Global Oceans

Joanna Smith, Ph.D., RPBio
Director, Ocean Planning and Mapping
Global MSP Lead
Nature United, Canada

Joanna is the Global MSP Lead and Director of Ocean Planning and Mapping for TNC’s Global Oceans team. Joanna provides leadership for the organisation on marine spatial planning (MSP) including process design, lessons learned, best practices, zoning methodology, and implementation. Joanna works with governments, stakeholders, academics, the public and local partners to build multi-sector science-based marine spatial plans. Currently, she is the process and science lead for Seychelles Marine Spatial Plan Initiative, and supports other MSP in Canada, Eastern Caribbean, Western Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean. Joanna has 10 years of experience in MSP including as Science Coordinator for the Marine Plan Partnership for North Pacfic Coast (MaPP) in Canada and lead for TNC’s MSP science in coastal Washington 2008-2011. Joanna’s work focuses on integrating science, governance, marine sectors, and stakeholder knowledge into MSP so that marine plans are relevant for the people using them and can be successfully implemented. Joanna received a Ph.D. from the University of Washington, Seattle USA. She is on the Editorial Board for The Skimmer and co-founder of the MSP community listserv on Open Channels.  Joanna serves as science advisor to SeaDoc Society and Laskeek Bay Conservation Society, and is a member of the IOC-UNESCO MSPglobal Expert Group. 

Kate Longley-Wood, M.S.
Ocean Mapping Coordinator
The Nature Conservancy, USA

Kate is the Ocean Mapping Coordinator for The Nature Conservancy’s Global Oceans program.  She provides technical and logistical support for MSP efforts in a variety of locations including the Seychelles and Baja, Mexico.  She also provides  communication materials on MSP, maintains and builds websites, and assists with a range of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) projects for Global Oceans and TNC’s regional programs.  As the project and data manager for TNC’s Mapping Ocean Wealth project, she oversees development of web-based ecosystem service mapping tools. For the Seychelles MSP, Kate provides project support for stakeholder input & feedback, meeting documentation, communications materials, and assistance to project management. Previously, she worked as a project manager at SeaPlan, an ocean planning non-profit, supporting ocean planning efforts in the U.S. through spatial data development and stakeholder engagement projects.  Her interest in ocean mapping and planning stems from professional and academic experience in marine mammalogy, ecology, and GIS.  Kate has worked as a right whale aerial observer and researcher in Georgia and Massachusetts, and completed a thesis on the distribution of right whales in Massachusetts Bay.  She received an M.Sc. in Biology from the University of Massachusetts Boston and a B.A. in Biology from Wesleyan University. Kate’s publications include reviews of decision-support tools and developing marine plans in the United States. 

Carmen Ravenga
Sustainable Fisheries Strategy Lead
The Nature Conservancy, USA

Carmen leads the Coastal Fisheries Strategy within the Global Oceans Team at The Nature Conservancy. The strategy focuses on supporting fisheries reform via the application of FishPath. FishPath is an engagement process for guiding the development of fisheries management strategies in data and capacity-limited situations. The FishPath process is underpinned by a web-based decision support tool that helps users consider the fundamental elements of sustainability for a fishery and offers a suite of options for management strategy development. The FishPath team has been applying FishPath in collaboration with fishing communities, government scientists, and fishery stakeholders around the world. We hope to link FishPath to MSP projects, where appropriate, to help improve the management of coastal fisheries and increase fisheries science and management capacity among key stakeholders. 

Global Science

Hugh Possingham, Ph.D.
Chief Scientist
The Nature Conservancy, World Office

In 2016 Hugh became The Chief Scientist of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the world’s largest environmental non-government organization. He is based in Arlington Virginia (USA) and Brisbane (Australia). His expertise is in ecology, applied mathematics, spatial planning, operations research and economic instruments for conservation outcomes. He has coauthored >650 refereed publications covered by the Web of Science (>30+ in the world’s top journals: Science, Nature or PNAS). He has supervised >80 PhD students and >50 postdoctoral fellows. In 2016, Hugh was elected a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences, the most prestigious science academy in the world. He is one of less than 500 foreign associates in the National Academy of Sciences globally. As the Chief Scientist of The Nature Conservancy Hugh guides and promotes the work of our >350 practicing scientists working in 72 countries and every state of the US. He chairs the SNAPP (Science for Nature and People Partnership) board and represents The Nature Conservancy on the Natural Capital Partnership led by Stanford University. “Global Science” reports to Hugh – a collection of >30 people working to assist all aspects of science across the conservancy with the primary purpose of ensuring that The Nature Conservancy is a science-based organization. Hugh works with, and is guided by, a Scientific Advisory Council and the Cabinet of Lead Scientists. Additional information on Our People –

Jennifer McGowan, Ph.D.
Spatial Planning Technical Coordinator
The Nature Conservancy, USA

Jennifer is the Spatial Planning Technical Coordinator for TNC’s Global Science team and is responsible for supporting spatial action mapping under the Conservancy’s Shared Conservation Agenda. Jennifer’s work also focuses on the development and uptake of tailored decision-support tools for conservation prioritization and planning. Jennifer has spent the last five years helping countries and NGOs around the world integrate decision-support tools into their biodiversity and conservation strategies.  She advised the spatial planning process which delivered the Coral Triangle’s largest multi-use marine park, Tun Mustapha Park in Malaysian Borneo, and has worked on a diverse range of prioritization problems from the highly contested waters of the Adriatic Sea to the remote seascapes of Papua New Guinea.  Additional information on Our People –


Helena Sims, B.Sc.(Adv.)
Seychelles MSP Project Manager
The Nature Conservancy, Africa

Helena is the Project Manager of the Seychelles MSP. She is responsible for implementing and achieving the MSP initiative by overseeing and representing TNC in relationships with Government agencies, NGO and corporate stakeholders and working closely with the MSP advisory committees. She serves as the secretary to the MSP Steering Committee. She assists in funding proposals, research grants and coordination with other projects. Ms. Sims supports the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT).  Ms Sims has work experience in Marine Conservation Biology and Project Management. Upon her return from University she has worked at the Research section at the Seychelles National Parks Authority, as a Project coordinator at the Green Islands Foundation NGO, and managing a 4-year GoS-UNDP-GEF Protected Areas Project.  Ms. Sims received a B.Sc. in Marine Biology Advanced from the James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia.


Jenn Burt, Ph.D.
B.C. Marine Program Lead
Nature United, Canada

Jenn is the BC Marine Program Lead and is responsible for the marine strategies and activities on Canada’s Pacific Coast.  Jenn is a passionate marine ecologist, facilitator, and communicator with expertise in kelp forest ecology, resilience and adaptation in coastal human communities, integrated marine planning, and resource management in linked social-ecological systems. She has been involved in multiple coastal planning initiatives (marine protected area network design, integrated marine planning on BC’s north coast, and an ongoing proposal for a UNESCO biosphere region), which contribute to her interest in how communities, governments, NGOs and industry can work together to achieve better ecosystem-based management. Prior to her PhD, she was the Marine Planning Coordinator at the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society where she worked to strengthen protected area planning, encourage science-based management, and advance many regional marine planning processes. Before that, she obtained a Masters degree in Pacific salmon ecology from UBC, and coordinated marine biology and conservation education programs at the Vancouver Aquarium.

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