Hillary has been a writer/journalist/news reporter since 1968, with published books about the sea and underwater exploration, and magazine articles including National Geographic, Geo, Islands, The Surfer’s Journal, Reader’s Digest and the Los Angeles Times. From 1969 through 1977 she was West Coast stringer for Ocean Science News, Washington D.C., and from 1981-1986 was ocean/marine reporter for the Santa Barbara News-Press. She also was the former music critic for the Santa Barbara News-Press and is a long-time classical pianist.
Jean-Michel has spent his life with his family exploring the world's oceans aboard the research vessels Calypso and Alcyone, communicating to people of all nations and generations his love and concern for our water planet. The eldest son of the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, Jean-Michel is President of Ocean Futures Society, where he continues his life's work of educating, especially the young people of the world, to foster a conservation ethic for our water planet.
Thomas Dabney is a native Santa Barbarian and lobster fisherman with deep appreciation for the ocean and all it affords, and comes to Heal the Ocean with valuable directorial experience as a long time board member of his family foundations.
Charles Vinick has been a friend of HTO since our beginnings. He set up our 501c3 under the wing of the Jean-Michel Cousteau Institute in Santa Barbara (before it became Ocean Futures) so that we could hit the ground running with non-profit status in 1998. He was on the Board of HTO for 12 years, then took a break to head up a number of environmental non-profit organizations focusing on ocean policy, environmental policy and solutions and marine energy technology development. Charles gives us strong guidance, and we’re glad to have him back!
Francoise is an artist and author of cookbooks and children's books who worked many years in real estate in Santa Barbara and Malibu. She is devoted to community service in Santa Barbara -- in addition to serving on the Heal the Ocean board, she serves on the board of Girls, Inc. and Direct Relief International.
As Heal the Ocean’s Operations Coordinator, Alison Thompson is responsible for keeping our office running smoothly and assisting on policy research and advocacy. Growing up in Huntington Beach, California, Alison has always been an ocean lover and conservation activist. As a young girl, she developed a passion for saving her local wetlands and all the plants and animals that depended on it to survive. Her immersion in the natural world and her goal to enact environmental change inspired her to earn her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in marine science and policy from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Alison has spent the last two years working with non-profits in Washington, D.C. and with research labs in Santa Barbara to create more awareness and appreciation for marine conservation. In her free time, Alison can be found with her dogs at the beach or tidepooling.
Heather Hudson is a film producer living in Santa Barbara, California. The one constant in Heather’s life is her absolute love for surfing and the ocean. She begins most of her days with a surf session at a world class surf break in south Santa Barbara County, where she is known for her graceful longboard style. After receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from UCLA in 1984, Heather worked in advertising until she became a full-time mother in 1991. In 2007, she started her film production company, Graciegirl LLC, and created the groundbreaking documentary surf film, “THE WOMEN AND THE WAVES.” In 2016, the follow-up documentary THE WOMEN AND THE WAVES 2" was released to the delight of audiences worldwide!
Heather has been a part of Heal the Ocean since it’s beginning & she is committed to ending ocean pollution. In 2012, she was named to the Heal the Ocean Board of Directors. Currently she heads up Fundraising and Events.
As Heal the Ocean’s Operations Intern, Wendy Pelayo assists with research projects, administrative duties, and fundraising events, in addition to offering support with HTO social media. Wendy is a third-year undergraduate student attending the University of California, Santa Barbara where she is studying to earn her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies. Through her education and her experience living in beautiful Santa Barbara, she has become passionately committed to discover solutions that will help preserve our environment, our marine life, and our people. In her free time, Wendy enjoys watching the sunset and dancing.
James O. Hawkins
As Heal the Ocean’s strategic analyst, James Hawkins is responsible for coordinating HTO’s research projects and working with Hillary Hauser, HTO’s executive director, on our key policy priorities and positions, in addition to organizing our eLetters and Newsletters and managing our social media accounts. James received a B.A. from UC Santa Barbara in political science and environmental studies with his senior thesis focusing on climate change. A Santa Barbara native, James enjoys spending his free time playing ultimate Frisbee, swing dancing, and just hanging out with friends.
Ruston Slager has been with HTO since the beginning days, and in fact can be credited with “starting” the organization, because he organized the public demonstration on the steps of the County Administration Building after Hillary’s “Genesis” article came out, lamenting the problem of Santa Barbara beaches being closed because of pollution. You will always see Ruston alongside Ava Everett at public events where HTO is involved – Earth Day, the Harbor Festival, and of course our own events. Ruston instructs adults and children with learning and developmental disabilities in community and school settings. He is a local musician and landscape artist.
Jonathan Wygant is CEO and founder of BigSpeak, Inc. the largest business-oriented agency/consultancy in North America focused on serving the Fortune 1000 and multinational companies worldwide. BigSpeak addresses the needs of corporations, associations, non-profits and government agencies by providing inspirational speakers, thought leaders and subject matter experts. Jonathan draws on his more than 30 years of hands-on business experience and extensive research into the best practices of visionary leaders and successful companies. His expertise is in understanding his client’s needs and matching them with speakers and trainers who will best deliver inspirational messages and support lasting positive organizational change. Before founding BigSpeak, Jonathan was the CEO and co-founder of Iris Arc Crystal, an Inc. 500 international giftware manufacturing company headquartered in Santa Barbara, California. While at Iris Arc, he built the company to 5000 accounts, 120 employees and 135 sales reps nationwide.