Phillips Wharf Environmental Center is proud to have a great mixture of experience and youth on our staff. Each staff member or intern plays a vital role in executing our mission for stewardship and preservation of the Chesapeake Bay and its resources. For more information on employment opportunities or to volunteer at Phillips Wharf, please contact [email protected] or call 410-886-9200.

Kelley Phillips Cox – Executive Director

Kelley Cox
Founder and Executive Director

A native of Tilghman Island, Kelley is the founder and executive director of Phillips Wharf Environmental Center. A trained marine biologist with a degree from Salisbury University, Kelley is a Certified Instructor of Project WET and has experience in aquaculture and aquarium maintenance, as well as Chesapeake Bay research.  Kelley is actively involved with numerous regional organizations, including the Maryland Association of Outdoor and Environmental Educators, Mid-Atlantic Marine Educators Association, National Marine Educators Association, National Science Teachers Association, and Maryland Oyster Advisory Commission. She is the recipient of the 2014 Robert Finton Maryland Environmental Educator of the Year Award from MAEOE, 2018 Heritage Heroes Award, and this year she was recognized by Talbot County Economic Development and Tourism for the Community Impact Award.

Kelley works tirelessly to promote stewardship for the Chesapeake Bay, a sustainable fisheries for working watermen and an advocate for Tilghman Island.

Missy Cannon Helgason – Executive Assistant


Missy is Kelley's right hand woman.  Kelley being the incredible woman that she is has a schedule that is very busy and chaotic and Missy is the answer to that problem.  She helps to get things done while Kelley is busy or unavailable or has a direct line to her at almost all times.  Missy has an Associates Degree in Business Administration from Chesapeake College.  She also is the head varsity field hockey coach at St. Michaels High School.

Missy is not only Kelley's Executive Assistant but also her niece and shares in her passion for preserving the heritage of the watermen, the industry, the island and the legacy of Garland Phillips the namesake of Phillips Wharf.

Chris Brennan – Farm Manager


Sarah Moffatt – Aquaria & Nursery Manager


Sarah is from Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. She graduated from the University of Tampa with a degree in Marine Science and Biology. Sarah originally joined Phillips Wharf us as a fall intern, then took a position with us as a full-time Americorps member, and finally joined PWEC in an official capacity in August of 2019.  She manages and maintains our Estuarium, looking after the health and well-being of the animals in our care.  This spring she acquired a new role of Oyster Nursery Manager, where she we grow millions of oysters from larvae.

Americorps Members

Toria Rico- Full Time Americorps- Education Director


Dr. Kristen Lycett PhD- Half Time Americorps- Fishmobile Coordinator


Kristen grew up in the Rogue Valley in southern Oregon. She graduated from Oregon State University with degrees in Environmental Science and Applied Visual Art. In 2009, she moved to Maryland and eventually worked for the Living Classrooms Foundation aboard the Skipjack Sigsbee, which is where she fell in love with Environmental Education and the Chesapeake Bay. After two years on the Sigsbee, she began her graduate program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Once she completed her Ph.D. in Marine Estuarine Environmental Science, she held a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellowship at Salisbury University for two years before moving to Claiborne. She is currently coordinating our Fishmobile program and developing her grant writing skills.

Dear Phillips Wharf Environmental Center Supporter,

I want to share with you how Phillips Wharf Environmental Center is pivoting towards new horizons that strengthen our longevity into the future and make our educational programs much more accessible to diverse audiences.

In Phillips Wharf’s 14-year history – two challenges have remained constant—the rising costs of maintaining a waterfront campus and old buildings, and addressing the inaccessibility of Tilghman Island to many school systems and others unable to afford the cost or the time for the long trip from more urban areas like Easton.

With this in mind, Phillips Wharf’s Board of Directors have made a bold decision to ensure the sustainability of our future and educational programs by liquidating our assets on Tilghman Island—including the real estate and property—and re-focus the expected gains from the sale to re-open a location in Easton that the Board will determine.

Be assured—Phillips Wharf will always bring our students to meaningful interactions with the Chesapeake Bay’s ecosystem and inhabitants. We know technology and our FishMobile, for example, can bring experiences and education to more students when we can focus our operations more on education, and less on maintaining an underutilized campus with mounting deferred maintenance costs and more.

Phillips Wharf will continue to carry the essence of encouraging, educating, and engaging Chesapeake Bay stewards from a new location soon. In addition, we’ll be sure to share this exciting news when it comes to fruition with you.

In the meantime, thank you for caring about our students and the Chesapeake Bay as a natural resource and source of healthy seafood and productive jobs for the Shore’s residents. We are excited to bring the Chesapeake Bay closer to our students and the public in ways that are more meaningful. This is a bold step forward not only in Phillips Wharf’s survivability, but also in our thrivability.

Please reach out to me with any questions or concerns you may have. You can reach me at [email protected] or 410-886-9200.

Warmest regards,


Matthew Albers

Board President, Phillips Wharf Environmental Center