Team Staff

We are a team of diligent and dedicated environmental advocates. We trust one another to speak up, do the right thing, hold one another accountable, and commit to the end goal: a clean and healthy Mobile Bay Watershed, and the sustainability of coastal resources where our community can safely swim, fish, work, and play.

William Strickland

Executive Director

A native of Tuscaloosa, William began his career in the field of environmental engineering before moving into the faith-based non-profit sector.

William graduated from the University of Alabama where he earned a BS in Civil Engineering with a focus on water issues. He played football under Nick Saban at Alabama, winning two national championships during his time there. He is currently pursuing a Master’s of the Arts in Missional Theology at Covenant Theological Seminary.

William’s love for nature and an understanding of humans’ place in it were instilled in him from an early age by his late grandfather, Bill, a conservationist and outdoorsman. He hopes to pass that love on to his three young children. He brings to the organization a passion for process and excellence gained during his time under Saban at Alabama.

CASSIE BATES

STAFF SCIENTIST

Cassie grew up in the Phenix City, Alabama/Columbus, Georgia area. Despite being fairly landlocked, she always harbored a passion for estuarine, coastal, and marine science. At LaGrange College, she earned a B.S. in Biology with minors in Servant Leadership and Sustainability, and recently completed a M.S. degree in Marine Conservation and Resource Management at the University of South Alabama. After graduating, she worked as a Lab Manager/Technician at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, where she processed Arctic cruise samples of phytoplankton communities.

As the Staff Scientist at Mobile Baykeeper, Cassie collaborates with stakeholders in our community to incorporate diverse technical expertise to inform the work we do. She also stays up-to-date on research and findings that guide our programmatic decision making towards successful outcomes.

Cassie is passionate about making scientific information both tangible and accessible to communities who are directly impacted by environmental concerns and inspiring them to become engaged in making our watershed a healthy and sustainable resource. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors, traveling when she can, scuba diving or fishing, and baking for friends!

Cade Kistler

Baykeeper

Cade grew up on Guntersville Lake in north Alabama. After earning his B.S. from Auburn University, he took a position with the U.S. Forest Service as a wilderness restoration intern in Washington state. However, sweet home Alabama called and Cade returned to work on his M.S. at Auburn University. He has completed all coursework and will receive his M.S. upon completion of his thesis.

After getting married, he followed his wife to her home in Baldwin County and has been exploring the treasures of the Gulf Coast since. In his spare time, Cade likes to kayak and bike with his wife and snow-ski whenever he can. Cade is thrilled to have the opportunity to work for the citizens of the Alabama Gulf Coast and preserve the environment of this majestic area.

Kistler, who served as Mobile Baykeeper’s Program Director for six years, now fills the Baykeeper role previously held by Casi Callaway.

Chloe Ray

Field Investigations Team Lead

Chloe Ray is an Alabama native who grew up in Baldwin County. Her love and appreciation for the waters of Alabama was cultivated from a young age with visits to nature centers on the Gulf Coast, fishing, and time on the water. At the University of South Alabama, she earned a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Communications in 2021. She interned with the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and the Student Conservation Association. Chloe has also worked in environmental regulation as a wetland/ environmental resource permitter. In her spare time, Chloe loves being outdoors, thrifting and spending time with friends, family, and her dog Mr. Fenton.

As Field Investigations Team Lead, Chloe works to systematically search out and document pollution problems, defend our waterways from new sources of pollution and wetland fill, manages the programmatic side of the AmeriCorps program, and leads the AmeriCorps Patrol team. She also utilizes her unique perspective on permitting to hold agencies accountable when reviewing proposed permits.

Caine O'Rear

Communications Director

A Mobile native, Caine is the former editor in chief of American Songwriter magazine. Prior to music journalism he covered Virginia politics and the financial services industry for various publications. Caine holds a B.A. in English from the University of Virginia and an M.A. in Journalism and Public Affairs from American University. In his free time, he enjoys kayak fishing in the Delta and rocking out with his band Bearhead.

As Communications Director, Caine reports to Baykeeper’s community of members and volunteers – as well as the public at large – on issues critical to the health of the Mobile Bay Watershed. He is the editor of Baykeeper’s quarterly print magazine, CURRENTS.

Cece Pless

Major Donor Advisor

Born in Birmingham, Cece has spent her adult life pursuing a love of rivers and oceans up and down the East Coast. She holds B.A.s in International Affairs and French from Skidmore College in Upstate New York and spent her time in school studying the sustainability of international fisheries. A former intern at Baykeeper, Cece worked for Patagonia and Athleta (both certified B Corps) before joining the Baykeeper staff. In her free time, Pless enjoys all things “life aquatic,” all things Wes Anderson, and you can be sure to find her on the trail with her dog Styx.

As the Major Donor Advisor, Cece is responsible for recruiting and courting sponsors, spearheading fundraising, membership, major donor, and volunteer events, and developing the Baykeeper Brand through community partnerships.

Wesley Wyatt

Fundraising & Stewardship Strategist

The waterways around the Mobile Bay area are home for Wesley Wyatt. Born and raised in the Azalea City, Wesley graduated from St. Paul’s Episcopal School and then attended The University of Alabama, where he received a bachelor’s degree in Telecommunication & Film with a specialization in Media Production. After school, he began working in advertising and marketing, but wanted to apply his efforts toward working for clean water, clean air, and healthy communities. Wesley’s work serving the Mobile Bay area began early in his life, volunteering to serve meals to the poor and elderly with his grandmother, mother, sister, and brother. He explored the Delta, rivers, and creeks with his father, who showed him the vast importance of conserving our state’s natural resources.

As the Fundraising & Stewardship Strategist at Mobile Baykeeper, Wesley’s duties include membership, donor and board development, new member outreach, database management, and fundraising. His hobbies and interests include boating, fishing, and relaxing on the water, whether it be the Delta, the Bay or the Gulf; reading and writing; photography; Alabama Crimson Tide football; random trivia; and finding new shows and movies to enjoy.

Emilee Foster

Operations Manager

Emilee Foster was born in the Port City, but grew up in Leakesville, Mississippi and graduated from Greene County High School. She obtained her B.S. in International Studies from Spring Hill College in 2018 and began as an intern at Mobile Baykeeper that summer. She jumped at the chance to continue her service to the Bay through AmeriCorps. In her free time, Emilee likes to shop and go to the white, sandy beaches of Coastal Alabama. She also likes to spend time with her family and English Bulldog, Princess.

As the Operations Manager, Emilee is responsible for assisting the Executive Director in carrying out Mobile Baykeeper’s mission. She manages office operations, the Executive Director’s calendar, the Board of Directors and Leadership Committee, reports and correspondence, documents and financial solvency, and the membership database.

Valerie Longa

Educational Director

Born in Phoenix, Valerie Longa spent her childhood in the states of Arizona, Virginia, and Rhode Island before moving to Alabama as a teenager. She has called Mobile home for 20 years and earned a B.A. in Integrated Communications from Spring Hill College. Valerie’s 12-year career has focused on Alabama’s environment while working with the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, Alabama Coastal Foundation, WildNative Tours, and Nature Connect Outdoor School.

Growing up she spent many days playing in the forests and creeks in her neighborhood, as well as attending and then working as a counselor at a summer camp on the coast of Rhode Island with water skiing, sailing, and windsurfing. She built a strong connection to the natural world and has carried that into her work by helping others to reconnect and develop their relationship with the local environment. Along with her daughter Chloe, and husband Justo, she enjoys time in the outdoors exploring this amazing place we call home.

As the Education Director, Valerie is creating the next generation of stewards by providing meaningful experiences on our local waterways. She is developing a new environmental education plan for Mobile Baykeeper, crafting experiential education programs, and leading the Americorps Education Team.