You don’t have to be a famous ocean explorer to be a high-stakes player in marine conservation.
You don’t need to be an expert in marine biology, either. Heck, you don’t even have to know how to swim (or like to swim).
Because, despite what some organizations may lead you to believe, ocean conservation isn’t an elitist society, reserved for scientists and sailors.
You have a spot at the table, too.
We at ORF understand that it’s Our Ocean, and “we” are everyday people, just like you.
Take ORF’s founder, Steve Shirley, for example. Steve is a guy who builds houses for a living, but whose heart drew him to the blue waters of the Bay in his spare time.
It was this calling that inspired him to form ORF in 2009.
Now he’s the namesake for a sevengill shark named Shirley, who Steve caught in the bay himself. Before being returned to her home waters, she spent a few months inspiring and educating the public at Aquarium of the Bay, and she was the largest sevengill ever on display there. You may have noticed, she’s also our mascot!
The Heart of ORF
Since its foundation, ORF has grown to consist of a team of people from all different walks of life. And we consider the eclectic make-up of our team our BIGGEST strength.
Because despite the myriad of paths we all started on, each of us came to the same realization: they’re Our Oceans, Our Lives. A reality we know can resonate with people from any background, far and wide.
ORF’s mission is simple: conserving the world’s oceans. We do it by supporting research efforts and conducting some of our own, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area. And most important of all, we spread the ocean love to the public through outreach and education.
And every person that we touch? Is one more win for the ocean.
And since it’s Your Ocean too, you’re already one of us. Why not make it official?
From general contractors, biologists, marketing experts, and writers, ORF’s all-volunteer team is a multi-talented and multi-passioned bunch.
But one thing we have in common? Our everlasting love and dedication to Our Oceans.
Meet the team!
Steve has been at home in the water his entire life. In fact, by the tender age of six years old he could hold his own with adult trout fishermen, easily out-catching them. Steve grew up spending as much time as possible outdoors in the ponds, creeks, and sloughs near his family's home. When he wasn't serving as the designated neighborhood snake-wrangler, he was likely searching for fish, snakes, lizards, and salamanders. As a young man Steve would spend weekends on adventures hiking, backpacking, dirt bike riding, downhill skiing, hunting and fishing. Steve's interests in nature and the outdoors continued to grow throughout his life. By the time he turned 15 years old he started building custom fishing rods for a local tackle shop, and continues to make hand crafted fishing rods today. After studying Biology, Psychology, Art and English at Sacramento City College and Sacramento State University, he began his career as a carpenter, and kept busy building homes in Sacramento. Steve moved to Alaska for three and a half years where adventure was one step out of his house, and all his free time was spent exploring Alaska and Canada. Two years after returning to California he moved aboard a boat and lived in the Sacramento River in the country just south of Sacramento. Steve then moved to the Bay Area and bought a larger 50 foot Ocean-going Trawler. All in all he lived onboard for a total of 22 years! Steve founded his design-build construction company, called Bay Area Designer Builders Inc., in 2001. Steve started an operation called "Team Fish Finders", which provided shark tagging and marine research services in partnership with institutions like the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the California Academy of Sciences. Team Fish Finders eventually transformed into what is now Ocean Research Foundation, formed in 2009 and achieving nonprofit status in 2012.
Social Media Manager
Thaisa is a Brazilian Project Manager based in San Francisco Bay Area. She's passionate about products, projects, and services that drive a profound impact and value on people lives. She's worked her entire life with Marketing and Advertising projects, and working for ORF is a great pleasure. Because of ORF, she gets to learn every day about oceans and sharks! Her primary role with ORF is managing our social media accounts and content.
Vicky received her Bachelor of Science from UC Davis in Evolution and Ecology with two additional Minors in Art Studio and Psychology. Vicky then focused her career on marine education, which allowed her opportunities to teach outdoors, in the classroom, through ocean-themed articles and social media outreach. You can follow Vicky on Twitter @VickyV_TeamORF. As a graduate student with the Pacific Shark Research Center at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, Vicky is interested in studying the Lost Sharks of San Francisco Bay. Additional projects include a citizen science project on Hammerheads in Southern California, helping the IUCN Shark Specialist Group with species assessments for the Northeast Pacific Ocean, and the more notable discovery of the Ninja Lanternshark (Etmopterus benchleyi). As Deputy Director of ORF, Vicky helps with the general upkeep of the organization, supports ORF research endeavors, and directs all education components. Vicky has a special interest in bringing marine education to under-served communities and Spanish speakers.
Born in the coastal city of Virginia Beach, Shelley has fostered a deep passion and respect for the ocean her entire life. It's what lead her to study biology, and she earned a Master of Science degree in Biology from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2010. She has also been SCUBA diving since 2006, and she earned her PADI Divemaster certification in 2009. After working as a Wildlife Biologist for five years, she relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband in 2015. She now works as a freelance copywriter for Green Pen Copywriting, specializing in writing web content for green businesses and environmental nonprofits. She began volunteering with ORF soon after arriving in the Bay Area, helping with event planning, public outreach, and website content. ORF has allowed her to support her passion for the oceans in many ways, and she's proud to be a part of the team!
Born in America, raised in France, Stephanie began her career working in the travel industry. After studying in Strasbourg, living in Vancouver for two years and Paris for three years, she moved to San Francisco in 2013. She has always been attracted to the ocean and marine life so she spends her free time surfing, snorkeling and soon will get certified for scuba diving. After a trip to the Great Barrier Reef, seeing how little protection there was for the natural wonder, she decided to join ORF to try to help preserve the natural beauty of our water. She now works in the Digital Marketing industry and is delighted to offer some of her free time to the foundation. Her main focus is to create awareness and help with fundraising for research.