Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors meets quarterly and serves without compensation. The diverse expertise provided by members is reflected in ORP’s unique approach to oyster restoration.

Executive Committee

tighe-merkert-300x300Tighe Merkert, Co-Chairman
President and CEO, Marriner Marketing Communications

Tighe owns and manages Marriner Marketing Communications, a successful marketing communications firm that specializes in the food and hospitality industries. He is intimately involved with and oversees strategic planning and direction of all client work. Prior to Marriner, he served a 16-year tenure as a Senior Vice President of Service America Corporation, where he managed a $350 million business unit. He built a foundation of knowledge and experience, developing strategic, long-term business solutions that worked. Throughout his 16 years at Marriner (MMC), he amplified that experience, building high-level, corporate positioning and communications programs for some of America’s most prestigious companies.

Jim Perdue, Co-Chairman
Chairman, Perdue Farms Inc.

As Chairman and CEO of Perdue Farms, Jim heads the company’s executive team and is responsible for developing the company’s vision and growth strategies. Jim grew up in the family poultry business, but left after high school to attend college to pursue his interests in biology. He received his undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and his master’s degree in marine biology from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, doing growth rate research on the Malaysian prawn. In 1983, Jim earned a doctorate in fisheries from the University of Washington in Seattle, where he studied survival of the Japanese oyster to summer mortality through genetic selection. He then returned to the family business and in 1989. Jim earned his MBA from Salisbury State University and became Chairman and CEO at Perdue Farms, Inc. in 1991.


Karen Oertel, Vice Chairwoman
Representing seafood growers, processing and distribution interests
Owner, W.H. Harris Seafood Inc.

For more than 40 years, Karen and her family have been involved in the seafood industry. She is a member of the Harris Family Partnership. Karen has served on many boards relating to business and non-profits alike, including county and state boards and commissions. She has been on the Executive Board of the ORP for many years. She helped launch the ORP as a member of the Oyster Round Table and also served on the Tidal Fish Commission. She lives on the Eastern Shore with her husband and enjoys spending time with her three children and five grandchildren.

“I believe that we need to find a sustainable path, both ecologically and economically, to restore oysters in our
Bay and have worked diligently to support a balance that would achieve this goal,” Karen said. “We deal with many challenges in this venture — one of which is disease. Having a sustainable industry until the 1970s when disease became a factor, we have supported the scientific community in developing disease-free oysters, as well as the industry in cleaning the bottom and bringing the shell to the surface. By working together as a team we have been successful in finding some common sense solutions. However, our fight is not over; we need to continue to find the balance that works.”

Joe Jackins, Treasurer
Former Executive Director, Maryland Child Support Enforcement Administration

Joe became involved with ORP after serving as the committee chairman for the Skipjack races held during Chesapeake Appreciation Days. Joe has served on ORP’s Board since its inception in 1994. Joe began his career at St. John’s College as business manager and was with Air Cargo for the 23 years as Chief Financial Officer.



Russel Dize
Vice Chairman, Maryland Watermen’s Association

Russell began his career as a Chesapeake Bay Waterman in 1959 at the age of 18. Over the past 50 years, Russell has worked in all aspects of the seafood industry. In 1972 he became a partner in the Tidewater Clam Co. and 10 years later formed his own company, R.D.S. Seafood. He is the owner and captain of the skipjack Kathryn and operates his charter boat Riley Kat out of Tilghman Island, Maryland. Russell also serves on numerous fisheries management committees, including the Oyster Advisory Committee, Rockfish Advisory Committee and the Tidal Fish Advisory Committee. Russell and his wife Joan live in Tilghman Island, Maryland.

Robert Driscoll
President, SCC Group, Sindicatum Carbon Capital

Bob has more than 36 years experience in successful development and management of international and domestic businesses. Specifically, he has more than 15 years experience specializing in large-scale infrastructure development, financing, construction, ownership, operation, acquisition and divestment. Prior to joining SCC, Bob worked at Mirant Corporation as a Senior Vice President and Head of Asset Management, where he managed Mirant’s U.S. operations and was responsible for government relations, business development, and coordination of the company’s commercial and operations groups. Bob was also Chief Executive Officer of Mirant Mid-Atlantic LLC, a business unit representing nearly 80 percent of Mirant’s annual revenues.

Previously Bob was a Principal at Private Power Development, an advisory firm providing consulting services to various companies, including a consortium of Japanese and British firms that purchased a multi-billion dollar Asia-Pacific business. Prior to this Bob worked at Edison Mission Energy (“EME”), serving as Chief Operating Officer of EME’s Asia Pacific business, where he grew the business from two assets in the region to one of the largest overseas U.S. investments in the independent power business, with more than $5 billion of assets and operations in Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore. From 1984 to 1995, he worked at the US-ASEAN Business Council in Washington D.C. He was a Vice President at the Council of the Americas from November 1973 to July 1984, in New York City. He holds a B.A. from Carroll College, Montana and an M.A. from the University of Texas. He joined our Board of Directors in 2006.

William Gibbons-Fly
Executive Director of the American Tunaboat Association (ATA)

William (Bill) Gibbons-Fly is Executive Director of the American Tunaboat Association (ATA), representing the owners and operators of the U.S. Pacific tuna purse seine fleet, the last true distant-water fishing fleet operating under U.S. flag.

Previously, Mr. Gibbons-Fly spent 30 years with the U.S. Department of State where, prior to his retirement in July 2019, he served for 20 months as the Deputy Assistant Secretary (acting) for Oceans and Fisheries. From 2004 through 2017 Mr. Gibbons-Fly served as Director of the State Department’s Office of Marine Conservation where he led the development and implementation of U.S. policy for the international conservation and management of living marine resources, including as lead U.S. negotiator on a wide range of international treaties, agreements, and arrangements. Throughout his career, he has been widely recognized for his success in bringing together governments, industry, the environmental community, and other stakeholders to ensure that achieving critical conservation objectives and maintaining a healthy and productive U.S. fishing industry are not mutually exclusive goals.

Harold GraulHarold Graul
President, Graul’s Markets

Harold Graul has worked in his family’s business, Graul’s Markets, for over 60 years. He has experience in all phases of running supermarkets. Seafood has always been a part of these stores, and they try to buy as much local product as possible. Graul’s Markets have six stores in Maryland and are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year, 2020.



The Honorable James J. King 

CEO/Owner, Mid-States Management Group and Partner, Bluewater Strategies 

James King is the CEO of an Anne Arundel County-based restaurant holding company that owns and manages ten restaurants in the Virginia/Maryland/Delaware region.  The restaurants include high-end formal restaurants (eg: Blackwall Hitch) and a number of fast-casual restaurants (eg: Green Turtle).  James is a native of the Washington-DC area and has spent most of his professional career in the food services industry.  He spent one term as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates (2007-2011). 

Maxine Phillips
VP International Business Development, Phillips Seafood

William “Bill” Rice
Waterman and Farmer

A lifelong waterman and farmer, Bill started working on the water when he was just 12 years old. Billy, from Charles County, works the Potomac River and the Maryland Tributaries of the Potomac. He is a 3rd generation watermen, crab potting, eeling, and gill netting for Striped Bass. Billy is also very active in the management side of the industry as well. He has served on the Potomac River Fisheries Commission for the past 20 years and has been affiliated with the Maryland Watermen’s Association for over thirty. Bill has served on numerous advisory committees to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources including chairman of the Tidal Fish Advisory Commission and was a member of the Maryland Oyster Roundtable.

Ed Rich
Senior Consulting Engineer, Northrop Grumman Corporation
As a judge in the Baltimore Science Fair for more than 15 years, Ed has encouraged the talented youth of our area to pursue science as a career. When Ed first joined the ORP Board, he represented the Windjammers, the founders of Chesapeake Appreciation Inc., which became the Oyster Recovery Partnership. Over the years, Ed has played an active role in supporting outreach events to teach children about the role that oysters play in restoring our Bay. He lives in the Annapolis area with his wife and daughter, and is an active member of the sailing community.

Jason Ruth
Owner/Operator, Harris Seafood Company, LLC 

Jason comes from a family of Chesapeake Bay waterman and is the Owner and Operator of Harris Seafood Company.  His firm’s knowledge of the Bay’s seafood industry and aquaculture dates back to 1947.  His seafood products are caught and processed locally and then distributed to over 30 states across the nation.

headshotBen Savage
Chief Marketing Officer, Flying Dog Brewery




Bill Sieling
Executive Director, Chesapeake Bay Seafood Industries Association

Bill began his career in the Army, serving from 1965 to 1967. He then joined the Maryland Department of Natural Resources as a Fisheries Extension Agent, spanning 20 years, working with watermen and processors to better the industry. Bill later switched to the Department of Agriculture as Chief of Seafood Marketing for 12 years. Now in retirement, Bill works as Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Seafood Industries Association. He is a graduate of Washington College. Bill is an original ORP Board member. Bill and his wife, Anne, make their home in Bay Ridge, Maryland.

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Russell F. Smith III

Russell F. Smith III has worked on international environmental issues for more than 20 years. He served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Fisheries at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In that position he led U.S. international engagement in support of the sustainable management of fisheries, including promoting science-based decision-making and improving efforts to combat illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing. In addition, he represented the United States as the U.S. Commissioner in several regional fisheries management organizations.

Russell has also worked for the Office of the United States Trade Representative on efforts to ensure that U.S trade policy and its implementation are supportive of U.S. environmental policy, including through the promotion of the sustainable management of natural resources and ensuring that opportunities for trade and investment liberalization resulting in access to the U.S. market are used as incentives for the enhancement, and not degradation, of environmental protection.

IMG_2555Russell B. Stevenson, Jr.

Russell B. Stevenson, Jr. has practiced law in Washington, D.C., taught law as a Professor of Law at The George Washington University, and served as Deputy General Counsel of the Securities and Exchange Commission. He was General Counsel and Secretary of Ciena Corporation from 2001 to 2008, when he retired. He is currently Professor from Practice at Georgetown University Law School.He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University and received his J.D. from Harvard Law School, cum laude. He is a member of the bars of the District of Columbia, Maryland, and the United States Supreme Court and is current Chairman of the Chesapeake Legal Alliance.

Aubrey Vincent
Sales Manager, Lindy’s Seafood

Aubrey Vincent started in the family seafood business at a young age, first working at her family’s crab processing plant at 12 years old. Born and raised in Dorchester County she knew from an early age that she had a passion for the Eastern Shore and the Seafood Industry that thrives there. In addition to her experience selling and processing seafood she has a MA in Conflict Analysis and Dispute Resolution from Salisbury University. She has served on Several Department of Natural Resource Committees including the Tidal Fish Advisory Commission (TFAC), Blue Crab Advisory Commission, Oyster Advisory Commission, and Blue Crab Design Team. She is currently employed as the Sales Manager at Lindy’s Seafood, Inc. in Woolford, MD.

Dale Wright
Agent, Chase Fitzgerald Real Estate

Dale served on the Board of Chesapeake Appreciation, Inc., in the early 1970s and was one of the few remaining members of that group when it became the ORP in 1993. Dale was Board Chairman from 2004 to 2006. As he recently observed, “It is just amazing to see how the organization has developed from a few volunteers meeting once-a-year on the weekend of skipjack races at Sandy Point, to growing and planting hundreds of millions of baby oysters every year with a professional, full-time staff.” Dale’s professional career began after his graduation from Ohio Wesleyan University. As a member of the Air Force ROTC program, he was commissioned and placed on active duty with the U.S. Air Force. Dale attended Accounting & Finance School and was sent on assignment as a Financial Services Officer on a Missouri SAC base.

After leaving active duty in 1962, he returned to his wife’s home town of Baltimore and entered the broadcasting industry, eventually rising to the position of President and General Manager of WMAR-TV. In the late 1980s, Dale made a career change and became a licensed Real Estate agent with Chase Fitzgerald & Co. in his Roland Park neighborhood of Baltimore. There, along with his wife, Stephany, they raised three girls. Now adults, their children live in other states, which gives Stephany and Dale the time and resources to indulge their love of travel. Dale is also a long time aficionado of vintage British sports cars, especially those made by the Daimler Motor Car Company and serves on the executive committee of the US/Canadian Daimler & Lanchester Owners Club of North America.



Dr. Torrey Brown smallDr. Torrey C. Brown (1937-2014)

Dr. Torrey C. Brown was co-founder and former chairman of ORP’s Board of Directors and a longtime friend of the Chesapeake Bay. Before joining the Board of ORP, Torrey served as chairman of the Maryland House of Delegates Environmental Matters Committee and as Secretary of Natural Resources. He was also active with the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Commission. Torrey also served as Assistant Dean of the Medical School and Vice President of Johns Hopkins Hospital from 1976 to 1983.

Larry Simns smallLarry Simns (1938-2013)

Larry was the first President of the Maryland Watermen’s Association since it was founded and continued until his death. He was been a lifelong waterman, harvesting oysters, crabs, striped bass and clams, and ran a charter business on his boat, the Dawn II. Larry served on many regional and national committees, including the Governor’s task for oil spills, the Mid Atlantic Fisheries Management Council and the Oyster Roundtable.


Ken Binnix smallKen Binnix (1944-2015)
Ken spent more than 30 years pursuing the best interests of the Chesapeake Bay. A pioneer in oyster restoration, Ken helped create and direct the ORP during its formative years as Chairman of the Board of Directors from 1994 to 1997. He was Vice President of the Chesapeake Area Professional Captains Association. He has assisted the Maryland Watermen’s Association in their oyster shucking demonstrations during the Chesapeake Appreciation Days at Sandy Point State Park, served as Chairman of the Chesapeake Appreciation Days, Inc. from 1990-1991, and was a member of the famous Windjammers of the Chesapeake Club from 1990-1995.

Ken was the Executive Vice President of the Days Cove Reclamation Company in Annapolis and Vice President of William J. Gleason & Sons, Inc. in White Marsh. Ken also served as Chairman of the Maryland-Delaware Solid Waste Association.

Dan Lyons (1931 – 2016) 

A retired Vice President for Eastern Seaboard Packaging (ESP), Dan was integral as a Managing Partner in building Southland Container Corporation from a small Maryland company to a multi-state operation. Southland Container was a supplier of packaging used for time-sensitive, high-value, delicate cargo shipments and a major supplier of the specialty packaging needed for the mid-Atlantic seafood industry, given the unique requirements for transporting seafood. Dan has always been an active supporter of the industries served by his company. For more than 50 years, Dan also served his community as a paid and volunteer firefighter.

He was President of Lombard (Illinois) Volunteer Fire Company and was a member of the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Department. Dan is a graduate of the University of Maryland and served in the U.S. Air Force as a Logistics Officer. He later became a member of the Air Force Retired Reserves. A native of Washington, D.C., Dan grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland, where he and his wife, Peggy, attended Montgomery Blair High School.