Ocean Conservancy’s CEO shares what it’s like to lead one of the world’s top ocean advocacy organizations.

By Sarah Latta
October 02, 2009
Ben Hoffmann

CL: You’re a superhero for the sea! You shape international ocean policy, testify on Capitol Hill, and work with leading environmentalists around the world. What accomplishment makes you most proud?

VS:  International Coastal Cleanup, without a doubt. It’s the world’s largest volunteer effort for ocean protection, and people from hundreds of countries spend a full day in September combing their local beaches for trash. I helped grow this event to 400,000 attendees last year―and picked up balloons and cigarette butts on my own beach. Anyone, no matter who you are or where you’re from, can get involved.

CL: It’s overwhelming sometimes to think about all we should be doing for big blue. Can you suggest a few ideas?

VS: Just picking up trash can make all the difference. Everything we do on land flows into the sea, so remember that every plastic bag can end up in the ocean.

CL: What are Americans doing right in terms of coastal conservation?

VS: Now it’s considered cool to be green, and that’s creating a generation of people who are more aware of the finite nature of our planet.

CL: We love that your dress is more than a fashion statement. Tell us about it.

VS: I’m so excited about this new project. We’ve partnered with Lilly Pulitzer―which has always celebrated the coast―to launch a new clothing line that helps raise money for ocean preservation.

CL: When you’re not working for the sea where do you escape to the sea?

VS: My family has a classic “upside-down” Nantucket house―with bedrooms on the first floor and a living room on the second. I can sit on the beach and watch waves roll in like some people watch fireplaces.

CL:  The Ocean Conservancy also finds time to help save marine animals everywhere. If you could have one for a pet, which would you choose?

VS: I have a weakness for sea otters. I just love how they float on their backs with their little feet under their faces.

Vikki and her family sport a new line of Lilly Pulitzer: Escape to the Water's Edge. (Look for the sea-inspired prints at lillypulitzer.com and in select stores.) Part of the proceeds benefit the Ocean Conservancy.

Surf onto the site oceanconservancy.org for more info about this group that's saving our seas.