About Us


Photo taken under NOAA permit

Our Story

Killer Whale Tales was founded in 2000, by Jeff Hogan. Our organization is made of a group of like-minded people from many different fields, united by a desire to help educate children about the eco-system we are part of, and to create positive change for the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) of the Salish Sea. 

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Killer Whale tales is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.

A letter from our Founder and Executive Director,

Jeff Hogan:

Killer Whale Tales was born out of my desire to change the fate of Puget Sound’s killer whales.Orcas had been a favorite animal of mine since I was a child. When I moved to Washington State in my twenties, I rekindled my love of these animals, while at the same time learning the harsh reality of our local orca population, which would disappear in my sons lifetime if things remained as they were.

It was quite a blow to find out that just as I was rediscovering these animals, they were slipping away. The culprits for their poor condition were many, ranging from lack of sufficient prey, too many toxins in the food chain, and to the potential effects of human generated noise. It turns out things I was doing around my home were directly affecting these animals and the food chain that they so very much depended on. I needed to make a change and I needed to make sure others knew what I knew, so they to could be part of the solution.

So, I asked myself, “What are you going to do?”

Having already been a teacher for years, a photographer and a trained stage actor to boot, I knew that it had be some sort of presentation. I needed to roll my talents and passions together and somehow get people as into to this thing as I was, and I wanted to work with children. I wanted them to have all the information they could about what was going on so that they could grow up more informed and integrated into their world than I was in mine.

I wanted to give children a sense of what it was like to be both a researcher and a whale. My desire evolved itself into the two most popular breakout sessions we now offer: our orca behavior video exercise and the orca acoustic game.  I also wanted them to know the whales from my perspective and how something that started out as an interest in childhood could manifest itself into a lifetime occupation. This became the foundation for the storytelling component of the program. Finally, I wanted the students to feel like they could do something tangible and become actively involved in the conservation of this now endangered species. I wanted them to be able to go home and share their excitement and translate that sense of ownership into change; hence, our Kids Making a Difference activity was born. They didn’t have to feel guilty or go home and point a finger at anyone, they just needed to make a minor course correction, like turning off a light or watching how much water they used, and they could feel like the world was better because of it.

Jeff Hogan

Who We Are

Executive Director, Board and Advisory Panel

Executive Director

Jeff Hogan

Jeff started Killer Whale Tales in 2000 with the goal of bringing the living science of the field into the classroom. Combining his interests of teaching, photography, science, psychology and theatre, Jeff created a program in which the students came to experience the world as the animals around them do. Jeff brings over thirty one years of education experience and sixteen years of orca research to his position. He is also a research associate for the Northwest Fisheries Science Center and Cascadia Research, as well as a member of the Society for Marine Mammalogy.

Board Chair

Stephanie Schuster

Stephanie received her MBA from Seattle University and has a Bachelor of Arts in Business Leadership with an emphasis in finance and accounting from the University of Puget Sound. She brings certified non-profit management skills, financial oversight, and planning expertise to the table. She is currently in the Project Management Organization for UW Medicine IT Services after serving 5 years as a financial analyst for the Boeing Company. Stephanie grew up in Illinois but always dreamed that she would be able to see Orcas in the wild.  After “adopting” J17 as an elementary school student, it was only a matter of time before she would be working to protect the Killer Whale population to which J17 belongs; the Southern Resident Killer Whales. Stephanie Joined the board in 2012 as Treasurer and became Chair in 2017.

Board Member

Arial Brewer

Arial is a Research Scientist at NOAA’s Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle and specializes in the acoustic ecology of beluga and killer whales. Since 2015, Arial has also been involved in yearly field studies with the southern resident killer whale population. Arial loves spending her time at sea and has been involved in marine mammal surveys off the coasts of Mexico, California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Alaska and Hawaii. Arial holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz and has been involved in marine mammal research and conservation since 2007. Aside from being a whale nerd, Arial enjoys hiking, scuba diving, camping and exploring the great PNW with her adventure pup, Henley!

Board Member

Dylan Wambold

Dylan received his B.S. in Psychology and Evolutionary Anthropology from the University of New Mexico. He is currently enrolled in the Woodland Park Zoo’s Advance Inquiry Program working toward his M.A. in Biology from Miami University. His masters project focus is working toward increasing the awareness of the effects of stormwater runoff in western Washington communities. He enjoys spending time in the outdoors, hiking, backpacking, and gardening.

Board Member

Molly McCormley

Molly McCormley is currently a research scientist at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle, focusing on marine mammal physiology. She has experience working on multiple species including killer whales, Steller sea lions, and northern elephant seals. Much of the research Molly has participated in takes her to remote corners of Alaska, with summers spent on uninhabited islands or on vessels in the Bering Sea. She obtained a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and went on to complete a master’s degree at the University of the Pacific focusing on hormonal changes and the potential consequences of acute and repeated stress in northern elephant seals. She loves inspiring others to learn as much as they can about science and nature! Also, her dog, Wyatt, is perfect and she enjoys all sorts of outdoor activities like paddle boarding and hiking.

Board Member

Sarah Lorse

Sarah Lorse was born, raised, and continues to live in Seattle, the ancestral homeland of the Duwamish people. She earned a BS in Environmental Science from Western Washington University. After graduation, she spent a year with the Washington Conservation Corps performing habitat restoration in the City of Bellingham before returning to Seattle to complete the Wetland Science and Management certificate program at the University of Washington. She loves learning, exploring, and sharing information with others.  Sarah joined the Killer Whale Tales board in January 2021

Board Member

Susannah Maher

Susannah received her B.S. in Environmental Science with a marine ecology emphasis in 2018. She is now pursuing a Master’s in Marine Affairs at the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs at the University of Washington. She brings experiences in leadership, communication, and conservation issues from another non-profits and her personal life. As lifelong Washington resident Susannah has had a passion for the outdoors and Puget Sound for her entire life. She loves to spend her time hiking, reading (preferably in a hammock), or scuba diving. She is excited to be able to engage kids in science based learning and conservation.

Pod squad of influence: Advisory Panel

Immediate Past Board Chair

Eric Hess

Eric has held a lifelong interest in the outdoors and environmental stewardship. He is currently in Marketing at REI has held previous roles in marketing and communications in the nonprofit sector. Eric joined the board in 2009 and took a leave of absence in 2018 to focus on his growing family.

Former Board Member

Candice Emmons

Candice holds a master’s degree in marine affairs from the University of Washington. She is currently a part of the marine mammal program at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle and is working on a variety of projects including winter habitat use, acoustics, and foraging ecology of Southern Resident killer whales.

Former Board Member

Nina Hadley

Nina Hadley
Former Board Member
Nina holds a B.S. in marine science and a master’s degree in marine affairs from the University of Washington.  She works for  the Nature Conservancy as the regional learning manager for the Asia Pacific region. An avid traveler, diver and rock climber Nina has made her home on a patch of moss in Seattle for nearly eight years and loves the simple quality of life that the Pacific Northwest affords. She has been doing the backstroke with the KWT pod since 2002.

Program Advisor

Deoborah Giles

Dr. Giles earned her Master’s degree in Biogeography from the University of California Davis in 2007.  Beginning with a pilot study in 2006, she has been collecting location and behavior data on the Southern Resident Killer Whales for her PhD dissertation.  Giles’ plans for the future include teaching students how to conduct field research relating to habitat conservation and restoration and spending as much time in the presence of killer whales as possible

Program Partners

Below are a list of partners and what they offer in conjunction with our program.  We are working with these groups to increase access to our programs, to maintain our programs timeliness and credibility, and to increasing our financial support and geographic scope.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Aids in funding our program through a government contract as well as providing contact information for interested schools. NOAA staff members are also working on a “Springer Returns Home”  curriculum packet for interested teachers and will be allowing us to use these teaching materials to supplement our after visit activity programs. This relationship with NOAA is formalized with a contract renewed on an annual basis.

The Seattle Aquarium:

Continues to promote/advertise KWT’s curriculum and provide a visit to the Seattle Aquarium as a package in the Seattle Aquarium Educator Guide (which is distributed to schools throughout the region and on the Aquarium website). They also assist us by registering and scheduling KWT visits to schools and Aquarium visits for those same KWT participants up to 2000 students; and provide booking service for KWT alone for an additional 3000 students. In addition they provide bus transportation and Aquarium admission funding for eligible students and their teachers and chaperones.  They also provide all participating students with Puget Sound orca whale identification trading cards.  http://www.seattleaquarium.org
Below are a list of partners and what they offer in conjunction with our program.  We are working with these groups to increase access to our programs, to maintain our programs timeliness and credibility, and to increasing our financial support and geographic scope.

The Center for Whale Research

Offers our students an opportunity to help identify the individual members of the Southern Resident Killer Whale community and to help the children to determine and define the orcas’ critical habitat.

Orca Network

Assists by distributing our curriculum packets and activities for classroom teachers as well as copies of their “Orcas in Our Midst” booklet.

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5623 46th Ave SW
Seattle WA 98136

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