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Waitt Institute Welcomes Media and Strategic Communications Manager Ellen Spooner

Updated: Nov 17


Ellen Spooner has joined the Waitt Institute as a Media and Strategic Communications Manager. In this role, she will bolster engagement, understanding, and support for sustainable ocean management across our portfolio of programs. Through storytelling, media engagement, content management, and graphic design, she will support our team of international experts working around the globe to protect the ocean. Ellen is looking forward to working with local community members to tell stories of building resilient ecosystems, economies, and communities.


Ellen previously worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Integrated Ecosystem Assessment program, where she developed and implemented national communications strategies to advance ecosystem-based management within the agency. In this role, she launched NOAA’s first National Marine Ecosystem Status website and led the announcement of its annual release.



Ellen is the lead producer of the Ocean Optimism podcast and the short film documentary “Rising Tides of Hope: Stories of Ocean Optimism.” #OceanOptimism started as a Twitter initiative launched in June 2014 as a flag for stories reporting progress in solving marine conservation challenges. Reaching over 60 million Twitter users since its inception, #OceanOptimism has inspired an international outpouring of marine conservation success stories. The podcast continues to share those stories to a broad audience. The documentary tells Ocean Optimism stories from San Diego, CA, and is being submitted to several film festivals.


Ellen was raised in Arizona but took many family vacations to the beaches in Mexico and San Diego. Ellen’s passion for the ocean began kayaking along the shores of Mexico and encountering dolphins. She was a 2016 Knauss Marine Policy Fellow with NOAA Fisheries and the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, where she focused on marine science education and communication. Her field experience took her scuba diving in the second largest barrier reef in the world, found in Belize. There she encountered sharks, sting rays and surveyed the health of the reef. She received her Master’s in fisheries at the University of Michigan studying the diet of muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) in part of the Great Lakes. She received her Bachelor's degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona, while educating youth about the marine life only a few miles south in Baja California, Mexico. On the weekends you can find her surfing or scuba diving in the kelp forests. She continues to pursue her passion for educating the public about the importance of the ocean.


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