Herring Gut Learning Center

Board of Trustees

PHYLLIS WYETH (1940-2019)

Phyllis Wyeth had a longstanding and enthusiastic dedication to the environment, inherited from her mother, Alice Mills, an environmental activist who raised her to “leave the world a better place.” Mrs. Wyeth believed in the power of education to resolve environmental challenges. She founded Herring Gut Learning Center to teach local children about aquaculture and marine conservation to help preserve Maine’s traditional fishing communities and received the NOAA Fisheries Environmental Hero award in 2002 for these efforts. Mrs. Wyeth was active in conservation initiatives in Maine and the Brandywine watershed in Pennsylvania. She served as trustee to The Heinz Foundation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Mary Chichester DuPont Foundation and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

PHILIP CONKLING, Co-Chair, Trustee since 2013

For the past 30 years, Philip Conkling’s life has been grounded by experiences among the 5,000 or so islands in the archipelago of Gulf of Maine where he has visited more than 1,000 islands for purposes of collecting and analyzing ecological information on behalf of island communities and owners. In 1983, he founded the Island Institute and served as its president for three decades. After stepping down from the leadership of the Island Institute, Conkling founded a consulting practice, Philip Conkling & Associates, focused on strategic communications and environmental management.

Conkling is the founding editor and publisher of Island Journal, the author of Islands in Time, A Natural and Cultural History of the Islands of the Gulf of Maine (1981, 1999, 2011) and Lobsters Great and Small (2001). He served as the editor of From Cape Cod to the Bay of Fundy – An Environmental Atlas of the Gulf of Maine and most recently helped write and edit The Fate of Greenland-Lessons from Abrupt Climate Change. He has also served for 20 years as the publisher and columnist for The Working Waterfront and is currently a contributing editor at Maine Magazine.


ED FREITAG, Co-Chair and Treasurer, Trustee since 2018

Born in New York City and growing up in Valley Cottage, NY, Ed attended Princeton University, majoring in economics and graduating with honors in 1968. He graduated from Columbia Law School in 1972 after taking a year to work as an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Following law school, he was a law clerk for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit before joining the law firm of Donovan Leisure Newton and Irvine in New York. In 1975, he joined MCI Communications Corporation as an Assistant General Counsel in its corporate law group, moving to Washington D.C. in 1976. When he left MCI in 1999, shortly after WorldCom’s acquisition of MCI, he was Vice President and Chief Corporate Counsel. In 2000, he joined NeuStar, Inc., serving first as General Counsel and then becoming a senior advisor to the company before retiring in 2008. Since then, Ed has been active with the Annapolis Yacht Club Foundation, serving on its board and, for two years, as President.

Ed and his wife Molly live in Annapolis, MD and Tenants Harbor. They began coming to Maine on their sailboat in 2007, spending their summers on their sailboat and exploring the coast. In 2013, they purchased a cottage in Tenants Harbor, but still spend time on their boat. They have traveled extensively and, until recently, raced their 40- foot sailboat DownTime.


WENDY MAKINS, Trustee since 2010

Wendy W. Makins, resides in Washington D.C. and Cushing, ME. Wendy brings years of experience serving on boards and working in collaboration with institutions focused on education, art, science, and the natural world. Trained in art history, she’s a graphic and botanical artist as well as a natural science photographer.


KATHY BARKER, Trustee since 2021

After 39 years spent in public, private and state level education systems, Kathy Barker (she/her) and her husband Bob retired to Spruce Head Maine. Not ready to give up her passion for teaching and learning, Kathy spent 18 months looking for a way to meaningfully contribute to an educational endeavor in her new community. Then she “met” Herring Gut Learning Center. She was immediately drawn to the creative and important mission of the center as well as the opportunity to be part of a growing outreach to impact as many Maine students as possible.

Kathy brings her experience as a teacher of children, professor/teacher for adults, and in management/leadership. She has served as principal, director of services, and a county/state educational leader. She has also established international educational programs for students with disabilities and faced the challenges and rewards of running a non-profit school.

Kathy was honored with the Beekman Award of Leadership in Michigan for her persistent and relentless quest for high quality instruction for all students of all abilities. Her greatest satisfaction continues to come from watching the success and accomplishments of students and faculty.

LORI BETH SCHWARTZ, Secretary, Trustee since 2019

Lori Beth Schwartz was born in Queens, New York, into an entrepreneurial immigrant family. She is the proud mother of Kalli Ruth and Reuben Shae and the proud wife of David H. Schwartz. The family has fond memories of attending Herring Gut’s summer programs.

Lori Beth attended New Paltz University, and in 1983 started her own business which manufactured custom embroidered jackets and other premium items. With offices in New York and LA, Identity, Inc. soon became the gold standard for cast and crew jackets for movies and Broadway shows, as well as for tour jackets for the music industry. Eventually, Identity Inc. held licenses from The Atlanta Olympic Committee, Major League Baseball, National Football League, National Basketball League, National Hockey League and various schools. Selling the business in 1996 to Swingster Inc, she continued to work as Vice President of New Business Development, making presentations to major clients and helping to steer the company through a fascinating time of industry consolidation due to the advent of the internet. Lori Beth retired in 2001, and turned her energies towards raising her family and helping the community.

Lori Beth developed a deep sense of appreciation for the difference a good education can make when she traveled to Harlem weekly to tutor children while living in Manhattan. She went on to serve on the Board of Directors of East Harlem Tutorial Program for 18 years, where she helped see the organization through tremendous growth, from a small after school program to a full service partnership with the local public school to run their after school program. After serving on all executive boards of six schools, she was elected to serve as President of The United Parent Teacher Council of Great Neck and worked side by side with the Board of Education, central administration, teachers, parents and students on district committees.

Lori Beth also devotes her time to building bonds within her multi-cultural community, encouraging more people to volunteer and opening up new pathways for communication and harmony. She was proud to be recognized for those efforts and receive the following awards and honors:

2015-Presented with the COPAY Community Leader Award, “In recognition of exemplary service to the children and youth of our diverse community”

2016-Inducted into the North Hempstead May W. Newburger Women’s Roll of Honor, an award given for dedication and exemplary service for the benefit of all.

2017-Awarded The Lily Wang Community Service Award from the Great Neck Chinese Association, for her exemplary role in community relations.

Lori Beth and David are part of the extended Zwecker Family that has multi-generational roots in Port Clyde and Maine. Herring Gut was once home to the family’s herring and shrimp businesses. Port Clyde Foods was one of the largest producers of sardines in the United States from the1950’s through the1980’s, and Sam Zwecker was involved in the early stages of sardine preservation legislation in the state of Maine.


DAVID BRAKKE, Trustee since 2020

David grew up in southwestern Minnesota in the only county in the state that does not have a natural lake. He attended college in Minnesota and completed his Ph.D. in limnology/ecology at Indiana University. He did research at Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota, where he met George Jacobson, a paleoecologist at the University of Maine.  David spent a year at the University of Maine as a faculty research associate on a National Science Foundation grant doing paleolimnological reconstructions of lake acidification.  David was a coordinating member of the U.S. delegation for the U.S.-Canada Memorandum of Understanding on Trans-Boundary Air Pollution and then served on the Management Team for the Eastern and Western Lake Surveys conducted in the U.S. in the mid-1980s.  The surveys were very large and the first statistically designed surveys of lakes.  After the completion of those surveys he spent a sabbatical year at the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), on the outskirts of Oslo, on a Royal Norwegian Academy of Sciences Fellowship.  He completed a chemical and fish survey of 1000 lakes in Norway and did other comparative and experimental work that has been widely cited.  The survey work appeared in the journal Ambio, which is a journal on the environment published by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. 

David is a member of the Associated Societies of Limnology and Oceanography and the Ecological Society of America. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is affiliated with three sections – Atmospheric and Hydrospheric Sciences, Biological Sciences and Education.  David has been a frequent reviewer for several funding agencies, especially the National Science Foundation (ecosystem research, climate change, teacher preparation, graduate student fellowships and undergraduate science and mathematics), and for a wide range of journals. He served as an Associate Editor for 8 years for the leading journal Limnology and Oceanography and co-edited a special issue on Climate Change and Freshwater Ecosystems.  For over 10 years, David wrote a column on Science and Society for the Association of Women in Science Magazine and served as an elected Councilor for the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) for 20 years. David’s publications and presentations related to CUR have been mostly on the assessment of undergraduate research experiences and on fundraising for undergraduate research.  During those periods of time David served as Dean of a College of Science and Mathematics with roughly 200 faculty and staff.  The faculty was greatly expanded under his leadership, made more diverse and included a noteworthy and very significant increase in the numbers of female faculty members who progressed successfully in rank. 

As of fall 2020, David and his wife, Mary Anne Mason, live full-time in Port Clyde, Maine.