Gulf of Mexico Foundation



Board of Directors




Gulf of Mexico Foundation

GMF staff: (from left) Richard Gonzales, Dr. Quenton Dokken, Carrie Robertson, Bobbi Reed, Mikell Smith, Suraida Nañez-James, Ryan Fikes.

Dr. Quenton R. Dokken
Corpus Christi, Texas


Dr. Quenton R. Dokken, President/CEO, is uniquely qualified to lead the efforts of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation. He has been with the Foundation since its inception in 1991. Until moving from part-time to full-time with the GMF in 2006, Dokken was Associate Director of the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Center for Coastal Studies. While working as an adjunct professor at A&M, Dokken was also the Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Gulf of Mexico Regional Marine Research Program.
   As Executive Director of the Texas State Aquarium in 1985, Dr. Dokken directed the efforts to establish the newly formed nonprofit facility in Corpus Christi, Texas. With a full-time staff of 78 and more than 1,000 volunteers, Dr. Dokken directed the aquarium through its first year, when the $32 million facility opened its doors to over 700,000 visitors who came to view and marvel at the living wonders of the Gulf of Mexico.
   As a marine scientist, Dr. Dokken has an extensive publication record relating to the study of the ecosystems and fauna of the Gulf of Mexico. As Executive Director of the Gulf of Mexico Regional Marine Research Program, he has led his professional peers in developing priorities for marine research in the Gulf of Mexico, a daunting task in the face of declining research dollars. He is the founder and coordinator of the Flower Garden Ocean Research Program which integrates the efforts of institutional science and the offshore oil and gas industry to expand opportunities for marine research in the most cost-effective manner.

Ryan Fikes
Deputy Director
Corpus Christi, Texas


Ryan Fikes has been with the Gulf of Mexico Foundation (GMF) since January 2008. In his role as GMF Deputy Director, Fikes works with federal, state, and local agencies, NGOs, businesses, industry and private citizens to promote and facilitate conservation of the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico and its resources as they relate to the Goals and Mission of the GMF.
   Ryan joined GMF as the project coordinator for the Gulf of Mexico Community-based Restoration Partnership, which he now manages. He then took on the role of Program Manager for Conservation and Restoration in early 2009, assuming the leadership role as coordinator for the Habitat Conservation and Restoration Team of the Governor’s Gulf of Mexico Alliance. Ryan has since progressed on to the Deputy Director position. He manages the Foundation office, assists with administration and budget, manages the conservation and restoration programs, participates in education and outreach and serves as the manger for all federal awards and subcontracts.
   Prior to joining GMF, Fikes worked in lab operations for the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies and conducted research at the Center for Coastal Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. In addition he coordinated annual expeditions to the Southern Mexican Caribbean where he conducted scientific diving and assisted with a long-term coral reef monitoring program. Before HRI he worked as an intern for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Coastal Fisheries Division and held a position as Research Survey Coordinator for the Pollution Prevention Partnership at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.
   Ryan is a native Texan who grew up in San Antonio. He graduated from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in biology, concentrated in marine sciences, and earned a master’s degree in marine biology in 2008 from the same institution. Ryan has since served as a short-term fellow for the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute as part of their taxonomy training program and has published his academic research in several academic journals.

Bobbi Reed
Executive Assistant
Corpus Christi, Texas

Bobbi Reed works on special projects, government contracts, and as program assistant to the executive director of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation. She recently retired from the federal government after more than 30 years of service.
   Mrs. Reed began her career in Washington, DC with the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation. She served as Special Assistant to the head of that agency until the late '70s when she moved to Texas with her husband. Since that time she has worked with other natural resource agencies, including the US Geological Survey’s Office of Marine Geology and the Minerals Management Service. Her work experience has been predominantly in the fields of administration, management, and coordination.
   Mrs. Reed has many years of experience in meeting planning, meeting management, team building, and facilitation, and has led workshops on those topics for both governmental and nongovernmental entities. Her hobbies include fiction writing and caring for her golden retriever and five cats.

Richard Gonzales
Project Coordinator
Aransas Pass, Texas

Richard Gonzales is the director of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation's multicultural outreach program, which uses science education to bring students in Texas together with students south of the border. Entitled the "Gulf of Mexico Science and Spanish Club Network" the program is funded through the Coastal Impact Assistance Program grant from the Texas General Land Office and the NOAA.
   As program director, Gonzales spends much of his time in the field with students, engaged in activities such as dragging seine nets through bay waters to learn firsthand what lives beneath the surface, kayaking through wetlands to monitor animal and plant life, cleaning up trash along coastal areas, and following a river upstream to understand how fresh water makes its way to the Gulf and how human impact affects the environment.
   A native of Texas, Gonzales has operated New America Marketing since 1996 in Aransas Pass, providing photography, publishing, and creative services to clients throughout South Texas. His educational background includes a BBA and an MBA from Texas A&M; University Corpus Christi. Fluent in both Spanish and English, he fosters relations with Mexico, particularly between Tamualipas and Texas. His hobbies include raising his dogs and working on a ranch in Gonzales County on weekends.

Suraida Nañez-James
Project Assistant
Corpus Christi, Texas

Suraida Nañez-James joined the Gulf of Mexico Foundation in August 2010 as a Project Assistant for special projects. She will be assisting with the GMF's Community-based Restoration Partnership, the GMF's education programs Down Under, Out Yonder and Intracoastal Waterway Wetlands Cruise, as well administrative duties for the GMF. Prior to joining the GMF, Suraida was a fellow at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where she worked with Dr. Lawrence Rozas at the NOAA Fisheries SEFC/Estuarine Habitats and Coastal Fisheries Center on coastal issues in Louisiana.
   Suraida received her B.S. in Marine Fisheries from Texas A&M; University at Galveston while working for the NOAA Fisheries Laboratory in Galveston. In 2006, she received her M.S. in Biology from Texas A&M; University-Corpus Christi where she focused her studies on identifying and characterizing nursery habitats for juvenile southern flounder in Texas bays. After receiving her master's, she worked for the Harte Research Institute (HRI) 2006-2008, compiling an invasive species database for Texas marine species and working on environmental education initiatives, such as founding the Laguna Outreach Project and co-chairing the Summer High School Internship Program for marine studies. She is also interested in invertebrate and fish ecology, marine policy, and environmental education.
   Suraida recently participated in the first International Summer Workshop on Governance for the Gulf of Mexico hosted at HRI. She was selected as a Rotary Group Study Exchange team member to Spain in 2008 where she visited with marine scientists abroad.

Mikell Smith
Project Coordinator
Corpus Christi, Texas

Mikell (Mike) Smith serves as the Project Coordinator for the Habitat Conservation and Restoration Team (HCRT) of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance. GMF provides support and coordination for the HCRT under grants from NOAA and EPA. Smith coordinates HCRT planning efforts as well as projects implemented under the team’s conservation and restoration work plan.
   Smith joined GMF in April 2009 as Project Manager for the GMF's pilot watershed assessment project under Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership (SARP) in the Sabine and Red River basins. That project, now complete, will serve as a template for similar assessments SARP intends to conduct under the Southeast Aquatic Habitat Plan.
   Smith came to GMF from the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI) where he researched marine policy fostering collaborative, science-based governance of the Gulf of Mexico. He compiled content, built a database and conceptualized a strategy which resulted in InfoHub, an information resource made available publically on GulfBase and maintained through a partnership with the National Sea Grant Law Center. At HRI, Smith also assisted with lab analysis of photosurveys of chemosynthetic communities in the Gulf and worked as a surveyor for an economic study of freshwater inflows on the Texas coast.
   After prior careers in television and property management, Smith obtained a master's in Environmental Science at TAMU-CC in 2008 with an eye toward integrating environmental and economic interests. He achieved his goal of working along the interface of science and society when he came on board at GMF in April 2009.

J.R. Jones
IWWC Coordinator
Corpus Christi, Texas

James R. Jones will coordinate this year's GMF Intracoastal Waterway Wetlands Cruise (IWWC), a four-day workshop which takes teachers on a live-aboard boat through the Intracoastal Waterway, teaching them about coastal habitats and issues facing the Gulf coast and its inhabitants.
received a master's degree in earth science with a minor in biology and has spent 33 years as a classroom teacher in the Corpus Christi area. He has received numerous awards, including Outstanding Science Teacher of the Year in various schools.
   He currently teaches Advanced Placement Biology and Honors Aquatic Science at King High School in Corpus Christi, Texas. He has presented in numerous workshops on the local, state, national and international level.
   Jones got his introduction to the GMF trip during the GMF's Down Under, Out Yonder (DUOY) dive trip in 2000. Since then, he has been part of six more DUOY trips and one research trip with the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.

Franklin Viola
Media Advisor
Houston, Texas

Franklin Viola, a professional photographer, has worked with the Gulf of Mexico Foundation as a volunteer on diving expeditions for several years. Viola has received numerous national and international awards for his underwater photography over the past two decades.
   In July 2009, Viola starts a new job as Field Station Manager for The Nature Conservancy on Palmyra Atoll, part of an isolated group of islands in the Pacific Ocean located about 1,000 miles south of Hawai'i. He will be responsible for the operation, maintenance and safety of all facilities and equipment - generators to boats, runway to galley, dive gear to fly tackle; manage five select team members; and act as liaison to TNC guests and working scientists.
   After receiving a BS in Marine Science & Marine Transportation at Texas A&M; University at Galveston in 1982, Viola served four years in the U.S. Merchant Marine, sailing aboard huge cargo ships as a U.S. Coast Guard Licensed Third Mate (Unlimited Tonnage).
   Returning to terra firma (“the beach”) in 1986, he focused his love of water -- salt or fresh, ocean or pond, river or lake -- through the optics of a camera. Viola produces still photography and digital video for clients who use water to tell their story or to sell their product. His clients include Audubon, National Geographic, Travel Holiday, Islands, Discovery Channel Online, Sport Diver, The Nature Conservancy, American Express, Epson, BP Oil & Gas, Turner Broadcasting, Hitachi and Delta Airlines. To view Franklin’s photography visit

Carrie Robertson
Webmaster & E-Newsletter Editor
Corpus Christi, Texas

Carrie Robertson is the Gulf of Mexico Foundation's webmaster, photographer and electronic newsletter editor. Ms. Robertson received a bachelor's degree in communications from the University of Texas in Austin in 1984. She started her career as a newspaper staff photographer, then began freelancing for travel and outdoor magazines and working as a webmaster. In 2002, she started her own business, Third Coast Photo & Web, with the Gulf of Mexico Foundation being one of her primary clients.
   Before returning to her native Texas in 2002, Ms. Robertson lived in Oregon, Hawaii and Mexico, working as a dive master, marine naturalist and windsurfing instructor. She is conversationally fluent in Spanish, gained from her five years living in Mexico. Carrie spends her free time enjoying the Gulf of Mexico through windsurfing, kayaking and sailboating. She and her husband Pete Meyer have a five-year-old son named Kai which means "sea" in Hawaiian.

Doug Weaver
DUOY Coordinator
Corpus Christi, Texas

Doug Weaver is GMF's Coordinator for the Down Under, Out Yonder program, which educates teachers about the reef by taking them scuba diving. Weaver is a research assistant in the laboratory of Dr. Thomas Shirley at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico
, focusing on the community structure of reef fishes in the Gulf of Mexico.
   Before moving to Corpus Christi in 2008, Weaver worked as an expedition scientist and biologist with the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. He has expertise in reef fish biology, particularly in those species that inhabit deep-water reef communities in the Florida Keys and Gulf of Mexico. He has conducted a variety of coral reef surveys and has mapped both shallow and deep-water coral and hardbottom communities.
   Weaver also is adept in the field of computer graphics and digital video and has assisted with image production and video analysis for the 2002 Sustainable Seas Expeditions. During the expedition, he used the DeepWorker submersible to explore and characterize the deep-water communities of the southern regions of the Tortugas Ecological Reserve, especially the deep-water habitats surrounding Miller's Ledge and Riley's Hump. Weaver has also explored deep water regions and pinnacles off the coast of Mississippi and Alabama and in the northwestern regions of the Gulf of Mexico.

Gulf of Mexico Foundation - PMB 51, 5403 Everhart - Corpus Christi, TX 78411
(800) 884-4175 toll free - (361) 882-3939 phone - (361) 882-1262 fax
e-mail:     website:
webmaster: Carrie Robertson


Nov 2010 - Four GMF staff members attended the Coastal Bend Bays Foundation Environmental Awards Banquet held at the Texas State Aquarium on Nov 18. The event recognizes outstanding individuals who dedicate their lives to conservation of our natural resources. The GMF shared a table with former Texas State Senator Carlos Truan.

Feb 2010 - GMF SSCN Project Leader Richard Gonzales (center) poses with Canadians Don Jaque
and his wife Sandra during a visit from Canada to the Texas Coast. The Canadians, who live near where Whooping Cranes summer, visited the endangered birds' wintering grounds with Gonzales.

Feb 2010 - GMF's Ryan Fikes, center, participates in the February 11 "Texas Coastal Bend Living Shorelines" workshop in Port Aransas, Texas. Staff members Richard Gonzales and Mikell Smith also attended the event. READ MORE

Nov 2009 - GMF staff and colleagues enjoy the Coastal Bend Bays Foundation's Environmental Stewardship Awards Banquet held at the Texas State Aquarium on November 5. The GMF helps to sponsor this event each year, which recognizes outstanding individuals who dedicate their lives to conservation of our natural resources.

Oct 2009 - GMF Project Leader Richard Gonzales (in white) and Principal Ludivina Rendon Lozano (in purple) accept a first-place Gulf Guardian Award in the Bi-national category during a ceremony for the GMF's Science & Spanish Club Network.

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