Executive Director & Co-Founder Mike Smith received his BS in marine biology from the University of Rhode Island and his MS in education from Walden University. He has loved working in the outdoors as a shark and fish researcher, a kayak guide in the San Juan Islands sharing the water with orcas, a naturalist aboard whale watching vessels, and a Program Director at New England Science & Sailing. He has also worked as an instructor on Tall Ships teaching marine science, snorkeling, and sailing in the waters around Catalina Island. He holds a 100 Ton USCG Masters Captain License, is an ARC lifeguard instructor, and has U.S. Sailing and BCU kayak certifications. Outside of Common Tides, he is a full time K-8 teacher at The Phoenix School, in Salem, MA. His passions are spending time with his family, surfing, exploring the outdoors, and cheering the Seahawks on to win another Super Bowl!
Co-Founder Katie Dyal has been passionate about the world’s water since childhood. Her love and knowledge of aquatic ecosystems increased greatly as she studied, played, and eventually gained her Masters in Water and Soil Science. Since then she has helped with local reef conservation efforts in Fiji, Honduras, and Thailand as well as helping teach the local children about their oceanic habitats. She also worked as a field instructor teaching children about the Pacific Ocean on Catalina Island as well as an instructor aboard a sailing vessel along the California Channel Islands. She spent time working as a marine instructor in the Florida Keys, and working as divemaster as well. Outside of Common Tides, she enjoys exploring the Rocky and Smoky Mountains whenever she can. She also loves diving deep into yogic practices, especially yoga nidra.
Director of Operations
Leadership Director Mistral has traveled to many places around the globe, exploring the oceans and participating in research projects from seagrass to marine turtles while completing her Bachelor of Science in Marine Science and Conservation Biology, from Murdoch University in Western Australia. She has truly enjoyed working in the outdoors as an Aquarist, Turtle Tracker, Marine Science Instructor, a Dive and Surf Instructor in the Caribbean, to Program Director with New England Science & Sailing and now a lead teacher with The Phoenix School. Mistral has well over a decade of teaching experience in the classroom, in marine science, in outdoor education and in professional development, specializing in leadership practices and skills. Mistral is passionate about experiential learning experiences that happen while in the field, because that is often where the best learning and growth happens. Mistral holds a 50 Ton USCG Masters Captains License, ARC Lifeguard Instructor, PADI Rescue Diver and has US Sailing and BCU Kayak Certifications. Mistral enjoys spending time with her kids, from being in the ocean to camping in the mountains to traveling and experiencing life to the fullest.
Leadership Director Erin is a change maker, with the mission to inspire and facilitate positive change. She combines her professional experience leading change with her personal experience of transformation to help individuals and groups realize their potential and live meaningful, intentional lives. Erin’s interest in human dynamics and exploring cultures led her to earn a BA in Communications and Culture, minoring in Psychology while at Indiana University and study abroad at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Erin has 15 years of experience working with senior leaders and leading teams through the human component of strategic transformation projects with Fortune 500 companies in various industries. She is a certified Change Management Professional by PROSCI. Erin is fascinated with exploring consciousness and human potential, studying and teaching around the world in areas such as neuroscience, meditation, breath work, feminine philosophy, and creative practices. She is a certified teacher of heart/brain coherence (AddHeart) through the HeartMath Institute, author and photographer of the book 100 Days of Transformative Adventure, and has her advanced diving certification with PADI.
Program Director Originally from the Pittsburgh, PA area, Amber earned a degree in Marine Science with a concentration in Biology and a minor in Chemistry from Kutztown University in 2009. She taught marine-based environmental education in the field for K-12, college, and adult age groups in coastal VA, GA, the FL Keys, and the USVI for six years. She made the move from informal education to the high school science classroom but was able to get back into the field when she joined Common Tides as the Trip Director for two Internship Expeditions in the USVI. She enjoyed sharing her passion for marine conservation and outreach with Common Tides so much that she joined the board and became Program Director. Amber currently teaches high school science in McLean, VA and in her free time can be found outdoors with friends and family.
Dr. Robert Ellis
Contributing Scientist Dr. Robert Ellis grew up in Southern California and always knew that he wanted to be a marine biologist. He received his BS from UC Santa Barbara where he first got hooked on marine research by studying coral reef fishes in the US Virgin Islands. After graduating he moved out to Catalina Island where he worked as an instructor teaching marine biology to grades 4-12, then onto a couple years surf-bumming around Santa Cruz and Central America. He then went back to school, attaining his MS in Oceanography (LSU) and his Ph.D. in biology (Florida State). Bob currently studies reef fish life history for the state of Florida and stokes his passion for marine conservation by working with Common Tides and the Clear This Fish Foundation working to eradicate invasive lionfish from Panama.
Board of Directors
Dr. Robert Ellis
Our mission is to inspire passion through ocean education and stewardship to create positive change.