2024 Annual Meeting

The SECOORA Annual Meeting was May 7th – 8th, 2024 in Charleston, South Carolina.

Meeting Overview

The 2024 SECOORA Annual Meeting was held in Charleston, South Carolina on May 7 – 8. The meeting brought together coastal ocean scientists, community representatives, and students from around the Southeast to:

  • Learn about ongoing coastal observing activities
  • Network with professionals in the field
  • Prepare for new opportunities focused on community engagement and product development


Board Meeting and Members Business Meeting

Pictured left: SECOORA Board of Directors met during the Annual Meeting, with Members in attendance. Pictured right: Gary Mitchum (Board Chair, USF), Scott Harris (new Board member, College of Charleston), and Debra Hernandez (SECOORA Executive Director).

Board Election Results

The meeting kicked off with the Board of Directors meeting and the Members Business Meeting, where we announced the winners of the 2024 Board Election:

  • Industry/Private Sector: Patrick Barrineau, Coastal Science & Engineering
  • Public Agencies/Non-Profit/Other Sector: Evelien VanderKloet, Ocean Tracking Network
  • North Carolina At Large: Nathan Hall, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
  • South Carolina At Large: Scott Harris, College of Charleston

Thank you to Susan Lovelace (SC Sea Grant Consortium) for serving on the SECOORA Board, and especially her willingness to be Treasurer! We want to welcome Scott Harris with College of Charleston as our new At Large South Carolina Board representative. We also would like to thank Gary Mitchum for serving as our Board Chair for the past two years, as he will be rotating out of this position this summer.

New Staff

Join us in welcoming our new SECOORA staff members! Cotie Alsbrooks (SECOORA Water Level Manager), Theo Jass (WebCOOS Manager), and Emily Noakes (Communications and Engagement Specialist) all began their new positions with SECOORA last fall.

Strategic Plan

We solicited feedback from SECOORA members in the fall regarding our Strategic Plan. The Board and SECOORA staff worked together to finalize the minor changes and produce the new 2024 – 2029 SECOORA Strategic Plan. We will use our Strategic Plan and Regional Coastal Ocean Observing System (RCOOS) Plan to set funding priorities for the next five year Cooperative Agreement with US IOOS, which will start in July of 2026.

Member and Partner Appreciation

Thank you to our members and partners for the support shown after the President’s Budget request was released this spring, designating a 76% budget cut for the IOOS program for 2025. We will continue to work with Congress to ensure IOOS and the Regional Associations get the funding we need.


Pictured left: SECOORA members and partners share ideas and form connections during the Annual Meeting social. Pictured left center: Luke McEachron (Florida FWC) and Jennifer Dorton (SECOORA Deputy Director). Pictured right center: Claire McGrath (SCDRP Program Coordinator) and Heather McCarthy (SCDRP Executive Director). Pictured right: Makiah Mooney (Savannah State University), Kevin Mukai (Hohonu), and Bradley Craig (SC Office of Resilience)

After meeting attendees traveled to the International African American museum for an optional field trip, we reconvened at the meeting venue for the Annual Meeting Social. Over 80 SECOORA members and partners joined us for this valuable networking opportunity.

The social kicked off the first round of Lightning Talks, where we heard from SECOORA Principal Investigators about their projects. This year, we split the Lightning Talks into three segments and distributed them between the two days of the meeting. Abstracts were provided for all SECOORA-supported projects (linked here) and presentations are linked below.

Stakeholder Meeting

Kristen Yarincik (IOOS Association), Susan Fox (IOOS Program Office), and Debra Hernandez (SECOORA) led the first panel discussion of the day.

The second day of the 2024 SECOORA Annual Meeting began with updates from Kristen Yarincik (IOOS Association) and Susan Fox (IOOS Program Office). Theo Jass (SECOORA) provided an overview of the demographics of SECOORA’s region to provide context for the panel discussion with Kristen Yarincik and Susan Fox on new IOOS initiatives related to community engagement, moderated by Debra Hernandez. The panel discussed the new work that IOOS will undertake as part of the anticipated Inflation Reduction Act grants, including community engagement, development of new tools and products, and equitable service delivery assessments. Collaboration across regions will help facilitate these initiatives with the goal of increasing coastal resilience for underserved communities.

Representatives from community-serving organizations sat down to discuss fostering trust between communities and scientists (Left to right: Paul Sandifer (moderator, College of Charleston), Matthew Gorstein (SC Sea Grant Consortium), Andrew Wunderley (Charleston Waterkeeper), Keisha Long (EJ Strong, DHEC), Namita Koppa (TCTAC), and Najeema Washington (CCRAB).

Our second panel of the day brought together representatives from community-serving organizations to discuss fostering trust between communities and scientists. Panelists included Matthew Gorstein (SC Sea Grant Consortium), Andrew Wunderley (Charleston Waterkeeper), Keisha Long (EJ Strong, DHEC), Namita Koppa (TCTAC), and Najeema Washington (CCRAB). Long-time SECOORA partner Paul Sandifer (College of Charleston) moderated this session. Below are some key takeaways:

  • Learning is reciprocal between community members and scientists: community members can learn from scientists, and scientists can learn from community members about their lived experiences.
  • Build in monetary compensation for community partners (e.g. CCRAB) and individual community members (e.g. focus groups, research participants) when writing proposals.
  • Invite the community members to conferences/data-sharing convenings and include travel funds in proposals.
  • Facilitate the development of community data-sharing platforms.
  • Listen actively and engage community members in the decision-making process.
  • Avoid overburdening communities. Make and foster connections, then follow through on the research by providing access to the data and progress updates.
  • Make contact with communities early on in the process, starting with community leaders such as neighborhood associations, local leadership (county/city council), or the local clergy.
  • Familiarize your team with how the community describes themselves and learn the local context.
  • Meet people where they are – weekends, evenings – in locations that are safe and open to the community (e.g. community buildings, churches)
Scientists that have developed products which rely on various environmental data to inform decision-making discussed strategic product development on the final panel of the day. Pictured left to right: Patrick Barrineau (Coastal Science and Engineering), Dwayne Porter (USC Arnold School of Public Health), Brian Barnes (USF), Ke’Ziyah Williamson (SC Sea Grant Consortium), and Mary Conley (The Nature Conservancy).

The final panel of the Stakeholder meeting included scientists that have developed products which rely on various environmental data to inform decision-making. Panelists included Dwayne Porter (USC Arnold School of Public Health), Brian Barnes (USF), Ke’Ziyah Williamson (SC Sea Grant Consortium), and Mary Conley (The Nature Conservancy). SECOORA Board member Patrick Barrineau (Coastal Science and Engineering) moderated this session, which aimed to dive into the product development process. Key takeaways include:

  • Track web usage to help determine if you are reaching your target audience.
  • Build community connections and directly talk to community members, sharing informational materials about your product (how to use it, why it’s important, etc).
  • Spread the word within communities about your product. In many cases, community members don’t know the work is being done.
  • Disruptions in data flow are an issue. When technology fails and backup services are not in place, then we fail to meet our stakeholder needs and people lose confidence in the product.
  • Prioritize maintenance and up-keep of data sources / sensors to limit disruptions to product availability
  • Expansion needs to be fully evaluated – data storage, data display have to be scaled up and this takes time and funding.
  • Tools that rely on access to data require diligence and long term maintenance since sometimes data sources change or are no longer updated.
  • Videos that show community members how to use a tool, using universally understood language, are critical.

After hearing from the product developers, the audience participated in an interactive survey regarding what products SECOORA should develop in the future. Click here to see the final results.

Meeting Agenda

Tuesday, May 7th

Board Meeting, Members Business Meeting, Field Trip, and Social

Time Activity
12:30 – 1:00 PM Registration for Board Meeting
1:00 – 1:45 PM SECOORA Board Meeting
1:45 – 2:00 PM Coffee Break, Registration for Members Business Meeting
2:00 – 2:30 PM SECOORA Members Business Meeting
3:00 – 5:00 PM Field Trip to International African American Museum
5:30 – 8:00 PM Social and Lightning Talks

  • Mary Conley, The Nature Conservancy
  • Dwayne Porter, University of South Carolina
  • Scott Noakes, The University of Georgia
  • Mallory Mintz, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography
  • Kayla Hughes, Florida Gulf Coast University
  • Joy Young, The FACT Network
  • Eric Montie, University of South Carolina Beaufort
  • Tracey Smart, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

Moderator: Gary Mitchum, University of South Florida, SECOORA Board Chair

Wednesday, May 8th

Stakeholder Meeting

Time Activity
8:15 – 8:45 AM Registration (coffee and snacks provided)
9:00 – 9:30 AM Updates from U.S. IOOS and the IOOS Association

  • Kristen Yarincik, IOOS Association
  • Susan Fox, IOOS Program Office

Moderator: Debra Hernandez, SECOORA

9:30 – 10:00 AM New IOOS Initiatives related to Community Engagement

  • Theo Jass, SECOORA
  • Kristen Yarincik, IOOS Association
  • Susan Fox, IOOS Program Office

Moderator: Debra Hernandez, SECOORA

10:00 – 10:10 AM Gold Sponsor Highlight
10:10 – 10:20 AM Coffee Break
10:20 AM – 11:00 AM Lightning Talks

  • Troy Walton, University of North Carolina
  • Janet Reimer, Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean
  • Jennifer Dorton, SECOORA
  • Greg Dusek, NOAA
  • Heather McCarthy, SCDRP
  • Ke’Ziyah Williamson, South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium

Moderator: Gary Mitchum, University of South Florida, SECOORA Board Chair

11:00 – 11:15 AM Coffee Break
11:15 AM – 12:15 PM Building Bridges: Fostering Trust Between Communities and Scientists 

  • Najeema Washington (CCRAB)
  • Keisha Long (EJ Strong)
  • Matthew Gorstein (SC Sea Grant Consortium)
  • Andrew Wunderley (Charleston Waterkeeper)
  • Namita Koppa (TCTAC)

Moderator: Paul Sandifer, College of Charleston

12:15 – 1:15 PM Lunch Provided
1:15 – 2:30 PM Lightning Talks

  • Lauren Showalter, Axiom Data Science
  • Catherine Edwards, SkIO/UGA
  • Cliff Merz, University of South Florida
  • Lynn Leonard, University of North Carolina Wilmington
  • Yonggang Liu, University of South Florida
  • Nicole Elko, American Shore & Beach Preservation Association
  • Luke McEachron, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
  • Brian Barnes, University of South Florida
  • Jennifer Warrillow, Fathom Science

Moderator: Gary Mitchum, University of South Florida, SECOORA Board Chair

2:30 – 2:40 PM Gold Sponsor Highlight
2:40 – 3:00 PM Coffee Break
3:00 – 4:00 PM Co-design and Translation: Strategic Product Development

  • Dwayne Porter, University of South Carolina, How’s The Beach
  • Ke’Ziyah Williamson, South Carolina Sea Grant, Water Level Outreach
  • Brian Barnes, University of South Florida, Sargassum Watch System
  • Mary Conley, The Nature Conservancy, Southeast Marine Mapping Tool

Moderator: Patrick Barrineau, Coastal Science & Engineering, Inc.

4:00 – 4:30 PM Closing Remarks and Adjourn

Meeting Materials

Meeting Documents

2024 Board Elections