Dwayne Shaw, Executive Director
Dwayne Shaw is Executive Director of the Downeast Salmon Federation, where he has led the development of the Federation’s fisheries and land conservation programs since 1989, beginning with the removal of the Pleasant River dam and the renovation of the facility as a hatchery and fisheries research center in Columbia Falls. In 2000 he led the removal of the East Machias River dam and received the National Coastal America Partnership Award from President George W. Bush. The East Machias site is now home to DSF’s Peter Gray Hatchery for the restoration of Atlantic salmon.
Dwayne holds a B.S. in Environmental Studies / Fisheries Concentration from University of Maine, Machias (1984). Dwayne has conducted research at UM Darling Marine Center and was employed as a Manager and Research Director at the Beals Island Regional Shellfish Hatchery for ten years. Dwayne also served as a fisheries biologist in the U.S. Peace Corps in Nepal. Dwayne has served on numerous fisheries boards and advisory committees including the ME Sea Grant Public Advisory Committee and the Federal Recovery Team for Endangered Atlantic Salmon. Dwayne has held certifications as a US Coast Guard Licensed Captain and ME Licensed Master Guide.
Russell Heath, Associate Director
Before he arrived at the Downeast Salmon Federation, Russell Heath was executive director of the Alaska Environmental Lobby where he derailed a number of really bad bills, including a plan to auction off huge chunks of Alaska state forests to logging companies. He also led the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council protecting the majestic old-growth coastal forests. He has worked as a systems analyst and has a Masters in English—so he brings both an analytical rigor and a touch of storytelling to his grant writing. Home is a drafty wood-heated cabin on the Maine coast.
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Tracy Shaw, Office Manager
Tracy and her family reside happily in Cherryfield. Tracy joined the DSF team part-time in 2002 as the Membership Coordinator having over fifteen years of experience with the State of Maine and Town of Falmouth, Massachusetts retirement systems. Tracy’s responsibilities with DSF have grown and she currently serves the organization as the full-time Office Manager. Tracy’s original interests were based with the land trust aspects of the organization, however her employment and learning experiences have led to a deep appreciation of wild Atlantic Salmon and the downeast fisheries.
Tanya Ruscosky, Director for Habitat Restoration & Land Trust Programs
Tanya comes to Downeast Salmon Federation after running a multi-state citizen science program in Australia focused on water quality, riparian revegetation, invasive fish management and iconic (platypus) monitoring. There, she was instrumental in creating the Upper Murrumbidgee Demonstration Reach — a cooperative working group which included two states, three shires, a major industry and a half dozen NGOs that has made major habitat improvements on 90 miles of the Upper Murray-Darling River System. Here in Maine, Tanya has worked for the Downeast Lakes Land Trust as a Communications and Education Manager, and as Sunrise County Economic Council’s Natural Resource Program Manager. Before moving to Maine, Tanya worked as a librarian in Washington D.C. and Taiwan, a park ranger and organic farm manager in Pennsylvania as well as been a project manager in South East Asia focused on HIV/AIDS Harm Reduction and Landmine Removal.
Tanya is deeply committed to restoring the connections people have to the landscapes in which they live. She believes it is only through these connections that both our ecosystems and our own spirits remain healthy, vibrant and strong.
Brett Ciccotelli, Fisheries Biologist
Brett grew up not far from the muddy banks of a small tidal river. Brett attended the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor and found himself drawn to the watersheds of Eastern Maine. Between the banks of these rivers he became a whitewater kayaker and learned about the culture and ecology of the region. After graduating with a degree in Human Ecology in 2009 he traveled to river communities in Northern Canada, Italy, Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Costa Rica. In these places he saw how deeply tied people are to their rivers and fisheries. He returned to Maine after a few more meanders and has spent the last several years co-managing an organic farm on Mount Desert Island and teaching part time at the Bay School in Blue Hill. He is thrilled to be a part of DSF and to be serving as the organization’s ambassador for such an ecologically and culturally important fish — the alewife.
Sarah Madronal, Fisheries Biologist and Regional Organizer
Sarah Madronal joined the DSF team in May of 2017. Sarah earned her Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Policy from Colby College in 2014, which is where her love and fascination with sea-run fish began. Since that time, she has worked as a Law Clerk for the Environmental Law Division of a general practice law firm in the Hudson Valley of New York and most recently as the Fisheries Associate at Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries, formerly Penobscot East Resource Center, and Downeast Fisheries Partnership.
Zach Sheller, Hatchery Manager
Zach Sheller joined the DSF team in May of 2014. Zach earned his Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from The University of Maine, Machias in 2006. Since that time he has done a variety of jobs including Atlantic salmon restoration work, work as a fisheries technician at sea, endangered species observing, and sea turtle conservation work. These various jobs have taken him all along the east coast from Downeast Maine to the Key of Biscayne in Florida.
Rachel Gorich, Assistant Hatchery Manager
Rachel took her position as the Assistant Hatchery Manager in January of 2017. Rachel has been volunteering and working with DSF since 2013, during her undergraduate studies at the University of Maine at Machias. There she studied Wildlife and Fisheries Biology, completing her Senior Thesis in Biological Research on Rainbow smelt. Rachel has also worked for the Department of Marine Resources Division of Sea Run Fisheries and Habitat as a seasonal Fisheries Technician, monitoring the Atlantic salmon population and its habitat in Downeast Maine. Aside from her work with Atlantic salmon she has worked closely with the Downeast Rivers Land Trust as a Land Trust Associate, and also with the Downeast Fisheries Partnership as a Fisheries Associate with a primary focus on the restoration of river herring runs throughout Eastern Maine.
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Shri Verrill, Habitat Restoration Project Manager
Shri is a wetland scientist who grew up in the foothills of Western Maine and recently earned a Masters of Science degree in Biology with expertise in salt marsh and estuarine ecology. She has served as a volunteer on the board for the Society for Ecological Restoration New England Chapter in multiple roles, on the Legislative Committee for the Maine Association of Wetland Scientists and as a lobbyist with the Natural Resource Council of Maine and the Sierra Club to advocate for sustenance and subsistence living rights. She has worked with the Maine Natural Areas Program as a Field Ecologist/Botanist, with Casco Bay Estuary Partnership as a Salt Marsh Technician, and taught Marine Biology Lab for non-majors in the Department of Biological Science at the University of Southern Maine during grad school. Before attending graduate school, Shri earned a Liberal Arts degree at Union Institute and University in Vermont and had a successful career as a Holistic Health Practitioner. Shri has lived in Belize, Tamil Nadu, South India, Maui, and Italy and traveled to Mexico and Ecuador to learn from Indigenous practitioners of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). She hopes to help restore the habitat of sea-run fish and the human connection to them.
Michelle Wright, Bookkeeper
Michelle Wright joined DSF in January as our new bookkeeper. She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from the University of Maine at Machias and over 20 years of bookkeeping experience. She resides in Addison and enjoys camping and boating with her family.
Ed Walsh, Development Director
Ed is an active Registered Maine Guide and owner of Maine Stream Guides, Inc. He is a member of The Maine Professional Guides Association and the Maine Wilderness Guides Organization. He is also is a licensed Merchant Marine Chief Engineer, a Retired Naval Officer and has a B.S. degree in Marine Engineering from Maine Maritime Academy. Ed lives on the Pleasant River in Columbia Falls with his wife Susan. They have four children and seven grandchildren.
Meagan Peterson, Hatchery Tech
Meagan is a recent graduate of the University of Maine at Machias. In the fall of 2013, she started volunteering at Downeast Salmon Federation’s Atlantic salmon hatchery in East Machias during fin clipping, was excited about helping to restore the Atlantic salmon population, and continued to volunteer until she was hired over the summer to help care for the fish.