New York State 

Marine Education Association

Executive Officers

Executive Director - Gene Ritter

Gene T. Ritter holds a 100-ton US Coast Guard Master Captain’s License. He has over 30 years of experience as a Commercial Diver and Dive Supervisor. He retired as a New York Union Dockbuilder in heavy construction with the New York District Council of Carpenters.  Gene has been - and still is - a community leader for many years.  He has been instrumental in many of the positive changes in his community.  Gene has been exploring the underwater world of New York Harbor for over 40 years.  He brought hundreds of historic artifacts into schools, community events, and other venues through his Research Diving Programs since 1990. He has brought his underwater discoveries to thousands of students throughout New York, in an effort to share his knowledge and love for the oceans, shorelines and estuaries.   Gene has appeared in numerous articles such as the New York Times, NY Post, Daily News, in trade magazines, the local press, as well as the network news, ABC, NBC, CBS, and NY1.  Among Gene’s underwater discoveries are the sunken remnants of Fort Lafayette—a Civil War Fort, under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.  He also discovered 14 thousand live anti-aircraft shells, possibly lost by the US Navy in 1954.  He also discovered the lost historic Dreamland Pier and Dreamland Bell in the waters of Coney Island. The discoveries created positive political and economic change for Coney Island.

Over the years he has received many awards for his outstanding contribution to the community. In 1990, former Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden awarded Gene with his first citation award for his Outstanding Contributions to the Preservation of Brooklyn’s History. 

Lane RosenPresident-Lane Rosen, John Dewey High school, NYCDOE
Lane Rosen is a NY State Licensed Biology and General Science teacher who has been teaching science for 19 years in Brooklyn, NY.  Lane has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Masters of Arts in Secondary Science Education from Brooklyn College. 

 For the past 15 years Lane has been teaching Marine Science at John Dewey High School in Coney Island. He is very passionate about teaching marine education to high school students and guiding them into college programs and marine careers. Lane educates his students beyond the walls of a classroom with experiences at the American Museum of Natural History, the NJ and NY Aquariums, Cold Spring Harbor Hatchery, Newtown Creek DEP center and Kingsborough Community College Marine Education Conferences. Lane and his students in the John Dewey High School Marine Science Program have raised trout and horseshoe crabs, maintained a marine laboratory with live organisms, and participated in oyster gardening, coastal cleanups, salt marsh and sand dune restoration and marine environmental awareness programs.

Lane has been instrumental in leading local environmental awareness events like It’s My Estuary Day, the Great Fish Count and the International Coastal Cleanup on an annual basis. These events draw hundreds of local students from a variety of K-12 schools, as well as many community partners. Such events allow students community service opportunities and have led to collaborative relationships with many community organizations, marine educators and coastal and environmental agencies. 

In 2005, Lane received an award from President Bush for his work on Project CREEK; an environmental partnership between the NY Aquarium and JDHS on coastal habitat restoration. In 2011, he received a Service Learning Award for Community Awareness from Mayor Bloomberg. Recently, he won the 2016 Educator of the Year Award by Education Update. He is co-founder of the Brooklyn Marine STEM Education Alliance which is a collaborative group of schools working with partners in marine STEM endeavors. In 2017, the Brooklyn Marine STEM Education Alliance received a partnership award from the NYCDOE.

Vice President - Lisa Breslof

Merryl KafkaExecutive Director of Education, Merryl Kafka, retired, NY Aquarium
In her capacity as Curator of Education (and a 30-year career history) at the N.Y. Aquarium, Dr. Kafka has been instrumental in providing exciting, marine science programming to community groups, families, school children, and teachers throughout the New York City area.  Her efforts, along with the dedication of her colleagues, resulted in producing one of the most creative and awarded aquarium education departments in the nation, as well as co-founding the successful Rachel Carson HS of Coastal Studies in Coney Island. Merryl has also worked with the NYS DEC for 14 years, in concert with the NY Aquarium, to help citizens avoid wetland violations and advance public programming via Project P.O.W.E.R: Protecting Our Wetlands with Educators and Regulators, creating a unique national model.

Merryl is the recipient of many awards; from the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency for Coastal America’s Restoration Award for “Project Creek”, an environmental partnership award on habitat restoration in Coney Island, to recently receiving the “Lifelong Devotion to Marine Education Exemplary Service Award” from NYSMEA, which she has been a member since 1979. She is currently a summer adjunct Professor at Brooklyn College’s AREAC (Aquatic Research and Environmental Assessment Center), co-teaching “Urban Marine Ecology” for the College Now program for high school students, and an onboard educator for whale and dolphin watching on the American Princess in Ft. Tilden.  She also serves on the advisory committee of Dowling College’s Center for Estuaries, Environmental and Coastal Oceans Monitoring (C.E.E.C.O.M.). Merryl will continue to ensure that our coastal treasures remain understood, appreciated, and protected for generations to enjoy. 

Dr. Kafka received her M.S. Degree in Biology and N.Y. State Certificate of Museum Studies from New York University, and earned her doctorate in Instructional Leadership from St. John’s University.

Dale StanleyCollege Vice President- Dale Stanley, Nassau Community College
Dale was born and raised in the Bronx and spent her summers on the North Shore of Long Island, mostly in/on/near the water. She now lives in Nassau County and still spends as much time as possible in/on /near the water. Dale is an Associate Professor at Nassau Community College where she teaches Marine Biology, Marine Science and General Biology to both Honors students and “regular” students. Dale teaches several field courses and spends many hours a week teaching in /on / near the water. She is both the Marine Coordinator and the Honors sections Coordinator for General Biology 1 and 2. She received a B.S. in Biology from Marymount Manhattan College, a M.S. in Biology from Fordham University and began her PhD studies at NYU where she completed the course work and her research project and went on maternity leave, never to return. Dale spent nearly 20 years doing mucopolysaccharide and prostaglandin research on kidney function and fish gills at NYU Medical Center. Her career as an educator began in the early 90’s. Dale taught biology at Borough of Manhattan Community College, Bronx Community College and Nassau Community College as an adjunct while raising children and taking education courses at Adelphi University. She has studied oceanography, marine biology, ichthyology and marine ecology as well as secondary science education.

Treasurer- Sarah Richards, Saint Ann’s School
Sarah Richards has taught science at Saint Ann's School in Brooklyn, NY since 1987. During her tenure there, Sarah has taught General Science, Earth Science, Anatomy and Physiology, Oceanography, Marine Biology, and Meteorology. She has also served as Chair and Associate Chair of the Science Department. Sarah started a two-week Summer Science Camp for middle schoolers at Saint Ann’s eight years ago, and has coached a team for the National Ocean Sciences Bowl for the past ten years. Sarah believes in the importance of experiential learning, and has designed and led many field trips for her students. From 1989-2001, she took her high school students on a week-long trip each spring to the Hofstra University Marine Lab in Jamaica, and since 2002, she’s been leading comparable trips to the Florida Everglades and Newfound Harbor Marine Institute on Big Pine Key. Sarah was selected to participate in the Sea Experience for Teachers sponsored by the Sea Education Association in 1991, and the Down Under, Out Yonder program sponsored by the Gulf of Mexico Foundation in 2009.

Sarah received her B.A. from Oberlin College, and her M.S. in Science Education from Oregon State University. She has been an active member of the NY State Marine Education Association since 1993, and currently serves as NYSMEA’s Treasurer and Annual Conference Coordinator. She was awarded NYSMEA’s Kinghan Service Award in 2004 and the SCONYC (Science Council of New York City)’s Science Education Award in 2005. In 2006, Sarah served as co-chair of the annual National Marine Educators Association Conference, which was held in Brooklyn, and was elected to the NMEA Board of Directors in 2008, where she serves as the chair of the History Committee. In her spare time, Sarah is the principal second violinist of the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra. She enjoys cooking, reading, and traveling - especially to destinations where she can SCUBA dive with her husband, Clive, and 11-year-old son, Thomas!

David StolarzSecretary- David Stolarz
BBA in Marketing from Hofstra University. Masters degree in Geography from Hunter College. Fulfilled requirements of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate from CUNY Graduate Center. Started career as a County Surveyor. GIS professional since 1990. Spent 22 years in county government, 10 years building Enterprise GIS. Six years on National Board of Directors of ASPRS. Developed a national conference workshop on career development in the geosciences. NSF Fellowship bringing GIS into the high school classroom. Currently semi-retired, sailing, playing volleyball and serving on international geospatial standards committee, along with other local associations (Friends of Hempstead Plains at NCC). NMEA member and active NYSMEA member since 2005. Winner of the NYSMEA Kinghan Award in 2012. "Geospatial Learning in the Classroom: A Call for Collaboration" in Ripples, May 2012.

Executive Founding Member - Lou Seigel

NYSMEA Organization Chart

NYSMEA Address:

Lisa Breslof/NYSMEA

Dept. Of Education

American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024-5192

NYSMEA Phone: Lisa Breslof at 212.769.5169

NYSMEA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization 
©NYSMEA. All Rights Reserved 2018.


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