The oyster is our world

Restoring the Chesapeake Bay’s oyster population is essential to improving the health of the Bay, revitalizing the regional seafood industry, and stimulating the local economies of our State’s waterfront communities. Restoring the Bay means restoring our oysters and all the other species that depend on them.


SAbelStephan Abel
Executive Director

Stephan has been the Executive Director of the Oyster Recovery Partnership since 2007. Prior to joining the Partnership, he was the Executive Director in the Office of Communications and Marketing at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

He enjoyed a distinguished career in the U.S. Navy, has held management positions at Sallie Mae and Careerbuilder, and earned a B.S. from Villanova University, a M.B.A. from George Washington University and is a graduate of the Naval War College. A lifelong sailor on the Chesapeake Bay, he has two children and lives in Stevensville, Maryland.

Ward Slacum
Director of Program Operations

Ward is responsible for activities within ORP’s core programs in Oyster Restoration, Shell Reclamation, Oyster Aquaculture and Fisheries.  Ward has a broad background in marine and estuarine science and has been supporting Bay restoration for the past 20 years through research and cooperative programs with Bay watermen.  Prior to joining ORP he was the manager of Versar’s Coastal and Marine Assessment Program.  He earned a Master’s degree in Fisheries Science from the University of Maryland MEES Program and a bachelor degree in Environmental Science from the UMD Eastern Shore campus.  He was born on the Eastern Shore and lives in Stevensville.  In his free time, Ward enjoys being outdoors gardening, boating, fishing, and making furniture in the woodshop.

Paul SPaul Schurick
Director of Partnerships

Paul works with businesses, organizations and individuals to build partnerships to increase the environmental, economic and cultural importance of oysters. He has more than 30 years experience in policy, communications and partnerships. He has master’s and bachelor’s degrees in economics from the West Virginia University. He served as chief of staff for Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer and director of communications for Gov. Robert Ehrlich. In his free time, Paul enjoys kayaking and cooking. He lives in Annapolis.


Penny Jurick
Director, Finance and Program Support Services

Penny oversees ORP’s finances, human resources and many of the day-to-day operational and support elements that keep the organization running smoothly. She has 22 years accounting and management experience. Before ORP, she worked as Executive Account Manager for a worldwide logistics company.

Penny resides in Glen Burnie, Maryland, with her husband Bob and two children, Alina and Jeremiah, all Chesapeake Bay lovers. She and her family have spent many years on the Chesapeake Bay and are eager to stay involved in restoration activities.

brian photoBryan Kent Gomes
Manager, Special Programs

Bryan brings more than a decade of environmental education and public outreach experience to ORP. He has a B.A. in Marketing/Psychology and a MEd. in Post Secondary Education from Salisbury University. Bryan is passionate about the outdoors. He has thru-hiked the entire Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine, and as a lifeguard lived in a tent on the beach at Assateague State Park. Bryan has also served as a Park Ranger for Anne Arundel County and the Maryland Park Service, as well as a Director/Coordinator of various summer camps in the Annapolis area.

Bryan loves to travel and spent two months in New Zealand learning about aquaculture and sustainable resource management. Bryan lives on the water in Annapolis and enjoys swimming, biking, paddling, playing ice hockey and moonlighting as a DJ.

Eddie Walters
Director, Field Operations

Eddie is a graduate of the University of Baltimore, but spent much of his life as a commercial waterman on the Chesapeake Bay. Eddie joined ORP in 2000 and oversees the ORP’s UMCES Horn Point field program, staff and on-the-ground operations.

Eddie’s father spent 20 years with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, finishing his career as Captain of the state vessel “Fifty-Fifty”. Eddie spends much of his free time playing golf with his wife Sam, Assistant Vice President of Farmers Bank in Annapolis,  and daughter, Nicole.

Steven Allen
Senior Manager, Aquatic Restoration & Scientific Diver

Steve Allen has served as the on-the-water program manager and the staff scientific diver at ORP since March 2008. Prior to his current position, he was the Lab Manager and Scientific diver for Paynter Labs at the University of Maryland. Prior to moving to Maryland, he worked for the pharmaceutical company Novartis, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as a microbiologist. Steve received his Masters in Marine Biology from the College of Charleston for studying the effects an intertidal habitat had on the physiology of Pacific Oysters.

While in Charleston completing his Masters, he worked as a Microbiologist at NOAA, performing fecal coli form source tracking over public oyster beds. Steve received his BA from the University of Long Island, Southampton College in Biology/Marine Molecular Biology. An avid fan of music, he is married with two dogs and a cat and resides in Edgewater, Maryland.


Kara Muzia 
Aquatic Program Manager & Biologist

Kara joined ORP in 2013 and helps coordinate reef restoration and planting logistics during planting season. She also monitors oyster beds by diving, sampling, and conducting scientific analysis. Kara graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a BS in Biology with an emphasis in marine biology, GIS and diving. Kara was part of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources blue crab program before coming to ORP. When she’s not working to restore the Bay’s oyster population, she enjoys sailing, diving, surfing, paddle boarding, hiking and camping.

Sarah BoatSarah Walker
Marketing and Outreach Manager

Sarah Walker serves as ORP’s Marketing and Outreach Manager. She is integral in assisting all facets of ORP office operations, focusing on communications, marketing, and outreach. A graduate of American University with a BA in Business Administration in Marketing & Accounting, she was active on campus as a member of Alpha Chi Omega and the AU Honors Program. Sarah currently spends her free time producing film projects and traveling abroad. Her love for the environment helps her educate others about the importance of oysters during ORP outreach and education initiatives.


Tommy Price
Special Programs Specialist
Shell Recycling Alliance/Marylanders Grow Oysters

Tommy Price joined the ORP team as an intern with the Shell Recycling Alliance in the spring of 2011. A graduate of Washington College, Tommy focused much of his studies on the culture and lore of the Chesapeake oyster industry, earning a BA in History. He earned the Outstanding Community Service Graduation Award as a member of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity, and was a four-year rower on the men’s crew team. Outside of work, Tommy enjoys all things nautical including working on boats and fly fishing his home waters of the Bay.

jill3Jillian Parisi
Coordinator, Remote Setting Training Program

Jillian Parisi joined ORP as hatchery seed and oyster shell sales representative and in September 2013 became the coordinator of our Remote Setting Training Program.  She  graduated from Salisbury University with a BA in Environmental Studies and a minor in Biology and was president of  the Environmental Student Association.  This Eastern Shore lover resides lives in Cambridge, Maryland with her loyal hound-mix, Hobbes.  In her spare time she loves to be outdoors, exploring the Eastern Shore by kayak and gardening.


JacquiJacqueline R. Sisco
Financial Specialist

Jacqueline (Jacqui) Sisco began her employment at ORP in 2014 as a Financial Support Specialist.  Prior to joining ORP she interned as a Financial Regulatory Analyst at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in Rockville, MD.  Later she worked as an Accounting Assistant for another local company.  She attended St. Johns University in New York majoring in Finance and graduated from Liberty University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She is currently a 2015 candidate for her MBA from Liberty University. Jacqui’s interest in ORP stems from her grandparent’s lifelong work on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in Rock Hall where they worked alongside local Watermen.

Travis Blackistone

Hatchery Field Crew Assistant Manager

Travis Blackistone graduated from Towson University with a B.S. degree in Geography and Environmental Planning and is a PADI certified scuba diver.  Travis comes from a family with extensive history in the Chesapeake Bay.  Travis, who lives on Kent  Island, is a huge fan of the outdoors and extreme sports.  In his free time he loves snowboarding, motocross, being out on the water, and traveling. His travel adventures have taken him to the Caribbean and Central America, as well as to 37 U.S. states

ORP Field Crew

ORP Field Crew Members (left to right): Joshua Wingfield, Andrew Brooks, Zachary White, Christopher Woodfin, Eddie Walters, Eric Conrad and Buddy Willey.