MARCO Management Board Member Spotlight – Will Isenberg, Virginia Alternate

Apr 26, 2023


As part of an effort to help MARCO stakeholders and partners get to know members of the MARCO Management Board, the quarterly newsletter has added a new feature – “Spotlight on a Management Board Member.” This month’s spotlight is on the alternative representative from Virginia, Will Isenberg. 

What is your name?

Will Isenberg

What is your work title?

Coastal Planner

What organization do you work for?

Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program

How many years have you served on the MARCO Management Board?

About 1 year

What is your role on the Management Board?

The Virginia Board Member Alternate

What MARCO workgroups do you participate in?

Communications Committee and the MACO Marine Debris Work Group

What are your daily job duties?

Every day is a little bit different. I spend my time split between regional initiatives with MARCO and more local projects here in Virginia. On the regional side, I spend much of my time supporting the work of the Marine Debris Work Group to help coordinate efforts across the region. In my locally focused work, I have many grant projects and other initiatives that I help to coordinate. Identifying needs and opportunities, I try my best to support our partners as they manage coastal resources and build resilience to climate change.

 What are the most fun and the most challenging parts of your job?

These tend to go hand in hand! I find it fun and challenging to help coordinate regional efforts like those of the Marine Debris Work Group. Some of these challenges include maintaining consistency while working among numerous partners who all have their own capacities and missions. Similarly, in more local efforts, it is challenging to always meet the needs of our various partners, especially when they can conflict with each other. However, this is a fun challenge because it keeps you on your toes and keeps you open minded. 

Why did you get involved in ocean resource management?

I have always been a water lover. As a kid growing up in Miami, FL I was fascinated by all the ocean life and thought I would grow up to be a marine biologist. Moving to Richmond, VA I fell in love with the James River and went through college, completing my master’s thesis on nutrient dynamics in the tidal freshwater James River. That sent me on a journey into 9 years of working in water quality programs. As I worked through that regulatory world, I found my efforts were most successful when working collaboratively through processes that strive to meet human and ecological needs. Eventually I found myself dually motivated to help address plastic pollution and help communities and ecosystems adapt to climate change. Fortunate for me, I saw opportunities to work collaboratively on these issues with a job in Virginia’s Coastal Zone Management Program. It was only upon starting this job that I found I would be picking up roles in ocean resource management, which was a big full circle bonus, bringing me back to my childhood hopes of working “on” the Ocean! 

What is the most pressing ocean resource issue in your state?

Naming just one of these is difficult. That said, probably the most unifying concept would be space. Space for the various ocean uses to take place



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