President and Executive Director
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.
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.
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.