Lexie Bell, Executive Director, plans and directs the program’s work, and collaborates with many partner organizations to further the mission of protecting and restoring Morro Bay. Lexie first came to the Central Coast as a graduate student at the UC Santa Barbara Bren School of Environmental Science and Management and has been on the Estuary Program team since 2010. In addition to her Master’s degree, Lexie has a Bachelor of Science in Marine Science and Biology from the University of Miami. Previously, Lexie worked as a marine science educator, scientific diver in the Caribbean, and coastal watershed researcher. Lexie loves paddling the bay and exploring the varied landscapes of the Central Coast with her family.

Assistant Director Ann Kitajima

Ann Kitajima serves as the Estuary Program’s Assistant Director. Her responsibilities include grant writing and grant management, strategic planning, and administrative functions. Formerly the Monitoring Program Manager for the organization, she continues to provide support in monitoring planning and protocol development.


Chrystina Newton is the Finance and Operations Coordinator for the Estuary Program. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and has completed graduate coursework in Business Management. She keeps the Estuary Program’s books, provides accounting and administrative support, keeps the office running smoothly, and lends a hand to other staff members as needed. She is the voice on the phone and the face at the front desk during daily operating hours. She works in tandem with the Estuary Program’s directors and the Bay Foundation Board to meet the administrative conditions for awarded Grants and to keep the required files in order. Chrystina is a native Californian and enjoys spending time outdoors with her family, exploring local trails and natural areas.

Carolyn Geraghty, Restoration Projects Manager, develops and oversees watershed and estuarine restoration projects and conservation efforts. Prior to joining the Estuary Program, Carolyn was an Environmental Scientist with the San Francisco Estuary Institute supporting research of river and estuarine environments. Before that, she worked as the Restoration Director for the Klamath Basin Rangeland Trust and oversaw implementation of stream restoration projects. She has also worked on a variety of aquatic ecology and water quality monitoring studies with The Nature Conservancy, National Park Service, and USGS. Carolyn received a master’s in Environmental Planning at UC Berkeley focusing on watershed science. Her research evaluated stream restoration projects to inform restoration practices and planning in Oregon’s Klamath Basin. She also holds a B.S. in Biology and Environmental Studies from Aquinas College, MI.

Makenzie OConnor

Makenzie O’Connor is our Monitoring Coordinator. Makenzie coordinates ongoing monitoring in the watershed through collaboration with local partners, agencies and volunteers. Makenzie received a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Ecology with a minor in Outdoor Adventure Leadership in 2015. Since then, she has worked in a variety of ecosystems, from salmon-bearing waters on the Klamath River, to the dry creeks of Chico, to the snow-covered slopes of the Truckee-Tahoe area. Outside of work, you can usually find Makenzie on her mountain bike or going on long hikes with her dog, Josie.

Sequoia Wade-Dunleavy is our Eelgrass Technician. She focuses on ground truthing, data collection and organization, and restoration efforts. Sequoia received a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology and Geography with a concentration in Environmental Studies and Sustainability from Cal Poly. She has worked on GIS projects which use image classification for eelgrass recognition and has mapped the drainage basins of the Morro Bay estuary. Sequoia enjoys exploring the coast, surfing and hiking.

Rachel Pass serves as the Morro Bay National Estuary Program’s Communications and Outreach Coordinator. She works with community members, partners, and other stakeholders to raise awareness of the Estuary Program’s mission, and to encourage participation in restoration and preservation efforts. Rachel brings a background in writing, publishing, and teaching to her role. She enjoys almost any outdoor activity, and can often be found watching wildlife on the bay or hiking along the coast.

Morro Bay National Estuary Program brings together citizens, local governments, non-profits, agencies, and landowners to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary.

Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.