Healthy Ocean Advocacy Academy

The Healthy Ocean Coalition: Helping Advocates Raise their Voice for the Ocean

The Healthy Ocean Coalition has been hosting Healthy Ocean Advocacy Trainings since 2016. Our trainings have been our premiere outreach and advocacy event. It is a sought after advocacy tool for local and regional ocean, coastal, and community advocates around the country.

Healthy Ocean Coalition Trainings By the Numbers:

  • 8 in-person retreat style trainings
  • 3 virtual trainings
  • 200+ attendees


The Healthy Ocean Advocacy Academy

Now, the HOC is moving these advocacy trainings to the next level by developing the Healthy Ocean Advocacy Academy for advocates to learn and grow in their advocacy while creating long-term local and regional community of advocates.

The Healthy Ocean Advocacy Academy will take the work we did to develop our trainings over the past six years, marry it with participant feedback and relaunch it as a less time intensive, more nuanced and action oriented Academy for advocates.

Over 9 live sessions (90min) and 2 weeks of individual or group fieldwork, each cohort will work to:

  • Build an ocean advocacy community.
  • Develop a deeper understanding of administrative & legislative advocacy and its importance.
  • Learn about current federal Administrative policy priorities around equitable ocean conservation and access to nature.
  • Develop an advocacy goal around a federal ocean policy.
  • Identify, shape, and hone storytelling to support the advocacy goal.
  • Develop relationships and attend a virtual decision-maker meeting to support the advocacy goal.
  • Develop communications via media relations to support the advocacy goal.
  • Develop communications via social media to support the identified advocacy goal.

When the Heathy Ocean Advocate Academy cohort ends, each Healthy Ocean Advocate leaves with:

  1. A certificate of achievement.
  2. A personalized Ocean Advocate Plan (OAP) that contains their advocacy goal and actions taken.
  3. A community of HOC Network members to draw from in support of their action plan and professional goals.
  4. Monthly check-ins for 3 months with the HOC Leadership team to help complete their OAP.
  5. Access to the HOC Network - webinars, mini-workshops and trainings, and information sharing on hot topics on equitable ocean conservation policy.


I return to work on Thursday excited and inspired. You all did a wonderful job curating an educational experience that brought a lot of different organizations together. I left feeling like there is far more opportunity to work together than alone.

— 2019 trainee from a fisheries group

I wanted to thank you all for an absolutely fantastic advocacy training. You all did an exceptional job. I was so glad to be there. The training was such a rich and valuable experience. You presented relevant information that is directly applicable to my job and personal objectives.

— 2018 trainee from a coastal conservancy group

Thank you and the rest of the staff again for a very useful, hands-on training. I look forward to implementing the takeaways and to staying in touch with the HOC.

— 2019 trainee from a conservation group

Spring 2022 Healthy Ocean Advocacy Academy (in progress)


The HOC is hosting our spring 2022 Academy in the virtual realm, creating space for advocates and community organizations to attend from the safety of their homes, while still connecting with a broader community around critical issues of ocean and climate justice.

Our Spring Cohort is completing eleven modules over a 3-month period. We are meeting over the course of eleven weeks, with nine 90-minute live virtual sessions, every Wednesday from 9-10:30am PT/12-1:30ET. There are also two "Fieldwork" weeks with no live sessions but instead a focus on a work product (of equal or less commitment than a live session) over the course of the week done at the participant's own pace.

March 9: Module 1 - Building an ocean advocate community

March 16: Module 2 - Where we are: current ocean conservation policy

March 23: Module 3 - Where we’re going: ocean conservation policy goals

March 30: Module 4 - Legislative & administrative engaging to get there

April 6: Module 5 - Communications to support legislative & administrative outreach: storytelling

April 13: Module 6 - Communications to support legislative & administrative outreach: media relations

April 20: Module 7 - Fieldwork Week 1

April 27: Module 8 - Developing & maintaining decision-maker relationships

May 4: Module 9 - Communications to support legislative & administrative outreach: social media

May 11: Module 10 - Fieldwork Week 2

May 18: Module 11 - Closing Session & Next Steps

Advocacy & Communications Experts and Awesome Humans Supporting the Healthy Ocean Advocacy Academy

Aketa Marie Williams, Multiplatform Content and Brand Strategist

Aketa has been a lead trainer in the HOC trainings since 2018 and brings all of her experiences working on Capitol Hill, in the Obama Administration, and state legislature to support participants in their efforts to develop engaging stories toward their advocacy goals.


Angelo Villagomez, Center for American Progress

Angelo is currently a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, where he focuses on Indigenous-led conservation. Born in a village on an island in the western Pacific Ocean next to the Mariana Trench, but trained in western scientific methods, Villagomez is a conservation advocate who uses Indigenous knowledge and values and the scientific method to address modern threats including habitat loss, fishing, and climate colonialism.

Villagomez worked for 14 years at The Pew Charitable Trusts where he was an advocate for the designation and expansion of the national marine monuments in the Pacific Islands and a policy expert on global shark conservation. During his tenure at Pew he led efforts to secure an agreement at the International Union for Conservation of Nature committing governments to protect at least 30% of the ocean in fully to highly protected marine areas and contributed to The MPA Guide and the IUCN MPA Standards. He previously worked for the League of Conservation Voters, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Mariana Islands Nature Alliance. Villagomez holds bachelor’s degrees in biology from the University of Richmond and environmental policy from Rollins College. He is a mediocre ukulele player and enjoys scuba diving in warm tropical waters full of fish.


David Riera, M.Sc., Ed.S.

HOAA Ambassador & HOC Advisor

David is an environmental scientist, educator, and advocate with 15 years of leadership experience, academic, and research training. David is a United States Marine Combat Veteran and First Generation Afro-Hispanic college graduate who is driven daily to tackle various social and environmental issues. He is a McKnight Doctoral Fellow at Florida International University, and an Oceans Advisory Committee Member for the Hispanic Access Foundation. He is an educational professional with a Master of Science - MS focused on Agroecology, Sustainable and Urban Agriculture, Plant Biotech, & Natural Resource Conservation Management.

David is the embodiment of the adage, "don't talk about it, be about it." and energizes the Healthy Ocean Coalition to keep pushing forward for a healthy ocean and healthy communities. David is bilingual and has worked in service of his communities for over 25 years. He is an experienced Researcher with a demonstrated history of field and laboratory work, skilled in Veterinary Medicine, Microsoft Word, Heavy Equipment, Gardening, and Molecular Biology.

David brings his decades of expertise into advising the HOC's work to build community throughout its programs and is instrumental in the HOC's 2022 work to develop and iterate its Healthy Ocean Advocacy Academy.


Shanna Edberg, Hispanic Access Foundation

Shanna is a longtime conservation advocate and promoter of environmental justice in the U.S. and abroad. She comes to Hispanic Access Foundation from an extensive professional background including working in sustainable development at the World Bank and Global Environment Facility, climate policy at the nonprofit Climate Interactive, civil service with local government, and managing her own photography business. Prior to that, while pursuing her education, Shanna worked in Peru to protect forests in the Amazon, researched and published on civil rights in Mexico, and supported city sustainability in Baltimore. She earned her M.A. in Latin American studies and international economics from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and B.A. in international studies from Johns Hopkins University. Shanna resides in Baltimore, Maryland with her partner and dog.


Dylan McDowell, National Caucus of Environmental Legislators

Dylan is Deputy Director for the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. He works at the intersection of science and policy where he specializes in making complex information concise and accessible. Originally trained as a science communicator, his background includes developing education and communication materials for the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, the Hatfield Marine Science Center, and Oregon Sea Grant. He began working in public policy at the Oregon State University (OSU) Government Relations Office, where he supported efforts to expand OSU Extension programs in the state legislature and managed legislator outreach.