Our Team

Hello! Nice to meet you.

Tonia Lovejoy

Tonia Lovejoy

Executive Director


Tonia Lovejoy happily joined the Friends in 2016 as Director of Development bringing with her a wealth of experience in nonprofit business development.  She has been the Executive Director since October 2021 and 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!


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.

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.  She enjoys sailing, snorkeling, and underwater photography!
tara murza_cropped

Tara Murza

Learn To Swim Instructor & Coordinator
Tara comes to us from Florida where she grew up competitively swimming and avidly snorkeling. As a child she visited St. John frequently and fell in love. In 2016 she moved here to explore her passion for snorkeling and adventure. As the coordinator for the Learn to Swim program she is excited to teach the local community swimming skills and share her love of the ocean.
Kelley O'Brien

Kelley O'Brien

Store Manager

Kelley was raised on the move as a military brat which allowed her to grow up in the US, Europe, and Middle East.  She has a Bachelor's of Science Degree from Iowa State University and spent two decades in management in the transportation industry before making a switch to retail sales. Her support of non-profit work plus her love of St. John brought her to Friends in 2022.  Kelley enjoys reading, watching movies, hiking, and anything on the water!

Frank - trails coordinator

Frank Olivieri-Barton

Trails Coordinator
Frank has spent the last six years building and maintaining trails in Colorado and came to St John for a new adventure with the Friends. He’s excited to continue to work and conserve beautiful places. He enjoys spending as much time outside as possible!

Paula Smail

Outreach Director
Paula draws on extensive communications, design and business experience to tell stories. Born and raised in South Africa, she has traveled the world and included London, Paris, New York and Los Angeles in the places she has called home. She happily spends hours hiking and checking our beaches for turtle nests as a turtle program volunteer.

Ameir Sprauve

Natural Resource Crew

Ameir is works on the Natural Resource and Trails Crew and can often be found in our nursery.  He has worked with Friends as an AmeriCorps VISTA student and has been a member of the Summer Trails Crew for five years. Born on St. Thomas and raised on St John, Ameir started as a crew member eventually becoming a team leader discovering an interest in natural resource protection. 


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 Thomas

Chela Thomas

Executive 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 Executive Assistant keeping wheels turning behind the scenes. 

Taylor White

Program Manager

Taylor moved to Saint John in 2017, where she started as a volunteer before being becoming the Volunteer Coordinator for the Trail Maintenance Program. She now coordinates much of Friends youth programming including the School Kids In The Park (SKIP) program and more. She has a Bachelors of Arts degree in Political Science from Coastal Carolina University. She enjoys hiking, volleyball and playing the ukulele!