Stefanie brendl

Founder and President

Stefanie has many years of experience in Underwater photo and video production.  She has hundreds of hours of diving with shark of all shapes and sizes, and has been working in Ocean related professions for years - one of them being a shark diving operation in Hawaii called Hawaii Shark Encounters, which she owned and operated with Jimmy Hall since 2002, and which she sold on to new owners in 2014. In recent years, her political work has put Stefanie on the forefront of shark conservation, in particular in the Pacific region. She was a driving force behind the first shark fin trade ban in the Nation in Hawaii in 2010 and has since then dedicated her life to the conservation of sharks. Stefanie has worked as a team member or consultant for several other great NGOs and founded Shark Allies in 2007 in Hawaii. 2014 she brought the organization to California. She is also the Executive Producer and cast member of Extinction Soup.


Erika wunch

Vice President

Erika is a native of Southern California, a wildlife enthusiast, and a conservationist. After being a studio executive for over a decade, she left her respected position to become an independent film producer, pursuing her love of nature and focusing on projects that entertain and educate audiences about wildlife and the importance of conservation. In addition to producing she the created the fine jewelry line, Stick Sand Bones, utilizing prehistoric fossils mixed with precious gems and metals. Proceeds from this line are donated back to shark and ocean conservation. She currently resides in Los Angeles and devotes her time and energy to raise awareness and funds to help protect animals both underwater and on land.


Kinga philipPs

Board Member

From a young age, Kinga has always been interested in pushing her limits and making a difference. Never one to sit still, she has traveled the globe for the past decade rappelling, caving, surfing, diving, jumping out of airplanes and swimming with sharks as a writer, producer and on camera host for networks such as CBS, NBC, ABC, USA, AMC, Travel Channel, Fox Sports, Food Network, Current TV, Syfy and National Geographic. She has explored the world as a journalist reporting on intense subjects like police corruption in Mexico, gangs in LA, women in the sex trade, humanitarian and environmental causes and natural disasters.  Kinga is a contributor to several travel blogs and volunteers her free time to humanitarian and environmental organizations. 



Laurel Irvine

Board Member

Laurel is a Los Angeles native and lifetime advocate of the oceans. She grew up with summers in Santa Monica Bay and extended visits to the Hawaiian Islands and French Polynesia. Her appreciation and respect for the ocean started with the green sea turtle program in Kona and the ancient aquaculture of Kalahuipuaa. Her love grew while studying at University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. There she narrowed her environmental scope to a focus on the Great White sharks in Southern Australia. The Great Barrier Reef and importance of this ecosystem pushed her to certify as a PADI Divemaster. With her education in film production, Laurel worked in production for feature films and television in Los Angeles and is currently a Publicist. But she spends her weekends diving the Channel Islands and volunteering at Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro. The biggest thing she has learned over the years is that it is your responsibility to protect what you love. She plans to support, defend and preserve sharks and the oceans through documentary filmmaking.  


 Sara Strickland

Sara strickland

Board Member

Sara is a Los Angeles transplant who spent her summers growing up in Virginia Beach; her father was a Captain who taught her at an early age the balance and respect of the vast ocean. As an adult, Sara is an active diver and conservationist, with the belief that together we can make a difference. Sara’s area of expertise is found within Marketing, Communications, and Event Planning. With over thirteen years of creative and administrative experience, she was brought to Shark Allies through her local dive chapter. During Sara’s free time she is a full time student, who balances two full time jobs, a small fur-baby family, and her passion for shark and marine conservation efforts... Sara also loves spending each and every opportunity she has diving!



Liz sullivan


Liz Sullivan has worked in the Accounting field for fifteen years for corporations in the entertainment industry and other businesses.  In her free time, she has been an avid scuba diver since 2000, and does photography both underwater and on land as a hobby.  Her favorite subjects to photograph are sharks, and she tries to show the beauty of sharks through her photography.  Liz is also a volunteer diver for Reef Check California, where she collects data during surveys of near shore reef systems in Southern California.  Liz is passionate about shark conservation and strives to help change the negative perceptions of sharks whenever possible.