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.


Karissa Willits is our Monitoring Coordinator. Karissa coordinates implementation of monitoring projects, communicates information on health of the bay, and serves as a liaison and trainer to our many Volunteer Monitoring Program volunteers. Karissa received a Marine Biology degree from U.C. Santa Cruz. Since graduating, she has worked on a variety of monitoring and restoration projects across the California coast, including two terms as an AmeriCorps Watershed Steward Project member with the San Luis Obispo Steelhead Initiative.


Tim Delany is our Monitoring Coordinator. Tim is a graduate of Cal Poly, with a B.S. in Environmental Management and Protection, and concentration in Watershed Management and Hydrology. His experiences include working for the County of San Luis Obispo’s Water Resources Division and Cal Poly Facilities Management.



Tyler Cook is our Monitoring Field Technician. Tyler works with our monitoring volunteers and spends a great deal of time in the creeks and bay conducting field work for our monitoring efforts. He keeps the equipment running smoothly and supports our sediment and bacteria monitoring labs. Tyler is working toward an environmental engineering major at Cal Poly.



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.


Evelyn Barajas-Perez is our Communications & Outreach Specialist. Evelyn educates students and adults about the Morro Bay watershed, plans events, creates educational content for our website and Nature Center, and even helps with monitoring and restoration field work. Evelyn graduated from the University of California, Riverside in 2015, with a B.S. in Biology. She initially focused on becoming a doctor and volunteered at several hospitals, but realized it wasn’t the path for her. She then began working with Dr. Jeff Diaz in a conifer lab where she grew an appreciation for nature and decided to pursue a career in helping people, not by diagnosing illnesses, but by protecting the home of all humans—Earth. This led her to complete two terms in the Watershed Stewards Program and a stint at the California Conservation Corps before beginning work at the Estuary Program.



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.