Our Team

Hello! Nice to meet you.

Tonia

Tonia Lovejoy

Acting Director

tlovejoy@friendsvinp.org

Tonia Lovejoy happily joined the Friends in 2016 as Director of Development bringing with her a wealth of experience in nonprofit business development.  She is dedicated to growing Friends’ endeavors on St. John, and fostering the next generation of conservationists!  Tonia's introduction to St. John and the park was from the vantage of the sea aboard a sailing vessel and she can still be found on the water whenever possible!

adren

Adren Anderson

Sea Turtle Program Coordinator
Adren moved to St. John in 2016 as an intern for the VINP Sea Turtle Program.  While studying wildlife and working at a genetics lab processing sea turtle egg samples at the University of Georgia, she decided to pursue a career in sea turtle conservation.  After graduation, she worked three nesting seasons in Antigua and Georgia before landing on St. John.  Taken aback by the natural beauty, community, lifestyle, and love, she decided to stick around.  Adren has been delighted to see the evolution of this program over the past few years and is excited about the program's future. 
Aariyah Athanase

Aariyah Athanase

Education Outreach Coordinator
Aariyah is a native St Johnian working with Friends through the AmeriCorps VISTA Program. She is a recent graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design where she studied 3D Animation. Aariyah’s love for art and storytelling stemmed from the Virgin Island’s rich cultural traditions, that were shared to her through her elders and culture bearers. She hopes to use her knowledge of film production and visual art to create new and engaging learning opportunities for students throughout the community. Recently, Aariyah worked on the Folk Life Documentary as a both the Producer and the Narrator.  
Lydia

Lydia Boynes

Store Manager
Lydia ended up in St. John by way of Puerto Rico and New York!  She fell in love with the Virgin Islands while working for a transportation company with services between PR and St. Thomas and decided to move here with her husband in 2011.   A member of the Friends staff since October of 2012, Lydia puts over ten years of retail experience to good use managing the Friends of The Park stores in Mongoose Junction and the VINP Visitors Center, as well as our online store.
Mark

Mark Gestwicki

Program Director
Mark is a former Peace Corps volunteer, who has also worked on the trails of Maine for the Appalachian Mountain Club.  He began working for the Friends as the Trails Program Coordinator in 2016 and has guided hundreds of volunteers to help maintain our park's trails and historic ruins. He also guided our sawyer team post-hurricane Irma and Maria. He is known for his volleyball skills and passion for travel.
Keryl Liburd

Keryl Liburd

Biology Technician
 
Keryl is a native Virgin Islander and began working with Friends in 2018 as a Dive Tender/Biology Technician with the Virgin Islands National Park Service. Outside of ensuring the moorings are in working order and that the beach water is safe for visitors, Keryl enjoys capturing life’s moments on camera. He has used his talents in filming and editing the 2021 Folk Life Festival Documentary which he hopes is just the first of many projects that he will have the honor of creating with Friends of the Park.
willow

Willow Melamet

Sea Turtle Program Coordinator
Willow and her husband set sail in 2018 for a year before ending up on St. John.  Prior to moving here Willow was the Sea Turtle Care Center Manager at the South Carolina Aquarium. She has over a decade of turtle experience with nesting, research and rehabilitation.  With co-coordinator Adren and a volunteer team close to 100 strong, St. John is monitored throughout peak hawksbill nesting season to identify and to protect the nests of these critically endangered sea turtles.  She enjoys sailing, snorkeling and underwater photography, and lives on a sailboat with her husband, cat, and dog!
paula

Paula Smail

Communications Director
Paula draws on extensive communications, design and business experience to tell stories. Her global branding, marketing, and communications background ranges from PR agency and small business to senior corporate executive positions. Born in South Africa, she has traveled the world and included London, Paris, New York and Los Angeles in the list of places she has called home.   Besides heading Friends communications programs, she happily gets dirty volunteering on the trails and turtle beaches. 
jennifer

Jennifer Stone

Membership & Events Coordinator
Jennifer Stone joined the Friends In September 2019. She and her husband moved to St. John in 2018 from Maine in search of a warmer climate, a sense of community and the island life. Her professional career has included event planning, the hospitality industry, customer service and the investment industry. Jennifer is excited to help the Friends continue their good work on St. John.
Chela

Chela Thomas

Administrative Assistant
St. John is definitely home sweet home for Chela. Being raised here meant that being outside and in the National Park was part of life. Attending the Folklife Festival and rangers reading in the classroom came with the territory. Working with Ken Wild as an archeology intern was her introduction to the Friends. Fast forward a decade and now she serves as the Administrative Assistant. She is happy to help with membership, event registrations, and providing general information.
Tiffany Thornton Picture

Tiffany Thornton

Finance Director
A member of the Friends team since 2014, Tiffany manages the accounting and financial operations. She believes financial information should be useful, relevant, and easy to understand, and is happy to help further the Friends mission of protecting our National Park resources. Tiffany is an avid swimmer and hiker, and has a passion for photography and travel.
taylor

Taylor White

Trails Coordinator

Taylor moved to Saint John in 2017, where she started as a volunteer for Friends of the Park before being becoming the Volunteer Coordinator for the Trail Maintenance Program.  Along with maintaining our trails and ruins, she has assisted in constructing and maintaining our native plant nursery, and aided with planting over 500 trees along our coastlines to help fight coastal erosion. She has a Bachelors of Arts degree in Political Science from Coastal Carolina University.  Interning at Northeast Midwest Institute, a nonprofit in Washington D.C, she learned about environmental legislation. She enjoys hiking, volleyball and playing the ukulele!