Meet the staff
Council staff support the Council by providing information for management decisions, informing the public about Council activities, helping the public participate in the process, coordinating the process and meetings, creating fishery management documents, and assisting advisory groups.
Mr. Burden’s appointment as Executive Director is effective November 15, 2021. In this capacity Merrick is responsible for overseeing the work of Council staff, Council operations, finances, and he works closely with the Council to set direction and priorities. Merrick has a diverse career in fisheries issues that spans work on multiple aspects of fisheries management, ranging from climate change matters to community development to stock rebuilding, and more. This has included work in Europe, Asia, Latin America, the Pacific Islands, and North America – including an earlier tenure with the PFMC during the development of the trawl rationalization program.
Mr. Burden has a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Linfield College and a master’s degree in Environmental and Resource Economics from Oregon State University. He has worked as Senior Director with the Environmental Defense Fund, as Executive Director for the Marine Conservation Alliance, as a Groundfish Staff Officer for the Pacific Fishery Management Council, as Industry Economist for the National Marine Fisheries Service, as an analyst for Northern Economics, Inc., and as a commercial fisherman off the coast of Alaska.
Mike Burner is the Deputy Director and has served as a staff officer for groundfish, coastal pelagic species, ecosystem-based management, and salmon. Mike started with the Council in 2002 after working nearly ten years on salmon management issues for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Mike has a degree in biology from Lawrence University and completed the Boston University Marine Program.
Little known fact: Mike and his wife Lisa enjoy great wine and have their own label producing three varietals in Dundee, Oregon.
Patricia is the Administrative Officer for the council staff. She performs a variety of accounting duties and a range of budget preparation and analysis in support of the Council’s fiscal responsibilities. She has a Bachelors Degree in Business Management from Eastern Oregon University. Her background includes accounting for non-profits in Maine, Oregon and California.
Little known fact: Patricia was a lifeguard in high school.
Kit is the staff officer in charge of the National Environmental Policy Act process and highly migratory species. Kit also works on other staff officer assignments and projects. Kit has an extensive background in fisheries management, including work with the Western Pacific Council in Hawaii.
Little known fact: Kit once dined on yak stomach while trekking in Nepal.
John is the staff officer responsible for staffing the Scientific and Statistical Committee and groundfish management issues, which includes staffing the Groundfish Management Team and the Groundfish Advisory Subpanel, and providing analytical documents for Council consideration. John grew up in a fishing community on the East Coast and graduated from Cornell University. Before working with the Council, John worked with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. There, he focused on Columbia River sturgeon and predator/prey issues, studied channel deepening, and was involved in salmon and smelt research and management.
Little known fact: John has served as a crew member on an East Coast bottom trawler, a Pacific halibut longliner, and a salmon troller.
Jessi Doerpinghaus is a staff officer for groundfish and coastal pelagic species (CPS) and currently staffs the CPS management team and advisory subpanel. She previously served as a member of the Groundfish Management Team for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife before joining the Council staff in 2022. Prior to her Council work, Jessi graduated from Texas A&M with a B.S. in Marine Biology and the Bren School at UC-Santa Barbara with a Masters of Environmental Science and Management. It was at Bren that her passion for marine biology connected with the concepts of fisheries policy and management as her thesis project led her to work on an issue from her own Texas backyard- the recreational allocations of the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery.
Little known fact: Jessi is a certified Crossfit and USAW weightlifting coach.
Robin is the staff officer responsible for salmon fishery management and handling Pacific halibut issues. Robin staffs the Salmon Technical Team, the Salmon Advisory Subpanel, the Model Evaluation workgroup. She is a Washington State native; born and raised in Vancouver, Washington. Robin attended Clark Community College and Portland State University to earn her Bachelors degree. Prior to joining the Council, she worked at Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for 16 years. While there most of her work focused on Columbia River salmon fisheries, but also included sturgeon, smelt and Chum salmon research, stream surveys, commercial sampling and creel checks.
Little known fact: Robin is a big fan of American classic cars.
Kerry staffs the Coastal Pelagic Species (CPS) Management Team and CPS Advisory Subpanel, and works on a variety of habitat and marine planning related issues including Essential Fish Habitat periodic reviews. He earned his Bachelors degree and a Masters in Marine Resource Management from Oregon State University, where he studied marine fisheries management and aquaculture. Prior to coming to the Council, he worked nine years with NMFS on a variety of habitat issues such hydropower, fish passage, gravel extraction, essential fish habitat, and habitat restoration.
Little known fact: In the late 1800s, Kerry’s great-grandfather started a sail-making business in Portland, and it’s still in business today.
Todd is the staff officer responsible for staffing groundfish management issues. Todd has degrees in marine biology and zoology, along with graduate work in population genetics of lingcod, from Humboldt State University. He started with the Council in 2018 following a diverse career in fisheries; ranging from being a long-time domestic fishery observer in Alaska, the West Coast, and Hawaii to leading a stakeholder driven charter for-hire fishery electronic reporting program in the Gulf of Mexico.
Little known fact: Todd grew up working in a bakery and remains very enthusiastic about bread and all things related to fermentation.
Jim is the staff officer for economics and handles various specialized fishery management issues such as access limitation. He staffs the Council’s Enforcement Consultants as well as groups dealing with the Council’s trawl catch share program and fixed gear sablefish permit stacking program. He has degrees in zoology, marine policy, and psychology with additional graduate level work in economics.
Little known fact: Jim’s great grandparents were Swedish fishers from Kumlinga, Åland, a disputed territory controlled by Finland, which was part of the Russian empire at the time of their emigration.
Brett oversees the development of the West Coast electronic monitoring regulatory program and handles public inquiries for the West Coast Vessel Monitoring System. He also provides staff support for groundfish, essential fish habitat, coastal pelagic species, and highly migratory species fisheries. He is the Council representative for the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission and staffs the Groundfish Advisory Subpanel and the ad-hoc Groundfish Electronic Monitoring Policy Advisory Committee and Technical Advisory Committee. Brett has a degree in biology and chemistry from University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, and has completed graduate level work at Oregon State University. Brett worked for PSMFC as a shoreside whiting fishery data analyst, for ODFW as a stream surveyor, technical assistant and as a Project Leader for nearshore and coastal pelagic commercial fisheries, and was on the Council’s Coastal Pelagics Species Management Team. Brett also worked for 5 years at NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office as a natural resource specialist for HMS and international fisheries before coming to the Pacific Council in 2013.
Little known fact: Brett can water ski, downhill ski, and surf, but can’t ice skate.
Sandra is the Program Manager for Information Technology for the Council and has been with the Council since February 1993. She is responsible for all aspects of the Council’s computer network infrastructure, network administration and management (including working with agencies and vendors to ensure the Council has the appropriate systems), computer support services, website construction and maintenance, and a variety of other technical support functions.
Little known fact: Sandra is the owner of one Indian restaurant in Gresham, Oregon and one food cart in Sandy, Oregon serving Indian cuisine.
Kris serves as IT Specialist for the Council staff. He is responsible for day to day operation logistics, electronic document production and e-distribution functions, as well as other IT and various administrative activities. Kris graduated from the Edward R. Murrow school of Communication, at Washington State University, Pullman. GO COUGS!
Little known fact: During his travels, Kris has snowboarded in the Swiss Alps, rode a Harley Davidson around the Big Island of Hawaii, and visited “The Top of the World” at the Jungfraujoch, Switzerland.
Renee is an Administrative Specialist for the Council. She handles hotel and travel arrangements as well as other administrative tasks. She returned to Portland in 1987 after spending 14 years in Haines, Alaska.
Little known fact: while growing up in Haines, Renee used to help her late father, the Harbormaster, patrol harbor and waterfront areas before and after school.
Kimberly serves as an Administrative Specialist for the Council staff. She is responsible for document production and distribution functions, as well as other administrative activities. She graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in Liberal Studies and an emphasis in pre-Elementary Education.
Little known fact: Kim likes to decorate cakes in her spare time.
Amy is an Administrative Assistant with the Council. She assists with document production and distribution and other administrative duties. She graduated from Oregon State University with a BS in Geography. She enjoys reading crime novels, watching paranormal TV shows, and spending time with her kids and crazy basset hound.
Little Known Fact: Amy is left-handed but also cross-dominant.