Hey! My name is Isabella DeFrancesco and I joined the Surfrider team in 2023 as the Northeast Regional Manager, to lead and grow the chapter network in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. As a long-time ocean lover, environmental advocate, and outdoor sports enthusiast, working with the Surfrider Foundation has been a lifelong dream of mine.
I grew up in Long Beach, NY, and was raised with a deep affinity for our ocean, waves, and beaches. The beach has been, and always will be my happy place. I spent most of my childhood on the water; surfing with my brother and dad, paddle boarding with friends, and taking endless photos of the sun setting over the ocean.
This love for the ocean and environment ultimately led me to pursue a career in the environmental non-profit sector. I attended the University of Delaware, and although I studied Interpersonal Communications, Women and Gender Studies, and Journalism, much of my time outside of class was spent working on grassroots advocacy for environmental and public health issues. As a Site Leader for the University of Delaware Alternatives Breaks program, I had the opportunity to lead volunteers on yearlong service programs in the region; many focusing on environmental justice and community organizing. This experience fostered my passion for working to create change from the bottom up. It was inspiring to watch students move through the active citizenship continuum and be a part of community-driven solutions for social and environmental justice.
After graduating, I began my career in the nonprofit sector, working with the Rising Stars Youth Foundation (RSYF), as an Education and Outreach Consultant, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) as the Marketing and Communications Manager for the Making History Campaign. In both of these roles, I had the opportunity to create unique messaging to amplify each organization's mission and vision, lead campaigns focusing on community activism, and work one on one with amazing volunteers who wanted to enact change in their local communities. As my work with RSYF was centered around social justice, my work with CBF was centered around raising support for clean water initiatives and nature-based solutions across the Chesapeake Bay. It opened my eyes to how much work needs to be done for our waterways, and how working at the grassroots level can have a domino effect on catalyzing change across the region, and the entire country.
When the position opened for the Northeast Regional Manager at the Surfrider Foundation, I knew I needed to apply. My passion for the environment and our ocean, paired with my experience in the environmental nonprofit world felt like a perfect match. Looking back, I can confidently say that the dream is a reality.
As the Northeast Regional Manager, I am humbled every single day by the amazing work accomplished by colleagues and volunteers, who show up to clean the beach in thunderstorms, navigate our constantly changing environment, and bring with them optimism and ambition to every new challenge. I look forward to supporting the Surfrider mission and chapter network across the Northeast states, and to creating a healthier ocean and planet. If you have any questions, ever want to catch a wave or a sunset, or just want to chat about how we can save the planet together, please reach out!