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Introducing Johanna Polsenberg, Director of Ocean Health Index 

Welcome, Johanna!

This month we welcome Johanna Polsenberg as the new Director of the Ocean Health Index at Conservation International. She replaces Deb Zeyen, who retired after three years of superb service as Director of Communications for the Ocean Health Index and the Moore Center for Science and Oceans. 

Johanna has more than 20 years of experience on international and ocean issues. She has worked with domestic and international non-governmental organizations, the U.S. Congress, academia, national governments and the private sector. She has managed large projects in Africa, Australia, Indonesia, the South Pacific, the Caribbean and the United States. 

"CI is very excited about Johanna Polsenberg joining the OHI team. She brings both outstanding ocean expertise and business thinking to her role as OHI Director, and has a wealth of international and domestic experience of using science to shape environmental policy and private sector practices" said Sebastian Troeng, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Moore Center for Science and Oceans. 

Johanna Polsenberg, New Director of the Ocean Health Index comes to Conservation International with over 20 years of experience in marine based work.

Most recently Johanna worked with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) as Senior Specialist for Maritime Industries and Marine Conservation, helping to advance the sustainability of marine and coastal biodiversity through collaborations and partnerships with companies, industry associations and representatives from global ocean industries.

Before that she directed the WCS Congo Basin Coast Marine Program, based in Libreville, Gabon, with projects in Gabon, Congo and Equatorial Guinea. There she organized an equally broad spectrum of partnerships to support the region’s growing commitment to sustainable development during a period of rapid economic expansion. A major project was working with offshore oil and fishing industries to develop a network of marine protected areas across more than 20% of the region’s coastal area and to reform fisheries to increase ecological and economic benefits.

As Senior Legislative Aide in the U.S. Congressional office of Representative Tom Udall (New Mexico) from 2004-2008, she led the Representative’s work on natural resources, energy, climate change, Native Americans, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and agriculture. She also led historic legislative efforts to protect major pieces of land in northern New Mexico from minerals development. After her time in Congress, she worked with the Gulf Restoration Network to direct billions in funding to the Gulf of Mexico following the 2010 Deep Horizon oil spill and with both start-up and established companies developing advanced energy technologies.

As a Knauss Sea Grant Marine Policy Legislative Fellow, Johanna spent a year in the U.S. Congressional office of Representative Sam Farr (California), advising the Representative on marine and environmental policy issues and managing major legislative efforts to promote sustainable marine fisheries and recover depleted fish stocks. She also helped develop the bipartisan House Oceans Caucus into a respected, consistently objective source of information on ocean- and coastal-related federal issues.

“I am simply thrilled to be joining CI and the Ocean Health Index team. I’ve worked closely with folks from CI for more than a decade, both on the Hill and in the field, and I am honored to now have the opportunity to join your ranks. I am deeply committed to advancing ocean sustainability from the perspective of coupled human-natural systems and in full partnership with the organizations and sectors that must play a role, and the [Index] is clearly leading the way in creating the paths and platforms to do so,” said Johanna.

Johanna holds an MBA from the University of Maryland, a Ph.D. from Stanford University, and a B.S. from the University of Vermont.