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Providing a wide area of expertise, our team aims to safeguard ocean resources and sustainably grow Blue Economies by cultivating a network of global partners through effective grants and human capital. 

Cherie Prothro-Shea

Managing Director

Cherie Prothro-Shea is Managing Director of the Waitt Foundation where she cultivates and executes initiatives on behalf of the board of directors. Cherie began working for Mr. Ted Waitt at Gateway, Inc. nearly 20 years ago. In 2004, when Mr. Waitt retired from Gateway to focus full-time on his philanthropic interests at the Waitt Foundation, Cherie joined the team and helped define the future vision of the organization. In addition to oversight of daily operations and reporting, Cherie manages a diverse global portfolio of non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and the Waitt Rapid Ocean Conservation (ROC) small grants program.


With the launch of the Blue Prosperity Coalition, Cherie helps evaluate conservation opportunities and is closely involved in establishing international government relationships.  She facilitates the development of a network bringing together world class technical experts to create customized partnerships for the purpose of advancing global ocean protections goals.  Cherie has an extensive background in business and investor relations. Combining her corporate background with the conservation initiatives of the Foundation, Cherie provides a unique perspective to program development, management and effectiveness. A native Texan, Cherie resides in Southern California with her husband, Larry.

Cherie Prothro-Shea Headshot 2.jpeg

Tom Grueskin leads an effort to develop and maintain a broad and up-to-date understanding of the various issues that affect and define each of the potential Blue Prosperity Coalition partner countries and territories. He also oversees the process of making the body of research produced by the Waitt Foundation’s grantees, including the Waitt Institute, publicly available. 

He has previously worked in an extremely broad array of organizations and roles, including as a co-founder in three different startups, ten years with Avalon Capital Group, and twelve years with Gateway. Among the many hats worn are director of technology, marketing, product management, political analysis, sales, and president. He holds a Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree in Finance from the University of Iowa. 

Tom Grueskin

Blue Prosperity Coalition Director

Tamara Marshall, J.D.

Senior Director, Administration

Tamara focuses on legal review, finances, contracts, compliance, and operations generally to keep the organization running smoothly. She joined the Waitt team as an employee of the Avalon Capital Group in 2005.


Over the past fifteen years, she has held numerous positions within the organization across the areas of human resources, administration, operations, finance, legal, and investments. She is an experienced professional accountant with a background in entrepreneurship and small business advising. Tamara has a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and a J.D. from Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Tamara aspires to use her law degree to make a difference in the world and to give back to the community.


Josh Sherer

Chief Financial Officer

Josh joined Avalon Capital Group in 2017 as the Chief Financial Officer. He provides leadership, direction and management of the finance and accounting team at both the Waitt Foundation and the Waitt Institute. As CFO, Josh also oversees the financial forecasting and budgeting process, providing strategic recommendations to the CEO, president and members of the management team. Additional responsibilities include overseeing preparation of all financial reporting along with tax planning and compliance. 


Josh's background includes19 years of combined public and private accounting experience.  Prior to joining Avalon Capital, he was the Chief Financial Officer for a global clothing manufacturer with operations primarily in North and Central America. Josh has a Masters of Business Administration, a license in Chartered Global Management Accounting, and his Certified Public Accountant license in Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota.

Shayna Brody

Media & Communications Director

Shayna oversees communications across the Waitt Institute, Waitt Foundation and Blue Prosperity Coalition to develop communication strategies related to blue economies, marine spatial planning, and ocean conservation. She also supports communications for project sites including Barbuda, Curaçao, the Maldives, and Tonga. Shayna is involved in content creation and branding across organizations.


Shayna has a broad background in science communications and visual media with expertise in branding, graphic design, social media marketing, photography, videography, and large-scale communications initiatives. She brings communications experience from the VC backed tech startup as well as for animal rescues, aquariums, and NGOs including The Wild Animal Sanctuary, Colorado Ocean Coalition, Heal the Bay, Star Eco Station, and the Denver Aquarium. Shayna has a Master of Advanced Studies in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a Bachelor of Science in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from University of Colorado at Boulder.

Tiffany Ngo

Communications Manager

Tiffany manages digital communications across the Waitt Institute, Waitt Foundation and Blue Prosperity Coalition. This involves creating and sharing content on all social media channels and websites to engage and inform audiences about the organizations’ work and initiatives in sustainable ocean management.


She previously worked as a consultant helping government agencies communicate about clean water and sustainable infrastructure projects. Tiffany has also worked for the Environmental Law Institute and the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority where she supported research and program implementation for various environmental issues. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from UC Santa Barbara in Environmental Studies with a minor in Spatial Science.


Mark Dickey

General Counsel

Mark Dickey joined Avalon Capital Group, Inc., the Waitt Foundation, and Waitt Institute as General counsel in the fall of 2012.  Mr. Dickey has more than 20 years of legal experience, including 14 years in private practice. Before joining, Mr. Dickey served as General Counsel of Phoenix Solar US, a designer and builder of large-scale PV solar projects, and as Senior Vice President and General Counsel of VeraSun Energy, a leading producer and marketer of ethanol and distillers grains. Previously, he was Vice President, Assistant General Counsel and Assistant Secretary at Gateway, Inc., a world-wide leader in the PC industry.


Prior to Gateway, Inc., Mr. Dickey was in private practice in North Carolina and Oklahoma, specializing in mergers and acquisitions, public offerings, private placements of equity and debt securities, tax planning, financing and commercial transactions, licensing and joint ventures. Mr. Dickey earned his law degree from the University of Oklahoma, his Masters of Business Administration from Wake Forest University, and his bachelor’s degree in finance from Oklahoma State University.

Jennifer Aadnes

Executive Assistant

Jen provides administrative support to the Waitt Institute, Waitt Foundation and Blue Prosperity Coalition teams. In addition to general office management, she assists with grant administration for the Waitt Foundation. She is passionate about the organization’s mission to help protect 30% of the ocean by 2030.


Jen has enjoyed an extensive and diverse career in administration serving in a variety of roles, such as a fundraiser at a nonprofit counseling sector and a C-Suite Executive Assistant across multiple industries. Jen earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Services from Virginia Wesleyan University.

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