Throughout Algalita’s 30-years, we have always been blessed with talented board members capable of nurturing our dynamic organization. From the early days when our team was tasked with coordinating research expeditions and publishing scientific papers to developing new programs with a global reach capable of keeping up with our ever-changing movement – our board of directors has always been an integral force behind our efforts.

As Executive Director, our trusted Board is more than just a group of people I report to. They are my checks-and-balances, my advisors, my supporters…they are my team. Did you also know they are all volunteers? Yup! These wonderful people donate their time, talents, and personal funds to ensure our organization is optimized for impact. The Algalita Board doesn’t just preside, we function as a deliberative, working team who understands the importance of prioritizing our group’s culture. We work in community with each other and we celebrate our humanness every step of the way.

An important aspect of fostering constructive working dynamics is actually taking the time to get to know each other, have fun, and join in activities that help everyone stay connected to our mission. Last week, we hosted the first-ever shared retreat connecting the full Algalita team with the board and staff of our new sister organization, Moore Institute for Plastic Pollution Research (MIPPR). Just last March, our two organizations moved in together under the same roof to begin building the first-of-its-kind plastic pollution research and learning center. We decided to host our retreat at our new location, even though we had not totally finished renovations. In hindsight, I’m glad everyone was able to see space before it’s fully transformed – I think it gave everyone a stronger sense of ownership.

The retreat was designed so members of both organizations could get to know each other, and also so Shelly Moore, MIPPR’s Executive Director, and I could bring everyone up-to-speed on our current programmatic efforts. Here were my top five take-aways from the day:

  1. I work with absolute geniuses. From scientists to business leaders, educators to financial professionals – let me just say, the room was packed with incredibly intelligent people. I am honored to be changing the world beside them all.
  2. Both organizations have an impeccable way of “staying ahead of the game”. We’re always aiming to create and achieve things no one else has done before – a trait I’m sure we’ve inherited from Charlie.
  3. Every single member is truly invested in our mission AND in our people. Our members put egos aside to put the needs of our organizations’ first. I also love how all staff is included in our decision-making process. Talk about inclusivity!
  4. We’re both small, nimble, and agile organizations – experts at adapting to changing winds. We are resourceful, frugal, and wise stewards of the contributions we receive. I believe these traits combined are a recipe for sustained success, and they’re exactly what we will need to reach our vision of a world where plastic pollution is unthinkable.
  5. We go faster alone, but further together. The power of our sisterhood was unmistakably present. Friendships were formed, connections were created, and ideas were fused! I absolutely cannot wait for the next one.

To end the day, we all boarded the ORV Alguita for a short sunset cruise. At some point, Algalita’s new Engagement Director, Emily, rallied a mix of board and staff to dive off the stern for a quick swim in our beloved open ocean. No one had brought suits so we searched the vessel for anything we could wrap around our bodies. As I cannon-balled off the swim-deck in some unclaimed black wetsuit, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud as I saw the silhouettes of my team swimming close in the distance. After everything we had been though these past few years, it felt like a kind of cleansing – like a new beginning. And we are all so ready for it.

With gratitude,
Katie Allen
Executive Director

Sunset swim in front of the Long Beach Shoreline