Our Staff


Riki Ott

Riki Ott, PhD, director, is a community activist, author, marine toxicologist, and former commercial salmon fisherman. She experienced firsthand the devastating effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill – and chose to do something about it. She co-founded Ultimate Civics, a project of Earth Island Institute, and loves to share her knowledge and campaign-building skills with people of all ages to help move dialogue into action through value-based community organizing. Ott was nominated for Huffington Post’s 2010 Game Changer Award for her work in the Gulf coast states, empowering local residents to take action after BP’s disaster. She is featured in award-winning documentary films, including Black Wave, The Big Fix, and Dirty Energy.


Gershon Cohen

Since 1990, Gershon Cohen has applied his background in molecular biology and water quality policy to protect public waters from the discharge of toxic pollutants. His work has led to several national awards, including a lifetime achievement award from the Clean Water Network, and the River Network “River Hero” award.

Gershon founded Earth Island Institute’s Campaign to Safeguard America’s Waters (CSAW.) He co-authored the Alaska Cruise Ship Ballot Initiative, adopted into law by a statewide vote in August 2006, which established the world’s strictest pollution rules and oversight programs for the cruise industry. Gershon recently created a new CSAW program called the Great Whale Conservancy that is focusing on stopping ship strikes on blue whales in the Northern Pacific. He is a co-founder of the Ultimate Civics project.


Lisa Marie Jacobs

Lisa Marie Jacobs, public information strategist, has 24 years of supervisory experience organizing, implementing, and promoting events and campaigns. She spent 13 years as a non-partisan employee of the Alaska State Legislature, helping citizens understand and participate in the legislative process.