Advisory Board


The HRI Advisory Board was established in 2001 as a group of strong and influential leaders knowledgeable about the Gulf of Mexico in particular or coasts and oceans in general. This group helped guide and direct the HRI in its formative years and much of the early success of HRI can be attributed to the hard work and dedication of these individuals. As HRI passed from its formative stages into a fully functioning institution the board has evolved into a new structure the HRI Advisory Board. An Executive Committee, formed from the Board works closely with the Executive Director to provide strategic guidance and oversee development activities in coordination with the Friends of HRI, an organization dedicated to raising funds to advance the work of the institution.


Dr. Sylvia Earle is a world-renowned marine biologist, ocean explorer, author and lecturer, and HRI's Advisory Board Chair. Dr. Earle brings world-class credibility to the HRI gained from years working to help the oceans. Throughout her lifetime, she has logged more than 6,000 hours underwater in many different kinds of underwater vehicles. She was the first woman to serve as NOAA's Chief Scientist and is now Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society. As one of the most well-known faces today of those speaking out for the oceans, Dr. Earle's involvement with the institute has been one of its keys to success. Read More

Dr. Homero Arjidis is a leading environmental journalist in Mexico City. He is one of Latin America's most distinguished writers, the author of 38 books of poetry and fiction. He has presided over the environmentalist organization Group of 100 (Grupo de los Cien) since founding the group in 1985. In addition to serving on HRI's Advisory Board, he is currently Mexico's ambassador to UNESCO. Gulfbase Bio

Katherine Armstrong was appointed the first female Chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission by Governor Rick Perry. She believes the Gulf is a valuable resource, not only to Texas, but as an indicator of the overall ecological and economic health of the United States fisheries. Currently, she is a consultant and rancher at the family ranch in South Texas. Gulfbase Bio

William Baker is the manager of Ecological Resources for Reliant Energy, Inc. He is also Chairman of the Texas Habitat Protection Advisory Panel for the Gulf of Mexico, Fisheries Management Council, and President of the Board of Trustees for the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory. He is a member of the Florida Warm Water Taskforce for Florida Manatee Protection, the Southern California Wetland Recovery Project Committee, the Board of Trustees for the Galveston Bay Foundation, the Board of Trustees for Armand Bayou Nature Center, the Board of Directors for Keep Dickinson Beautiful, and the Research Coordination Board for the Galveston Bay Estuary Program. Gulfbase Bio

Eugenio Clariond is Chairman and CEO of Grupo IMSA and serves as director for several businesses in Mexico. He is associated with several non-profit organizations including the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Latin American Business Council, Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, Center of Studies from the Private Sector for Sustainable Development, Mexican Fund for Nature Conservancy, Bat Conservation International and Universidad Mexicana del Noreste. Gulfbase Bio

Catherine Nixon Cooke is the Development Committe Chair and a member of the Executive Committe for HRI. She spent the past three years as President and CEO of The Mountain Institute, an international non-profit organization with headquarters in Washington, D.C., and 8 field offices in the Andes, the Himalayas, and Appalachia. In January 2005, she retired as the organization's CEO but remains on it's Board of Trustees and maintains close contact with its staff and worldwide operations. In addition to her position on the HRI's Advisory Board, she serves as a Lifetime Trustee of the San Antonio Medical Foundation in Texas. Gulfbase Bio

Eva Fernández is head of strategic alliances at FEMSA Foundation, which supports both the conservation and sustainable of water and the improvement of quality of life in communities in Latin America. Previously, Eva was executive director of Qualitas of Life Foundation, which provides financial education to Hispanic immigrants in New York City as well as in the Americas Society and Council of the Americas. She has an undergraduate degree on international relations from Tecnológico de Monterrey and a MA on international affairs from Johns Hopkins SAIS, with a focus in international economics and Latin American studies. Eva is on the advisory board of Americas Quarterly and on the San Antonio Development Board of The Nature Conservancy.


Joseph Fitzsimons is a member of the Development and Executive Committees for HRI. He is a natural resources attorney and third generation south Texas rancher. He has represented numerous royalty owners and land owners in complex oil and gas litigation and oil and gas lease negotiations and audits. He is a former Texas Parks and Wildlife Commissioner. He has served as Vice President of the Texas Wildlife Association and is Director of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. Gulfbase Bio


Guillermo García Montero worked at the Institute of Nuclear Research at the Institute of Oceanology at the Academy of Sciences of Cuba from 1970 to 1990. He has been involved in geochemical studies of marine sediments and coastal zone management research projects. Since December 1990 he has been the Director of Acuario Nacional de Cuba. He has written more than 40 reports and scientific publications mainly devoted to geochemistry of marine sediments of Cuba, beach mangement, international cooperation, and capacity building. In January 2003 he was awarded with the Order "Carlos J. Finlay", the highest national recognition in Cuba to those working in science. Gulfbase Bio

Bryon Griffith is the Deputy Director of the EPA's Gulf of Mexico Program. He also serves on the Sea Grant Advisory Council for the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, and is involved in various Gulf of Mexico Project programs such as the Invasive Species Focus Team. Gulfbase Bio

Dr. Eric Gustafson is the President of the United States-Mexico Chamber of Commerce of NE Mexico. He received his doctorate in Education from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. He has been previously involved with Ducks Unlimited of Mexico, Valores Industriales, Cervecería Cuauhtémoc, Teaching Improvement Center, Computer Science Applied to Administration Major and the Tubacero Computer Processing and Systems Departments. Gulfbase Bio

C. Ray Hayes is a member of the Development and Executive Committees for HRI. He is the Senior Financial Officer of the University of Alabama System with 24,000 employees, 45,000 students, and an operating budget of $2.7 billion. After working 16 years at his alma mater, Mississippi State University, he joined the Texas A&M University System in 1992 as Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration for the Corpus Christi campus. During his tenure, the budget for TAMU-CC quadrupled and he oversaw an extensive capital building program that included a student center, a performing arts auditorium, and the HRI facility. Gulfbase Bio

Alejandro Junco de la Vega has built one of the most powerful newspaper conglomerates in Latin America with dailies in Mexico's three largest cities: Mexico City (Reforma), Guadalajara (Mural), and Monterrey (El Norte). He has also opened greater access to the electronic information industry in Mexico. Gulfbase Bio

Dr. Kumar Mahadevan is Executive Director of Mote Marine Laboratory. He is a benthic ecologist with specific research interests in the investigation of man-induced ecological disturbances. His studies have addressed a diverse array of topics, including the effects of deep-water munitions dumps in the North Atlantic abyssal plain; the effects of power generation facilities in Southwest Florida waters; and, sewage-induced impacts in estuarine biota. Gulfbase Bio

Pat Murray is the President of the Coastal Conservation Association, a non-profit marine resource conservation organization with a presence in 17 coastal states. He serves on the Board of Trustees for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, Board of Directors for the National Fish Habitat Action Plan and on the Advisory Council of the University of Texas Marine Science Institute.

Dr. John Ogden has worked in many tropical places and has published over 80 scientific papers, contributed to several books, and produced several television films on tropical ecosystems. His years of studying coral reefs and observing their steady decline has convinced him that scientists must become activists in translating scientific information into policy. His research interests include the ecology, management and conservation of coastal marine ecosystems, particularly coral reefs, marine biodiversity and marine protected areas. John is currently Director of the Florida Institute of Oceanography. Gulfbase Bio

Raul Rodriguez is a member of the Development and Executive Committees for HRI. He is the Benson Chair Professor in Finance at UIW. He is a founding chairman of the boards of research centers at ASU (North American Center) and UIW (CMTR). A business consultant, he served as CEO of the North American Development Bank and Executive Director at the Mexican Foreign Trade Bank. He is also the former Chairman of the World Affairs Council and of the Free Trade Alliance in San Antonio. He has a BSc from Monterrey Tech and MPA from Harvard University. Gulfbase Bio


Chula Ross Sanchez is a designer specializing in climate responsive residential design. Currently, Chula serves as Chair of the US Green Building Council Galveston County Branch and is on the Executive Board of Scenic Galveston. She is the co-founder of Green Team Houston. As a former planning commissioner and community leader, she has been instrumental in Galveston's recovery process of rebuilding after Hurricane Ike with sustainable strategies specific to the Texas Gulf Coast.

Andrew Sansom is a member of the Development and Executive Committees for HRI and is one of Texas' lead conservationists. He is a former Executive Director of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Executive Director of the Nature Conservancy. He has served on the Board of Trustees of the Texas Historical Foundation, Bat Conservation International, KLRU Public Television in Austin, The National Audubon Society, and The Texas Travel Industry Association. His published works have appeared in several magazines and he is the author of three books, Texas Lost, Texas Past, and Scout the Christmas Dog. His fourth book, Water in Texas, was published in August 2008. He now serves as Executive Director of the River Systems Institute at Texas State University. Gulfbase Bio

Mark Watson, Jr. is a rancher, investor, and owner of the Diamond K. Ranch, well known for its population of trophy whitetail deer and birds. The ranch has been honored in many areas for its wildlife management over the past fifteen years. In 1992, Kendall County named Mr. Watson Wildlife Conservationist of the Year. He has served on multiple boards, including president of the National Western Art Foundation and chairman of the board of directors for the Cancer Therapy and Research Center.

Dr. Robert Furgason is HRI's Executive Director Emeritus. After directing HRI during its first two years, he stepped down from his position as HRI's Executive Director March 31, 2008. He has been involved with HRI since it was just an idea shared among him, Edward Harte, and a handful of scientists. Since its inception in 2000, HRI has grown from an idea to a state-of-the-art research institute housing scientists, researchers, computer specialists and others, all focused on learning about and preserving the Gulf of Mexico. Dr. Furgason took the first watch at the helm during the Institute's voyage of discovery. Before stepping onboard he was President of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi from 1990 to 2004. Read More