MassBays Among the Winners of the Gulf of Maine Council International Awards for 2024

BUZZARDS BAY, MASSACHUSETTS – During a ceremony hosted by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts on the evening of June 11, 2024, the Gulf of Maine Council presented international awards to honor individuals and organizations that have made a significant difference in protecting the health and sustainability of the Gulf of Maine watershed. The 2024 awards ceremony recognized 15 incredible award winners from Canada and the United States whose volunteer and professional efforts have supported the Gulf of Maine Council’s binational collaboration to protect the unique habitat, marine life, and economic resources of the Gulf of Maine ecosystem. MassBays Director and Senior Scientist were both recognized during this ceremony.

Gulf of Maine Council Visionary Awards are presented to individuals or organizations within each of the five Gulf of Maine jurisdictions of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. These Awards recognize innovation, creativity, and commitment to promoting a healthy Gulf of Maine. One of the Visionary Awards from Massachusetts was presented to Pam DiBona, for her dedication to protecting natural resources within the Gulf of Maine while serving as Director of the Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Partnership. Since taking the reins at MassBays in 2013, Pam has expanded monitoring, restoration, and protection of coastal habitats and water quality across the region. Under her leadership, MassBays has broadened its mission by supporting science, building capacity among communities and volunteer organizations, and bringing data to decision-makers to improve environmental conditions. Above all, Pam has the priorities of coastal communities at heart – she works closely with MassBays’ regional coordinators to ensure that communities have the tools and support they need to protect and improve ecosystem health in their estuaries. Pam is a fierce advocate for the health of our estuaries, oceans, environment, and communities. A seasoned science-policy professional, Pam previously served in leadership positions at the New England Aquarium, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Environmental League of Massachusetts, and the Charles River Watershed Association. Across her decades of experience, Pam has always been a mentor to many and a motivator to all. She works relentlessly to protect and improve the Gulf of Maine ecosystem and the well-being of the communities whose livelihood depends on it.

The Gulf of Maine Council’s Distinguished Service Awards recognize individuals who have made outstanding contributions toward protecting and conserving natural resources in the Gulf of Maine through their exceptional service to the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment. Prassede Vella received a Distinguished Service Award for her exceptional contributions as a member of the Gulf of Maine Council’s Working Group where she has represented Massachusetts through the Office of Coastal Zone Management and the Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Partnership for more than a decade. Prassede has served as Chair of the Working Group for the Massachusetts Secretariat providing crucial ‘behind the scenes’ leadership and guidance to ensure productive and engaging Gulf of Maine Council initiatives and meetings (including this one!). Prassede has been an outstanding leader for the Gulf of Maine Council helping the organization navigate through periods of change with her positive, forward-thinking, and pragmatic approach. With her expertise in ocean conservation and management and personal commitment to collaboration, she has helped to create innovative opportunities to share knowledge and tools to expand our understanding of the Gulf of Maine and support efforts to protect natural resources. Through her insights, leadership, and personal dedication, Prassede has helped the Gulf of Maine Council to foster binational collaboration and initiatives to protect the natural resources, economy, and communities that define this unique watershed.

Last but not least, Lisa Berry Engler, former MassBays Metro Boston Coordinator and Acting Director, received the Susan Snow-Cotter Leadership Award for outstanding leadership as a coastal management professional within the Gulf of Maine. This award recognizes Lisa for her visionary leadership while working as former Director of the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management.

For more information about all the awardees, from Massachusetts as well as the other states and provinces around the Gulf of Maine, read here.