Orange County Coastkeeper recently introduced three staff members, including one who is rejoining the organization after being furloughed due to COVID-19, who have a passion for water advocacy and education. Michaela Coats, Suzanne Welsh and Armita Ariano bring an abundance of experience and love for the environment, which will be essential in their work. Michaela will focus on education programs, Suzanne will oversee volunteer coordination, and Armita will handle environmental litigation.
Michaela Coats, born and raised in Orange County, received her Bachelor of Science in environmental studies – with a concentration in marine environments – from University of California, Santa Barbara in 2018, and her Master of Science in conservation and restoration science from University of California, Irvine in 2021. Her master’s research focused on conducting intertidal habitat assessment surveys for the recovery of the endangered black abalone. Prior to working at Coastkeeper, she worked at several nonprofits providing education programs to local youth.
Suzanne Welsh, Coastkeeper’s volunteer coordinator from Newport Beach, is in charge of coordinating public and private beach cleanups, as well as coordinating Coastal Cleanup Day for Orange County. She also leads the Santa Ana River monitoring program, where she records human use in the Wildlife Management Area. Suzanne has worked for organizations like the City of Newport Beach, Crystal Cove Conservancy, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Laguna Ocean Foundation, before being hired by Orange County Coastkeeper in February 2020. While furloughed, she worked for California State Parks as a Volunteer Coordination Assistant before returning full time to Orange County Coastkeeper in July 2021.
Armita Ariano graduated cum laude with a degree in philosophy from California State University, Northridge before securing her law degree from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. Prior to joining Coastkeeper, Armita spent three years practicing entertainment law honing her transactional and negotiation skills at United Talent Agency and Pilgrim Media Group. Armita is active in her local community and serves as a member of the Sierra Club in Los Angeles County where she advocates for the just transition from fossil fuels to clean and sustainable energy practices.
Orange County Coastkeeper seeks to infuse its staff with people from diverse professional backgrounds and finds it beneficial when staff members are role models for future generations. Coastkeeper’s newest hires will help further the organization’s mission of protecting the region’s water resources to keep them swimmable, fishable and drinkable.