Supervisor for NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office Habitat Conservation Division. He has over 20 years experience working for NOAA Fisheries and a well-rounded experience in coastal habitat conservation, restoration and enhancement issues.
Representative: Charles Tyer
Agency: NOAA Office for Law Enforcement
Charles Tyer is a Special Agent with the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement (NOAA OLE) Southeast Division. The Southeast Division has a broad range of enforcement responsibilities in recreational and commercial marine fisheries, from finfish, such as snapper and grouper, and commercial catch share programs to Highly Migratory Species such as shark, tuna and swordfish. In addition, the Southeast Division monitors protected resources such as dolphins and marine turtles and three National Marine Sanctuaries (Florida Keys, Gray's Reef and Flower Garden Banks).
Member: Cher Walker
Seat: Diving Operations
True Blue Watersports
Lake Charles, LA
Cher is owner and manager of True Blue Watersports, a recreational dive center in Lake Charles, LA and a board member for “Clean Bayou” of Southwest Louisiana. She is a trainer for both Emergency First Response First Aid/CPR and Community Emergency Response Teams and serves on the PADI Resort and Retail Advisory Council and Scubapro Platinum Dealer Advisory Council.
Member: James Wiseman
Seat: Oil and Gas Production
James is a subsea engineer, managing projects in the Gulf of Mexico and West Africa. He is a subject matter expert in offshore commissioning and decommissioning. Mr. Wiseman serves on the API 17A (Subsea–General) Committee, the Subsea Tie-Back Forum Steering Committee, and is a Marine Well Containment System First Responder. He is also an advanced open water diver and small boat captain. Mr. Wiseman is a lifetime member of the Houston Underwater Photo Society, founder of the Marine Aquarium and Reef Society of Houston, and the administrator for Wetpixel.com. He has volunteered with FGBNMS since 2000.
Former Sanctuary Advisory Council Members