Our Team

Hello! Nice to meet you.

Tonia Lovejoy

Tonia Lovejoy

Executive 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 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!

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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.
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.
Aaliyah Hodge

Aaliyah Hodge

Trails Coordinator & Retail Associate

 

Aaliyah brings her good nature and smile to managing volunteer groups on the trails and helping visitors out in the Park Store.  From St. Thomas, she has worked on the Friends Summer Trail Crew since 2016, most recently as the Crew Leader.  She aspires to be a jack-of-all trades while pursuing a wide range of interests that include drawing, agriculture, culinary arts, conspiracy theories, and so much more.  Fun Fact: she loves dogs.

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Willow Melamet

Sea Turtle Program & Marine Outreach 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!
Kayden Richards

Kayden Richards

Kayden is an ancestral native Virgin Islander from St. John. Fascinated with animals and nature, he grew up watching hours of Animal planet, nature documentaries, and looking up to his grandfather Alva Richards who was pretty much an animal whisperer. Kayden graduated high school in 2016 in Georgia with little to no idea what he wanted to do or be aside from that it would have to be nature and animal related. On moving back home to St. John, he worked at the Animal Care Center and saved up to buy his first camera, a Canon Rebel T6. As soon as he picked up that camera he knew what his main subject matter would be. Kayden has been on a bumpy, self awakening, beautiful journey since.

Tatiana Roberts

Tatiana Roberts

Assistant Store Manager

Originally from Russia, Tatiana lived in seven states, before arriving on St. John in 2018. She has extensive retail and project management experience and revels in our island's outdoor lifestyle.  She loves being out on the water, hiking and gardening and movies based on true stories. 

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Paula Smail

Outreach Director
Paula draws on extensive communications, design and business experience to tell stories. Her global branding, marketing, retail, and content management background includes agency, consulting, small business, non-profit, and large corporate positions. Born and raised 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 outreach and communications programs, she happily gets dirty volunteering on the trails and turtle beaches. 
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Ameir Sprauve

Natural Resource Intern
 
Ameir is working with Friends through the AmeriCorps VISTA Program.  Born on St. Thomas and raised on St John, Ameir worked on the Trails Summer Crew for four years.  He started as a crew member eventually becoming a team leader discovering an interest in natural resource protection.  Ameir graduated from Gifft Hill School in 2019 and is currently attending classes part-time at the University of the Virgin Islands where he is pursuing a degree in management. 
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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. 
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.
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Taylor White

Trails Manager & SKIP 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 coordinates our School Kids In the Park (SKIP) program facilitating the use of the park as an outdoor classroom. 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!