RAE Staff

RAE Staff

Daniel Hayden

President and CEO
703-524-0248 x.1 | dhayden@estuaries.org

Daniel Hayden is the president and CEO of Restore America’s Estuaries. He brings more than 25 years of experience as a leader in the private and public sectors. For nearly a decade, Daniel built multi-million dollar partnerships and programs, and oversaw quality and learning for Rare, an international conservation NGO focused on proven locally-led solutions. In a previous role as senior campaign director at PCI Media, Daniel organized UN Environmental Program’s Webby award-winning “Wild for Life” Campaign generating over 3M pledges, and assisted in designing a global campaign to reduce marine plastics (CleanSeas). More recently, Daniel led business operations for Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) at the UN Foundation.  

Daniel earned a BA in Economics and History from Hamilton College and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. In his spare time, Daniel enjoys being outside with his wife and two children on the water whether liquid or frozen, serving as Chair of the Board of the Washington Literacy Center and the advisory board of the Blue Initiative Fund of the Paradise Foundation.   


Thomas Ardito

Southeast New England Watershed Grant Program Director
401-575-6109 | tardito@estuaries.org

Tom Ardito is the director of the Southeast New England Watershed Grant Program for Restore America’s Estuaries. As program director, his goal is to preserve coastal ecosystems through partnerships that restore clean water throughout Rhode Island, Southeast Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the islands of the region.

Tom has an M.A. in marine affairs from the University of Rhode Island and has been working on coastal ecological restoration in New England for about 20 years, including oil spill restoration, Superfund site restoration, dam removal, salt marsh restoration, and storm water management. He has worked extensively in public parks management, focusing on the balance between public use and ecological values, and is interested in fostering environmental justice through restoration of urban environments. Tom lives in North Kingstown, R.I., along the West Passage of beautiful Narragansett Bay.

Nicole Lekus

Operations Manager
703-524-0248 x.2 | nbreslin.romano@estuaries.org

Nicole Breslin-Romano is the operations manager at Restore America's Estuaries, overseeing all internal operations within the organization. She started her career as a consultant for CAO's and Controllers, then became the business manager for a small non-profit based in the District of Columbia, before joining RAE in 2017. She holds a B.A. from the University of Maryland, College Park, and after living in the area for the past 16 years, now calls Arlington "home."

Water has always been a passion for Nicole — her favorite place in the world is the coast of Maine — and she is thrilled to be doing her part to save our precious marine resources. She also enjoys camping, cooking far too much food for people, and crafting.

Dr. Philip McAdoo

Inclusive Coasts Initiative Senior Advisor

Dr. Philip McAdoo is a subject matter expert on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with over 15 years of experience in the field. Currently, McAdoo serves as the Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Earthjustice.  

Before founding his own consulting firm, he served as the Director of Equity, Justice, and Community at the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. Through his consulting work, McAdoo has collaborated with several nonprofits and educational institutions to help them optimize their training, development, and succession planning strategies so that diverse talent is represented. 

McAdoo is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in communications studies, holds an MA in transformative leadership from The California Institute of Integral Studies, and earned a Doctor of Education from The University of Pennsylvania in the Graduate School of Education. 

Elsa Carlisle Schwartz

Senior Director of Restoration and Administration
360-926-8814 | eschwartz@estuaries.org

Elsa Schwartz began her career with the Restore America's Estuaries family in 2000 as a manatee watch intern for Tampa Bay Watch, one of RAE's member organizations. In 2004, Elsa was reintroduced to RAE when she was hired to work at RAE's 2nd National Conference. Now as the senior director of restoration, Elsa manages RAE's national restoration program and oversees the planning and logistics of the National Summit. Prior to working for RAE, Elsa worked in the San Juan Islands for the Samish Indian Nation, working on a variety of projects from salmon restoration to shorelines stabilization.

She has an M.S. in marine affairs from the University of Washington, and a B.S. in biology from Pacific Lutheran University. Elsa lives on beautiful Camano Island where she enjoys crabbing and boating with her husband, Nate and dog, Bailey.

Rob Shane

Communications Manager

Rob joined Restore America's Estuaries as Communications Manager in August of 2020. He comes to the organization after spending five years with Trout Unlimited working in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey where he managed advocacy, outreach, and communications for more than 25,000 volunteers. He has been featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer, NPR, and other local news outlets as an expert on the ecological and economic benefits of clean water protections to native fish and downstream communities.

A native of Columbus, Ohio, Rob earned a Bachelor of Arts from Ohio Wesleyan University in 2012 where he earned degrees in Management and English.

Suzanne Giles Simon

NEP Coastal Watersheds Grant Program Director
413-695-8922 | ssimon@estuaries.org

Suzanne Simon is NEP Coastal Watersheds Grant Program Director for Restore America’s Estuaries. She has spent more than 20 years working on coastal, marine, and estuarine issues in the private, public, and non-profit sectors. An estuarine scientist by training, she started her career at an oceanographic consulting firm in the Pacific Northwest. From 2000 to 2004 she worked in D.C.’s non-profit sector, including a two-year period as RAE’s national policy and science director. A move to Florida prompted a switch back to the private sector, where she once again joined a consulting firm and developed an expertise about Florida’s ecosystems and drinking water issues. She re-joined RAE in 2009.

Suzanne earned a B.S. in biology from Bates College and an M.S. in environmental science with a concentration in marine and estuarine science from Western Washington University. Keeping up with her family provides Suzanne with exercise and entertainment during her “down” time. In those rare moments when she can, she thoroughly enjoys a good book.

Lance Speidell

Senior Director of Development
703-524-0248 x.3 | lspeidell@estuaries.org

Lance Speidell is the senior director of development for Restore America’s Estuaries, managing RAE’s relationships with current and potential institutional funders. Lance brings twelve years of experience working in corporate and foundation relations for environmentally-focused nonprofit organizations, most recently with the National Parks Conservation Association.

Lance graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in anthropology, and before entering the nonprofit sector spent several years in IT sales and marketing. Having grown up in the Tidewater area of Virginia and having spent many summer vacations in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Lance has a long history with coastal and estuarine areas and a deep appreciation for the value they bring to their communities. In his free time, he enjoys trying to keep up with his two kids and having his heart routinely broken by various D.C. and University of Virginia sports teams.

Hilary Stevens

Coastal Resilience Manager
703-524-0248 x. 6 | hstevens@estuaries.org

Hilary Stevens is the coastal resilience manager at Restore America's Estuaries. She oversees the Blue Carbon and Living Shorelines programs. She is a geologist and environmental scientist with extensive experience in coastal resource management. Hilary has worked on coastal issues and climate change adaptation around the US and globally, with an emphasis on using best-available science to address community needs and improve resource management. She has a particular affinity for island communities, stemming from her time working in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, and as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines. She holds a master's from Yale University and a B.S. from Wesleyan University.

Briana Yancy

Inclusive Coasts Initiative Fellow

Briana comes from the Chesapeake Bay region, and is currently working on projects with the Chesapeake Research Consortium while also pursuing her Masters in Biology from Miami University Ohio. Briana has earned numerous awards from various institutions for her work, including being recognized as a Meyerhoff Scholar during her undergrad at UMBC, a Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) Rising Tides participant, and a Choose Clean Water Coalition Young Professionals of Color (YPC) member.

Briana will be working closely with Philip, our ICI Advisor. She will support our Inclusive Coasts Initiative in various ways, including managing coordination and logistical efforts, conducting background research, sourcing, creating, and editing Workshop materials, and other tasks as needed.