- B.S., Environmental Science, University of South Alabama
Areas of Expertise
- Gulf ecosystems and restoration
- BP oil disaster
- Marine debris, beach cleanup
- Sea turtles
- Gulf fisheries
Kara has been part of Ocean Conservancy’s work in the Gulf of Mexico since 2011. A career ecologist and restoration manager, she leads the organization’s work across the Gulf Coast to ensure comprehensive, science-based and community-supported restoration of the Gulf ecosystem. Kara works to engage and connect with public officials, fishermen, conservation partners, members of communities by natural and human-caused disasters and others. Kara also serves on the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium Advisory Council.
Kara grew up in Mobile, Ala., spending as much time as she could on the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Today, her love for the people of the region and unique species and habitats fuels her sense of purpose. Her commitment to the region and its ecosystems also manifests through her volunteer work. For more than 10 years, Kara has volunteered for the Alabama Coastal Cleanup an effort that, since its inception 28 years ago, has removed more than 1.5 million pounds of trash from Alabama’s coastline. In 2012, Kara was honored with the Alabama PALS (People Against a Littered State) Governor’s award for her long-timer work with the Cleanup. She also volunteers for the Share the Beach program, which works to protect threatened and endangered sea turtles by ensuring their hatchlings are able to make their way to the sea where they can mature to adulthood.
Kara began her work with Ocean Conservancy in leading constituent outreach. She was promoted to associate director of the Gulf Restoration Program in 2015. In 2016, she was further promoted to the position of director. Prior to joining Ocean Conservancy, Kara served as a natural resource planner for the Baldwin County Commission in Alabama, where she implemented the county’s response efforts following the BP oil disaster and managed the county’s Coastal Impact Assistance Program.
My Ocean Animal
If I were a sea creature I would be a Loggerhead sea turtle. I fell in love with turtles at a young age. My brother and I had pet Box turtles that we kept in what we called the “turtle hotel’ in our backyard. When I became a little older I learned there were sea turtles that lived in the Gulf of Mexico. These ancient creatures have always intrigued me.
“The BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster was the largest oil disaster in the country. It impacted the entire northern Gulf ecosystem not to mention the devastating effects to the Gulf economy. This disaster has set in motion the largest ecosystem restoration effort in the world. However, there are no guarantees for success. That’s why Ocean Conservancy’s Gulf Restoration Program is working hard to ensure that decisions are science based, restoration projects are sound and consider the entire ecosystem, and that there is room to correct the course if projects aren’t on track to achieving their intended goals. With these side boards the Gulf of Mexico will be the single best example of how to restore a large marine ecosystem.”