Clean Ocean Action

Clean Ocean Action Staff


Cindy Zipf

Executive Director

Cindy Zipf uses her passion for science and advocacy to create campaigns and programs to drive public policy and reduce pollution.  Since its beginning in 1984, she has been at the helm of COA, the lean, green, ocean pollution fighting machine that is the only full-time ocean advocacy organization dedicated exclusively to the NY and NJ region. She reviews and evaluates regional, state, and federal policies for impacts to marine water quality and, through science, research and education, works toward solutions for issues of concern.

Cindy is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island with a B.A. in Geography and Marine Affairs with a special emphasis in marine science. In 1984 the waters off the NY/NJ coasts were known as the “Ocean Dumping Capitol of the World”, and in response, the COAlition was formed and consisted of 20 organizations. As a founder and a staff of one, Cindy has expanded the coalition to over 120 organizations and a professional staff of six full-time employees.

Cindy's complete bio, recognitions and awards can be viewed here. 

Mary-Beth Thompson

Chief Operating Officer

Mary-Beth Thompson provides leadership in COA’s general office management, human resources, financial recording and reporting, and federal and state legal and insurance compliance. She began as a volunteer with COA in the 1980’s and in 1992 was offered the position of Business Manager. Prior to COA, Mary-Beth worked as a financial administrator in north Jersey and for several Monmouth County businesses. She graduated from Monmouth University in 1980 with a BA in Art and a minor in Business. Her husband and three sons are avid all-year-round surfers and active volunteers for COA.

Mary-Beth's complete bio can be viewed here.

Amanda Wheeler

Education and Volunteer Coordinator

Amanda Wheeler joined the COA staff in an official capacity in February 2016; although, her volunteer relationship with the organization began over 20 years ago. Over those years of volunteering, her passion for a clean ocean has kept her in a contact with ocean pollution issues and their solutions. She has been a Beach Sweeps Captain in Bradley Beach for almost all of those years and has spent time working on regular programs like C.O.A.S.T. tables and the Student Summit. As a longtime environmental commissioner in Bradley Beach, she has organized projects and events in cooperation with many environmental groups and has organized volunteers for those projects. In June 2015, Amanda retired from a 32 year teaching career. Her diverse experiences during those years ranged from teaching French and Spanish in a small rural high school on the Front Range in Colorado to teaching basic skills to incarcerated youth in a correctional facility. In June 2015, she retired after teaching French and Spanish for over 20 years at Reynolds Middle School in Hamilton Township, NJ.

Joining the team at Clean Ocean Action as the Education and Volunteer Coordinator is a "dream come true" for Amanda. In this role, she can cultivate the passion and enthusiasm of volunteerism, and she can continue to inspire young people to become environmental stewards. 

Zachary Lees

Ocean and Coastal Policy Attorney

Zachary Lees joined the COA Crew in May 2015. Zach’s proficient talents help shape regional and national ocean protection policies through his work at COA.  Zach attained a JD degree and a Master’s Degree in Environmental Law and Policy at Vermont Law School, graduating cum laude. He has a varied background from sea to mountains as a Legal Intern at Trustees for Alaska in Anchorage and a Legal Clerk for Vermont Natural Resources Council. Zach is an accomplished creative writer and public speaker with divergent interests in guitar, snowboarding, kayaking, surfing, and soccer. 

Zach is united with COA through his philosophy, “I firmly believe in the power of environmental regulation as an agent of positive change…My professional goals are aligned with my passions: to work in a position that makes a positive impact every day and to use the legal and policy channels available to solve environmental issues, sustain positive successes, support environmental conservation, and use environmentally minded regulation to foster economic and social progress.”

Catie Tobin

Marine Science Programs Manager

Catie Tobin uses her acumen to link multiple disciplines in order to protect the ocean. Starting at COA as a Fellow in 2013, she now engages COA’s network of academia, institutions, businesses, citizens, volunteers, and organizations in grass-roots pollution prevention programs.  Using sound science principles, Catie facilitates education programs, coordinates outreach for them, and advocates for water quality, sustainability, and water and energy conservation. Programs include the Beach Sweeps, Corporate Beach Sweeps, Student Summits, Education Ambassadors, Presentations, and Sustainable Jersey and Blue Star. She also advocates COA’s positions in science and policy issues, and coordinates COA’s microplastics research.

A graduate of Quinnipiac University, Catie holds a BS in Biology with minors in Chemistry, Spanish, and Microbiology.  She studied the environmental impacts of pollutants, BBP and acetone on a local fish species and as an intern at the Dolphin Communication Project she researched the social behavior and acoustic interchange in a dolphin species. 

Tory Woods

Development Director

Tory Woods started as a dedicated volunteer and joined COA’s fulltime staff in July of 2014. She uses her background and expertise to connect COA’s mission and programs to events and resource development. Tory engages and organizes the fundraising events and sponsorships, corporate and foundation relationships, concerned businesses, and community development. 

She has experience in outreach, sales and fundraising, and event planning. Tory graduated from the University of South Carolina with BS in Environmental Science with a focus on sustainable businesses, economics, and development. Tory also helped implement community programs to create environmental awareness and social change, recycling programs, and education events in Columbia, SC.

Gordon N. Litwin, Esq.

Of Counsel

Andrew Provence, Esq.

Of Counsel

COA staff members and Board of Trustee member, Jimmy Lovgren, at the Port Ambrose Veto Announcement in Long Beach, NY. November, 2015.




18 Hartshorne Drive, Suite 2
Highlands, NJ 07732
Voice: (732) 872-0111
FAX: (732) 872-8041

A member of Earth Share of New Jersey