Welcome, Joanne!

Association of Zoos and Aquariums Conference

Hi there! My name is Joanne and I am so excited to join the team as the new program coordinator for the Nisqually River Council!

I grew up in Los Angeles, California and lived in Orange County for several years before I moved to Washington State. I earned a B.S. in Public Health Science from the University of California Irvine hoping to pursue work in the environmental science field. My career essentially started with my time working for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife located in the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve – one of few estuaries left in California. Initially, I pursued a career in marine science research then quickly realized it was not the right fit for me. I slowly discovered the joys of teaching science and decided to pursue a graduate degree to help advance my career. I earned an M.S. in Informal Science Education from the California State University of Long Beach and conducted my master’s thesis at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.

Assisted a Gray Whale skeleton articulation – this is the skull!


Before joining the team here, I was working as a program manager for the Marine Science and Technology (MaST) Center Aquarium for Highline College. Prior to that, I have spent over 10 years working for a variety of informal learning institutions across Southern California as an educator, curriculum specialist, volunteer manager, and program coordinator. I have always had a passion for environmental stewardship but much of my background has primarily focused on ocean conservation. When you grow up surrounded by beautiful California beaches, how could you not fall in love with the ocean? I have worked closely with plankton, intertidal invertebrates, and marine mammals. Blue whales and phytoplankton have a special place in my heart! I use each experience to tell a story when communicating science and inspiring stewardship for our natural environments. I am really looking forward to being part of the combined effort to ensure the Nisqually watershed is preserved for existing wildlife to thrive and for future generations to enjoy.

In my free time, I enjoy playing with my two dogs, cooking/baking, watching movies with my fiancé, kickboxing, hiking, painting, and visiting aquariums and zoos.