Who We Are

To learn about our past Interns, or how to be an Intern for CVW, click here.


Katie Register, Executive Director, works extensively on water pollution prevention, focusing mainly on land-based sources of plastic pollution. She has done extensive research on many marine debris issues, including ways to prevent littering and the impacts of cigarette litter on aquatic organisms. With the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program staff, she helped designed a campaign (Joyful Send-off) that is focused on stopping the intentional releases of helium-filled balloons. With CZM, she created PreventBalloonLitter.org

In 2020, Katie co-founded the Virginia Plastic Polution Prevention Network along with the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program and the Eco Maniac Company.

She has consulted with the National Geographic Society, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Ocean Conservancy, the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program as well as corporations. She also co-authored a document for the United Nations about market-based solutions to marine litter.

Katie has a Master’s degree from Miami University in Biology, and a Master’s degree from George Mason University in Environmental Science and Public Policy. Her thesis examined the environmental impacts of the #1 most common type of litter on Earth -- cigarette butts.

In 2022, Governor Northam appointed Katie to the Virginia Litter Control and Recycling Fund Board.

Email Katie Register


Emily Robertson, Communications and Public Relations Intern for Clean Virginia Waterways. Emily, a Cormier Honors College scholar, is a communication studies major with a concentration in public relations and minor in professional writing at Longwood University. She dedicates most of her time to academics and organizations on campus. She currently serves as president of the College Democrats of LU and vice president of the Honors Student Association.

While serving as the Communications and Public Relations Intern for Clean Virginia Waterways, Emily hopes to learn more about pressing environmental issues in Virginia and put her skills learned in the classroom into use. Upon graduation in May 2024, Emily plans to attend graduate school to obtain a master's degree in strategic communication to work with political campaigns or nonprofits.



Kelsey English, Research Intern for Clean Virginia Waterways. Kelsey is a senior at Longwood University majoring in Environmental Science with a concentration in Life Sciences. She is currently involved in water quality monitoring at Longwood's Hull Springs Farm in Westmoreland County and also serves as Vice President of the Environmental Club on campus. Kelsey is an avid fisherwoman and plans on getting her USCG Captains License after graduation.

She is passionate about protecting and enhancing water quality of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, and hopes to follow in that career path following her graduation in May.



Affiliated Faculty

Dina Leech, PhD is the director of the Longwood University Water Quality Monitoring Program which is co-managed by CVW.

Dr. Leech is an Associate Professor of Biology in Longwood’s Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences. She is a native of Virginia and attended James Madison University, where she received a B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Ecology.  In 2001, she received her Ph.D. in Environmental Science from Lehigh University and then went on to do postdoctoral work at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Leech has 22+ years of experience working in lakes, rivers, and estuaries.  Her research focuses on how human-induced environmental change affects water quality, biodiversity, and food web dynamics.  Her work has been published in top ecological and environmental journals, such as PLoS Biology, Environmental Science and Technology and Limnology and Oceanography. As the current director of the Longwood University Water Quality Monitoring Program, Dr. Leech has been actively collaborating with Clean Virginia Waterways since 2015 to assess levels of bacterial pollution in the Appomattox River and its tributaries near Farmville, VA.








Christina Trapani, is a marine debris researcher in Virginia Beach. She created and manages the "Keep It Beachy Cleanup" community outreach campaign, and conducts monitoring of balloon-related litter on Virginia's remote beaches. She is co-author of several reports found on the CVW Publications Page.

Christina Trapani began working for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program in 2001, eventually becoming the sea turtle stranding coordinator and volunteer coordinator. She conducted her first International Coastal Cleanup in 2002 which inspired her interest in studying and educating about marine debris. In 2008, she started Eco Maniac Company, a retail business that offers many alternatives to single-use plastics. Christina left the Aquarium in 2013 to build her business and pursue a career in litter-prevention. She has since served on the Virginia Beach Clean Community Commission, was the Rise Above Plastics Coordinator for the Virginia Beach Chapter of Surfrider Foundation, worked with Clean Virginia Waterways and the Virginia Aquarium on a state-wide marine debris study, worked with Clean Virginia Waterways and Virginia CZM on a state-wide balloon litter monitoring program and started the Keep It Beachy Clean litter-prevention program.


Kathy O'Hara, a marine debris researcher based in Virginia Beach, has consulted with Clean Virginia Waterways for many years on various monitoring programs.

She is the lead author of Balloon Litter Monitoring and Assessment for the Coastal Environment: A Protocol published in July 2018 by Clean Virginia Waterways.

A marine biologist, Kathy graduated undergrad from Duke University and Master of Science in Marine Biology from College of Charleston. She worked for 15 years for the Ocean Conservancy (formerly Center for Marine Conservation) where she served as Director of Pollution Prevention and Citizen Outreach Programs worldwide to address the problems caused by plastic debris in the marine environment. She is founder of the International Coastal Cleanup, the one day event where 'citizen scientists' remove and record manmade debris found on the world's beaches. Also co-founded the Chesapeake's Clean the Bay Day. She consults with the Virginia Aquarium's Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Program and NOAA's Coastal Zone Management Program.


CVW Student Interns and Volunteers

Over the years, CVW interns (mostly from Longwood University) have contributed to our community outreach programs including the International Coastal Cleanup, Rain Barrel Workshops, water quality monitoring, and litter prevention research. They have managed our social media accounts, analyzed data, reached out to the meda, helped plan regional and stateside conferences, and have lead in-the-field research and volunteer cleanup events.



Janae Jones, Intern for Outreach Programs, 2016-2017

Hillary Foster, Volunteer (2013 & 2014) then Intern (2014 & 2015) then Researcher (2019)

Makayla Jennings, Communications Intern 2021-2022
hannah Photo of Ian Lower, CVW Intern 2019