Staff and Contacts

The members of the Barnegat Bay Partnership staff are employees of Ocean County College, which is where the Partnership office is located.

The Barnegat Bay Partnership is a department of Ocean County College.

For Information and General Questions: (732) 255-0472 • fax: (732) 255-0358

Barnegat Bay Partnership Staff

Stanton Hales, Jr., Ph.D.


[email protected]

Dr. Stan Hales brought a diverse background and wealth of experience in education, research, and management when he was hired as the BBP Director on July 1, 2007. Before joining the BBP, Dr. Hales was a Senior Fish and Wildlife Biologist in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s New Jersey Field Office, where he coordinated planning and other activities and authored The Hackensack Meadowlands Initiative: Preliminary Conservation Planning. Previously, he was a Visiting Assistant Professor and Assistant Director of the Coastal Conservation Research Program (CCRP) at Richard Stockton College. The CCRP was a collaborative student-based research program supported by many organizations, including the Wetlands Institute, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, and the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Hales has overseen the tremendous increase in the capacity and expertise of the BBP staff.  From 2014 through 2018, he also served as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Association of National Estuary Programs, which coordinates and communicates outreach and other efforts by all 28 National Estuary Programs.

Dr. Hales’ research activities have focused on growth, mortality, and movements of estuarine fishes, but also include published studies on ecotoxicology, population genetics, reproductive ecology, zooarchaeology, and other topics.  He received his B.S. from Davidson College, his M.S. from the College of Charleston, and his Ph.D. from the University of Georgia.

Karen Walzer

Outreach Coordinator

[email protected]

Since joining the BBP in 2011, Karen has been managing the communication initiatives and educational programs of the Barnegat Bay Partnership. In addition to maintaining this website, she created and now manages the content for the BBP’s Jersey-Friendly Yards website (, an easy-to-use online guide to landscaping for clean water and a healthy environment in New Jersey. 

Karen began her career working for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection as an Environmental Specialist. Her experience included enforcement of coastal land use laws and assessment of the environmental impacts of projects. She has also monitored water quality for the Monmouth County Health Department as an Environmental Health Specialist, and worked for the New Jersey Forest Resource Education Center as a Seasonal Naturalist. In 2007-2008, Karen served in an AmeriCorps program as the New Jersey Watershed Ambassador for the Barnegat Bay watershed, coordinating public outreach efforts and presenting educational programs throughout the watershed. 

Karen is an active participant in community outreach as a long-time volunteer for two local organizations, the Ocean County Master Gardeners and Jackson Pathfinders. She is also one of the co-leaders of the Jersey Shore chapter of the Native Plant Society of New Jersey.

Karen received a B.S. in Biology from Bucknell University and earned New Jersey Teacher Certificates in both Biology and General Science.  She is licensed as a NJ Registered Environmental Health Specialist. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening and exploring local trails.

Jim Vasslides, Ph.D., CFP

Senior Scientist

[email protected]

Jim came to the BBP with a wide range of terrestrial, estuarine, and marine research and management experience. Before joining the BBP, he was a member of the Rutgers University Marine Field Station, where he conducted research on New Jersey’s marine resources, primarily on the Barnegat Bay and near-shore coastal waters. Prior to that Jim worked as a Fishery Biologist II for the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries in the Pamlico Sound, overseeing studies of the Sound’s juvenile and adult fish populations, as well as state-wide management of American eel and Atlantic Croaker. Before focusing on marine and estuarine issues, Jim was involved with wetland restoration and enhancement projects, threatened and endangered species surveys, and project planning and permitting.

Jim received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and has published papers on fish community assemblages, feeding interactions, early life history movements, as well as ecosystem modelling. His research interests include the role of estuaries as nurseries, the restoration of shallow water habitats, and climate change effects on species distributions and assemblages.

Nicole Petersen

Water Quality Specialist

[email protected]

After graduating from Stockton University with a B.S. in Environmental Science, Nicole began her career working with the NJDEP as a biological technician and went on to gain years of water quality experience overseeing treatment and laboratory operations at major surface water treatment plants and well systems. Nicole joined the BBP staff as a field and lab technician in 2015 where she worked on a range of projects including diadromous fish surveys, wetland monitoring, and seagrass monitoring. It was here that her love of field work and research to improve and protect our natural resources and environment was reinvigorated.

Nicole’s experience was instrumental in launching the BBP’s Continuous Water Quality Monitoring Program in the Barnegat Bay and earning NJDEP certification for the BBP lab. As the Water Quality Specialist, she enjoys administering the continuous monitoring program and supporting other BBP projects that involve water quality. She is excited to continue and expand upon our water quality monitoring to aid in research and regulatory processes.

Ceili Pestalozzi

Wetland and Watershed Coordinator

[email protected]

Ceili has over 10 years of environmental science experience working in a variety of different ecosystems. She received her B.S. in Biology from Stockton University, where she gained experience working with Diamondback Terrapins in coastal salt marshes.  From there, she took her foundations in biology and chemistry to obtain a Master’s degree in Ecology from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY.  Her thesis research focused on water level regulation and its effect on water quality and plankton communities in coastal freshwater wetlands of the Upper St. Lawrence River.

Ceili started working for the BBP in early 2015 as a field and lab technician.  She worked on variety of projects throughout the watershed, including wetlands assessments, water quality monitoring, fisheries monitoring, and outreach programs.  Her strong leadership skills lead her to accept a position at Rutgers University where she coordinated instructional laboratory operations for the Department of Life Sciences. Ceili’s passion for environmental science and coastal sciences lead her to her current role at the BBP as the Wetlands and Watershed Coordinator. Here she works as the project coordinator in the effort to develop and implement watershed-based management plans for several sub-watersheds within the larger Barnegat Bay watershed.

Barbara E. Spinweber

EPA Region 2 Program Coordinator


AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassador

Barnegat Bay Partnership is the Host Agency for the NJ Watershed Ambassador for the Barnegat Bay watershed (WMA13). The NJ Watershed Ambassador Program is an AmeriCorps program designed to promote watershed stewardship through education and community outreach. AmeriCorps is a national service initiative that engages more than 70,000 Americans each year in volunteer service that benefits education, public safety, health, and the environment. A watershed ambassador is assigned to each of the 20 main watersheds in New Jersey. During their term of service, the ambassadors present programs, monitor streams and rivers, and complete projects designed to benefit their watersheds.

The 2022-2023 Barnegat Bay Watershed Ambassador is Bailey Sanders. You can contact her at [email protected] or 732-255-0472 x 7.

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