Our Team

We are really excited to introduce our amazing team at Sea Smart. So you can get to know them a bit better, we asked our members to share:

1. Your expertise and how that relates to you being a rock star with Sea Smart

2. Why you are passionate about ocean sustainability and/or youth education

3. Your favorite ocean-friendly tip

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Dr. Elaine Leung


- Executive Director and Founder

1. I have the most amazing life as a marine biologist, working all around the world studying endangered marine animals in some of the most beautiful, remote places in the world. You can imagine, I have really experienced first-hand the threats our oceans are facing. But at the same time, I realized that there is something each of us can do to help. I started up Sea Smart to share my knowledge and passion for our oceans and to inspire and empower people to love and protect our oceans.

2. The oceans are incredibly amazing, powerful, and majestic. But at the same time, the oceans are vulnerable and in danger. Life on this planet cannot exist without our oceans. I want to help people foster love, curiosity, and connection with our oceans...because you only protect what you love. Kids are incredibly open, creative, and powerful change makers. I am truly convinced that kids will be the ones who will champion the cause to protect our environment. All we have to do is spark their love for nature and help them foster a connection with the environment.

3. There are so many incredibly simple, easy actions we can take to help our oceans. One of the best ways is to reduce our single-use plastics! I always carry around a water bottle and reusable container with cutlery.

Aaron Purdy


- Science Communication Program Manager

1. Let's face it, science can be dull! Stuffy laboratories filled with cumbersome equipment and even more cumbersome conversations. Science has long suffered from this perception, but we are striving to change that! Having worked in science as a marine and field biologist, I have first-hand experience of how exciting this world can be. Combined with my passion for communication and experience as an educator, I hope to inspire kids into pursuing questions of how the world works, and what can we do to help!

2. Helping introduce children to the world of science is a great privilege. I hope to show kids how to explore their world and question how things work, all while fostering a connection with nature. With my experience in marine biology, I have learned of the challenges our oceans face. These challenges are far from insurmountable, but we will need help to overcome them. As a science educator I have learned how we can teach children to face problems and create the change they want to see around them. Through this we aim to develop the next generation of environmental champions.

3. Having been born and raised in Alberta, I am a man who loves a good steak. However, the amount of energy it takes to raise cattle is shockingly high. One tip I have to reduce your carbon footprint is, if possible, to reduce the amount of meat and dairy you consume. This may seem like a challenge, especially to those meat lovers like me out there, but starting small still makes a difference. Meatless Mondays is a great place to start!

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Sanya Jacob


- Volunteer Coordinator

1. My passion, initiative and leadership enables me to inspire and motivate a rock star team of volunteers to support our numerous programs. As an educator, my energy and enthusiasm along with my background in science allows me to inspire young children and get them excited about protecting our oceans.

2. I spent my whole life living in coastal regions and the beauty of the ocean never fails to amaze me. Often the issues the world faces seem impossible and yet there is always a solution for those who are willing to seek them out. By harnessing the natural curiosity of young children, we can generate a lifelong interest in environmental issues. I was excited to volunteer with Sea Smart because it provided an opportunity to mentor young children and inspire them to care about their impact on the environment and find practical solutions to various ocean threats. Each of us play a part in shaping our world and I am thrilled to play a part in protecting our beautiful planet.

3. I carry a reusable coffee mug which keeps my coffee warm for longer and reduces the amount of trash I produce.

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Ocean Educators and Volunteers

1. We are an enthusiastic and knowledgeable group that provides engaging and insightful programs through Sea Smart. Our common passion for the ocean helps us to inspire kids not only to love wildlife, but to protect them as well! Those of us who are Ocean Educators are all trained oceanographers or marine biologists, and have gained valuable insights into the world of ocean conservation. Together with our volunteers, we help to share our passion with all of the kids we work with.

2. By leading by example, we can help show kids that any one can make a difference in protecting our planet. We aim to act as role models to the children we teach by inspiring them to love the oceans and to present every day actions that they can do to protect nature. Through our actions we hope to show everyone what can be done with some curiosity, passion, and a little work.

3. The oceans act as a sink for both carbon dioxide and increasing temperatures around the world. Because of this, the oceans take on a huge impact from global climate change. To help reduce these negative effects we encourage everyone to think of how they can make their commute a little more sustainable. If you drive your car, could you consider carpooling or taking the bus? If you take the bus, is riding your bike or walking an option? Every small action helps, and making these daily changes can have a huge impact!

Our Board


Melanie Knight

- Chair

1. As an educator at Canada's largest aquarium and the founder of Canada's smallest aquarium, I have seen the power of hands-on education and how it can change kids' understanding and respect for the ocean.

2. I believe in the 4C's ladder - giving kids a Connect to the sea, will spark their Curiosity, which leads to Caring and then Conservation. Sea Smart gives kids the connection to the sea and sparks their curiosity, giving kids the motivation to get up the rest of the ladder to care and conserve our oceans.

3. Try a capsule wardrobe. I got into Project 333 over two years ago, where you only wear 33 items for three months. It's been liberating to have a super simple wardrobe and it's a great way to kick start a minimalist lifestyle. 


Lisa Blachut

- Vice-Chair

1. I am an outdoor educator and high school teacher who started my career with a paddle in my hands, teaching ocean kayaking on Vancouver's amazing Jericho beach. Being on the water is one of my passions, and over the years, I have seen our impact on the ocean first-hand.

2. I believe that all education should be experiential, and young people need to get involved with their surroundings in order to care. I love spending time outside, acting like a kid and sharing the joy of exploring our incredible environment.

3. My ocean-friendly strategy is to bring my own containers for takeout food and to use at the deli counter. It saves a lot of plastic packaging! 


Shayla Walker

- Secretary

1. I have been part of the nonprofit sector for over a decade in volunteer, employee, and board member roles, focusing on environmental philanthropy in the last 5 years. I am currently the Program Lead for TIdes Canada's Pacific Program, working with donors to strategically deploy philanthropic dollars to secure a healthy environment in ways that promote social equity, and economic prosperity.

2. One of the things that drew me to Vancouver was its proximity to the ocean- hardly a day goes by (rain or shine) where I don’t run, walk or bike the seawall. In the summer, my favorite past time is to relax at one of our many beaches. The ocean has given me countless hours of recreation and quality time with my friends. More importantly, it is home to millions of species, many of which are still a total mystery, so I feel a personal responsibility to protect it. We owe it to ourselves, and to future generations, to keep our oceans good health.

3. I never leave home without my two trusty reusable shopping bags or my favorite yellow to-go cup

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Jo Jo Imai

- Treasurer

1. I am a Chartered Professional Accountant.  I have over 25 years of accounting experience and I have been the Treasurer of the schools' Parent Advisory Council for the last 10 years. 

2. Oceans are an essential component of the Earth's ecosystem.  We need everyone to do their part to keep the oceans clean.  Knowledge is power.  It is important to educate our children on how they can protect the oceans so that their positive impacts can be passed on from one generation to the other.

3. I carry my favourite glass bottle and reusable bag wherever I go!

Our Advisory Panel


Nancy Hoang

- Marketing Advisor

1. I've been passionate about marketing and creating for a long time. When I'm able to marry that with my passion for sustainability, my life is complete!

2. I'm still a newbie to the Zero Waste lifestyle and I'm absolutely in love with not only the reduction in the garbage I'm throwing out, but knowing a lot of my organics are being properly disposed of and not rotting away in landfills. Knowing that the garbage patch exists and watching videos of it out there truly disgusts me. I want to be part of the solution, not the problem!

3. I like to bring my own container or mason jar with me in my tote bag. Whether that's for leftovers at restaurants or squishy fruits at the farmers market, it's always good to have on hand.


Sophie Boisvert

- Communications Advisor

1. I am a marketing specialist at Helly Hansen, a premium sailing and ski apparel brand. At Helly Hansen, we believe that our brand's success in the future depends highly on our efforts to protect the places where our customers play right now, like oceans and mountains. I manage multiple partnerships with organizations that protect wildlife and their habitat by providing gear, visibility, and event support. Combined with 4 years of experience in advertising and digital content creation, my role at Helly Hansen taught me how to best give Sea Smart the attention and public engagement it deserves

2. I live a 4-minute walk from Kitsilano Beach and literally call the ocean my backyard. Being an avid outdoor enthusiast, the ocean is also my playground: it is where I surf, kayak, and open-water swim. I want to be able to enjoy it my whole life and I want future generations to be able to do the same... if only they wanted to. Kids are spending more time behind screens and less time in nature than ever before. It is increasingly important that we create opportunities for them to experience the fragility and beauty of our oceans. You can't protect what you don't know and what you don't love. Sea Smart gives me so much hope for the future.

3. Every time I am out there for a run, hike, or ride, I challenge myself and my friends to pick up three pieces of garbage. Unfortunately, it isn't really a challenge to find trash... the challenge is to keep noticing that it is everywhere we go and that we should never, never get used to it.


Shannon Johnston

- Sales and Marketing Advisor

1. I am the founder and chief consultant of SBMO Consulting, a boutique sales and marketing consulting firm based in beautiful British Columbia. I have held several sales and marketing leadership positions in various industries. I am now a consultant to the owner/operators and business leaders of SMEs on setting meaningful mighty objectives and then setting the plans, systems, tools, and teams to help them achieve those objectives.

2. Born and raised in Langley, BC, I grew up on or near the ocean. As a child, many of my summer days were spent exploring and enjoying our local beaches and waters. My family also traveled a lot, and beach vacations to various parts of the world were often on the itinerary. My mother is a retired elementary school teacher of 35 years, so she taught my brother and I to enjoy, appreciate, and respect our planet. Now, I am a mother to two young children and am providing them with similar experience and lessons. I know first-hand that children are naturally curious and open to learning, and this is the ideal time for them to obtain the knowledge, skills, and habits to needed for change and progress. 

3. My favorite ocean friendly tip: Bring two buckets to the beach. When we're out exploring the beach, each child brings two buckets - one to collect beach treasures in (which we always put back before leaving), and another to pick up any trash or litter we find on the beach or in the ocean. When we see litter, we use this as an opportunity to teach our kids about the impact the litter has on the animals, sea life, and planet. The kids take pride in doing their part to help protect our world. 



Zack Shoom

- Development Advisor

1. I went to an art-based high school, and took one "World Issues" class - the moment the teacher mentioned the tailing ponds in the tar sands, I hit the panic button, and have been contributing what I can to the environmental crisis since. After graduating with a BeSC, I started  doing freelance creative and strategic work with environmental non-profit groups and causes. In June 2017, I started my current job with Patagonia Vancouver as our in-store Environmental Coordinator. I am also the founder of Obabika Studio's - a creative, helping hand to the environmental movement.

2. As a kid, I spent tons of time canoe tripping, and playing in Ontario's lake country - it was sort of embedded in me how important water is. Truth be told, I kind of resented the ocean. In 2015, I road tripped  down the Oregon coastline -  it hit me right then how incredible and important the Northwest coastline is. It is critical habitat to a whole new world, and the lifeblood of our lush forests. I'm also typing this in the middle of a 7 week stint living on the West coast of Vancouver Island, and I already know I'm going to have trouble leaving. 

Sea Smart's work on the education front is incredibly important, and can't be understated. I'll credit my appeal to my niece (Yo, Jordy!). She's now 9 months old, and I want nothing more than to have her be able to enjoy our watersheds as much as I do.

3. Remember, whatever goes on your skin, winds up in the ocean!