Principal, SAMBAS Consulting
Laura Taylor Singer has been involved in coastal and marine issues in New England for nearly 20 years. After completing a bachelor’s degree in biology and psychology from Trinity College in Connecticut, Laura was the recipient of the prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship and studied marine pollution on Malta, Barbados, and Western Samoa. Upon her return to the U.S, she pursued a master’s degree in environmental management at Duke University with a focus on marine policy issues and developing consensus among stakeholders.
Her early career brought her home to Maine where she worked with the Maine Coastal Program administering a $4 million annual federal coastal zone grant for the state. She shifted focus toward fisheries policy when she joined the Maine Department of Marine Resources as Special Assistant to the Commissioner. There, Laura worked with the lobster industry, legislature, and other staff as they grappled with the transition to a new co-management form of governance. Her policy work also included legislation to proactively address emerging fisheries in Maine and the development of a performance-based strategic plan for the department.
In 2001, Laura was recruited by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (then, Gulf of Maine Aquarium) to direct their collaborative research portfolio. Serving as a bridge among fishermen, scientist, and managers, Laura developed, funded, and managed the implementation of dozens of projects aimed at critical fisheries issues facing the Gulf of Maine. Later, she lead the creation of the Community Program to position the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) as a neutral convenor and facilitator by bringing together diverse interest groups to identify new and creative solutions to marine resource management challenges. Under her leadership, GMRI became the home of the Marine Resource Education Program, which is now being replicated nationally and internationally. She also played a central role engaging the groundfish fishing industry in an open dialogue about alternative fisheries management strategies - ultimately leading to new dramatic changes in groundfish management in New England.
The foundation of Laura’s professional work has been promoting a cooperative approach to working with the multiple stakeholders who have an interest in marine resources and how they are used. She has designed and facilitated multiple meetings, workshops and conferences aimed at developing a strategic direction, moving through difficult transitions, and finding agreement among government agencies, fishermen, community stakeholders, and non-governmental organizations on complex science and management issues. Laura currently maintains an independent consulting practice with a focus on facilitation, strategic planning, grant writing, and project management.
D uke provided a breadth of choices for me to shape my learning around my passion for the interaction of humans with the marine environment. With excellent faculty, tremendous resources, and an international mix of students it was a rich learning environment that prepared me well for a variety of careers. I continue to be amazed by the network of graduates I meet in my daily work from the Nicholas School! The "Duke Mafia" has infiltrated the New England fisheries policy scene with highly capable and intelligent professionals who are having a tremendous impact on our marine resources. I am honored to be working among them.