Mike Gerel, Program Director

Mike Gerel NBEP program director in field with dog

Mike has served as the Program Director of the NBEP since February 2019. In this role he oversees all program operations and leads the development and implementation of science-based, community-driven partnerships and initiatives that enhance water quality and the resilience of climate impacted habitats in the Narragansett Bay estuary and its watershed in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Mike has more than twenty-five years’ experience in ecosystem-based planning and restoration, facilitation and collaborative governance, and public policy. Through scientist and management positions with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Sustainable Northwest, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and state and federal government he has advanced the study and recovery of imperiled coastal systems across the U.S. Mike is deeply committed to working in concert with those whose livelihood and culture are tied to the land and water of their place.

Mike holds a Master’s in Environmental Sciences from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor’s in Biology from the University of Richmond. He is also a graduate of the Virginia Natural Resource Leadership Institute at the University of Virginia’s Institute of Environmental Negotiation.

A native of Syracuse, NY, with deep roots in New England, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and indoorsman, enjoying mountain biking, skiing, Major League Baseball, independent music, and exploring the world with his chocolate lab Moka.

(401) 633-0552 or mike.gerel@nbep.org 

Courtney Schmidt, Staff Scientist

Courtney Schmidt Staff ScientistCourtney has been with the Estuary Program since July 2014 serving as their Staff Scientist. She manages the scientific projects and programs of the Estuary Program for its three study areas: Narragansett Bay, Little Narragansett Bay, the Southwest Coastal Ponds, and their respective watersheds. She collaborates with regional partners to synthesize and interpret data, fill data gaps, identify research needs, and manage the implementation of projects. She provides technical expertise to local and regional committees, and state and federal agencies working on water quality, human health, climate change, and habitat restoration issues.

Courtney has over a decade of experience in environmental and estuarine research. She earned a Master’s and Ph.D degrees in Oceanography from the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography, and a Bachelor’s of Science from the University of Tampa. Currently, Courtney serves as the Treasurer for the New England Estuarine Research Society (NEERS), and has served on various committees for the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF). Courtney is a member of the Omicron II class of Leadership Rhode Island.

(401) 633-0553 or Courtney.schmidt@nbep.org

Julia Twichell, Watershed and GIS Specialist

Julia leads programs and projects that forward science and collaboration in the Narragansett Bay region through Geographic Information System (GIS) techniques and interdisciplinary local- and watershed-scale efforts. She leads the NBEP’s successful GIS program and employs GIS methods to illuminate issues that are driven by geography. Her work applies spatial data, maps, and new technologies to foster visual interpretation of social and environmental conditions and trends, support innovative management efforts, and improve science communication. She is committed to advancing the health and resilience of Narragansett Bay via meaningful engagement, inclusion, and equity.

A Massachusetts native, Julia received a Master’s in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island and elected to put down roots in the Ocean State. She has since worked in social science research at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Atlantic Ecology Division and part-time at NBEP before returning full-time to NEIWPCC in July 2019. Previously, she worked internationally for five years aboard Sea Education Association’s research vessels conducting oceanographic and marine coastal research. She also holds a Bachelor’s in Biology from Carleton College and a USCG 100-ton Master Captain’s License. A ceramic artist and recovering mariner, Julia delights in the intersections of science, nature, art, and people.

401-633-0551 or julia.twichell@nbep.org

Julia Bancroft, Environmental Analyst

Julia supports the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program by assisting the Program Director with projects relating to updating the CCMP, by providing assistance to partners regarding habitat restoration related activities, and by assisting with the development and creation of advanced GIS tools to share information across different audiences. Julia also manages office operations. She contributes to NBEP’s publications by writing, editing, and taking photos and videos. She provides administrative support, including meeting and conference planning. Julia joined NEIWPCC in 2015 as a part-time employee and transitioned to full-time in November 2018. She holds a B.S. in Marine Affairs and a graduate certificate in Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing from the University of Rhode Island.

A Rhode Island native, Julia enjoys exploring the coastal waters on her stand up paddleboard, manages a farmers market in the summer, and teaches Yin Yoga.

(401) 633-0550 or Julia.bancroft@nbep.org

New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission

New England Interstate Water Pollution Control CommissionIn 2012, the Management Committee selected the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) to serve as the host entity for the Estuary Program. NEIWPCC is a Congressionally authorized non-profit interstate organization, formed in 1947.

Richard Friesner, Project Manager

Director of Water Quality Programs
Richard joined NEIWPCC in 2016 as Director of Water Quality Programs. As such, Richard works on a variety of projects including wetlands, monitoring, water quality standards, nutrients, TMDLs, mercury, harmful algal blooms, and aquatic nuisance species. He serves as the NEIWPCC representative on the Management Committee for the Long Island Sound’s TMDL and is working on technical nutrient related assessment work with the USGS. Richard joins NEIWPCC with 10 years of experience in the Environmental Science and Policy field and most recently worked at George Mason University as the Director of both the Washington Scholars Program and the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment through George Mason University’s Office of Admissions. He holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Public Policy from George Mason University, an M.S. and B.S in Environmental Science from the University of Kansas.


 EPA Region 1 (New England)

Environmental Protection AgencyThe Environmental Protection Agency’s New England office (Region1) provides support to and oversight of the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program. Each of the 28 programs in the National Estuary Program is guided by a project officer to help administer the operations of the program.

Caitlyn Whittle, Program Coordinator

Caitlyn Whittle, US EPA headshot

(617) 918-1748

An environmental scientist with EPA’s New England office, Caitlyn oversees the agency’s cooperative agreement with NEIWPCC and the work of the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program. In addition, she serves as EPA’s Mystic River Watershed Initiative Coordinator, Region 1 Urban Waters Coordinator, and is a liaison between the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program and EPA’s Southeast New England Program.  Caitlyn holds a Master of Environmental Management with a focus in Resource Ecology from Duke University and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Trinity College.