Staff

  • Fred Sitkins

    Executive Director

    Fred Sitkins became our organization’s second executive director in 2013, but he was involved with ISEA during its infancy in the ‘90s. Before we had a ship of our own, we chartered the tall ship Malabar, which Fred helped crew! After receiving his Bachelor of Elementary Education and Masters of Educational Administration, Fred went on to become a teacher and later the principal at Boyne City Elementary. It isn’t often that someone has the opportunity to see his or her life come full circle, and Fred is excited to be at the helm of ISEA after it inspired him so early in life.

    Outside of running the organization, Fred enjoys spending time with his wife and two sons playing hockey, fishing, sailing, and mountain biking.

  • Ben Hale

    Inland Seas Captain

    Ben was one of our early interns in 1997. After receiving his Bachelor of Zoology, he helped crew and sail tall ships in not only our Great Lakes, but in the oceans as well. Ultimately, Ben came back to join our staff in 2012 because he believes in our mission of protecting the Great Lakes through education.

    After a long day of captaining our schooner Inland Seas, Ben goes home to his wife and son (a practical carbon-copy of Ben, we’re sure!) and daughter to relax and play the fiddle.

  • Jeanie Williams

    Lead Scientist and Education Coordinator

    Jeanie was drawn to our team because she wanted to blend scientific research with education (so she’s in the perfect spot—just look at her job title!). She holds a BA in biology and an MS in secondary education and environmental science. She’s guided whale watches in the Bay of Fundy, taught biology, sustainability, and ecology at the Community College of Vermont, and participated in several research endeavors.

    After a day of devoting her time to our organization, Jeanie can be found looking for wildflowers, stand-up paddle boarding, drawing, or swimming.

  • Tom Maynard

    Volunteer Coordinator and Educator

    Tom joined the ISEA team in 2015. Before starting with us, Tom was the Mind Trekkers Coordinator for Michigan Tech University where he graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Communication, Culture, and Media.

    Part of what draws Tom to Suttons Bay is his love for the outdoors. When he is not working, you will surely see him running, hiking, canoeing, or cross country skiing down in Interlochen.

  • Courtney Bierschbach

    Courtney has a BA in Recreation, Parks, and Leisure Services Administration with a concentration in Environmental Education as well as a degree in Graphic Design. She comes to the organization with administrative experience working for both local and national non-profits. She most recently spent a year coordinating and implementing outdoor ethics workshops around the country for the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.

    When unplugged from her computer you can find her paddleboarding, hiking, camping, and running with her husband and pup.

  • Michelle Handke

    Grand Traverse Stewardship Initiative Coordinator

    Michelle holds a B.S. in Conservation Biology from the University of Wisconsin- Madison, as well as a specialized Master of Science of Environmental Science and a Master of Public Affairs in Nonprofit Management from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Michelle’s passions for the environment, education and our region were inspired by her summers on Long Lake, and her role as the GTSI Coordinator allows her to put all three of her passions in to action!

    When she’s not collaborating with teachers, students and community partners Michelle can be found hiking our local parklands with her dog Bentley or conjuring up new DIY projects to create.

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