Ben Vallejos, Executive Director
Ben has been with the Living Coast Discovery Center for 13 years, serving as the Executive Director since 2013. He was born in Hawaii and grew up in San Diego so it should come as no surprise that he is an avid SCUBA diver, fisherman, and paddle boarder. His passion for the ocean led to a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology from SDSU following an internship in the aquarium department at the Living Coast. His previous operations experience in retail provided the business foundation necessary to successfully operate the Living Coast as Executive Director. Ben’s favorite animal is a sailfin tang which is found in Hawaii.
Lori Coons, Director of Community Engagement and Development
Lori was born and raised in Chula Vista, not too far from the Living Coast. After graduating from SDSU with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics, Lori began a 13-year career in the hospitality industry in catering and sales positions for major hotels in San Diego. For many years, Lori spent time volunteering with various local organizations and eventually made the transition to a career in fundraising, spending five years at UC San Diego and the Living Coast since 2014. She enjoys traveling, the Walking Dead, and her favorite animal is the meerkat.
Elizabeth Argyle, Education and Guest Experience Director
Elizabeth has been an informal educator for nearly 5 years. She started her work at the Living Coast in the fall of 2013. Originally from Orange County, college brought her to San Diego where she graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution, from the University of California, San Diego. Her passion for science, conservation, and education led her to fall in love with this beautiful community. Elizabeth recently completed her Master of Education from Point Loma Nazarene University. In her spare time, Elizabeth enjoys hiking, snorkeling, or watching her favorite animals, California sea lions, play off the coast of La Jolla.
Lindsay Bradshaw, Animal Care Manager
Lindsay Bradshaw has always had a passion for the feathered, furry, scaly, and slimy animals she now works with. Growing up in Vancouver, British Columbia, Lindsay enjoyed nature and being outdoors, despite the rain! She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Science in Earth and Ocean Science. While attending college, Lindsay worked at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Center. Lindsay moved to the island of Maui after graduation and worked at the Maui Ocean Center aquarium. Lindsay also worked at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Her love of fish and birds is a perfect fit for the types of animals at the Living Coast. Her favorite animal is the penguin.
Jessica LaFave, Development Manager
Jessica has been with the Living Coast since 2014. Originally from upstate New York, Jessica came to San Diego for a six-month internship in 2003 and has been in California ever since. She has worked in fundraising for a variety of non-profit organizations, including a hospital, a radio station, and a museum. In her spare time, Jessica likes to cook, practice yoga, and spend time outdoors with her husband and their dog, Peggy. Jessica’s favorite animal is the octopus.
Tina Matthias, Volunteer and Programs Manager
Tina is a native Chula Vistan who enjoys hiking, kayaking, rollerblading and other outdoor activities. She loves all living things and prides herself on conservation and preservation. She has been employed at the Living Cost Discovery since its inception, over 20 years ago. Tina’s dedication to conservation through education is evidenced by the high demand for educational and docent programs serving both school children and the public. Her passion for animals and nature carry over into her family-oriented volunteer program. Tina manages over 250 volunteers donating over 20,000 hours annually. Tina is a leader in the community, spearheading over 30 cleanup projects throughout the South Bay. Her unswerving dedication to conservation is always at the forefront of her daily life and the mission of the Living Coast Discovery Center. Tina’s favorite creature is the beautiful and graceful dragonfly who lives a short life and knows it must live each day to its fullest.