About AIA

Assateague Island Alliance (AIA) was formed January 1, 2008 as the only non-profit Friends Group organization to promote the education, awareness and stewardship of Assateague Island National Seashore’s wildlife and natural resources for the enjoyment of current and future generations. All proceeds directly benefit Assateague Island National Seashore.

Assateague Island Alliance partners with the Assateague Island National Seashore to promote the awareness and protection of the island’s wildlife and natural resources for the enjoyment of current and future generations.

Assateague Island Alliance is managed by a volunteer Board of Directors (BOD). Each year, volunteer recommendations are made to the board for new members, replacing those who have served their term. Volunteers are typically individuals who have a passion for the island and who have demonstrated a willingness to “give back to others.” Their application is vetted amongst the board members and references are checked. Currently, the Board of Directors consists of:

Board Members and Staff

Nancy Gaither

Nancy fell in love with Assateague Island National Seashore on her first visit and can’t seem to stay away. She calls it her “Little Slice of Heaven.” Nancy is a keynote speaker throughout the Eastern Shore where she shares her passion for the island and teaches others about the past, the present and the wildlife that inhabit the island with two presentations called “Horse Tales” and “The Secrets of Assateague.” The Salisbury Lion’s Club, Women’s Club of Ocean Pines, Polish-American Club of Ocean City, the Rotary Club in Pocomoke City and more have all learned about early island days and some of the treasures now found on the island. She is semi-retired from wonderful companies such as Apple Computer, Inc., Booz Allen Hamilton, MD. 4-H Extension Service and UnitedHealthcare, where she has had adventures as Vice-President of Customer Support, Director of Training and more. She is the former Team Leader and Creative Team Director of the 4th place International Award winning chorus, Harbor City Music Company Show Chorus. Currently, at her business S.O.A.R.(Seizing Opportunities, Achieving Results), Nancy is consulting with major companies such as Perdue and Johns Hopkins University as an Executive Coach and also assists individuals with resume and interview preparation. Nancy is the President of the Assateague Island Alliance and is a firm advocate of doing what is needed to keeping the island and its residents wild and preserved.

Ashlie Kozlowski

AIA Outreach Coordinator, began her career with a Bachelors degree in Marine Biology, which led to a 12 year career in Environmental Research and Education in various areas of the coastal mid-Atlantic region. Ashlie’s current position with AIA allows her to balance raising a family all the while expressing her passion for Coastal Ecology to help protect and preserve the naturally existing barrier island, Assateague Island National Seashore, for this and future generations. As the AIA Outreach Coordinator, Ashley is instrumental in helping the team find and apply for grants, as well as administer programs throughout the year.

Joe Lieb

Joe was born, raised and educated in Washington D.C. in a happy Catholic family with ten brothers and sisters. He visited Ocean City in 1962 and realized this was where he needed to live. Joe married his best friend, Pam Berg and moved to Bishopville where they grow organic produce on a small farm with a healthy apiary and a view of Ocean City. Joe has been on the Pony Patrol with Assateague Island National Seashore and is known by many for his dedication and received an award from the Park Service in 2018 for volunteering over 700 hours on the island. In this photo, Joe is installing on each picnic bench in National Park procedures for safely storing food. To quote Joe, “Life is good!”

Karen Roquemore Lockard

Karen was born and raised in Charleston, SC, and lived there until she began traveling the country in 1991 as part of a military family. She landed in Elkton, MD, in 1998 and has been there ever since. She is married to Louis Lockard, and they have three sons and three grandchildren. She works full-time in the medical device manufacturing industry at Terumo Medical, where she has been employed for the past 14 years. Karen’s first visit to Assateague was in July, 2013, and she has been in love with the island ever since. A few months after her first visit to the magical place, her father passed away, and the island became part of her therapeutic place to escape and heal. She and Lou are on the island most weekends, where most of their time is spent enjoying their favorite part, the OSV. They have developed a love of the horses, and have made many wonderful friends while on the island, always willing to give an individual their “first OSV” tour, all the while snapping photos. Karen is hoping to enjoy the island for many years to come! As an AIA Board Member, Karen has been working with others to create compelling displays for when we are out in the community and organizing trips for Assateague Wild Horse Foster Parents with Wildlife Biologist, Allison Turner.

Cally Mack

Cally was born and raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She has been visiting Assateague since she was a young child. She, like many others, says "the island brings me peace." Cally joined AIA in May of 2022 and has been assigned to help out with our foster horse program. She shares her passion of the island with others through her photography. She also loves to educate the public about horse safety and keeping the island clean any chance she gets. In addition to being on the board, Cally works full time at a local greenhouse. She has been married to her husband Eric since October 2019. Together they have two boys and a house full of animals. Their family loves to camp, bike, boat, hike and hunt for sea glass along on the island. Cally has made many lifelong friends at Assateague and is looking forward to making many more memories!

Rebekka Ortega

Rebekka was raised in a military family as her dad was in the Air Force and now her husband in the Army. Rebekka has lived in several states including Michigan, Texas, California, Tennessee, South Carolina and now, Virginia. Rebekka found Assateague Island and quickly discovered it was her place of joy, peace, and freedom. She shares her passion of the island in photography and making memories at Assateague with friends and family. In addition to the board, She works full-time as the Equine Office Manager at a veterinarian hospital in Virginia. Her husband, Jose and her live near Richmond Virginia, and have a farm with countless animals including horses. Rebekka’s hobbies include hiking, riding her horses, kayaking, swimming photography, and many more.

Nicholas Papoutsis

Nick was born and raised in Camp Hill, PA. He attended Gettysburg College and received a Bachelor's Degree in Economics in 2017 before pursuing his J.D. at Georgetown University Law Center. After graduating, he worked as a corporate attorney in Washington D.C. In November 2021, he saw an opportunity and decided to purchase the Assateague Market with his brother, Arthur. They completely renovated the property and have had a lot of fun serving the melting pot of patrons that visit the Island each Summer. An avid Assateague visitor since his youth, Nick still regularly spends time on the Island surf fishing, hunting, swimming, and kayaking.

Laurie Westling

Laurie has lived in Maryland since the 70’s. Living both on the Western and Eastern Shore. In 2019 Laurie and her husband Ed moved to the town of Berlin. The decision for the location was based on the love of a small town and the love of Assateague Island. Working towards retirement in the near future after 35 years in business for a defense contractor, Laurie currently volunteers for Assateague Island National Seashore. She enjoys the continued opportunity to learn about all things Assateague and sharing with visitors and states that Assateague Island is “My happy place!"

Zoe Newman

Zoe Newman is the Junior Ambassador to the Assateague Island Alliance. Zoe first visited the island when she was “little” in August of 2011 and she never forgot the experience of seeing horses roaming free and the beauty of the island. She and her mom visit the island regularly and call it their “Happy Place” or their “Second Home.” She enjoys taking pictures on the island because no matter what time of the year it is, there is always beauty to be seen. The wildlife, the sunrises or sunsets, the ocean and most especially the magnificent horses! Zoe volunteers at SMAWLS, which is a non-profit organization that rescues abandoned or neglected cats. She also raises 14 chickens and has several regular customers that order eggs every week. During the summers, she works for a friend doing landscape work and house work, so that she is able to renew her foster horses. Zoe was the “first” in fostering all of the Assateague Wild Horse, fostering 22 of the horses on her own (with her egg money). Her mom helped with all of the others. Zoe is a freshman at Great Mills High School and dreams of become an Assateague Park Ranger of Biologist. Zoe is currently providing us with Horse of the Month postings for the AIA Facebook page and is doing a wonderful job.