Meet the Dream Team

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Daniela V. Fernandez

Founder and CEO

Daniela is an award-winning social entrepreneur, thought leader, and internationally sought-after speaker on the entrepreneurial mindset, ocean innovation, technology, youth empowerment, and sustainability. 

At the age of 19, Daniela founded Sustainable Ocean Alliance as a college-room idea at Georgetown University. Five years later, SOA has created the world's largest network of young Ocean Leaders in over 150 countries and launched the world's first Ocean Solutions Accelerator to support developing technological solutions to address the greatest threats facing our planet. 

Daniela has been recognized for her work by former U.S. Secretary John Kerry, U.S. President Bill Clinton,  and E.U. Commissioner Karmenu Vella. She is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper and a member of Friends of Ocean Action—a select group of leaders working to fast-track solutions to ocean challenges. She was awarded the 2020 Rising Star Visionary Award  by the Silicon Valley Forum and named a 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneur. Other awards and recognitions include Glamour Magazine's College Women of the Year, Zula's Top 5 Ocean Heroes of 2016, the Peter Benchley Ocean Award, and the Bustle Upstart Award. Daniela is a contributor to National Geographic and Sustainable Brands, and has been interviewed by Voice of America, New York City TV, and Ocean Radio. She has served as a keynote speaker at The Economist World Ocean Summit, the Global Climate Summit, The Global Convening of Mayors, The United Nations, U.S. Capitol Hill Ocean Week, Collision Conference, Sustainable Brands Conference, WE Day, and Davos 2019 - The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting.


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Craig Dudenhoeffer

Chief Innovation Officer

Craig Dudenhoeffer is the co-founder of SOA’s Ocean Solutions Accelerator, where he helps entrepreneurs leverage technology to solve the ocean’s biggest problems. Prior to joining SOA, Craig worked at ReadWrite where he helped launch the world’s first Internet of Things (IoT) accelerator program. At ReadWrite, Craig worked closely with 115 early-stage technology startups from a variety of industries including healthcare, agriculture, fitness, safety, cleantech, energy, and smart cities. Before entering the technology sector, Craig worked at the National Marine Fisheries Service and studied Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California Santa Cruz.


Michael Skinner CPA, JD, LLM

Michael Skinner CPA, JD, LLM

Chief Operations Officer

Michael brings a broad-based background and deep experience in operations, finance and accounting, legal and business matters, corporate finance, real estate, and taxation. Previously a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Attorney (JD), he has a Masters (LLM) in Taxation and a Masters (LLM) in Corporate Law from New York University (with honors). Michael brings managerial support and experience to SOA from both nonprofit and for-profit emerging companies in various industries, including energy, water remediation, biofuels, and other technologies. As an avid diver, Michael has intimate knowledge of, and relationship with, the splendor of the oceans; and believes that preservation of the ocean, nature’s greatest resource, is paramount in our efforts to negate the effects of climate change.



Brandon Levy

Program Director

Brandon is a community builder, systems thinker, and mission-driven professional with experience working with leading sustainable enterprises.  He is passionate about equipping youth leaders with frameworks for strategic thinking and conscious leadership, which he believes are the necessary skill sets to achieve maximum social impact and personal fulfillment. Outside of SOA, Brandon is a board member for the Young Professionals in Energy and is a mentor for StartingBloc, a fellowship program that convenes, supports, and shapes the leaders our future needs. During his tenure at the California Clean Energy Fund (CalCEF), Brandon helped manage CalSEED, a funding and professional development program for innovators and entrepreneurs working to develop early-stage clean energy concepts. Brandon recently completed an MBA at the Presidio Graduate School where he focused on market-based solutions to climate change.  In addition to the MBA, Brandon holds a B.A. in International Affairs from the George Washington University where he graduated with special honors . Brandon enjoys spending his free time listening to and creating music, philosophizing with friends, traveling to beautiful locales, playing basketball, and engaging in contemplative practices.


audrey reisdorffer

Audrey Reisdorffer

Marketing Lead and Events Coordinator

Audrey is responsible for recruiting ocean tech entrepreneurs and SOA Ocean Leaders.  As Events Coordinator for Our Ocean Youth Leadership Summit, she deals with projects with Hong Kong efficiency and French flair. She has worked for global brands including H+K, Parrot, Incisive Media, Oxford University Press and The Economist and shows strong interest for social enterprises, the sharing economy and sustainable development.  She holds a PhD in Modern History and MA in Corporate Communications from the Sorbonne.


Taylor Garrett

Program and Business Development Manager

Taylor brings an expertise in nonprofit development and an abiding dedication to environmental sustainability to his work at SOA. He believes that saving the planet in the next 12 years will require bringing forth a world where young people feel the possibilityand moral responsibility—to create a life aligned with both their values and a thriving ocean. Taylor graduated summa cum laude from the University of Colorado with a concentration in environmental and indigenous policy. He has held positions at National Geographic, Americorps, and land and ethnic conservation NGOs in New York City and San Francisco.


Katie Diggs

Accelerator Program Associate

Katie graduated with BSc in Environmental Science with a concentration in Applied Ecology from the College of Arts and Sciences at Santa Clara University. At Santa Clara, Katie worked with the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship as a Global Social Benefit Fellow. As a fellow, she assisted Sistema Biobolsa, a social enterprise based in Mexico City, in scaling their operations to serve new markets overseas. Prior to joining SOA as Accelerator Program Associate, Katie worked at Impact Amplifier based in Cape Town, South Africa, where she supported several of their accelerator programs by helping early-stage high-impact social enterprises of various sectors develop growth strategies and investment cases. In her free time Katie enjoys surfing, skiing, painting, and cooking.

Brittany DeGirolamo

Brittany DeGirolamo

Social Media Manager

Brittany has 10 years of experience leading creative social media and marketing projects while working with highly visible, cutting edge brands, bringing them to new heights of excellence, profitability and success. She has consulted and worked for companies like, IMG Worldwide, Ogilvy & Mather, production glue, Merchants Hospitality and HAVAS Worldwide as well as with Fortune 500 brands like IBM, Visa, United Airlines, Evian, HBO, Nike, Accor Hotels and more. She is inspired by supporting entrepreneurs working to make a positive impact on their community. 

Haley Steinhauser

Haley Steinhauser

Public Relations Director

Haley Steinhauser’s love for storytelling landed her in the field of Marketing and Public Relations where she has worked in startups for nearly a decade managing teams, leading strategic (internal and external) communications, developing brand strategy and elevating executive team members into thought leaders. Prior to joining SOA as director of public relations, Haley led communications for multiple political campaigns and directed corporate communication for various startups in a wide variety of industries including telecommunications and consumer packaged goods. After graduating from Regis University with a BA in English she moved from Colorado back home to Long Beach, California where she currently resides with her husband and dog. 


Sophie Greene

Accelerator Research Fellow

Sophie currently attends St. Andrews University in Scotland, where she's studying Environmental Science with a focus on marine sustainability. In her spare time she works on projects related to fashion and event sustainability. She enjoys golf, fast cars, and swimming with sharks. 

Advisors and Fellows


Nishan Degnarain

Special Advisor

Nishan is an economist and the founder of Breakthrough Ocean Ventures, an advisory firm that leverages new technologies to solve ocean problems. He formerly served as Chair of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council and assisted in establishing the WEF Special Initiative on the Ocean. He is the author of Soul of the Sea in the Age of the Algorithm and played an instrumental role in developing SOA's 2019 State of Our Ocean Report.

josh shaeffer

Josh Shaeffer

Special Advisor

Josh advises SOA on digital strategy, sustainability, and partnerships. He is also a member of the SOA Mentor program.

Emily Tewes

Emily Tewes

Community Manager
Emily is a Marine Ecologist and Ocean Conservationist with six years of federal government experience focusing on fisheries biology, climate change, science education, and international program management. During her time at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), she helped build new research partnerships and foster existing ones with colleagues in Japan, Indonesia, Korea, and the Caribbean. As a Knauss Marine Policy Fellow, she worked with NOAA leadership to respond to the agency's tasks under President Obama's Climate Action Plan. She highly values interdisciplinary collaboration and working across cultures, and geeks out over innovative solutions to environmental challenges. She holds a M.S. in Marine Estuarine Environmental Science from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and a B.S. in Soil, Environmental, and Atmospheric Science from the University of Missouri. She is also an avid scuba diver, bird watcher, swimmer, and yoga practitioner. She is currently based in Barcelona, Spain.
Alexia Schmidt                                                  Alexia Schmidt Bio Photo

Alexia Schmidt

Communications and Business Development Fellow

Alexia is a passionate communicator and business strategist for companies and causes that aim to change the world. Alexia believes successfully communicating the need for action on climate issues is the biggest challenge of our generation. Her previous experience lies in public relations, business management, and sales for tech startups. Alexia recently graduated magna cum laude from the University of Florida with a B.S. in public relations and is currently completing a Masters in Management at UF. She is on the board of the UF Hub of SOA and assists with communications for the club. 

Ron Tardiff

Ron Tardiff

Strategic Growth Fellow

Over the past 7 years, Ron has conducted research, developed strategy, managed projects, and supported outreach for 11 organizations on issues ranging from fisheries governance to marine education. Ron is committed to translating science to policy and working collaboratively to improve governance and management of fisheries and aquaculture. Ron holds a BSc in Marine Science, a BA in Maritime studies, and a MSc in Aquaculture. Ron has lived, worked, and studied in 9 countries.