A native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Kris formed an early, life-long connection to environmental stewardship. Her interest in marine conservation began when, at ten years old, Kris’ family moved to Australia where she discovered the full breadth of ocean life inspiring her childhood dream to become a marine biologist. This dream panned out in a somewhat different way than she imagined.
Throughout her career, Kris worked on conservation and community development issues in the Executive and Legislative branches. Kris pulls both policy and management skills from her previous position at the Department of the Interior, where she served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management, and Budget from 2014 to 2017. Leading the Office of Policy, Management, and Budget, she was responsible for cross-cutting management and operations issues that directly impacted the Department’s ability to fulfill its mission. Her policy work at the Department included Native Hawaiian relations; issues facing the ocean and coasts; economic evaluations of public lands, Interior services and the outdoor economy; combating invasive species; and trade and tourism.
Prior to joining the Department of the Interior, Kris was the Associate Director for Legislative Affairs for the Office of Management and Budget. She also served as Deputy Director of Policy and Strategic Planning for the US Department of Commerce, acting as the Secretary’s principal advisor on the ocean, fisheries, climate, and energy issues, and as a policy liaison for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Kris also spent eight years in the US Senate where she was on the Professional Staff of the Senate Commerce Committee with responsibility for the Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard Subcommittee; she was Senior Policy Advisor of the Office of Senator Jack Reed; and the Legislative Director of the Northeast-Midwest Senate Coalition.
Kris joined the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation as president and CEO in October 2016. She works to build on the Foundation’s strong history of collaboration and expand its partnerships to protect America’s natural resources and ensure that the ocean and Great Lakes remain healthy for future generations.
Kris received a B.A. in Biology from Washington University, St. Louis and an M.S. and M.P.H. from the University of Michigan. She is an avid SCUBA diver.