Board Members

Bashir Ahmed

Chair

Bashir has been a Business and Technology leader throughout his career. His business acumen and technical expertise has proven valuable in Aeon for Ocean initiative. He has been the driving force behind upbringing of Aeon for Ocean's organizational entity, forging partnerhip with organizations alike, online presence, etc. He always has been an avid advocate of investing in science, engineering and creating awareness. "Awareness begins with knowledge. Learn, think, and act to reduce the human impact on the planet. let's be optimistic, educate ourselves, celebrate what we have and create awareness to keep it the same as well as try recovering what is lost!

Professionally and personally has been involved in various aspects of business development & technology for years and passionate about STEM education. He continues learning about marine life & ecosystem and has been studying about marine habitats and ocean conservation for past several years and believes "it is about knowing and recognizing that we are part of everything, and everything is a part of us - We are One"

Alex Cooper

Treasurer

Alex is a Director at FOX 9 News in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul television market who has been awarded a Regional Emmy® and eight additional nominations for automation-based live productions over the past 12 years. His additional skills come from serving as the President, Board of Directors for Ridgewoods Condominium #1 Association. In that role Alex has been able to implement a recycling program for 20 units which previously had only trash service, partner with Hennepin County to pass along continuing education materials to homeowners on the importance of recycling, and work to upgrade the property to reduce the carbon footprint mainly through energy improvements. He wrote his thesis on the association's ability to grow satisfaction by providing better communication to owners through strategic outreach and empowerment tools. In his spare time, he enjoys visiting the National Parks and other public lands here in the US along with Canada to hike, camp, photograph animals, or try out something new in connecting with nature.
He holds a Master's Degree in Strategic Communication Management (Concordia University - Saint Paul), Bachelor's Degree in Communications / Associates in Environmental, Safety & Security Technologies (Thomas Edison State University), and Associates in Accounting/Mass Communication / Certificates in Management, Human Resource Management, along with Marketing Management (Normandale Community College). The volunteering seed was planted early in Alex's life as he began helping with video production work for the local food shelf in high school and was presented with the Caring Youth Award by the City of Minnetonka along with a nomination for the Youth Service Award by what was then Time Warner Cable.

Andrea Cook

Andrea is a certified Human Resources professional and Silicon Valley native who spent most of her free time there on the California coast, especially Monterey Bay. Her professional background consists of 20+ years of Human Resources experience, including more than 10 years of HR leadership. Versed in overseeing volunteer and intern programs, she is excited to now volunteer her time and expertise to various nonprofits with causes important to her and her family.

Andrea currently resides in Utah. Upon moving there in 2013, she realized the importance of, and need for, ocean conservation education and action in inland areas and landlocked states. Andrea knows firsthand the impact of education and community outreach in raising awareness to protect the oceans and marine life and ecosystems; she is committed to advocating for these precious resources. Andrea joined Aeon for Ocean because she believes in their mission and call to action.

Clark Johnson

Clark is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Pepperdine University's Graziadio Business School in Malibu, CA, where he teaches various marketing subjects at the graduate level. He earned his Ph.D. in marketing and international business from Saint Louis University. Prior to pursuing his PhD, he worked for several Fortune 500 companies, including BNY Mellon, State Street Bank, Citigroup, and Fireman’s Fund. He also holds a MA in Economics and Finance from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, an MBA from the University of Central Missouri, and a BA from Hannibal-LaGrange University, where he competed on the baseball team. Clark grew up in Saint Louis, and strongly believes in raising awareness about ocean conservation among his midwestern peers and in encouraging a sense of personal agency for today's youth. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, golfing, music, and watching live sports.

Cynde McInnis

Cynde has been involved in the world of whale education since 1994. As owner of The Whalemobile-a life-sized model of a humpback whale-Cynde travels to schools and libraries educating students about whales and the oceans and what students can do to help protect both. She has worked with Cape Ann Whale Watch in Gloucester, MA as a naturalist and Education Director spending thousands of hours observing these amazing animals in their natural habitat. In the fall semester, she can be found at Salem State University in Salem, MA teaching courses about whales, tourism and interpretation. Cynde brings with her an ability to make whales relevant and accessible for everyone through methods

Cynde arrived in Gloucester via Dartmouth College in 1994 having received and BA in Psychology. She earned one of the few Master's degrees ever awarded in whale watch education having designed her own program through Lesley University. Taking a variety of educational theories and applying it to a whale watch setting, she developed a program that strives to make a difference in the lives of the passengers, and therefore, the lives of the whales.

Melissa Halvorsen

Melissa credits her love of animals to her early years spent following her biologist father around in the field whenever she wasn't in school. After pursuing a B.A. in English from Weber State University, she began working as an interpretive ranger for the National Park Service. It was doing this work that helped her realize she could unite her love of storytelling and the natural world by working as an informal environmental educator. Since then, she has worked for Utah State Parks, Ogden Nature Center, Alpine School District, and most recently, Loveland Living Planet Aquarium as the Engagement and Learning Manager. Melissa has certifications in Environmental Education from Utah State University and Instructional Design from the University of Utah. Melissa is excited to share Aeon for Ocean's mission with the world and hopes to reach new audiences with creative approaches to teaching and learning.

When Melissa has spare time, she likes to read, play complicated board games, and start craft projects she never intends to finish. She has a fantastic husband, two incredibly smart (and nerdy) children, and lots of adorable pets.

Patrick Tillisch

Patrick is an attorney in Big Sky, Montana at Griffith & Cummings. He brings prior Board of Directors experience and a passion for conservation to the team. Patrick is originally from Fargo, North Dakota, and holds a Juris Doctor from The University of Montana School of Law, where he also received a certificate in Natural Resources and Environmental Law. During law school, Patrick interned at the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

After law school, Patrick was an attorney in Seattle with Perkins Coie. He is also the current the Program Director with Big Sky Futbol Club, the youth soccer club in Big Sky, and is actively providing consulting to Guided Opportunities, a non-profit which focuses on community development by offering educational opportunities to communities in Honduras.

Raphael Fennimore

Raphael is a life-long ocean advocate, currently wrapping up his M.S. in Marine Science and Technology through the University of Massachusetts Intercampus Marine Science Graduate Program. Raphael’s graduate work focused on assembling a thermal imaging aerial drone for whale observance, advised by Dr. Scott Kraus (V.P. for Research and Chief Scientist for Marine Mammal Conservation, New England Aquarium). Raphael is also a Research Associate for Gotham Whale (New York City), a co-leader of the Society for Marine Mammalogy Northeast Student Chapter (SMM-NE), and a certified 2019 Antarctic Peninsula Field Guide (IAATO), having recently helped lead a whale-oriented Antarctic expedition for Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris in February-March 2019.

Previously, Raphael has served on the National Board of Directors of the American Cetacean Society – the world’s oldest whale, dolphin, and porpoise conservation group - and he has also worked in the U.K. for the World Cetacean Alliance. Raphael has held whale research internships for the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (NOAA) and for the New England Aquarium, and he holds a graduate certificate in GIS (University of Massachusetts, Boston), an undergraduate degree in Marine Science (Boston University), and is also an alumnus of the Sea Education Association. When not with whales, Raphael has worked as a hydrographic surveyor doing marine/coastal mapping in Texas, an Apple/Linux administrator at Harvard University, a teaching assistant, a sailing instructor, and as a pianist in a church choir and jazz band. Raphael is also an avid SCUBA diver and a former NCAA Division-I track athlete.