Michelle Covi - Board Member

Michelle Covi - Board Member

My first encounter with a salt marsh was on a field trip with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Having grown up in the city of Baltimore and learning to sail in the Inner Harbor, I was more familiar with concrete and urban riparian pocket parks than the marsh fringes of the Chesapeake Bay, but I was drawn to the landscape- the soft mud and life within. As a student of biology and geology, I studied coastal environments of the past in the rocks of New York and Pennsylvania, coral reefs in St. Croix, USVI and two years on Sapelo Island, Georgia studying salt marsh ecology. Family took me to Normal, Illinois, where I taught college classes in biology and environmental science, and served as the executive director of a not-for-profit environmental education organization for nine years.  After returning to the east coast, the past seven years I have been working to combine my experience in natural sciences with new skills in social sciences and apply those to climate adaptation and sea level rise challenges.  Serving on the Wetlands Watch board provides an opportunity to assist the ongoing excellent work that the organization is doing in wetlands protection and sea level rise adaptation advocacy. 


Michelle Covi is an assistant professor of practice in the Ocean, Earth And Atmospheric Sciences Department at Old Dominion University and part of the Virginia Sea Grant extension, addressing climate change and sea level rise adaptation through research and outreach. She has a PhD in Coastal Resources Management from East Carolina University and a master’s degree in Zoology (Marine Science) from University of Georgia.

Rich Hildreth - Chair and Board Member

Photo and summary to be posted shortly

Phil Langlais - Board Member

Board Member,  Phil Langlais

I have lived the better part of my life in cities on the Atlantic and Pacific oceans - Salem and Beverly, MA., Galveston, TX, Carlsbad and San Diego, CA, and now Norfolk, VA . Attending international conferences as part of my professional activities as a neuroscientist, psychologist and university administrator has taken me to nearly every continent and most countries on the planet. I feel very connected to the oceans, marshes and wetlands and totally resonate with the Buddhist concepts of oneness of self and the environment, impermanence and the immutable nature of energy that permeates and sustains all physical forms on the planet. Serving on the Board of Wetlands Watch has given me the opportunity to work with a wonderful group of individuals who are so dedicated to preserving wetlands, one of our most precious natural resources.

Phil earned a masters degree in neurophysiology from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX and a doctorate in psychology from Northeastern University, Boston, MA. Prior to joining ODU as Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Research, he spent several years as a professor of neuroscience at UCSD School of Medicine, professor of psychology and Associate Dean of the College of Sciences at San Diego State University.

Carol Taaffe - Board Member

Carol is working on her bio

Jay Taylor - Secretary, Founding Member

  Secretary and Founding Member, Jay Taylor

My day job is seeing patients as a clinical psychologist in private practice. I also administer this group practice of 15 clinicians. While that’s been very challenging and gratifying, my work with Wetlands Watch has tested me just as much. I feel passionate about Wetlands Watch, which I helped to found. I’ve served as its president and am now its treasurer.

My involvement in Wetlands Watch grew out of a “backyard issue,” the dredging of Crab Creek, a tributary of the Elizabeth River in Norfolk. I grew up sailing and crabbing on this creek, where my grandparents built their home in 1929. For over 20 years I have lived there with my family, as its tides gently rise and fall. I am rooted to this place and I love it dearly.

At first, I felt violated and desperate to stop the dredging. As I grappled with the problem, though, I learned to be thoughtful as well as passionate about environmental advocacy. Wetlands Watch has taught me to use my head, as well as my heart, to educate the public, challenge the regulators and push for improvement in wetlands protection policy. I’ve learned that two heads are always better than one and that words more softly spoken are usually better heard.

Jay is a clinical psychologist, and is owner/director of Hampton Roads Behavioral Health Services. He was the 2004 recipient of Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s William H. Savedge III Environmental award.