Council Members

2015 Advisory Council Members visiting E/V NAUTILUS in Galveston

Non-Government Members


Jake Emmert (Chair)
Moody Gardens
Galveston, TX

Term Began: November 2019
Term Expires: November 7, 2022

Jake Emmert is the Dive Safety Officer at Moody Gardens. He oversees more than 2,000 dives annually for both in-house animal husbandry operations and scientific field expeditions. A number of these dives support the management, research and conservation goals of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Artificial Reef Program, NOAA’s Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, Florida Atlantic University - Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and Texas A&M University at Galveston. He is also involved in wildlife rehabilitation, field conservation, conservation education and habitat restoration efforts of Moody Gardens.

Jake earned his bachelor’s in Marine Biology and a master’s in Marine Resources Management from Texas A&M University at Galveston, where he supported research projects in Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, and Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Jake is the president of Galveston Rotary, a diving instructor, and an avid outdoorsman.

Joanie Steinhaus
Turtle Island Restoration Network
Galveston, TX

Term Began: May 2017
Term Expires: July 12, 2023

Joanie Steinhaus is the Campaign Director for Turtle Island Restoration Network in their efforts to protect the Gulf of Mexico. She has been involved with formal and informal education programs for over seventeen years, as a public school teacher for three and half years and fourteen years working at informal education sites including the Houston Zoo, Keep Austin Beautiful and the Lower Colorado River Authority. She has extensive experience in the education of youth and adults about stewardship and conservation of our natural resources.

Joanie has worked with a variety of organizations, both locally and state-wide, to advance conservation and sustainability issues. Her diverse knowledge and passion about the environment in the Texas area has shown in her outreach work to local politicians, community groups, homeowner associations and the general public to help them understand the value of protecting the local flora and fauna.

Dive Operations

Andy Lewis
Houston, TX

Term Began: January 1, 2022
Term Expires: January 1, 2025

Andy is a practicing lawyer and municipal judge with Lewis & Lewis in the Clear Lake area. He is also a scuba instructor for a major dive shop in Houston and volunteers most of his weekends overseeing dive operations as a divemaster on the M/V Fling. Most recently, he helped to install and maintain sanctuary mooring lines and mooring buoys during pandemic restrictions. 

Kristen Maples
Galveston, TX

Term Began: January 1, 2022
Term Expires: January 1, 2025

Kristin is co-owner of Texas Scuba Adventures, a dive shop in Galveston. She is also a local diver, working biologist, and dive instructor. Through the dive shop, Kristin oversees dive operations that facilitate community connection and bridge informal science communication to local and visiting divers.

Recreational Diving

Janavi Mahimtura Folmsbee
Houston, TX

Term Began: January 1, 2022
Term Expires: January 1, 2025

Janavi Mahimtura Folmsbee was born and raised in Mumbai, India, in a home overlooking the Indian Ocean. A graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she is a marine conservation artist. She currently lives and works in Houston, Texas, USA. Mahimtura Folmsbee collaborates and works with marine organizations and nonprofits such as Ocean Music Action, the Galveston Bay Foundation, Correa Lab, MAAR Alliance, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Coral Restoration Foundation to help preserve our oceans. Her artwork has been published in the National Science Foundation.

As an avid scuba diver Mahimtura Folmsbee uses her inspiration and experiences from dives to create monumental public art. Some can be seen on Google Earth. Her public works also include important commissions from the Red Cross Society in Mumbai, India, and Aquarius art tunnel, a 240-foot-long permanent installation in the Houston Airport Art Collection. Her art practice appeals to broad audiences and educates them about the marine world through her artwork and diving. She believes that with art, awareness, and beauty, we as humans are capable of doing so much for our oceans and world.

Sepp Haukebo (Vice Chair)
Environmental Defense Fund
Galveston, TX

Term Began: February 13, 2019
Term Expires: February 13, 2022

Sepp is a program manager at the Environmental Defense Fund where he focuses on researching and implementing solutions that balance access and sustainability of our ocean’s most important resources. He earned his B.S. in Marine Biology from Texas A&M University at Galveston, where he researched distribution of juvenile grouper abundance across FGBNMS. He also has an M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from Texas A&M main campus, where he investigated underwater cave ecology and nutrient sources in the Yucatan Peninsula. Sepp's other research adventures range from tagging blue marlin in the Gulf of Mexico to identifying rare cave species in the deepest underwater cave in the United States. In addition to his scientific background, Sepp has been an informal educator of marine sciences since 2002, a lifelong passion that led him to a Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship with NOAA’s Office of Education in 2013. He is also a long-time angler, surfer, and diver, spending any free time getting his wife and two daughters on the water.   


Sharon Kamas
Houston, TX

Term Began: May 2019
Term Expires: May 1, 2022

Sharon's education career includes teaching K, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades, as well as serving as a gifted and talented lead teacher, elementary and middle school instructional coach, and elementary curriculum coordinator. In these capacities, she worked with a variety of agencies to bring scientists and other professionals into her classroom. Sharon served a three-year term as president of the Science Teachers Association of Texas and several additional years in various capacities for the annual conference planning committee. She also served as the education representative for The Little Cedar Bayou Watershed Partnership Committee and is currently finishing a three-year commitment as the education representative for The Texas Wildlife Association. Sharon resides in southeast Houston. 

Brian Shmaefsky
Lone Star College
Kingwood, TX

Term Began: November 2019
Term Expires: November 7, 2022

Brian is a professor of biology and environmental sciences at Lone Star College–Kingwood. His research emphasis is in environmental physiology. Dr. Shmaefsky attended Brooklyn College of CUNY, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory and University of Illinois. He has been active in K-College science education internationally through his work with the National Association of Biology Teachers, National Science Teachers Association and the Society for College Science Teaching. He also volunteers as a science advisor with the American Association for the Advancement of Science and serves on advisory groups with the Houston-Galveston Area Council. His formal introduction to marine biology was through the New York Aquarium where he worked as an animal pathology research assistant before heading off to graduate school.

Commercial Fishing

Shane Cantrell
Galveston Sea Ventures
Galveston, TX

Term Began: May 2017
Term Expires: July 12, 2023

Capt. Shane Cantrell has over 20 years of fishing experience. He is owner and operator of Galveston Sea Ventures, a deep sea and offshore fishing charter business, located in Galveston, Texas. He received his B.S. in Marine Fisheries from TAMU-Galveston and then worked as a fishery observer on commercial fishing vessels in the Gulf of Mexico. Capt. Cantrell is actively involved in the fishery management process with the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council serving on the steering committee of the Marine Resource Education Program and on the Data Collection Advisory Panel. Additionally, he is the treasurer of the Charter Fisherman’s Association.

Harris Demitri (HD) Pappas
Houston, TX

Term Began: January 1, 2022
Term Expires: January 1, 2025

Harris is the Director of Fishing Operations Quota Programs for Pappas Restaurants, as well as its Director of Real Estate. Harris is also a certified diver, Texas licensed commercial fisherman, and 100-ton merchant marine officer. He is active within the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and is a member of the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders' Alliance. 

Recreational Fishing

Robert Kirschner
Galveston, TX

Term Began: May 2019
Term Expires: May 1, 2022

Robert has visited the Flower Garden Banks as both a SCUBA diver and a fisher for about the last 20 years. He has also served in the U.S. Navy as a navigator and meteorologist, and earned his biology degree from University of Houston Clear Lake. Robert is a member of Coastal Conservation Association and volunteers with fishing events such as the annual Turning Point, a tournament for physically challenged fishers. Robert lives in Galveston and works in Houston, at Smith & Nephew Orthopedics.  

Scott Hickman
Circle H Outfitters
Galveston, TX

Term Began: November 2019
Term Expires: November 7, 2022

Scott Hickman is the owner/operator of Circle H Outfitters and Charters. He is a full time hunting and fishing guide with 35 years experience specializing in Cobia, Snapper, Amberjack and King Mackerel trips. Scott is actively involved on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council's Coral Advisory Panel (co-chair), its IFQ Ad Hoc Advisory Panel, and its Data Collection Advisory Panel. Scott’s top priority is finding solutions for a better sustainable charter business plan in the Gulf of Mexico. He is a founding board member of the Charter Fisherman’s Association and the Galveston Professional  Fisherman’s Association. Scott 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. He was recognized as the local and national Volunteer of the Year in 2016 for the National Marine Sanctuaries Program, and received the GCFI Peter Gladding conservation award in 2017.
Additional affiliations:
Texas Sea Grant Advisory Committee (Jan 2020-Dec 2023, Chair 2021-2023), Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute's Gladding Conservation Committee. 

Oil & Gas Industry

Steve Hamm
W&T Offshore, Inc.
Houston, TX

Term Began: October 2020
Term Expires: October 27, 2023

Steve Hamm is the Vice President of Health, Safety, Environmental and Regulatory at W&T Offshore, Inc. Prior to this, he had 11 years experience working with the state environmental regulatory agency as NPDES Investigator, Superfund Coordinator, and Emergency Response Manager. Steve is a member of the Executive Subcommittee of the Offshore Operators Committee (OOC), and a member of the Fisheries Subcommittee of the OOC. Steve received his B.S. in Marine Fisheries from Texas A&M University-Galveston. In his free time, he enjoys saltwater recreational fishing. 

Ruth Perry
Houston, TX

Term Began: February 2019
Term Expires: February 13, 2022

Ruth is a Marine Scientist & Regulatory Policy Specialist with Shell Exploration & Production Company as well as an Advisory Council member of NOAA's Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). She is also a member of several industry trade associations, RESTORE Act's Science Advisory Committee, and the National Academy of Sciences' Gulf of Mexico Loop Current Study Committee - Gulf Research Program. 


Dr. Adrienne Simoes Correa
Rice University
Houston, TX

Term Began: February 2019
Term Expires: February 13, 2022

Adrienne is a coral reef ecologist and educator in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Program in BioSciences at Rice University. Her research focuses on reef symbioses, particularly the various roles of microbes in coral health and survival. Adrienne received a B.S. in Biology from the University of Michigan, and an M.A. in Conservation Biology and a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution from Columbia University. In addition to her current research projects in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, Adrienne has studied reefs in the Caribbean, Eastern Pacific, and Indo-Pacific. Adrienne teaches various courses related to aquatic ecology, coral reefs, and diving, and she is the faculty sponsor of the Rice Oceans Club. Adrienne loves to engage others in the importance, complexity and beauty of coral reefs, particularly in the field or using giant 2-D reef replicas!

Michael Dance
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA

Term Began: January 2020
Term Expires: January 30, 2023

Michael is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences at Louisiana State University. His Fisheries and Movement Ecology Lab conducts research on movement ecology, fisheries science, population connectivity, stock assessment, seascape ecology, and habitat use.

Government Members

U.S. Department of Interior

Alicia Caporaso
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)
New Orleans, LA

James Sinclair
Bureau of Safety & 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.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Open Seat

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Rusty Swafford
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
Galveston, TX

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.

Open Seat
Office of Law Enforcement (OLE)
Galveston, TX

Texas Parks & Wildlife

Brooke Shipley
Dickinson, TX

U.S. Coast Guard

LTJG Adam Peterson
New Orleans, LA

Adam Peterson joined the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary team in February 2021. He serves as the Coast Guard representative for addressing key enforceability and safety-at-sea concerns for the sanctuary.

Advisory Council Coordinator

Leslie Clift
(409) 356-0386

Leslie Whaylen Clift joined the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary team in July 2015. She serves as the primary contact for the Advisory Council and facilitates all aspects of council-related activities. Leslie also assists with the sanctuary expansion review process.

Leslie began diving in the sanctuary in the 1990s, as a volunteer fish surveyor while working for the state of Texas as an Aquatic Scientist. After moving to the Florida Keys, she returned occasionally to FGBNMS to lead and instruct groups of REEF (Reef Environmental Education Foundation) divers and conduct fish assemblage surveys. Leslie returned to Galveston in 2012.

Council Officers

Scott Hickman, Chair

Jake Emmert, Vice Chair

Past Council Members

Larry McKinney, Research 2009-2020

Dana Larson, Conservation 2005-2008

Page Williams, Conservation 2005-2013

Rafael Calderon, Conservation 2009

Ellis Pickett, Conservation 2011-2017

Jorge Brenner, Conservation 2013-2016

Art Melvin, Dive Operations 2005-2008

Frank Wasson, Dive Operations 2005-2013

Cher Walker, Dive Operations 2010-2013

Randy Widaman, Dive Operations 2015-2018

Frank Burek, Dive Operations 2018-2021

Natalie Davis, Dive Operations 2015-2021

Frank Burek, Recreational Diving 2005-2012

Dick Zingula, Recreational Diving 2005-2007

Lori Traweek, Recreational Diving 2007-2011

Jimi Mack, Recreational Diving 2012-2019

Jesse Cancelmo, Recreational Diving 2011-2021

Haidee Williams, Education 2005-2007

Kristina Hardwick, Education 2005-2008

Dale Loughmiller, Education 2007-2013

Karla Klay, Education 2013-2016

Jacqui Stanley, Education 2009-2019

Joe Hendrix, Commercial Fishing 2005-2012

Mike Jennings, Commercial Fishing 2008-2015

Patrick Riley, Commercial Fishing 2012-2013

Buddy Guindon, Commercial Fishing 2015-2021

John Stout, Recreational Fishing 2005-2008

Irby Basco, Recreational Fishing 2005-2013

Matt Bunn, Recreational Fishing 2009-2012

Keith Love, Recreational Fishing 2012-2015

Tim Gibson, Oil & Gas Production 2005-2007

Clint Moore, Oil & Gas Production 2005-2012, 2014-2019

Rebecca Nadel, Oil & Gas Production 2007-2011

John Hoffman, Oil & Gas Production 2011-2013

James Wiseman, Oil & Gas Production 2012-2019

John Embesi, Research 2005-2008

Ian MacDonald, Research 2005-2008

Will Heyman, Research 2009-2015

James Sinclair, BOEM 2005-2013

Michelle Nannen, BOEM 2013-2014

Matt Johnson, BOEM 2014-2016

Ben Scaggs, EPA 2012-2016

Barbara Keeler, EPA 2016-2018

LCDR Elizabeth Keister, USCG 2005-2008

LCDR Carmen DeGeorge, USCG 2009-2012

LCDR Jason Brand, USCG 2013-2016