Board of Directors


Executive Director and Founder of MERITO Foundation Inc.

Rocío has a B. Sc. in Oceanography, a M. Sc. in Marine Resource Protection and extensive experience in the areas of ocean research, conservation and sustainable tourism in USA, Mexico, Korea, Japan, and Scotland. Rocío adapted the MERITO program to southern California for NOAA in 2005 and directed it until 2013 when she co-founded the MERITO Foundation. She has reached over 10 million people through ocean conservation outreach projects, immersed over 15,000 students on Earth & ocean science and issues, and has raised the capacity of more than 300 teachers and 100 Marine Protected Areas practitioners in the areas of ocean science and resource protection in the past 12 years. She is an avid SCUBA diver, loves to see the world, and advocates tirelessly for an inclusive and diverse new generation of environmental activists.


Andrea Mills


Andrea has a B.S. in Aquatic Biology from UCSB and Ms in Marine Biology, and a teacher credential. She has developed a number of educational programs and curricula focused on the marine and coastal resources of the Santa Barbara Channel Region and inspires over 10,000 visitors to the Channel Islands per year to protect the ocean. An avid diver, surfer and committed environmentalist. Inspiring a passion for the ocean in all those she meets.

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Cliff Rodrigues


Cliff has a BA in Education from San José State University and M. A. from USC in Education Administration. Cliff was the Director of Bilingual Education and Technology for Ventura County Office of Education for many years, ​now retired, and lives​ in Ventura, California​. He has​ served on the Ventura Unified School Board for 12 years. He is currently working on a part-time basis for Loyola Marymount University teaching Spanish for Ventura teachers. ​He is also a certified volunteer naturalist for the Channel Islands National Park and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. 


Linda Chilton

Board of Director

Linda is one of the most accomplished, committed, and experienced marine science educators in California and the U.S. Currently, she is the USC Sea Grant Education Programs Manager responsible for developing, implementing, and coordinating a wide range of educational programs focusing on both students and teachers. Ms. Chilton has helped develop and organize countless marine education projects such as the harmful algal bloom watch program with 12 informal science centers in the Southern California area. 

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Judy Willens

Vice President

Judy has assisted with MERITO programs as a field scientist and educator for about 10 years and joined the Board in 2016. Judy has been a member of Channel Islands Naturalist Corps. for the past 18 years. In 2017, Judy received certification of interpretative guide from the National Association of Interpreters.  Judy holds a Bachelors in Environmental Science and an MBA in Organizational Development. Recently retired from a career including many aspects of environmental study, Judy has experience in air, water, and waste monitoring, analyses & regulation, environmental assessment, transportation demand management, training & outreach, and legislative analysis & public policy.  She is concerned for the future of science education and environmental protection and enjoys working with the students in the MERITO programs to convey her lifetime love of the outdoors. Judy is also an alternate on the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council.  A SoCal native, her interests include SCUBA diving, flying, playing flute, and traveling; mostly to places with an ocean.


Jennifer Eggersten

Vice President

International Student Advisor, Designated School Official of Santa Barbara City College. Jennifer holds a B.A. in cultural anthropology from California State University, Chico. She has traveled to Mexico and Costa Rica, and Belize for Earthwatch research trip on the barrier reef. She is currently in an. M.S. program for resilient and sustainable communities at Green Mountain College.


David Lantrip, Ph.D.

Board Secretary

David B. Lantrip is a serial entrepreneur and adviser to startup companies, providing executive coaching and expertise in strategic planning, business development, technology development, financing, and marketing. His interdisciplinary, 40-year career has spanned academic, technical, and business domains, including professional certification in Mechanical Engineering with applications in aerospace research, development and testing, as well as graduate research and professional practice in space & terrestrial architecture and enterprise software development. David holds five technology patents and is an author of over a dozen published technical papers. He has co-founded two successful Venture-backed analytics platform startups focused on text mining & visualization (Cartia, acquired by in 1999) and mixed data analytics & predictive modeling (Intelligent Results, acquired by First Data Corp in 2007), as well as more recently a private social networking company, Life Event Networks, Inc. 


Mohammed A. Hasan

Board of Director

Mohammed is a veteran environmental leader in Ventura county with 45 years of experience dealing with various environmental issues and projects. Mr. Hasan,  principal engineer and owner of the civil and environmental firm Hasan Consultants in Ventura, has served in many nonprofit organizations in the county.