SBEP Staff

Mark Alderson

Executive Director

Cheryl Dexter

Executive Assistant

Michael Dexter

Finance and Grants Manager

Michael joined the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program in April 2019 after six years working with the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC. During Michael’s tenure at the EPA he served within the Administrator’s Office to oversee a $1.2 billion annual grant program, coordinate agency-wide climate change adaptation efforts, and support disaster preparedness and emergency response efforts.

A Sarasota native, Michael graduated from New College of Florida and received a Master’s of Public Administration from Columbia University in New York City. As the Grant and Finance Manager for SBEP, he is responsible for grants management, financial accounting, budgeting, and coordination with the EPA and other grantor agencies. He is thrilled to be working with his hometown National Estuary Program and values the opportunity to mix office work with field work to support the program and our local partners in enhancing water quality and restoring habitat within the Sarasota Bay watershed.

Jay Leverone, Ph.D.

Program Scientist

Dr. Jay Leverone is the staff scientist for the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program.  Previously, he was a research scientist at Mote Marine Laboratory, studying the ecology of west Florida estuaries, characterizing estuarine habitats and how they are impacted by physical disturbances and water quality degradation.  More recently, he has turned his attention to restoring local shellfish populations, particularly scallops and oysters.  Dr. Leverone developed improved techniques for enhancing populations of bay scallops along the Florida Gulf coast and has led the way in restoring local oyster reefs.  In 2007, he received his Ph.D. from USF College of Marine Sciences where he studied the effects of red tide on early life stages of local shellfish.  His current focus as SBEP scientist has been the development of numeric nutrient criteria and a monitoring strategy for tidal creeks, both of which have regulatory implications for local governments.

Christine Quigley

Research & Outreach Assistant

Christine has an interdisciplinary background in Marine Biology, Environmental Science, and Management. She has worked on research and outreach initiatives for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, and the Environmental Defense Center. In addition, she has provided communication and marketing consultation to environmentally focused startups.

Christine holds a master’s degree in Environmental Science and Management from the Bren School at the University of California, Santa Barbara and a bachelor’s in Marine Biology from the University of Miami. She joined SBEP in October 2016. Although this is her first time living in Sarasota, she grew up going to the beaches of Sarasota and Naples as a child and looks forward to enjoying all of the opportunities to kayak, swim, and hopefully surf in her “backyard”.

Darcy Young

Director of Planning and Communications

Darcy has worked with the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program since 2015. She is a Connecticut native who grew up along the Long Island Sound. After earning a bachelor's degree in biology from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, she completed a master's degree studying bioremediation techniques for application to a brownfield site in Grafton, Massachusetts. That project led to a position as a research assistant in a forest ecology laboratory at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. Upon moving to Florida in 2015, her sights shifted to science communication and natural resource management, and she has since been happily working on outreach initiatives with the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program. Her current projects at SBEP include managing the revision of the Sarasota Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, overseeing SBEP's Bay Partners Grants program, interfacing with the SBEP Citizen Advisory Committee, and organizing volunteer events to fill as much of the watershed as possible with native plants and oyster reefs.