Our Team

Aeon Bashir

Founder, Chief Krill

Aeon, the driving inspiration of our organization, founded Aeon for Ocean at the age of seven. His unprecedented passion for the ocean and its many ecosystems started when he was just two years old. He had showed profound love for the marine life displayed on his play mat, and he adored his stuffed dolphin and octopus. Instead of outgrowing this fascination with the sea, it grew with him. That fascination has since evolved into tremendous appreciation and respect, which he's used to impact not only the life of the ocean, but the lives of many people who depend on it.

Aeon understood from a young age that living far inland doesn't make you independent from the world's waters. Knowing this, he took every chance got to further explore his curiosity about the interconnectedness of life on Earth. He sought not only to learn just how much the ocean impacts people who don't live near it, but how those people impact the ocean in return.

This curiosity has taken him on multiple whale-watching tours, to beach clean-ups, and to marine conservation meetings. As his parents, we learned right along with Aeon, and we've remained truly amazed by life under the sea and how critical a role humans have in regards to its health. That said, we supported Aeon when he felt compelled to share his discoveries with family, friends, and peers. He's since been giving presentations at various schools about whales, dolphins, sharks, endangered marine species, and sustainable seafood. These presentations have become a critical component of Aeon for Ocean's mission.

Menaka Nagarajan

Co-Founder, Executive Director

Menaka oversees the governance of Aeon for Ocean and is heavily involved in communication and outreach for our Krill2Whale program. She has been instrumental in connecting with marine biologists, scientists, and various schools and communities on the educational programs.

Growing up on the coast, she realized that she – like many of us – was unwittingly part of the problem, so she strongly believes it's time to give back and strives to be a part of the solution by raising awareness to protect the oceans. The knowledge she has gained over the last several years has left her amazed at how wonderful the ocean and its creatures are, as well as the importance of healthy marine ecosystems and the critical role humans play towards its conservatio.

She is a computer engineer and has been in various roles in IT industry. She has been volunteering at Save the Water™ managing technology team and in local schools through various educational programs.

Bashir Ahmed

Co-Founder, Director of Operations & Technology

Bashir oversees the development and operations of Aeon for Ocean. His business acumen and technical expertise has proven valuable in Aeon for Ocean’s initiative. He has been the driving force behind the upbringing of Aeon for Ocean's organizational entity, forging partnership with organizations, online presence, and much more. He always has been an avid advocate of investing in science and engineering.

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

Alex Cooper

Director of Finance

Alex is a Director working 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.

Patrick Bloniasz

Director of Education

Patrick is an undergraduate at Bowdoin College and is a major in Neuroscience and Philosophy with a focus in mathematics and education. Patrick is an independent researcher for America’s Service Commissions and the Public Education Institute, focusing his work on Statistical Assessment Theory in educational curricula, national testing, and curriculum development. He is a contributor to intervention research in loneliness/social isolation, IDD, and major depressive disorders and is an active member of the American Psychological Association and the Psychometric Society.

Patrick has a great love of the ocean coming from his time growing up on the east coast and believes that oceanic conservation and environmental protection should be on the mind of all people; he believes that such a passion is developed early on in today's youth. In his free time, you can find
Patrick running on trails in Brunswick, Maine or fueling his love of iced coffee in one of the area’s shops with his friends (without a plastic straw of course)!

Ann Johnson

Music Director

Ann Johnson, music director of "The Krills" band is Aeon's piano teacher. With a degree in Music Education from Augustana College in Rock Island, IL, she has taught music K-12 and has been a church music director. She is currently directing two Handbell Choirs and a Sunday School children's choir, teaching a preschool music class and giving piano and guitar lessons. With a life long commitment to reduce, reuse and recycle, "Working to lessen pollution is right up my alley!"

Rashi Mahato

HR Lead

Rashi is a chemical engineering graduate and Masters in Business Administration in Human Resource Management. She has a total of 10+ years of corporate experience and a certified PHR (Professional in Human Resources) from HRCI (Human Resources Corporation Institute), USA.

She is currently working as a Pro Bono HR professional with Save The Water™. She strongly believes that there is nothing that people need in their lives more than water. "Save Water, Save Life"!

Kaitlyn Martinez

Marine Educator

Kaitlyn is an educator at the Marine Science Institute in Redwood City, California. She spends her days teaching students of all ages about the San Francisco Bay and all of its inhabitants. At MSI, Kaitlyn encourages hands-on learning, which often includes handling scientific equipment, touching sharks and bat rays, playing with mud, and exploring the Bay on a 90-foot research vessel named the Robert G. Brownlee. The San Francisco Bay is connected to the Pacific Ocean, which means its conservation is key in protecting our oceans. An Ecology graduate from University of California, Santa Cruz, Kaitlyn is most passionate about the beaches she grew up loving and spent her college career studying. She adores marine mammals of all kinds, but in light of environmental stressors such as climate change and overpopulation, has been focusing more on the big picture. Kaitlyn firmly believes that conservation of all kinds starts in the classroom, first with our students knowing about all the amazing wildlife that exists in this world, so they can be inspired to begin brainstorming ways in which they can protect it.

Lauryn Robaczewski

Program Manager

Lauryn has a degree in geography from the University of Texas at Austin and has 9 plus years of experience in the service industry and 1.5 years experience with teaching middle school. She has being the fundraising officer for her rugby team at UT. She is self-driven and hard working individual and has been described as flexible and coachable.
She firmly believes that 'educating youth is one of the most effective tools we have in taking steps to being the change we want to see in our environment'. Through her time in college, she learned about the importance of protecting the Earth and its oceans. She is very fond of the oceans, it brings her a peace and she finds great joy in aiding to protect it.

Alexia Raynal

Grant Writing Lead

Alexia is a social science researcher and educator with extensive experience promoting the development of digital literacies for under-resourced communities across formal and informal learning settings. Her professional career has focused on creating scaffolded educational curricula for classroom use, mentoring youth, and implementing grant-supported education programs and research projects that leverage digital technologies for learning. Alexia grew up near the Samalayuca Desert, where images of an ancient body of water flowing through the now-deserted sand dunes filled her imagination. Such images, combined with Herman Melville's detailed descriptions of cetaceans, continually inspire Alexia to raise awareness of marine life and ocean preservation.

Grace Hertzler

Grant Writing Associate

Grace Hertzler is a writer whose work strives to meet the values of eco-literacy. After graduating with a degree in English and Creative Writing, she moved to California to complete projects in the film industry while supporting ocean conservation efforts. She currently lives in North Dakota as a freelance grant writer with a specialty in environmental preservation.

Max Reagan

Publishing Associate

Max is a recent college graduate who has worked in education as an elementary school paraprofessional and behavioral specialist. However, his true passion is writing. He’s worked as a freelance writer in his spare time, writing blogs, articles and stories that have been published online and in print.

Although, Max has never lived near an ocean, he did live only blocks away from Lake Superior while receiving his bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Minnesota - Duluth. Living next to the world’s largest freshwater lake, Max always felt as if he were living on the coast of a great ocean.

His love for Superior led to a job as a staff blogger for the University of Wisconsin - Sea Grant Institute, communicating environmental topics pertaining to Lake Superior and it’s surrounding tributaries. Through the Institute, Max found out first hand the result climate change and human impact has had on our world’s oceans and waterways.
It has inspired him to communicate to the public through the written word the scientific truths about the impact we have on our environment and ways we can fix it.

Ashley Sexton

Publishing Associate

Ashley is an engineer by training who enjoys bringing science and technologies to audiences of all ages. After earning her degree in Chemical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University, Ashley began a career in the healthcare technology field, holding a variety of positions spanning clinical research, interoperative clinical support, quality and process improvement, and research and development. In her current position, Ashley serves as a project manager in the R&D department of a surgical robotics start-up, working towards bringing the next generation of minimally-invasive surgery to patients. Ashley was born and raised in Massachusetts and currently resides there with her husband and two young children. She strives to be a continuous learner and aims to bring the spirit of curiosity to all of her work.

Lavanya Kodavali

Marketing Analytics Project Lead

Lavanya is a result-oriented Analytics Professional with 6 years of experience majorly in procurement. Driven with passion towards analytics she acquired expertise in Business intelligence, Market research, Spend analytics, Cost modeling, Reports automation and Data visualization dashboards. Her analytic skills had proven success in empowering business decisions through data and insights.

She strongly believes in giving back to the society and making a difference. She was an organizing member of social responsibility club 'Prayatna' during her masters and organized several events like stem cell donation awareness camps and blood donation camps. She also ideated and executed a program 'Swar - Be the voice' which provided audio books that replace text books for a blind school in Udaipur, India. She also manually transcripted story books from English to Braille.

She earned Master's in Business Administration from Indian Institute of Management Udaipur, India, and Bachelor's Degree in Chemical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India.

Nadini Ramawadhdoebe

HR Associate

Nadini has completed her Bachelor in Finance from Iowa State University and has 10 years of experience in Accounting. She enjoys her my daily tasks and hence eager to learn more outside of her department. She likes meeting people with various backgrounds and seeing how all can come together achieving the same end-goal. With this interest, she has joined the HR team and looking forward to a learning opportunity. In free time, she enjoys love to travel, particularly to the island beaches and exploring all that it has to offer.

Annaleigha Wilke

Illustration Lead

She has completed MFA at SCAD in Illustration, BFA in Art Education at UNC-Greensboro. She has 4+ years of experience in teaching high school visual art, 2 years of stationary production, freelance illustrator. She is currently involved in freelance projects and in free time, she enjoys researching 19th-century writing fiction, creating artwork, gardening, collecting art supplies and small figures, playing with my pet ferrets!

Priyanka Singhal

Fundraising Lead

"With every drop of water you drink, every breath you take, you're connected to the sea" - Sylvia Earle
Priyanka is an ex-Banking professional with an experience of reviewing and lending to over 300 business and trust loan applications. She strongly believes in the cause of water conservation and its propagation especially through school children. She has worked on corporate, federal and academic grants in the past as a Fundraising Manager for a US based NGO focused on Water Crisis. She is an MBA in Finance and is currently pursuing MS in Business Analytics from the University of Minnesota.

Eva Mateo Martinez

Educational Advisor (Spanish)

Throughout Europe and her hometown of Seville, Eva has always held positions demanding fluency in multiple languages. Currently, Eva teaches Spanish at The Blake School in downtown Minneapolis. Prior to Blake, Eva taught Spanish and French classes at the International School of Minnesota and Twin Cities Academy. She promoted Spanish food and culture at international culinary shows throughout Europe while also leading historical and cultural tours of Seville.

Growing up with both the Mediterranean and Atlantic nearby, Eva has always felt an emotional connection to our splendid bodies of water.

Carlyn Iverson

Scientific Illustrator

For three decades Carlyn has worked as a creative professional bringing art and science together. After graduating from the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences with a Bachelor of Science Degree, Carlyn worked in the Biomedical Graphics Department of the University of Minnesota Hospitals learning skills of the medical illustration profession.

She is working as an Illustrator/Designer for the Climate Program Office of NOAA under the Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Division and also have been working with the Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galapagos on ocean conservation. Carlyn has over 20 years of experience in scientific/medical illustration, 3-D illustration and animation, Video, ZBrush modeling, 3-D diorama design and fabrication.

Carlyn has held a wide range of freelance contracts for organizations such as the Minnesota Zoological Gardens creating illustration work for several major new exhibits, illustrations of tropical insects for a traveling exhibit designed by Outhouse Exhibits Design firm, wild orchid models for Maltbie Design firm, and for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources developing over 200 illustrations for the state-wide school curriculum package called MNAqua. This award winning curriculum and art package brings the freshwater ecology of Minnesota directly to the students of the state to increase awareness of water as a valuable and intrinsic resource in Minnesota's environment and it's value to people.

She has also worked with Taser International, Kongsberg Submarines, and institutions such as the National Institute of Health, the University of Vermont, National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions. One of her most recent project was designing of exhibits for the Charles Darwin Exhibition Hall in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, which opened in June 2016.