President & CEO
A 25-year veteran of non-profit management, Jim McDuffie previously served in a variety of leadership roles for The Nature Conservancy’s programs in Florida, North Carolina and Maryland/DC. His tenure with the organization also included fellowships in Palau, where he consulted with the Palau International Coral Reef Center in Koror, and in Australia, where he collaborated with multiple conservation partners across the Asia-Pacific region on strategies for building financially viable organizations. A native of North Carolina, Jim grew up in the longleaf pine forests of the Sandhills, where from an early age he enjoyed hunting, fishing and other outdoor pursuits. He added fly-fishing to those passions 20 years ago, beginning with trips out West and ultimately leading to the saltwater flats of Florida. Jim received the BA and MA degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He serves on the boards of the Florida Ocean Alliance and Now or Neverglades coalition as well as on the Policy Council of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.
Director of Science and Conservation • Senior Scientist, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute
Aaron is the Director of Science and Conservation for Bonefish & Tarpon Trust and a Senior Scientist at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute of Florida Atlantic University. He received a bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s College in Maryland, a Master’s degree from the College of William and Mary, and a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts Boston, and also holds a Coast Guard Captain’s License. He has lived, worked, and fished on both coasts of the US, as well as throughout the Caribbean, where he has been conducting fish research for more than 25 years. His pursuit of effective fisheries and habitat conservation are rooted in his years growing up near Chesapeake Bay, where he witnessed the decline of the Bay’s habitats and fisheries.
His scientific focus has been on conducting applied research with conservation implications (from coral reef to recreational species), with a particular interest in fish habitat ecology. As Director of Science and Conservation, Aaron is responsible for formulating and implementing BTT’s science and conservation plan.
In addition to his duties at BTT, Aaron is also an avid angler, and spends considerable effort translating fish science into fishermen’s terms – including authoring three books and contributing to numerous other books.
Director of Marketing & Communications • Editor, Bonefish & Tarpon Journal
Nick was born in Palo Alto, California, but grew up in North Carolina, where he earned a BA in English from Duke University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Before joining the BTT staff in the summer of 2016, Nick spent six years working as a fly-fishing guide and freelance writer in Asheville, NC. He has had the opportunity to fish in some unforgettable places, including Belize, Patagonia, Italy, and Paraguay. His articles about fly-fishing and conservation have appeared in a number of publications, including Field & Stream, American Angler, and The Drake, and online at Patagonia and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.
Director of Development
Mark caught his first bonefish when he was nine years old, and has been pursuing all types of finned, feathered, and furred species ever since. He is a graduate from Elon University with degrees in Strategic Communications and Video Production. After college, he spent a year working for an outfitter in Alaska before following his dream of a cross country road trip fishing from Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula to Key West. Since then, he returned home to the DC area working as a Legislative Assistant at Capitol Hill Consulting Group, a lobbying firm on Capitol Hill. Mark is thankful to have gotten an early start in fishing through his parents, and hopes to preserve the world’s most exciting game fish for his future children.
As the Director of Development, Mark is in charge of all BTT’s fundraising events. He manages the various aspects of events including committees, event details, program and auctions, and makes sure that everyone gets the most out of any BTT function. He also assists on the many different initiatives at BTT. If you have any questions regarding any events feel free to email Mark.
Director of Operations & Administration
Pat joined the BTT team in December, 2017. She has served as Lead Systems Analyst at Martin Lockheed, Executive Director of Rose Center and Council of the Arts, Director of Professional Alliances, and Director of Marketing for The Andersen Firm.
Pat grew up fishing in Tennessee and the Florida Keys and pursues her passion as often as possible. She received her BA from Maryville College, Tennessee.
Florida Keys Initiative Manager
Ross is a second generation South Floridian. He grew up fishing for tarpon and snook out of Everglades City. Ross earned his Masters and Doctoral degrees at Florida International University, studying how weather events, such as hurricanes, droughts, and extreme cold events, impact sportfishes in Florida Bay and Everglades National Park. After his schooling, he worked for Florida Fish and Wild Conservation Commission, researching fish movements and migrations, and applying that information to conservation actions.
Based in Marathon, Ross spends most of his time in the Keys, either conducting BTT science, or working with anglers, and management agencies to turn BTT science into meaningful management and regulatory changes that improve our Keys fishery.
Juvenile Tarpon Habitat Program Manager
JoEllen was born with an obsession for all things saltwater related – especially fishing. She made her boating debut at 5-days-old and had a rod in her hand by the time she could walk. JoEllen grew up fishing Charlotte Harbor with her family which soon influenced family vacations to Australia, Belize, Costa Rica and an annual Keys trip – with the intermittent snowboard trip out west. Her fascination for fishing and guidance from her father ultimately led to a career in marine science. JoEllen held a position with Florida’s management agency (FWC) and spent time in the field volunteering with FWC and Mote Marine Laboratory. After receiving her Bachelor’s Degree from Florida Gulf Coast University, JoEllen was hired as BTT’s first membership administrator and research assistant. She completed her Master’s Degree in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences at University of Florida (Go Gators!) where her research focused on Juvenile Tarpon Habitat Use. A self-proclaimed “aquaholic”, JoEllen spends her free time fishing Charlotte Harbor with her husband and their daughter, Massey Marlin.
As BTT’s Juvenile Tarpon Habitat Program Manager, JoEllen is in charge of all things juvenile tarpon related. This includes juvenile tarpon habitat research projects from South Carolina to the Florida Keys, mapping of juvenile tarpon habitat and education to the public through presentations.
Bahamas Initiative Manager
Justin is a Bahamian native from Freeport, Grand Bahama. Being raised on the island around the water, his passion for fishing and the ocean started from a very young age. He first started fly fishing off the beach near his family home for whatever could swim. From there, he evolved into a passionate flats angler and conservationist, with a particular fondness for bonefish. Justin attended St. Francis Xavier University on the East coast of Canada where he received a BA in Aquatic Resources with Public Policy and Social Research. During his undergraduate studies, he took part in a variety of conservation efforts including the Bahamas bonefish tagging program and juvenile bonefish research. After he completed his undergraduate degree, Justin went the University of York in England where he completed an MSc in Marine Environmental Management.
With BTT conservation efforts expanding throughout the Islands of the Bahamas, it was apparent that someone was needed in the Bahamas full time. Justin is now the Bahamas Initiative Coordinator, and is in charge of leading conservation efforts, such as tagging and habitat restoration. He will also be charged with maintaining and forging new relationships with the many lodges and guides around the islands that depend on the health of the bonefish fishery for their livelihood.
Membership & Marketing Manager
Henry grew up fishing in Cape Cod and Central Idaho with his dad and older brother. Once he got the taste of bonefish on the end of his fly rod, fishing and life changed forever. After graduating from Hobart College with a BA in American Studies, Henry spent the next five years working for The Wall Street Journal in the sales and advertising departments.
Additionally, Henry has enjoyed spending time serving on the board of an environmentally focused non-profit, the Horizon Foundation, alongside family members for the past 6 years. Conservation and fishing have always gone hand in hand with him, and he hopes to help BTT continue to grow as a recognized leader in the habitat protection and angling communities.
Development and Events Coordinator
Matt was born and raised in Miami and has been on the water since his dad strapped his car-seat to the fly bridge. He’s had his boaters license from the time he was eleven and has spent everyday possible either on the water or in it. Matt has been fishing inshore and offshore since childhood, everything from kite fishing for sailfish to fly-fishing for permit.
After graduating from the University of South Florida, where he earned a BA in International Business, he ran his own business and worked for a global travel company. Before joining the BTT Staff in 2018, Matt spent 5 years living in Puerto Rico and traveling to places like Cuba, the Virgin Islands and Belize, where he fished, worked, and explored.
As BTT’s Development and Events Coordinator, Matt manages all aspects of planning BTT fundraising events and also serves as the point person for coordinating event committees, speakers, attendees, and outside vendors. Please contact Matt with any questions regarding events.
Maggie grew up in Vermont, primarily fishing in freshwater with her family. She received her BS in Marine Biology from the University of New England and her MS in Marine Biology from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where she also worked as a teaching assistant. Between degrees, she spent a year working at the Cape Eleuthera Institute in the Bahamas as a research technician and research assistant, and taught a research methods class focusing on shark research. She has collaborated on numerous education initiatives focused on shark research, including outreach with The Gills Club, field courses with Shoals Marine Laboratory, and developed a virtual reality lesson plan with Google Expeditions.
Maggie believes that education and effective science communication are crucial in conservation and is working to incorporate BTT’s research into educational materials to be distributed throughout Florida. Fishing is one of her favorite hobbies and she is excited to learn more about the local species.
Marketing & Communications Intern
Alora was born with an innate love of exploration, which led her outdoors. As a South Florida native, she grew up in the bustling suburbs of Miami, but spent her summers visiting her mother’s family on the little leeward island of Antigua. Her passion for marine biology was fed by these annual visits to the Caribbean’s rich waters. She warmly recollects her grandfather’s patience when teaching her how to fish and the hours she opted to devote to observing the tide pool activity in Mamora Bay rather than playing with the other kids.
Alora went on to receive a BA in Environmental Studies from Loyola University New Orleans. She received her open water SCUBA certification while completing her degree and completed her advanced certification soon after returning home. Before joining the BTT staff as the Marketing & Communications Intern in the fall of 2018, Alora occupied multiple roles in environmental education and outreach for elementary to high school students, in coastal ecology and ichthyology research labs as a lab and field technician, and in event planning and coordination. She pursued creative writing as a past time until recently, having incorporated her love of storytelling into her professional work and personal blog.