Meet the Board

Leon E. Panetta (Co-Chair)

Secretary Leon Panetta is the chairman of the Panetta Institute for Public Policy, The Panetta Institute provides a variety of study opportunities in government, politics and public policy for the California University System. Secretary Panetta has had a fifty-year career in public service at the highest levels of Government. He served in the Obama Administration first as CIA Director and then as Secretary of Defense from 2009-2013.

Prior to 1997 when he co-founded the Panetta Institute with his wife Sylvia Panetta, he served from 1993-1997 in the Clinton Administration as director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget and later was appointed White House chief of staff. Elected to Congress in 1976, Secretary Panetta represented the California Central Coast district for 16 years and led in the creation of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

He chronicles his life in public service in his best-selling memoir Worthy Fights, which was published in the fall of 2014.


Hilary Bryant (Co-Chair)

Hilary Bryant is Co-founder and Vice President of Strategic Alliances for Buoy Labs, a startup that is working to optimize the way we use water. She was a member of the Santa Cruz City Council from 2010-2014, and served as Mayor in 2013. Hilary and her husband, David Shuman, own Westside Animal Hospital. She also serves on the boards of the Digital NEST, Coastal Watershed Council, Santa Cruz Area Chamber of Commerce, and is a member of Santa Cruz Sunrise Rotary. A U.C. Santa Cruz graduate, she earned her B.A. in Biology and enjoys competing in triathlons, biking, surfing and trying to keep up with her two kids.


Fred Keeley (Treasurer)

Fred Keeley is a native Californian and has lived in Santa Cruz County for more than 40 years. He currently is on the faculty in the graduate program of Public Administration at San Jose State University and Panetta Institute for Public Policy. Mr. Keeley serves on the board of directors of Ocean Champions, Semprevirens Fund, Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County, and Working Partnerships USA. An elected official on the Central Coast for twenty-four years, Fred Keeley has been directly involved in Monterey Bay area and California public policy making for more than four decades.

From 1996-2002, Mr. Keeley represented the Monterey Bay area in the California State Assembly, where he served as Speaker pro Tem for six years. This leadership position in the Assembly put Keeley at the forefront of developing important policy initiatives. One of his signature accomplishments was authoring California’s Marine Life Protection Act, which was signed into law in 1999. Mr. Keeley also authored the two largest park and environmental protection bonds in the nation’s history. He first served as a member of the Santa Cruz County board of supervisors for two four-year terms. He was also the elected treasurer for the County of Santa Cruz for ten years. Fred and his wife, Barbara, are residents of Santa Cruz.


Ted J. Balestreri

Ted Balestreri is founding CEO and chairman of the Cannery Row Company, Sardine Factory Restaurant and Inns of Monterey, overseeing enterprises that attract more than six million visitors each year to the Monterey Peninsula. With forty-five years of demonstrated business leadership and board service, Mr. Balestreri has advised on matters of economic strategy to industry, non-profit and government bodies at local, state and national levels.

Mr. Balestreri is actively engaged on the boards of the Rancho Cielo Youth Campus, Stevenson School, the Monterey Wine Educational Foundation and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. He has been very philanthropic toward these organizations, hosting the Ted J. Balestreri Leadership Classic at the Monterey Peninsula Country Club. He served as a commissioner with the California Travel and Tourism Commission from 1985 to 2007. He and his wife, Velma, live on the Monterey Peninsula.


Sam Farr

Congressman Sam Farr is fifth-generation Californian who grew up in the Monterey Bay region. Farr represented the Monterey Bay region in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 until his retirement in 2016. During his tenure, he was recognized as a leader in legislative efforts for educational excellence, environmental protection and economic development. Farr authored the legislation creating Pinnacles National Park and led Congressional efforts to have President Clinton designate the California Coastal National Monument in 2000. He also led efforts to designate federal lands at the former Fort Ord Army Base as a national monument status and create a coastal state park.

Farr has long been an advocate for our oceans. He is an original co-chair of the bipartisan House Oceans Caucus, and wrote the legislation to establish a National Ocean Policy. In 1980, he was elected to the California State Assembly, where he was known for writing one of the nation’s strictest oil spill liability laws. During his tenure in the state assembly, Farr worked with then-Congressman Leon Panetta and the late Senator Henry Miller in creating the Monterey Bay National Maine Sanctuary. Farr first held elective office when he became a Monterey County Supervisor in 1975. Farr and his wife Shary are longtime residents of Carmel.


Dan Haifley

Dan Haifley has been Executive Director of O’Neill Sea Odyssey since 1999. He raises funds for its core and special programs, and he is a leading advocate for hands-on environmental education.

Dan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is past Chair of the Santa Cruz County Commission on the Environment, past Co-chair of the Dominican Hospital Community Advisors Committee, and currently serves on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council where he also previously served from 2001 to 2007. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Santa Cruz County Conference and Visitor’s Council from 1993 to 1995 and from 2000 to 2006, and from 2015 to 2017 was Chair of the Advisory Committee for the successful effort to gain national monument status for the Cotoni-Coast Dairies property north of Santa Cruz. Since 2008 he has collaborated with UCSC Professor Gary Griggs to publish a weekly ocean column in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Dan has received recognition from the California State Senate, State Assembly, the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments and the City of Santa Cruz for his efforts to establish the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, promote 26 California local ordinances regarding offshore oil and protect California’s coastline. He also received the 2011 Ocean Hero Award from Save Our Shores. Dan is married to Rebecca and has two grown children, Aaron and Julia.


Paul Michel (Ex Officio, Superintendent MBNMS) 

Paul E. Michel has over 20 years experience in environmental protection at the local, state, federal, and international levels. He is a nationally-recognized leader in wetlands, coast, and ocean management and protection. He has extensive experience in developing comprehensive natural resource and protection plans and coordinating collaborative projects and studies.

Mr. Michel has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Tennessee and a Master of Public Administration from Georgia State University. He worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and San Francisco before coming to the National Marine Sanctuary Program in April, 2007.


Kris Sarri (Ex Officio, President and CEO)

Kris joined the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation as President and CEO in October 2016. A native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Kris formed an early, life-long connection to environmental stewardship growing up surrounded by the Great Lakes. Her interest in marine conservation began when, at nine years old, Kris’ family moved to Australia and she spent endless hours exploring the life in tide pools. Kris’ lifelong passion is finding innovative ways to promote environmental stewardship through community engagement in conservation.

Kris’ career spans over 19 years working on ocean, land and climate policy. Kris most recently worked at the Department of the Interior, where she served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management, and Budget from 2014 to 2016. Prior to joining the Department of the Interior, Kris was the Associate Director for Legislative Affairs for the Office of Management and Budget. She also served as Deputy Director of Policy and Strategic Planning for the US Department of Commerce, acting as the Secretary’s principal advisor on the ocean, fisheries, climate, and energy issues.  Kris also spent eight years in the US Senate where she was on the Professional Staff of the Senate Commerce Committee with responsibility for the Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard Subcommittee; she was Senior Policy Advisor of the Office of Senator Jack Reed; and the Legislative Director of the Northeast-Midwest Senate Coalition.

Kris received a B.A. in Biology from Washington University, St. Louis and an M.S. and M.P.H. from the University of Michigan. She is an avid SCUBA diver.