Dorrie Hipschman Executive Director
Dorrie Hipschman is a senior director with 20 years of experience directing non-profit organizations. She believes in creating a strong institution that is an integral part of its community. She has been successful in major gift fund raising, grant writing, and strategic planning as well as leading capital campaigns and museum expansions. Prior to joining The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum she directed the start-up project to build the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention and led for ten years The Building for Kids, a children’s museum in Appleton, WI. She has worked as an executive director and development director for a variety of museums across the United States. She holds a BA in American Studies from Georgetown University and has additional MBA coursework at the University of Hawaii. She has three grown children and lives in Fort Myers with her husband and a small dog and cat.
José H. Leal, Ph.D. Science Director & Curator
Dr. José H. Leal was Director of the Shell Museum between February 1996 and August 2013. He received his Ph.D. in Marine Biology and Fisheries from the University of Miami. His love for shells and sea life goes back to his childhood years in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He was a Visiting Professor at the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, in Paris, and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. Dr. Leal holds honorary faculty positions at the University of Miami and Florida Gulf Coast University, where is an affiliate member of the Coastal Watershed Institute. He is also a Past President of the American Malacological Society, current President of Conchologists of America, a past board member of the Florida Association of Museums, an Accreditation Peer Reviewer for the American Alliance of Museums, and editor of The Nautilus. Under his leadership, in March 2010 the Museum was awarded its first accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums.
Paul Brown Finance Director
Paul Brown earned a degree in Business Economics (with accounting emphasis) from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1986. He has worked as controller for an environmental services company and for a designer, manufacturer, importer, and distributor of clothing and jewelry. Paul also has more than 20 years of experience as a business analyst, developing, installing and supporting a large accounting and ERP system for customers in the United States and overseas. He is currently serving a three-year term as an elected member of the board of the Greater Pine Island Water Association. Paul developed an early love of nature and for the oceans in particular and he has lived in southwest Florida since 1995. He has one child and two grandchildren and he spends much of his free time boating, fishing, diving, snorkeling, and shelling. Paul joined the staff in October 2013, and he looks forward to contributing to the educational and research activities of the Shell Museum and to the local community.
Melanie Moraga Executive Assistant
Melanie Moraga was born and raised in Fairfield County, Connecticut, and moved to South Florida in the early 1990’s. She has enjoyed spending the past 10+ years as a stay at home mother, raising her two young daughters. Melanie began working at the Shell Museum in September 2012 as part-time Admissions Specialist. She has since been promoted and is responsible for the scheduling of all group tours and is also the Membership Coordinator. She is an emerging artist and specializes in Nature Photography. Her award winning photograph “Sunset Before the Storm,” taken at Blind Pass Beach on Sanibel, was published in the November/December 2012 issue of “Florida Travel + Life” magazine. She also enjoys hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains and exploring our National Parks.
Katie Ball Marketing and Events Manager
Katie Ball is an events coordinator and nationally recognized multimedia producer specialized in writing, photography and audio production. Clients have included National Public Radio, The City of Orlando, The Global Peace Film Festival, Atomic Ranch magazine, Rollins College, and more. Known for taking a personalized approach to marketing, Katie aims to get existing and prospective Museum members to become more emotionally invested in the Shell Museum's future successes. “When all guests feel the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is their museum,” Ball says, “Then I’ll feel I’m on the right track.” Known for passionately supporting locally-produced culture and a love of nature, Katie believes the Museum is a perfect fit. A Florida native who’s been away 20 years, Katie’s happy to be home where she’s closer to family. When she’s not working to help continue and expand the Museum’s mission, Katie enjoys growing food, playing with her dog, traveling and hiking, and making radio documentaries.
Gretchen Falk Retail Manager
Gretchen Falk started working as the merchandiser for the Museum Store in June 2013. She was recently promoted to Store Manager. Gretchen is originally from Rhode Island. Upon graduating from Johnson & Wales with degrees in Retail Management and Merchandising she sailed down to Sanibel. After tour around the world aboard the SHADOWFAX, she returned to the islands. “After traveling to over 35 countries it was great to get back to what I consider to be my islands,” said Gretchen. She is a licensed Real Estate Broker and a US Coast Guard Master Captain. Gretchen is also an avid shell collector and loves boating and fishing.
Pilar Holmgren Admissions Specialist
Pilar Holmgren was born and raised in Bogota, Colombia, 8,000 feet above sea level! She went to "Escuela Colombiana de Hoteleria y Turismo" for Hotel & Tourism Administration. Pilar moved to the USA in 1991, is married to a great man from Minnesota and has one son and one grandchild. She has experience working in banking and mortgage lending in Las Vegas, where she lived for more than 14 years. Pilar loves music, dancing, walking on the beach, and our Florida sunsets.
Stefanie Wolf, M.S. Marine Biologist
Stefanie Wolf was born and raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Ecology from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and a Master of Science degree in Biology from Western Illinois University. Stefanie’s love of travel led her to spend a semester studying marine biology on the Great Barrier Reef at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia. During the summer of 2013 she conducted fieldwork on the home range use patterns and distribution of resident bottlenose dolphins in the Cres-Lošinj Archipelago (Northeastern Adriatic Sea, Croatia). She has taught marine science classes in the Florida Keys and has experience in manatee, bottlenose dolphin, and sea turtle research and conservation. In her spare time she enjoys photography, traveling, shelling, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and wildlife rehabilitation. She joined the staff in February 2014 and is excited to engage others in sharing her passion for mollusks and the marine environment.
Kim Trebatoski, M.S. Collection Associate
Kim Trebatoski previously worked for the Florida Museum of Natural History in Malacology. She has a Master of Science in Coastal Ecology from the University of West Florida where she took a malacology course under Dr. Charles D'Asaro. Her interest in shells began when her family started vacationing at Fort Myers Beach in the early 1970s, and she continues to enjoy taking family and friends on walks at Bunche Beach to see living mollusks.
Heather Williams Collection Associate
Heather recently moved here with her husband and children and are happy to be on Sanibel Island. She has been a stay-at-home mom for the last eight years, and enjoyed spending the time with her children. She now will be assisting in the collections department.
Heather has a BA in Anthropology from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. After graduation, she worked as an archaeologist in the southwestern United States. She then studied Maritime History and Underwater Archaeology at East Carolina University in North Carolina, where she met her husband. While at ECU, she worked in the university's library dealing with special collections and conservation of archival materials.
Rebecca Mensch, M.S. Marine Biologist
Rebecca Mensch, M.S., hails from Chicago and has lived the past few years in Cincinnati, Ohio. She graduated at the top of her class at Auckland University of Technology. A Squid expert, a university instructor and also an experienced diver, Rebecca is versed in providing tank care for both salt water and freshwater vertebrates and invertebrates.
Priya Lehr Admissions Specialist
Priyanka Lehr was born in Pensacola and grew up locally in Ft. Myers. She currently lives on Sanibel. Her love for the ocean and all of its treasures was instilled in her as a young child, and that love has yet to be quelled. She is currently working on a degree in English as well as Environmental Conservation and Sciences, hoping to aid in the conservation of our oceans and its wildlife. In her free time she enjoys scuba diving, spearfishing, reading, traveling, and other various outdoor activities.