Our Team

Our volunteers and interns are at the core of our work. Without these dedicated and hard-working individuals we could not do the work we do. In addition to our great team of volunteers and interns, our staff includes

Senior Leadership & Staff


Jon Gelman

President & Chairman of the Board of Directors

Prior to founding Hawaii Marine Animal Response, Jon spent 32 years in leadership roles in the telecommunications industry working for some of the best-known firms in the U.S. before starting a successful telecom company in Hawaii. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from San Diego State University in Speech Communication/Social Psychology.

Whitney Beer-Kerr

Corporate Secretary, Board of Directors

Whitney has a Masters in Science degree in Environmental Science & Policy from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor of Science degree from San Diego State University. Prior to HMAR, Whitney spent 8 years as a producer and writer of science and wildlife films. Whitney served as HMAR’s Development Manager until transitioning to our Board of Directors.

Don Porter

Corporate Treasurer, Board of Directors

Don Porter is a former telecom executive who found a post-retirement passion for marine wildlife. He has been volunteering with HMAR since its founding and is an avowed “volunteer junkie” and he is active in numerous other local nonprofits and community groups.

Kristina Dauterman

Dispatch & Reporting Manager

Kristina has a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Management from University of Maryland where she focused on conservation ecology and sustainability. Kristina manages HMAR’s hotlines, dispatch operations and coordinates sea turtle and seabird escalations. She is an avid scuba diver, and when she is not working prefers to be in the ocean.

Nico Lopez

Field Response Manager

Nico Lopez is a native Hawaiian raised on the Big Island. Nico oversees field response and rescue operations on Oahu and Molokai and is also HMAR’s Hawaiian cultural relations coordinator. Nico is a veteran of the US Army’s famed 82nd Airborne Division. When he is not in the field, he enjoys surfing and spending time on the north shore of Oahu shaping surfboards for friends.

Kelsey Wheeler

Field Response Manager

Kelsey has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from Columbus State University. Kelsey manages field response activity on Oahu and is also responsible for HMAR’s internship program and volunteer training coordination. She has a passion for ocean ecosystem conservation and her prior experience includes volunteer management and animal rescue and care.

Carissa Cabrera

Programs Manager

Carissa has a Masters in Marine Science degree from Hawaii Pacific University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Evolutionary and Ecological Biology from University of Arizona. Carissa manages HMAR’s Education & Engagement Program and our Marine Debris Program. Prior to HMAR, Carissa was leading ocean conservation outreach initiatives and conducting research on marine mammals with the University of Hawaii cetacean stranding team.

Board of Advisors


Patrick Ching

Beloved Hawaii nature and wildlife artist

Matt Kerr

Certified safety & hazardous operations trainer and entrepreneur

Dr. Gregg Levine

Marine animal veterinarian

Sarah Pifer

Financial analyst and animal advocate

Rachel Spraque Ph.D.

Biologist and professional conservation manager